Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Running Black Dahlia on Windows XP/Vista

OK, I just played through the old PC adventure game Black Dahlia. It's a good game, well worth a look if you like adventure games. It's a full-motion video (FMV) based game spanning 8 CDs, with some OK acting and an entertaining (but confusing and sometimes illogical) plot.

The game was made in 1998 for Windows 95/98 and it's not that trivial to get it to work flawlessly. Here's how to do it.

For Windows XP users:

1) Install the game.
Put CD#1 in, and run the SETUP.EXE.

2) Download and install the Black Dahlia patch V1.1.
Download the V1.1 patch from here.

3) Try the game out and see how it works.
You don't have to use the windows 95 compatibility mode. For me, the 95 compatibility mode just made the mouse unresponsive. A problem with most modern computers is that when you get to play, the 360 degree view spins like hell when you try to look around, making the game unplayable. There's a solution to this:

4) If the 360 degree view is too fast, edit the configuration file BD.INI.
Edit these parameters:
spin edges = 1
spin vres = 2
spin hres = 2

spin edges = 1 tells the game to spin the view if the mouse is taken near the edges of the screen. This is a better way to navigate through the game, since you can also specify the speed of the "edge spinning".

The other important parameters are spin vres and spin hres. "2" is the lowest speed you can set, with "1" not moving at all. The lowest speed is okay for playing, or at least it was for me.

You can also change the edge sizes, but I didn't need to do that.

5) If you still have problems, try out the Virtual PC solution below. And you can always try asking for help in the comments below.

For Vista / Windows 7 users or if the above solutions didn't work:

1) Install Windows 95 or 98 onto Microsoft Virtual PC.
If you don't have it, download Microsoft's Virtual PC. It's free to download.
Download for Windows 7. Download for Vista or XP.

Get hold of a copy of Windows 95 or 98. Maybe the easiest to install for the Virtual PC is the Windows 95 floppy disk version. Here's some guides to help you with the installation.

Guide for installing Windows 95 CD version on VPC.
Some tips for Windows 95 CD version on the Virtual PC.
A good tutorial for Virtual PC.

2) Now that you have a working Windows 95 / 98 virtual computer, install the game and the patch as you would normally. But you have to put the patch executable on a CD image or a floppy to get it mounted on the virtual PC.

3) Run the game.

I tried also the Virtual PC solution myself, but with my somewhat slow computer, the video in the game was lagging. So I just ran the game directly in Windows XP with the above BD.INI tweaks.

There's also another guide on how to install Black Dahlia, but it has some really unrelevant stuff in it. You don't have to defragment your hard drive before installing! Still, if you want to try it out, it's here.

Good luck! Please ask if you have any questions!


  1. Hey this is great thanks! Only problem i have is that you can't save the INI file or at least i wasn't able to.

    I found that if you scroll real slow it works, but still it would be nice to slow it down.

  2. Hi Moebird.

    That's strange, you should be able to save the .ini file. What was the error message?

    Or it might be that the BD.INI was overwritten by the game or it's setup program (if it has one - I don't remember).

    For example, if you change the music volume, the data you changed in BD.INI might get overwritten with the default values in the progress.

    Try simply editing the BD.INI again.

  3. well it says it's "read only" and before you say it, i already tried to uncheck the "read only" box and it says only an admin can do it.

  4. OK... Then you'd need to get the rights and log in as an administrator to do it... I'm just wondering, if you don't have administration rights, how did you manage to install the game? :)

    1. i dunno! I never thought about it i just installed it lol. The game was used when i bought it but that shouldn't matter right?

      is there another way get admin rights?

  5. Right-click on notepad icon in start menu and select "run as administrator". Then browse to the folder containing BD.INI, make the changes and save it.

  6. thanks for the explanation! I have the English version and I need the patch that translates the game in Italian .... or at least it has subtitles! Where can I find the file? Thank you!