Hell’s Kitchen

1 minute read

No, this is not about the cookery reality TV show.

Back in 1996, for our graduate project I and Mudit wrote an arcade-style side-scroller game that we called Hell’s Kitchen

I recently discovered the files in a backup archive and had the urge to play it once again. Although, I had the .exe file - this game was built to run on MS DOS. And as we know those old DOS games don’t work on recent Windows anymore.

So, as any self-respecting nerd would do, I created a FreeDOS VM using VirtualBox and transferred the games from my Windows 10 host to the DOS VM using a temporary ISO.

I still wasn’t sure if it would work ‘coz the game used Mode X and a bunch of other low level hardware and VGA reprogramming stuff like color cycling, video memory page flipping, a new keyboard ISR etc.

It worked!

Hell's Kitchen animated GIF

Sure, some things are not right - the color cycling is not right, the sound effects don’t work, the end credits are too fast, but the essential game play all works pretty well!

And some of the stuff is cringeworthy - especially the intro and end credits - but I view that as a sign of aesthetic growth.

A shout out to Sudarshan Purohit who did the game design and Justin Fernandes (RIP) who drew the sprites for the main character - Masala Das and the other assorted powerups and lives.

Another shout out to Michael Abrash who introduced and inspired the whole endeavour via his book Power Graphics Programming that I picked up on a whim at the Darya Ganj Sunday flea market.

Update (Jan 2023): Now you can play Hell’s Kitchen directly in the browser thanks to the magic of WebAssembly, FreeDOS and js-dos.

Play Hell’s Kitchen

If you are still reading this and want to play it locally, here’s a OVA file of the VM that you could download and import into your favourite hypervisor.

Download Hell’s Kitchen (5MB OVA file)

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