Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries - Complete guide for running under DOSBox

I created this guide because I love Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries. I put all of this together a while ago, but with the recent announcement of a new Mechwarrior game, I've started to hear rumblings of nostalgia, and complaints of incompatibility. I decided to document my process, and put it somewhere it can hopefully do others some good.

Things you will need

  1. DOSBox - - This miracle of the modern age is an indispensable tool for retro PC gaming.
  2. A legal copy of Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries for DOS.  My disk is the DOS/Win95 version.  I believe some versions only had the Windows version of the game. 
  3. Alcohol 120% - - For this project, you'll only need the trial version.  We're going to use it to create images of our game CD.
  4. A basic familiarity with DOS, the command line, and Windows.

Install Stuff

It doesn't really matter where you install this stuff.  We're going to move it around a lot anyway.  Just make sure you can keep track of everything.

  1. Install DOSBox.  I believe it will install to C:\Program Files\DOSBox-0.7x. "x" is the minor version number.  I'm using 0.72.  As of the writing of this article, the current version is 0.73.
  2. Install Mercenaries.  Pop your disk in the drive.  Do a full install.  Install it to C:\MERCS.  That should be the default anyway.
  3. Install Alcohol 120%.  Just use the defaults.

Make the disk image

We're going to use Alcohol 120% to make an image of our Mercenaries CD.  The image format will be a .cue/.bin pair.  The result will be two files.  One, the .bin, will hold all of our data.  The other, the .cue, will tell DOSBox how to access the data.  DOSBox will mount this image, and treat it like a CD in a drive.  This is important because Mercenaries needs the CD in the drive to run.

  1. Start Alcohol 120%
  2. Make sure your Mercenaries CD is in the drive.
  3. On the left, click "Image Making Wizard".
  4. Select the correct DVD/CD Device, and leave all of the settings alone.
  5. At the bottom of the screen, make sure the "Datatype:" dropdown box is set to "Customize".  Click "Next".
  6. It doesn't matter where you save the image, but name it "MERCENARIES".
  7. Make sure the "Image Format" is "CDRWIN Image file (*.cue)".
  8. Click "Start", and wait for the process to finish.

Move stuff around

You don't have to organize your files the way I did.  This structure makes sense to me, and it made for a neat, self-contained package. 

I ended up with this folder structure:

-Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries

    + c

    + cd

    + DOSBox-0.72

"Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries" is my main folder.  I put all of my other files and folders under this.

"c" is the folder that will contain all of my Mercenaries game files.

"cd" is the folder that will contain my CD image files.

"DOSBox-0.72" is a complete copy of my DOSBox installation folder.

Let's do this.

  1. Create your "Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries" folder.  I don't care where.  I create mine at "C:\Program Files\Games\".  All of my examples from this point forward will assume that is your directory.
  2. Create the "c" and "cd" folders under "C:\Program Files\Games\Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries".
  3. Copy your DOSBox installation folder to "C:\Program Files\Games\Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries".
  4. Do you remember where you installed Mercenaries?  It should probably be at "C:\MERCS".  Copy the "MERCS" folder to "C:\Program Files\Games\Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries\c".  Your directory should look like this:

    - Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries

       - c

       - MERCS

             All of your Mercenaries game files
  5. Copy your .cue/.bin pair disk image to the "cd" folder.  Your directory should look like this:

    - Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries

       + c

       - cd


  6. Your final install structure should be this:

    - Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries

       - c

       - MERCS

             All of your Mercenaries game files

       - cd



       - DOSBox-0.72

             All of the DOSBox files

Configure DOSBox

Finally, we're going to configure DOSBox to automatically play Mercenaries when it starts.  We're going to edit the "dosbox.conf" file in the main "DOSBox-0.72" directory. 

  1. Open dosbox.conf with note pad.
  2. Scroll all the way to bottom and find the "[autoexec]" section.
  3. Below the line that says, "# Lines in this section will be run at startup.", type the following text:

    [color=red]mount C "C:\Program Files\Games\Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries\c"
    imgmount D "C:\Program Files\Games\Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries\cd\MERCENARIES.cue" -t iso
    cd mercs

  4. Let's examine what these commands do.
    • [color=red]mount C "c:\Program Files\Games\Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries\c"[/color] - This line tells DOSBox to use the "c" folder as the "C:" drive of our DOS machine.
    • [color=red]C:[/color] - This line tells DOSBox to "change" to the "C:" drive. By default DOSBox starts on the "Z:" drive.
    • [color=red]imgmount D "C:\Program Files\Games\Mechwarrior2 Mercenaries\cd\MERCENARIES.cue" -t iso[/color] - This line tells DOSBox to mount our .cue/.bin pair as our CD drive.
    • [color=red]cd mercs[/color] - This line tells DOSBox to change to the "MERCS" directory under the "C" drive.
    • [color=red]mercs[/color]- This runs Mercenaries

Run it!

In the DOSBox directory, double click "dosbox.exe".  This should start DOSBox, and use the autoexec settings we entered to automatically choose the C: drive, mount the CD, and execute the Mercenaries DOS executable.


  1. I have no idea how to make Netmech run.  Don't ask me.  I just wanted to play single-player. 
  2. If you run into some other weird problems, make sure you read up on DOSBox, and DOS commands in general. 
  3. I did this on Windows XP and Windows 2003.  I'm assuming this would work on OS X, Linux, Vista, and 7, but I haven't tested that yet.
  4. I'm also assuming this would work with Mechwarrior 2 and Ghostbear's Legacy, but I haven't tested that either.
  5. This will not be 3D Accelerated.  Get off my lawn!

Trying to get this to work... I cannot for the life of me find this .bin folder after using Alcohol... what am I doing wrong? I have the .cue file.


MAXXTRAX77 wrote:

Trying to get this to work... I cannot for the life of me find this .bin folder after using Alcohol... what am I doing wrong? I have the .cue file.


garion333 wrote:

Pirating? ;)

That's a bit of an assumption there.

Anyway, a .bin and .cue are a pair of files, so you should have discimage.bin and discimage.cue, both living in the same directory. The .bin is the data off the disc in one big file, and the .cue is a small text file that tells the image drive program how it's laid out with tracks, track type, track length, etc.

Yeah, it's supposed to be a .bin file, not a folder. The BIN/CUE are a pair.... as Scratched says, the BIN is the physical data on the CD, where the CUE is the descriptive layout, the table of contents from the disk.

Ooh, nice!

Does this also pick up the music from the CD?

Not sure what you mean. I'm pretty sure the full soundtrack was there when I was playing.

It should, that's one of the main things that CUE/BINs are meant to do. Whether DOSBox can handle a mixed image, though, I dunno. If MW2 is using what it thinks is the CD player to play back the soundtrack, then DOSBox will need some extra sophistication to handle it.

(back in the day, many games used the CD player to play back orchestral soundtracks, instead of trying to copy the digital data themselves. Simply copying audio data to the soundcard from the CD, in data mode, was very hard work, requiring a very substantial chunk of the processor power on a 486-33. Putting it into analog playback mode, and letting the soundcard mix the tracks, took just about zero CPU time, so many games did that. Dunno if DOSBox can emulate that or not.)

Yes, I can't remember the last time I hooked up one of those little audio cables for red book audio on the optical drive. I think both my motherboard and soundcard have headers for them though.

I remember this game very fondly. I still have the original discs for this, MW2, and GBL. I should fire them up sometime soon.

Lex Cayman wrote:

I created this guide because I love Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries, because it was one of the coolest games ever, and MercNet made my head explode with the awesomeness of the beginning of the free online play era