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Is this a fake Lemmings disk?

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First post, by wrexroad

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I recently was given a container of floppies and found this Lemmings disk. It looks like someone tried really hard to make a commercial disk, but just ended up using a boring font instead of the real graphic. I thought it was interesting that they even went to the trouble of getting the part number lined up at the bottom and perfectly aligned label. The box is full of shareware releases of games, but this appears to be pretending to be a real copy. Was Lemmings ever released by a different publisher that would have used a only slightly different label? Just thought it was strange.

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Reply 1 of 21, by NewRisingSun

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Is the keydisk's copy-protected track intact? Meaning, does an unmodified copy of the game, installed to hard disk, recognize this disk as an original disk when you run the game (and no RUSSELL.DAT file is present in the hard disk's Lemmings directory)?

Reply 2 of 21, by cyclone3d

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Might be an OEM copy that was included with a soundcard or something.

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Reply 3 of 21, by wrexroad

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I don't know anything about copy-protection or Lemmings, but this is what I tried:
When I do a fresh install of the game there is no RUSSELL.DAT file and the game insists that I insert the disk for it to start. Then if I put the disk in it will load the game and create a (hidden) RUSSELL.DAT file and subsequent attempts to load the game no longer need the disk. Is that what you would expect?

Other oddities about the disk:
1. The disk label is garbage. I tried to correct it, but the computer refused (maybe that is part of the copy protection?)
2. I tried to mount it on my linux computer using a USB floppy drive and it couldn't read it. Putting it in my 720k drive on a real DOS computer works just fine.
3. I initially tried to run the game using the "CGA" and "IBM PS/2" options because I'm running it on a IBM PS/2 with the onboard MCGA graphics. The game will load the main screen and credits will scroll, but any keyboard input causes the whole computer to hang. Running it using the "CGA" and "PC Compatibles" mode, however works just fine.

Reply 4 of 21, by mkarcher

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wrexroad wrote on 2021-03-05, 23:46:

2. I tried to mount it on my linux computer using a USB floppy drive and it couldn't read it. Putting it in my 720k drive on a real DOS computer works just fine.
3. I initially tried to run the game using the "CGA" and "IBM PS/2" options because I'm running it on a IBM PS/2 with the onboard MCGA graphics. The game will load the main screen and credits will scroll, but any keyboard input causes the whole computer to hang. Running it using the "CGA" and "PC Compatibles" mode, however works just fine.

A lot of USB floppy drives can't deal with 720kB disks. So the failure with the USB floppy drive might be unrelated to this specific disk.

If you are talking MCGA, you are talking about a PS/2 model 25 or PS/2 model 30. These computers are mostly highly integrated and slightly improved XTs.

The "real" PS/2 stuff with MCA bus and level-triggered interrupts starts with the PS/2 model 50. It seems plausible that the PS/2 mode of Lemmings is targetting the MCA models.

Reply 7 of 21, by wrexroad

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jmarsh wrote on 2021-03-06, 02:10:

Yes it looks like a bundled sound blaster copy. Was there an Indianapolis 500 disk in there too?

There is! No creative driver disks, but I'm guessing they were lost to time.. I guess that is mystery solved, thanks!

Reply 8 of 21, by megatron-uk

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I believe my Indy 500 and Lemmings disks came bundled in with a Sound blaster 2.0 boxed set:

IMG20210306083806.jpg
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1.71 MiB
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At least I think that's where they came from - I can't remember getting boxed versions of those two games.

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Reply 9 of 21, by NewRisingSun

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wrexroad wrote on 2021-03-05, 23:46:

I don't know anything about copy-protection or Lemmings, but this is what I tried:
When I do a fresh install of the game there is no RUSSELL.DAT file and the game insists that I insert the disk for it to start. Then if I put the disk in it will load the game and create a (hidden) RUSSELL.DAT file and subsequent attempts to load the game no longer need the disk. Is that what you would expect?

Yes, that is the correct behavior. Though for independent verification, you would use a different Lemmings disk from a verified source (i.e. with a more expected disk label) to install to hard disk, then use the questionable Lemmings disk as a Key Disk when prompted to do so, and not install from the questionable Lemmings disk in question. Because suppose that the questionable Lemmings disk was a bootleg copy, it could have been cracked to fake-success the keydisk check. The most common unmodified version of VGALEMMI.EXE has a CRC32 of 8458C7C6 and a 1991-07-19 date, so if the disk in question works as a key disk and this file has that unmodified CRC32, then it would seem to be an original copy in terms of the copy protection scheme.

Reply 10 of 21, by wrexroad

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I'm pretty convinced that this is an original disk. I saw another report saying that the copy protection creates a garbage disk label. I also tried having an unrelated floppy in the drive and that didn't work, so if it's a fake copy protection, it's more than just checking for a disk in the drive. The fact that my USB floppy drive can't read it indicates that there is something non-standard about it. Someone mentioned that USB floppy drives have trouble with 720k disks, but this drive in particular is one that I use routinely to read/write data on 720k disks (i.e. not 1.44M disks that have been formatted as 720k). All together it seems like an awful lot of work to create a bootleg version of a game only to not even bother with the correct label.

I am curious about checking the CRC32 though, can you point me to a program that will calculate that for me? I would do the test with a verified Lemmings disk, but I don't have one and I think tracking one down is a bit beyond the scope of what I'm willing to do.

Reply 12 of 21, by Jo22

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Legit DOS Lemmings.

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Reply 13 of 21, by wrexroad

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Thanks, I'll try that when I'm back in the office in Monday.

NewRisingSun wrote on 2021-03-06, 20:41:

Use PKZIP for DOS. "PKZIP test.zip a:vgalemmi.exe" to create a zip file, then "PKZIP -v test.zip" to view the CRC.

Reply 15 of 21, by NewRisingSun

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I dispute that "the real" 3.5" version supposedly wants the keydisk every time. VGALEMMI on 5.25" and 3.5" disk is the same file, so it must behave the same. It's possible that the poster had a different VGALEMMI.EXE on his 3.5" disk, possibly earlier than 1991-07-19, that was stricter in this regard. But that is then a question of game version, not disk type.

Reply 16 of 21, by megatron-uk

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This is the contents of my pack-in Lemmings disk:

total 706
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 12988 Apr 30 1991 ADLIB.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 2188 May 10 1991 AUTODET.EXE
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 20901 Mar 31 1991 CGAGR0.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 25696 Mar 31 1991 CGAGR1.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 15113 Mar 31 1991 CGAGR2.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 15427 Mar 31 1991 CGAGR3.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 20851 Mar 31 1991 CGAGR4.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 29994 Jul 19 1991 CGALEMMI.EXE
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 22111 Apr 22 1991 CGAMAIN.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 17992 Mar 31 1991 CGASPEC0.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 11442 Mar 31 1991 CGASPEC1.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 13129 Mar 31 1991 CGASPEC2.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 23838 Mar 31 1991 CGASPEC3.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1056 Apr 30 1991 GROUND0O.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1056 Apr 30 1991 GROUND1O.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1056 Apr 30 1991 GROUND2O.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1056 Apr 30 1991 GROUND3O.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1056 Apr 30 1991 GROUND4O.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 114 Apr 23 1991 HELP.BAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 9145 May 11 1991 INSTALL.EXE
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 403 Apr 23 1991 LEM1.DOC
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 384 Apr 23 1991 LEM2.DOC
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 530 Apr 23 1991 LEM3.DOC
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 744 May 23 1991 LEM4.DOC
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 569 May 3 1991 LEMMINGS.BAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 3722 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL000.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 4519 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL001.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 4819 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL002.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 6827 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL003.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 3889 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL004.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 7255 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL005.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 7149 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL006.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 5253 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL007.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 7037 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL008.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 4932 Apr 30 1991 LEVEL009.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 56472 Apr 22 1991 MAIN.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 4480 Mar 31 1991 ODDTABLE.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 12569 Jul 30 1991 TANDYSND.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 30928 Jul 19 1991 TGALEMMI.EXE
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 14733 Apr 22 1991 TGAMAIN.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 24464 Mar 31 1991 VGAGR0.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 32966 Mar 31 1991 VGAGR1.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 22290 Mar 31 1991 VGAGR2.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 22775 Mar 31 1991 VGAGR3.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 28692 Mar 31 1991 VGAGR4.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 32785 Jul 19 1991 VGALEMMI.EXE
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 28655 Mar 31 1991 VGASPEC0.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 18567 Mar 31 1991 VGASPEC1.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 23284 Mar 31 1991 VGASPEC2.DAT
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 34827 Mar 31 1991 VGASPEC3.DAT

$ crc32 VGALEMMI.EXE
8458c7c6

As expected, my USB floppy doesn't read it correctly (partition table weirdness?):

$ mdir
Cluster # at 706 too big(0x2ca)
Probably non MS-DOS disk
Cannot initialize 'A:'

... but taking a block level copy of the disk with dd and mounting the resulting image gets the files nicely.

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https://www.target-earth.net

Reply 17 of 21, by Akuma

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wrexroad wrote on 2021-03-06, 18:35:

I am curious about checking the CRC32 though, can you point me to a program that will calculate that for me? I would do the test with a verified Lemmings disk, but I don't have one and I think tracking one down is a bit beyond the scope of what I'm willing to do.

I use this

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Reply 18 of 21, by megatron-uk

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If you have Linux then just use 'crc32'. It looks to be provided by package libarchive-zip-perl.

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Reply 19 of 21, by mkarcher

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megatron-uk wrote on 2021-03-07, 09:04:
As expected, my USB floppy doesn't read it correctly (partition table weirdness?): […]
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As expected, my USB floppy doesn't read it correctly (partition table weirdness?):

$ mdir
Cluster # at 706 too big(0x2ca)
Probably non MS-DOS disk
Cannot initialize 'A:'

... but taking a block level copy of the disk with dd and mounting the resulting image gets the files nicely.

This quote indicates that it's not a USB floppy problem, but mtools being stricter than the kernel FAT driver. You will get the same result when you use mtools on a classic PC floppy drive on a classic PC floppy controller.