I've tested the four titles i mentioned previously:
just found an old EA Games bonus CD-ROM from my old SB16 containing... PAGAN/Ultima VIII, Syndicate, Strike Commander, and WC2!!
This CD is a gem. Four CLASSICS in one!
The catch with these titles is that you have to properly setup your memory in DOS. EMM386.exe will give you trouble (crashes/hangs) with Syndicate and Ultima 8 but WC2 and SC require EMS to install and run. Also, optimizing memory until you have more than 600K conventional memory will help too. Of course this might be 'standard operational procedure' but i've forgotten about these DOS stuff! Now to speed issues...
My test PC is a P3-450, 128MB RAM, Voodoo3 2000 VGA.
Syndicate (386 req) (Plus version with American Revolt included) took me so long to 'testplay' because i felt i have to rule the world once more 😜
On the P3 at full-speed, you might lose a very little bit in the intro/menu (projection animation), but then it gives you faster menu transition which is fine. In-game speed is also fine. I tried running Syndicate with both caches disabled and the in-game stutter every one or two second. The game is said to be well-written so expect it to be playable on your GHz PC.
Fans should go to (and bookmark!) http://syndicate.lubie.org/ for updates/patches/tips to play it (also Syndicate Wars) on modern PC.
Ultima VIII (386 req), unexpectedly runs fine on a full-speed P3-450. Intro animation, speech, and music are all in sync. In-game character animation is also fine. Then i found an option in the menu which explained why: "Speed limiting". It works, but i don't know how it goes with a much higher clockspeed.
Strike Commander (386 req), i wasted my time testing it with both caches disabled, or just L1 or L2 enabled... since it runs just fine with both caches enabled. With both or any of the caches disabled, intro/animation runs fine, but with L1c off, gameplay became too slow, unplayable. L2c, when on, seems to smooth the transition between animation parts. With L1 or both caches enabled the gameplay is smooth, at the right speed and very playable.
I couldn't really play it however, since controlling the plane with keyboard is not practical (arrow keys seems to be assigned for "look-around" instead of plane control in cockpit mode), and i don't have a gameport joystick to test it atm.
Now the trickiest of the four,
Wing Commander II (286 req) let me quote our friends from neighbor thread "Why 486"...
... Now I understand from Mr. Wing Commander himself (aka Amigaz) that the best hardware for WC is a 386DX-40. ... I tried this game on a 486 DX2-66. It ran much too fast. But then I put the BIOS in to "fail safe" mode, which disables various caches, etc. Honestly, the game then ran slightly too slowly. When I say the game, I mean the opening credits, and then the "flight sim" section.
A 386DX 40 without cache 😁
A 386DX25/33 with at least 64k cache is ideal
My result? Similar, P3-450 at full-speed, intro/story/dialogue/in-game animation playback is fast-forward (e.g., in dialogues, graphic is not in sync with speech), BUT the gameplay itself is fine (maybe a touch fast, but i prefer this).
Disabling L2 cache doesn't really affect the game as in SC. With L1 cache disabled, speed of intro/animation is a bit slow, and so is the gameplay. Mixed result here, but at least on my P3, it's playable. Now there is a few choices:
1) With L1 enabled, use a slowdown app to skip CPU cycles
2) With L1 disabled, go with a faster CPU clock, L2 cache and/or bus clock (unproven)
3) Fiddle with DOSbox
4) Go for the real 386, as recommended by "Mr. Wing Commander himself" 😁