How To Get 16-Color EGA Graphics on your IBM or Compatible, Without Buying a New EGA Monitor

By Guruka Singh Khalsa

Every so often, our Customer Support Department gets a phone call that says "Why do the colors in the game look so awful?" All the Sierra 3-D Adventure games are designed in 16 color graphics, plus we use subtle pixel dithering to give additional shades of those 16 colors. The colors don't look awful, they look wonderful!

Unfortunately, those of you who have a CGA card (standard IBM Color Graphics Adapter) are not able to see the games in all their wonderful colors since CGA only supports a maximum of four colors, two of which are white and black and the other two may be either cyan (pale blue) and pink or dark yellow and green.

I know many folks feel that the over $500 price of an EGA monitor (display) and EGA video card is way beyond their budget. The good news is that you DON'T need a new monitor to see the full color EGA graphics. That's right! You can see all the colors right on the same RGB monitor you have right now. All you need is a new video card.

In order to get the full EGA/VGA 16 color graphics, you only need an EGA (Enhanced Graphics Adapter) card. EGA cards have come down in price quite a bit and are available quite widely these days for under $150 (Look at the ads in the back of some computer magazines and you may be able to mail-order one for as little as $75 or so.) In fact, many people are upgrading their systems to newer VGA cards and a used EGA card may be available at a very inexpensive price at a swap meet or through your local trading paper or users group. All you need is any type of EGA card. If you have a PC or XT, just set the DIP switches on your computer's motherboard to the EGA setting. If you have an 80286 or 80386 machine, just run the SETUP program and tell the computer that you now have an EGA display. If your new EGA card has DIP switches on it, set them to CGA mode so that your on-screen text will be promptly readable. (See your EGA card documentation for details).

You won't have the high resolution 640 x 350 (mode 10) EGA graphics, but you don't need that mode for Sierra Adventure games since they all run in 160 x 200 (AGI) or 320 x 200 (SCI) and you will get both these modes just fine without a new monitor. Later on, if you decide to upgrade your monitor, you can that easily without having to buy a new video card.

Here's another hint for those of you with CGA cards. You can get all 16 colors without even buying an EGA card! How? By playing the games on your television! All of our earlier AGI games (King's Quest I, II, and III, Space Quest I and II, etc) can be played in full color on any color television set. The resolution (clarity) of the picture on the TV is not as good as on a computer monitor, but the price is right and the games can be played in full color.

First, look at the connector on the back of your video card. If you see a little "phono jack" (like the ones you use to connect up your stereo), just goto your nearest computer store and get an "RF Modulator". This little gizmo is usually only around $25 or $30 ($5 to $10 at swap meets!). You connect it to the RCA phono jack (composite output) on your CGA video card and then connect the output of the modulator to the antenna terminals of your color TV. Viola! Full 16 color graphics on your television. Of course, no one will be able to watch a TV show while your playing (hehe).

The games look so beautiful in full color that you'll want to go back and play them all over again to see them in their full glory. Have fun!


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