How to Use USB Joysticks With DOSBox

by Justin H. Pot ; Updated September 22, 2017

Playing old games with new computers is a lot of fun. The nostalgia is obvious—who wouldn't want to relive part of their childhood? Beyond that, however, you'll quickly find out that even though newer games look very realistic, older games are just as fun as they ever were. If you're a DOSBox user and want to play some old DOS games with your USB joystick, you're in luck. DOSBox supports this out of the box. You just need to configure Windows.

Plug your joystick into your computer. You should see a message in Windows telling you that your joystick is connected. To make sure it's working, open the joystick panel in the "Control Panel." Click “Start” and then “Control Panel” and then “Game Controllers.” This window should show you your working joystick, and you should be able to test it by pressing buttons and moving the D-pad.

If this doesn't work, your USB joystick may require additional software to function. Consult your joystick's documentation.

Calibrate your joystick. Click the “Calibrate” tab in the window you just opened, then click “Calibrate Now.” You'll be given a series of instructions, such as “Move your stick to the top right.” Follow these instructions to calibrate the joystick.

Start your game in DOSBox. If the game supports a joystick, it should automatically detect the joystick. Note that some games use the keyboard by default and only use the joystick if configured to do so. Find the “Settings” menu within your game to set up the joystick in these cases.

About the Author

Justin H. Pot is a freelance journalist, writer and blogger based in Boulder, Colo. He's written for local newspapers in the United States and his native Canada, and also blogs for the environmental website