Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist
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Freddy being thrown from the school house Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist was designed to run on either DOS or Windows 3.x. Game programming was much different back then, and it takes a little effort to get it running on modern operating systems, such as Windows NT, 9x, 2000, ME, or XP.

First of all, if you don't even have the game, there are several free demos available. You can download them from the Links page. Unlike many adventure games, these demos are not just the first part of the actual game. They're set in the same town, but they've got different puzzles. They're not very hard, and no one should have much trouble with them. Please note that since they do contain different puzzles, even people with the whole game might want to download them just for fun.

After you try the demo, if you find you'd like to buy the whole game, you have a few options to try. You could try to find a reseller on the internet (such as Amazon.com), but most are out of stock, with no way of getting more software. Your best bet is to go to an auction site (such as eBay) and search for "Freddy Pharkas". There are often a few copies of the game available for auction. You'll also find that there are two versions of the game: 3.5" floppies or a CD-ROM. I'd recommend the CD-ROM version, since you get full speech from all the characters. However, the only CD-ROM versions I've seen on eBay lately are the Sierra Originals rereleased versions, which don't come with the game's complete manual. If you need a manual, check out the Links page. Please note that it is your responsibility to make sure everything you need to play the game is there before you bid.

Once you have the game, installation on Windows 9x, ME, or XP is pretty straightforward. I recommend installing the Windows version. I had problems getting sound to work when running the DOS version under Windows 98. To install the CD-ROM Windows version, simply insert the Freddy Pharkas CD-ROM, click on the Start menu, and then click Run. Type D:\SETUP (substitute the letter of your CD-ROM drive for D:) and click OK. Then, click install and follow the prompts to finish the installation. You may be asked to restart your computer.

Playing the game effectively requires a bit of tweaking. First, your computer must be in 256 color mode to play. If it's not, all you will see is a black screen. I also recommend temporarily switching to 640x480 resolution and hiding the Start Menu while playing. This simulates the way the desktop looked back in the Windows 3.x days, which makes the game fit the screen better. The resolution and color mode can be changed by right-clicking on the desktop, choosing Properties, and going to the Settings tab. Unfortunately, early versions of Windows 95 have to restart to change the settings. Later versions of Windows 95 and Windows 98, 2000, ME, and XP do not. The Start Menu can be hidden by moving the mouse cursor just above the Start Menu so that it becomes a double-sided vertical arrow, clicking, and dragging down. You can still access the Start Menu by either hitting the Start Menu key if you have a Windows 95 enhanced keyboard, or by hitting Ctrl+Escape if not. After making these adjustments, click the Freddy Pharkas icon created by setup in the Sierra folder. The game will then start. While playing the game, I've found it important to stay on the Freddy Pharkas window at all times. Sometimes, when leaving and then coming back to the game window, I get the following error:

MMSYSTEM004 The specified device is already in use.  Wait until it is free, and then try again.

Clicking OK causes the game window to close, without giving you a chance to save your game. I think this error has something to do with two applications accessing the sound card at once (it's worth noting that I've only experienced this on Windows 9x). Because of this, I recommend saving your game often. You'll also want to disable any software that pops up in front of other windows, such as AOL Instant Messenger. If you do end up in a situation where a window pops up over the game, I've found that minimizing the new window to get back to the game (rather than clicking on the game window itself) causes the above error to happen less frequently.

If you are one of the lucky ones running Windows XP, Microsoft has finally included some compatibility features that work great with our game. Find the 'Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist' icon on your Start Menu. Right-click it and select Properties. Now, go to the Compatibility tab. Under Display settings, you'll want to check 'Run in 256 colors' and 'Run in 640x480 screen resolution.' These options allow the game to run in a display environment similar to Windows 3.x, which is what the game wants. By checking these options, you won't have to change your display mode manually every time you want to play.

Operating systems such as Windows NT and 2000 often have problems running older games. Luckily, there is a way to make Freddy Pharkas work, even on these. Some people running Windows XP may also have to take these steps. A program called VDMSound has been released to allow NT-based operating systems to run older games with full-fledged sound capabilities. Download the latest Windows version from their website, and install it. Then, instead of left-clicking on the FPFP shortcut like you would normally do, right-click on it and choose "Run with VDMS." This should allow you to play the game on virtually all Microsoft-based operating systems.

If you have no luck with VDMSound, or you want to try the game on a non-Windows platform, DOSBox may be for you. It's a DOS emulator that has reportedly been successful in running FPFP, and it has been ported to many platforms, such as Windows, BeOS, Linux, and MacOS X. Thanks go to Paul for pointing this out to me. I haven't tried it myself, but here are his instructions:
I found the best way to play Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist in Windows XP perfectly and that's to use the Dosbox program. Once you have installed Dosbox to the hard drive you need to do the following: Use WordPad to edit the Dosbox.conf file's autoexec it should look like this, see below this paragraph.

[autoexec]
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount C C:\
mount D D:\ -t cdrom
C:

If your playing Freddy Pharkas Frontier on a hard drive or CD-Rom with different drive letters you have to change the above lines to your hard drive and CD-Rom (EXP. instead of C:\ your hard drive letter is D:\ and your CD-Rom is E:\) If you don't know how to use Wordpad or your using a MAC you just have type the above commands every time you start DosBox. Ok now lets setup the game will start with Floppy Disk Version of the game. The 1st thing you do is type mount A:\ in Dosbox then insert Disk one and type install set sound and other options and insert other Disks when asked, make sure the folder you install to on the Hard Drive is called FFFP its best to have it shorthand like this. If have the Floppy version that's a Zipped File disregard the 1st instructions, 1. Make a new folder and call it FFFP (make sure its on the same hard drive you mounted in Dosbox) 2. Unzip the game to FFFP using Wizip then use Dosbox, type from C:\ cd FFFP you should see C:\FFFP, now at that prompt type install a menu will startup set options then exit, now from C:\FPFP type sierra and the Freddy Pharkas game starts. For those who have the CD-Rom hears how to setup the game, 1 load the FFFP CD-Rom in the drive you mounted in DosBox from C:\ type cd D:\ (or whatever you set as your CD-Rom letter) type install a menu starts, install to C:\FPFPCD and exit 3. from C:\ type cd FPFPCD from C:\FPFPCD type sierra (make sure the CD is in the Drive you setup in Dosbox). Note if the game runs slow hold CTRL and push F12 until the CPU Cycle in Dosbox is 6000 also hold CTRL and press Enter to go full screen and back to a window. Note Dosbox fixes timer and speech problems on the CD-Rom version.
Freddy in bed with Sadie Once you're actually playing the game, it plays much like any adventure game made today. There are different mouse cursors, each representing different actions. A boot represents walking, a pair of eyeglasses allow you to look at people or objects, a hand allows you to pick up or manipulate things and open doors, and a speech bubble allows you to talk to other people. There is an inventory which holds all the items you currently have, and they each form their own mouse cursor, which you can use to give people inventory items or use the items on other objects. You can go pretty much anywhere in the town from the start of the game. The following is a map of the basic game area:

Map of Coarsegold

If you're new to adventure games, there are a few rules you should know. First and foremost, to take a quote from the Leisure Suit Larry series, save early and save often! This game actually has an advantage over some Leisure Suit Larry games. In some of the Larry games, you could save at a point where winning was impossible. Maybe you used an item in the wrong place, maybe you never got a key item, etc. It is possible to die in Freddy Pharkas, unlike adventures like The Curse of Monkey Island, but saving often ensures you won't lose too much when you do. The other key piece of advice is to look at, talk to, touch, and use every item on everything and everyone when you're stuck. Sure, doing one thing might kill you. But, doing something surprisingly similar might help you. You never know how weird the minds of the game designers are until you've finished the game.

As a final note, I often get asked whether or not the CD-ROM version of the game has the ability to display the text that the floppy version displays, while at the same time playing its normal speech. Unfortunately, I don't know of a way to accomplish this. I do know of a way to make the CD-ROM version display the text, but it's at the expense of the speech. If you know of a way, please let me know.

Copyright © 2000-2014 by Andrew Zitnay. All images are copyright © 1993-1995 by Sierra On-Line, Inc.