Recently EA released the first few Command and Conquer games for free on their website. I've downloaded and installed the first one for 64-bit (the download for 64-bit versions of Windows can be found on the installation instructions page). Anyway when I play it it looks horrible.

For some reason I'm getting graphical output errors, mainly just with the FMVs, but there's also some minor ones during actual gameplay. I was wondering how to set it up to look better. I know I've done it in XP before, but I can't remember what I did. It would also be great to be able to do this with any other old games I have (like Battleground Gettysburg).

I have tried: - Checking the "Run in 256 colors mode" option. It didn't change anything. I think this is because Windows was automatically doing that anyway. - Running it in XP Compatibility Mode but couldn't get it to run.

I know it would probably help if I had screenshots, but every time I try to make one it only captures the colors that are off, with the rest of the in game screen being black. Thus they don't really help out of context for what the screen looks like.

  • @BlueRaja Make that an answer!
    – C. Ross
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 22:31
  • 1
    I did not know this was released for free....color me intrigued
    – erik
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 11:11
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    Just go to www.commandandconquer.com/classics and it has installation instructions.
    – indyK1ng
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 15:13
  • Actually, there isn't an 's' on that URL, but thanks for the free game! Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 22:15

6 Answers 6


If it is anything like the color issues that Age of Kings has with Win 7 64 bit, you could try going to the Task Manager and ending the explorer.exe task, and then going back into the game.

With Age of Kings, you could start the game, ALT-TAB back to Windows, open the task manager and end process on explorer.exe you will lose all the Windows toolbars and things when you do it, but you can then ALT-TAB back into the game and the colors should be fixed. (In Age of Kings the graphics errors made the water bright purple.)

If you leave the task manager up, once you are done with the game you can just go to run and type explorer.exe to get Windows back up again.

  • :O I just tried this with Starcraft, it worked. I've been looking for something like this forever. It's a little tedious, but great answer. Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 22:13
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    That works so well. I'm gonna edit the question so it's clear that this works for other old games as well. Thank you!. Also, how did you come across this solution?
    – indyK1ng
    Commented Aug 21, 2010 at 6:04
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    Just a guess for a not so radical solution: If it conflicts with the desktop, switching off Aero will help?
    – eL13
    Commented Aug 21, 2010 at 10:42
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    I remember reading a while back about a DirectDraw issue that could happen with older games. I did some googling to see if I could find a good site explaining the issue in detail, and this site does a pretty good job. blog.macuyiko.com/2009/07/… Commented Aug 21, 2010 at 14:16
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    I asked if there was a way to do this without having to alt-tab out every time and here's the link to the question. I accepted the answer that's easiest. superuser.com/questions/178731/…
    – indyK1ng
    Commented Aug 21, 2010 at 18:59


You only need to run this once per game's .EXE file. No more need to manually close or use software that will close Explorer.exe every time you run a game.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 break color compatibility with certain applications that depend upon palette-based, 256-color graphics. Due to changes to DirectX and DirectDraw, the colors of these applications and games may appear distorted under these newer operating systems.

DirectDrawFix will allow you to resolve this specific issue by applying required compatibility fixes to the registry. Elevation is required for this application to perform its updates.


Have you tried running in compatibility mode, with "use 256 colors" checked?


I don't know if it'll help here, but I've always been a SSI stratagy game junkie (Panzer General, Fantasy Genereral, etc), but couldn't get them to run on my newer machines (XP or Vista...both failed even with compatability). Then I found DOSBox, a wonderfully simple program that emulates the old 86 machines and VOILA! They all run with no problems. Sure, running them through DOSBox will require you typing a few lines, but it's VERY simple to do. ANyway, hope it helps.


This isn't a delightful answer, but it can work. Install virtual box and see if you can get it running on a linux OS (advisably Ubuntu) through wine or if you have a copy of an older windows OS try that. it might work and you can get it working on your primary PC that way. I'll see if there are any other was around this.

  • Actually, my laptop runs Linux and I tried running it via Wine there. The colors are correct, but the menu doesn't work. Wine's website also lists it as currently not running well on their AppDb.
    – indyK1ng
    Commented Aug 21, 2010 at 6:01

There is a DirectDraw fix called CnC-DDraw that was created specifically for the 8-bit colour C&C games (meaning, the first two; Command & Conquer 1 and Red Alert 1).

The official site of this fix is http://hifi.iki.fi/cnc-ddraw/, though it's probably a lot more efficient if you just install the full unofficial patches for these games, which both contain this fix:

A more general DDraw override called DDWrapper can be used for the later C&C games which have 16-bit colours.

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