Recently I have discovered the joys of DOS emulation on my Windows XP machine. DOSbox is an open-source project which provide MS-DOS emulation that is tailored to gaming. There are builds for Win XP, Mac and Linux.
The great thing about the emulator—as opposed to just running MS-DOS on my old Win 98 box—is that it can handle all the goofy memory configurations and set-up weirdness that I never quite understood when I used MS-DOS for real. It can't really handle the more complicated Doom-era games, but those aren't the games in which I am most interested.
I am currently reveling in Sierra 3-D adventure games like the King's Quest series and Leisure Suit Larry. As a kid, these were the only PC games that could draw me away from our family's Apple ][. The economy of pixel usage in the art and animation is truly brilliant and the game play still holds up pretty well. I just finished King's Quest I this evening for the first time. I finished with 136 points of a total 158. Made in 1984, this was the first of the Sierra 3-D adventures. It doesn't quite hold up to some of the later entries in the series in terms of story and puzzle complexity. Without warning, the game can also be rendered un-winnable if you eat/use certain items at the wrong time. This is a big adventure game no-no in my opinion. But aside from these gripes, it was still fun twenty years after its release.