in Game Additions

Age of Empires II Display Issue Fix

I have created a vastly improved version of the AOE II fix that can be found at
You should however continue to use the Game Ranger related fix found here.

First, please note that this fix is a slightly complicated implementation of simple fix. The classic game, Age of Empires II, has a major issue on Windows Vista and Windows 7 that renders it virtually unusable. The issue is that colours are drawn incorrectly and as far as I can gather this is caused by the 256-colour palette being changed while Age of Empires II is running. The palette references changed to reference colours to do with the Taskbar instead of exclusively Age of Empires’ colours. This causes Age of Empires to display the wrong colours. The solution to this is to disable the taskbar while AOE II is running and this is what my “fix” does. It is a compiled batch file that quits explorer then starts AOE II. It subsequently restarts explorer when you have closed Age of Empires.  For more information on the origins of the problem and other solutions search on google or the like. I am glad to provide help for the fix through the forums on this site.

AOEII Compiled Batch File Fix (zip)

I have, in response to a comment, made another version of my fix aimed at those who use the match making service GameRanger. It is essentially the same as the previous fix only loading the GameRanger executable rather than AOE’s. My other fixes don’t work with GameRanger because it loads the AOE executables directly thus bypassing my fixes.

GameRanger No Explorer AOEII Fix (zip)

Please note: Due to the nature of the program all windows open in explorer will be closed and all explorer related tasks will quit (this includes copying files moving files etc.) when AOE II is running. Make sure to finish anything in explorer before using Age of Empires.

Creative Commons License
AOE II Batch File Fix and GameRanger No Explorer by Toby Johnston are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License. It is a condition of this license that the programme is provided AS IS without warranties of any kind.

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  1. Here is the truth about the Win 7 and older game compatibility issues. It is not the game nor is it Win 7, this issue relies on the Directx being to problem. The older games were designed for Directx 5 and 6 and if you have the latest Directx like 9 to 11 these are not backwards compatable like Microsoft is claiming. Once you install the higher Directx the older games becomes more or less useless. The only way true way I have found to fix this issue is to do a clean install of Win 7, update the video drivers (without directx), update the sound drivers then you can apply the windows updates if you want. After that Install the older game and then install the directx that came with the game. Once you have done that the game runs fine. You can also look for any game patches that the creator of the game has out.

    • With all due respect, what you suggest as a solution is frankly a little bit ridiculous. The problem is, as you say, with direct x but having the latest version is required for a number of games. Not to mention most people have many games installed simultaneously, requiring multiple versions of direct x. This makes simple solutions like mine for AOE preferable and what most people want.

  2. :-) THANK YOU! Works great! I was actually considering going back to a Windows XP-Windows 7 dual boot but you have saved me the hassle.

  3. :cry: works for gaming off line, but soon as i go to gameranger & play online reverts back to the old toxic waste, very poor graphic fix as far as i can tell, i’m using a hp pavilion dv6…i’m very sad about this windows 7 problem as it really is the only game i enjoyed playing since 01…yes i probably need to get a life…but it is a favourited.
    such is life, ill have to keep looking for better fixes.

    • I’m sorry to hear that it doesn’t work for you online. Personally I haven’t played AOE online in any recent time (that is to say I did but a few years back and with xp).
      I will have a look into the problem but I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you.