I remember having to futz around with one of the memory files in order to get Elite II to run on my PC when it came out. Something about only running in higher memory or something; can't really remember. I do remember getting it as a Christmas (or maybe birthday) present and not being able to run it until a few days later when I could ask someone technologically minded how to alter the file. These days, one would just do an internet search and find the answer immediately...
Yeah, those old games needed a bit technical wizardry, sometimes. Games with memory requirements of 580k of conventional memory or under were easy to get running. Play games that required more and you usually ran into difficulties because you also had to load mouse driver, sound card driver and later, cd-rom driver into memory. And of course you only had 640k to play with. (Thanks, Bill "640k will be enough" Gates)
Of course, later came games that required expanded/extended memory. That meant that you also needed to load a memory manager program, which, of course, meant less conventional memory available for the game.
To get around these limits, you usually loaded as much of the hardware drivers as possible to upper memory blocks (area between 640-1024k in memory space) and/or get drivers that consumed memory as little as possible. All this meant manually editing config.sys and autoexec.bat files in the operating system. Modern kids have it so easy.