MSX games and discussion thread

Takumaji

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I'm playing lots of MSX games lately and thought it could be a good idea to open a thread where we can talk about games and hardware, ask questions and discuss about all related topics.

Let me kick it off with two classics:

H.E.R.O. (MSX1, cart)

H.E.R.O. (Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operation) was designed by Activision and originally released for Atari 2600 in 1984. Rescue trapped miners with your backpack helicopter, helmet laser and dynamite charges and blast your way through the underground of Mount Leone. The heli backpack has limited energy so quickly moving forward is essential, specially in later levels that are quite large and contain lots of dead ends.

Really good fun, that one. The game had been ported to various 8bit home computers and I've played many of them but still find the MSX version the most fun because of its speed and accurate controls.

Antarctic Adventure (MSX1, cart)

Developed in 1984 by Konami for MSX computers, got ported to Famicom/NES and ColecoVision. It's a racing type of game, you control a penguin through all of Antarctica and have to dodge sea lions, collect points and food and jump over gaping chasms. Pushing the stick forward or back increases or decreases speed. You have to reach the end of each level before the timer runs out, which can be quite a challenge in later levels.

This game almost gives me a Wonderboy vibe, it's fast and you have to be on your toes all the time. Doesn't look like much at first but gets quite intense.

If you want to play some MSX games but have no original computer, you can always go the emu route, blueMSX is one of the best IMO.

MSX games came out on cartridge, tape and floppy disks. ROM filetypes are .CAS (tape), .ROM (cart) and .DSK (floppy disk).

There also is a flashrom cart available for the original hardware called MegaFLashRom. It has been developed by Manuel Pazos from Spain, visit his website for more info and ordering: http://www.msxcartridgeshop.com/ . I've bought the MegaFlashRom SCC+ 512k 2-slot version which can hold two microSD cards. The cart contains a very elaborate operating system and all files and drivers you need to get going. You can play cartridge ROMs and DSK files with it. I also have some MSX tapes and carts and would love to own more original games but they go for collectard prices. That also goes for some later MSX2+ or TurboR MSX computers. Still, it's possible to find good hardware deals if you're patient enough.

MSX was the starting point for some famous game series like Metal Gear, Herzog (Herzog Zwei came out for the Genny), Aleste, Zanac, Parodius, Puyo Puyo, etc. There not only are shumps and platformers, though, MSX also saw releases of Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Ys, Castlevania, etc.

DISCUSS :D
 

Opethian

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these run ok on an MSX2 but if you got the R800 you should check out Pleasure Hearts and Kyokugen.




 
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DNSDies

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I've kind of wanted to get an MSX for stuff like Metal Gear, and the flash cart makes that an attractive and far more affordable option.
If you get a later and more powerful model, is it still backwards compatible with older software?
 

Takumaji

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Yes, all models are backwards compatible. There are some rather obscure old games that won't work on a TurboR but 99% of the official releases do. I have a Panasonic FS-A1 MSX2 computer and it plays all MSX1 games just fine.

Ope, I'll check out the games you mentioned, they look great.
 

Montatez

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I played antarctic adventure on my calecovision. Good game. I wonder what the differences would be, if any, between the 2 versions.
 

Takumaji

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Playing Pleasure Hearts now... wow, very nice. Fast-paced vert shmup, scoring is insane :D

Kyokugen is great as well.

That's the charm of later MSX games, they run on 8bit hardware but look more 16bit than anything, and most of them have a storyline and lots of cut scenes/pics.
 

WoodyXP

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Playing Pleasure Hearts now... wow, very nice. Fast-paced vert shmup, scoring is insane :D

Kyokugen is great as well.

That's the charm of later MSX games, they run on 8bit hardware but look more 16bit than anything, and most of them have a storyline and lots of cut scenes/pics.

The scrolling and sprite movement is pretty smooth, impressive for an MSX game.
 

Ip Man

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pleasure hearts has an awesome soundtrack. msx2 game which i'm more familiar with, mostly because of the exclusives like aleste gaiden, which has to be one of my favourite 8bit shooters ever.

edit: nemesis 3 also kicks ass
 
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FAT$TACKS

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That looks like a fun system to play around with. Are there really enough games on it to make it worth the price of admission though? I'm asking as a person with no idea about the system really.
 

Takumaji

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That looks like a fun system to play around with. Are there really enough games on it to make it worth the price of admission though? I'm asking as a person with no idea about the system really.

Well, there are hundreds of games, I'm sure you would find something to your liking. MSX games cover a wide range of styles and genres, beginning in the early 80s and up to the late 90s, there are crude early games that remind me a lot of arcade stuff of the late 70s with jerky scrolling and bleepy sound but also very advanced ones with 16bit-style graphics, excellent music and great gameplay that let other 8bit computers and consoles pale in comparison. However, even many of the early games have that little something that makes you come back for more, they may not look like much but gameplay is pure bliss. H.E.R.O. would be one of those games, or Pastfinder, Spelunker, Jet Set Willy, Blagger, etc.

Okay... on with the games:

Vampire Killer / Akumajo Dracula (MSX2, cart)

Vampire Killer was what Konami wanted the Castlevania series to be like. It got made at the same time when the NES version also was in development but they decided to focus on the platforming approach on NES while on MSX, there's action platforming, a good dose of RPG-style elements, non-linear levels and backtracking, for example to unlock treasure chests to get those much-needed powerups. It looks a lot like the NES version but actually has better graphics, sound is better on NES but they still did a good job with the MSX music. There also is a shop system in the form of old white-robed guys sitting in hidden spots who offer you all sorts of stuff like holy water or health in exchange for hearts if you whip them a couple of times. All the well-known enemies are there, zombies, bats, jaguars and of course all the bosses we know and love. It has 7 stages, divided into subsections of varying numbers, the main task of the player is to find the keys to open the doors between them.

Now, some people call Vampire Killer MSX a port but it was an original creation that came out only a few weeks after the NES version. The non-linear approach and other Metroid-esque elements may suggest that it was aimed at a more mature audience, this also gets underlined by the fact that it has a very high difficulty level. Some spots are downright frustrating but at the same time incredibly rewarding if you master them, and this is what keeps you pushing forward. Personally I'm more leaning towards the simpler action platformer style of CV1 and 3 on NES and Bloodlines but I have to say that Vampire Killer really got me with its Metroidvania thing, gives the game lots of depth.


Xevious: Fardraut Saga (MSX2, disk)

...and here it is, my favourite version of Xevious. I fell in love with the game in the early 80s when the cab appeared outside of a movie theater my friends and I often went to and from then on sucked my pockets dry of coins. The MSX version looks and plays very close to the original and has all enemies, installations and bosses from the real thing, and then some - there is a complete second 16-stages course with new enemies, new bosses and four selectable ships. That's right, you not only got good old Solvalou but also Solgrado, Zeodalley, and Gampmission to play with, with different cut scenes, etc. That and the hilarious Engrish makes this port worth its weight in gold for me. :D

By the way, Fardraut Saga had also been ported to PC Engine.


Zanac A.I. (MSX1, cart) and Zanac-Ex (MSX2, cart/disk)


Two more great vert shmups by Compile. The first version was made for MSX1 machines but despite its looks plays very well, some say that it's even better than the MSX2-based sequel. However, the new extra weapons/powerup system of the sequel and its quite balanced difficulty level make it a good game in its own right. Both games share some elements with the Aleste series (also by Compile). Incidentally, MSX Aleste was not a port of the Master System original but an adaptation with new gameplay elements and somewhat lower difficulty (still challenging enough, mind you).
 

FAT$TACKS

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Holy heck.

I never did get into any of the computer type systems back then. It just wasn't really even a thing here in nowhere Kentucky. Later in life I picked up a TI setup with a few carts and played that for a while, and found a used Atari 400 at a yard sale that I kept for about a month, as that was how long it took to play the hand full of games it had. No online back then to be able to buy shit so if it wasn't local or in one of the close by cities it wasn't to be had.

Now that Vampire Killer game looks amazing. Castlevania is by far my favorite NES game, and I've played the hell out of it over the years. I would love to get to play that game. I may have to look into picking one of these up just for that.
 

Takumaji

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Now that Vampire Killer game looks amazing. Castlevania is by far my favorite NES game, and I've played the hell out of it over the years. I would love to get to play that game. I may have to look into picking one of these up just for that.

Good luck with that, Vampire Killer carts usually go for 150+ in good condition but you could always use a MegaFlashROM cart and play the ROM on the real thing.

There also is a way to turn ROM files into WAVs and send them to the computer with a special tape connector cable. This works with many MSX1 games of up to 32k and smaller but the audio files take a while to load (between 3 and 7 minutes). Still, it's the cheapest and easiest way to play the games. If you have a MSX2 computer with more than 128K RAM, you can also play the so-called Mega ROM-games (like Vampire Killer) with this method. The tape connector cable you need for it can be found on ebay, there's a seller based in the UK that has them in stock and sells them for about 30 bucks.
 

k'_127

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Maze of Galious, the sequel to Knightmare, is my favourite game on MSX:


The Castle. It's lengthy game where you explore a castle that is full of puzzles. The default speed is slow, but you can speed it up by holding certain keys:


King's Valley:

 
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Takumaji

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Great games, k'. The Castle Excellent can be a real mindbender, if you make a mistake in higher levels, you're doomed. The ascending and descending tone that gets played when jumping (or floating) has been imprinted in my mind forever...

Maze of Galious (aka Knightmare II) is great as well, lots of stuff to do and find, and the switching between the two playable characters is a nice touch. It's one of those MSX games that look like simple platformer affairs but it actually have a lot more under the hood. Have you ever played the PC remakes mentioned in the video?

King's Valley keeps biting my ass... I love it but it can be quite frustrating.

Here are some more:

Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished - The Final Chapter (MSX2, disk)

Nihon Falcom's Ys series of adventure/RPG games originally started on the NEC PC-8801, a Z80-based home computer, and later on got ported to various other systems such as MSX, Famicom, Mega Drive, X68000, PSX, etc. Despite its early-RPG-style looks with its tilted top-down view, it's actually a more or less realtime RPG, combat is not turn-based but works by equipping Adol (the main character) with various weapons and armors and then simply bumping into enemies until they're gone. So except for dialogs with NPCs, the flow of the game does not get interrupted too much. It's this and the recharging energy bar when not under attack that makes the game very accessible and levelling up less of a chore than in other games of that sort.

The first three Ys games (Vanished, Final Chapter and Wanderer From Ys) have been ported to MSX. At least the first two have English text.


Hi no Tori Hououhen / Firebird (MSX2, cart/disk)

Another excellent and tough-as-nails Konami title. You have to battle your way through six stages, unlock magic items and find the right way out. There are branches and dead ends so a bit of looking ahead is essential.

There also are some puzzle elements and backtracking to find all the keys necessary to unlock the final chapter and fight the big boss.

Most of the time you will be shooting it out with the nasties but the added adventure elements give the game a lot more depth than its vert shmup looks suggest. However, working out the best way for each level and keeping the hordes of enemies at bay is easier said than done, sometimes the game had me screaming of frustration... really takes some dedication.


Bank Buster (MSX2, disk)

Bank Buster is an unusual combination of Breakout, shmup and puzzler. Your aim is to break into a well-stocked bank by removing obstacles, setting off dynamite charges and dodging security systems. The game is divided into dozens of screens which have to be cleared in order to advance. You can go backwards and forwards, there also are powerups for extra attacks.

The intro with the bank robber and cops is a nice touch. I find BB very addictive, the genre combo works quite well in my opinion.
 

Newsdee

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btw, there are two FPGA versions of the hardware which could be a cheaper alternative to getting an original machine and accesories. Both would feel closer to the real thing than emulation.

First you have the original 1chipMSX which is harder to find but allows running carts:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1chipMSX

Later the same core was ported to the MIST FPGA board, which loses the cart connections but is easier/cheaper to get (plus it can run other machines as well)
https://github.com/mist-devel/mist-board/wiki/CoreDocMSX

I have the second one, which is running in the video posted earlier.
 
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Takumaji

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On a lighter note, here are two hilarious MSX commercials, the first one is for the MSX-based Zemmix console which came out in South Korea, the second one is from Toshiba Japan:



All hail MSX :D
 

Takumaji

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Live, thread, live!

Today I want to show you some very nice new-generation homebrew games that caught my eye. They were entries or winners of the MSXDEV Contest, an annual coding competition that gets hosted on http://www.msxdev.org/, older entries can be found in the MSXDEV archive http://msxdev.msxblue.com/?page_id=378 . Most games can be downloaded for free, with the rare exception here and there.

As a bonus, I'll finish off with a funny Korean Super Mario clone.

Okay, let's start...

Menace (MSX, cart/rom)

(c) 2009 by The New Image


Download link: http://msxdev.msxblue.com/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=157

Menace is a fixed-screen vertical shmup where you have to steer rockets through an asteroid belt and into rows of alien ships in order to destroy them and prevent them from invading earth. Pressing the firebutton starts the booster and accelerates the rocket, releasing the button slows it down but it always keeps on moving upwards so a bit of planning ahead is important, hitting an asteroid or enemy bullet lets you lose a life.

Essentially, Menace is a mix of frogger and space invaders. Controls and collission detection are spot on, gameplay is highly addictive and visuals as well as sound are excellent. The game runs in some sort of interlace mode that makes it possible to use way more colours than a standard MSX game, there are more than 50 of them on the screen at some spots which lets the game look fantastic but also brings in a bit of interlace flicker. The difficulty level is just right and keeps you coming back for more.


Wing Warriors (MSX, cart/rom)

(c) 2016 Kitmaker Entertainment Inc.


Download link: http://msxdev.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/wing-warrios-msxdev15-final.zip

Wing Warriors is a vertical shmup with some bullet hell elements. Pressing and holding the firebutton gives you auto-fire and slows down the player's movement, releasing or tapping it takes you back to normal speed, this comes in handy for dodging huge streams of bullets. The player can choose one of three characters with different shots and speed, the main weapon can be upgraded by picking up powerups. At the end of each stage, a boss has to be defeated to advance to the next level.

The game is a real treat for shmup fans as it gives you a distinct MSX vibe but also brings in modern elements such as the slow-down of the player character when the button is held down and lots of interesting bullet patterns. Scrolling is jumpy but the player character, enemies and bullets move smoothly so that's not really an issue, you won't even notice it during play. Graphics and sprites are very well-drawn, could also be a MSX2 game. Difficulty level is quite high but still doable. Each of the selectable characters has its own storyline which unfolds in cut scenes between the levels. Overall a competent and great-looking vert shmup with excellent gameplay and high replayability.


Bitlogic (MSX2, cart/rom)

(c) 2015 OXiAB Game Studios


Download link: http://www.thepetsmode.com/prods/OXiAB_bitlogic-msxdev15-entry.zip

Bitlogic is an arcade adventure, you control Bit, a virtual person that has to enter a computer system, collect microchips and find out about his own identity and mission. There are lots of droids and biomechanical enemies that stand in Bit's way, luckily he has a gun to keep them in check. Every level has its own music and atmosphere, there also are graphical intermissions which gradually reveal the plot and the reason for Bit's existence. The game is available as a free rom download or in cart form with a high-q insert, manual and case. The cart made of clear plastic comes with what the developers call RGB LEDs that flash according to what goes on in the game. The developers also announced a PC version, check out the Bitlogic homepage for more info: http://www.oxiab.com/proyectos-bitlogic.php .

The game runs very smoothly, graphics look great and the music as well as sound fx are excellent. Since Bit can't jump from the get-go, precise manoeuvring is needed to reach the items scattered across the large levels. The story takes a few unexpected twists which is the main incentive at first to advance just a little bit further but overall, replayability is high even if you have already completed the game since it plays so well and is just good fun. Bitlogic looks incredibly polished for a homebrew game, highly recommended for fans of the arcade adventure/platformer genre.


Super Bio Man 4 (MSX2, cart/rom)

(c) 19XX Segye-ro Electronics, published by Zemina


Wait, doesn't this look like Mario? Yup, it's Zemina's Super Mario clone that came out in South Korea some years ago. It's the fourth installment in a series spread over various systems, the first being Super Bio Man on the Sega SG-1000. Apparently, Zemina did never aquire an official license from Nintendo, hence the silly title of the game. They got away with it due to South Korea's copyright laws, even though Big N tried to sue them into submission.

Music and sound are average, graphics are decent to good in some spots. Gameplay is nowhere near the NES original, Bio Man's movement is jerky and rough, it's rather difficult to master precise jumping and landing and the enemies are relentless in their attacks. As I said, the game looks okay-ish but lacks polish, sprites flicker a lot. Some of the original powerups are there. You can also tackle the levels in a non-linear fashion and unlock extra missions/levels in the process.

Even with all its roughness, Super Bio Man 4 is not a downright bad game, it's nice for a round or two, even though I probably won't finish it anytime soon. If anything, it will give Mario fans a good laugh and platformer fans a good challenge (if you can be arsed to keep at it, that is).
 

Rot

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Necro Bump... Ban Plz...

xROTx

PS. Man... I am full of witty one liners... PLEASE stick around for more:keke:
 

Takumaji

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Necro Bump... Ban Plz...

xROTx

PS. Man... I am full of witty one liners... PLEASE stick around for more:keke:

It's only a necro-bump when someone other than the thread starter bumps an old thread :D
 

Takumaji

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Lol. Well menace looked great and bitlogic looked intriguing. Good stuff Tak.

Bitlogic can drag you in like a black hole, before you know, you've put an hour into it and still want more. Normally I'm not very fond of arcade adventures but the game has that special something that makes it really addictive. It's great to see the MSX still getting lots of love!
 
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