*************** COMP.SYS.MSX FAQ *****************
compiled by Marat Fayzullin [fms@cs.umd.edu]
version 0.5
the latest version can be obtained from 

The author of this FAQ can not provide you with any ROMs or tell you 
where you can find them or any other copyrighted software. He may or
may not be able answer your other questions via email, but don't count 
on it. Ask your question in a newsgroup instead.

None of the information in this FAQ pretends to be true or complete.
If you think that the correctons or additons are needed, email your
comments to the author.

Thanks to:
Maarten ter Huurne -- For a lot of useful information on MSX hardware
and games.

********** CONTENTS **********

* What is COMP.SYS.MSX?
* What is MSX?
* MSX-Related Net Resources
* Various Questions
o What is GFX9000?
o What is SCC?
o What is SCC+?
o What is MSX-MUSIC?
o What is MSX-AUDIO?
o What is MoonSound?
o Is there an English version of Metal Gear 2?
o Is there a second version of Vampire Killer?
* Game Hints
* MSX Emulators
o Which MSX emulators exist?
o I'm new to this MSX thing and don't know which keys
to press.
o What do I do with .BAS,.GMB,.CRC,.LDR files?
o What do I do with .BIN,.OBJ,.GM files?
o What do I do with .COM files?
o What are the .ROM files?
o What are the .XSA files?
o How do I use disks with fMSX?
o Emulator hangs when I try to boot from a disk.
o Is it legal to spread MSX ROMs and cartridge ROMs?

********** What is COMP.SYS.MSX? **********

COMP.SYS.MSX is a USENET newsgroup dedicated to MSX computers. Anything 
can be discussed in it, as long as it has any relation to MSX or its 
derivatives. We have a simple rules which your are asked to follow when 
you post into COMP.SYS.MSX:

* Offtopics are tolerated but not welcomed. Please, be aware that it is 
first of all the MSX newsgroup.
* Please, use English for all of your posts. No Dutch. No Spanish. Not 
even if your expected readers are supposed to know the language. If
you do feel an absolute necessity to post in a different language, use
the [Language] tag ([Dutch], [French], etc.) in the beginning of your 
post's topic.
* Do not post any binaries. Really small (<3kB) binaries are tolerated, 
but do not count on it. Anything bigger than that should be uploaded 
to one of the FTP sites or put onto a WWW page and then announced in
the newsgroup.
* Do not ask any questions until you have read this FAQ. There is a 
very high probability that your question is answered here and asking 
it in a newsgroup will only annoy the regulars.
* No Holy Wars please. If you think that your MSX is better than 
everybody else's PC or vice versa, that is your personal business.
Do not force it down anyone's throat and do not try to argue about 
it, as nothing useful will come out of it anyway.

********** What is MSX? **********

MSX is an old Z80-based family of home computers which appeared in 1982
as an attempt to establish a single standard in home computing similar to
VHS in video. They were popular in Asian (Korea, Japan) and South American
(Brazil, Chile) countries as well as in Europe (Netherlands, France,
Spain) and former Soviet Union, but they are virtually unknown in USA.
Although MSX standard quietly died to year 1988, the world got to see
MSX2, MSX2+ and TurboR extensions of it. 

The MSX standard has been designed by a company called ASCII in
cooperation with Microsoft which provided a firmware version of its BASIC
for the machine. There is a widespread rumor that "MSX" stands for
"MicroSoft eXtended". The MSX machines were produced by such giants as
Sony, Yamaha, Panasonic, Toshiba, Daewoo, and Philips. The only MSX model
ever sold in USA appears to be an early SpectraVideo machine. 

In spite of its sad history, MSX is a very nice computer, especially
useful for educational purposes which is clearly indicated by example of
the Soviet Union. Russian Ministry of Education bought hundreds of MSXes
(and later MSX2s) grouped into "computerized classroom systems" of 10-16
machines connected into a simple network. Entire generation of programmers
has grown up using these computers. 

Hardware-wise, MSX represents a hybride of a videogame console and a
generic CP/M-80 machine. Its heart is a Z80 CPU working at 3.58MHz in the
base model. The clock frequency has been doubled in the TurboR. The video
subsystem is built around a TMS9918 or TMS9928 VDP chip also used in Texas
Instruments' TI-99/4 computers, ColecoVision, and Coleco Adam. In the
later MSX models this chip has been upgraded to V9938 (MSX2) and V9958
(MSX2+ and TurboR). The latest version of it is V9990. The audio system is
handled by AY-3-8910 chip by General Instruments, same as the one used in
Sinclair ZXSpectrum128 audio. AY-3-8910 provides 3 channels of synthetized
sound, noise generation, and two general purpose parallel IO ports which
are used for joysticks and some other things in the MSX design. Due to
their hardware structure, MSX machines were perfectly suitable for games
and there is a lot of good games either written or ported to them.

********** MSX-Related Net Resources **********

Note that only most important sites are listed here. The rest can be 
reached via links from these sites.

* Mailing List:

* FTP Archives:
Tools and documentation.
fMSX, tools, games, more.
CJS MSX2 emulator.
Slow. Do not overload the link.
Mirrors, Japanese user group.
fMSX, utilities, games, demos.

* WWW Pages:
MSX Homepage. FAQs and Documentation. Russian software, such as
TOR, DBG, RDV, and ND System. Game maps.
Wiebe Weikamp's Page. Mailing list, information, game trivia.
Excellent site.
Yoshihisa Makuta's Page of Links. This is a huge collection
of links to the homepages of Japanese MSX users.
Maarten ter Huurne's Page. Lots of game tips and cheats. SCC
and Moonsound documentation and music. Mayhem homepage. 
Toni Siira's Page. Latest MSX news.
Portable MSX/MSX2/MSX2+ emulator (Unix, Macintosh, Windows,
MSDOS, more).
CJS MSX2 emulator for MSDOS.
XelaSoft, Quadrivium, and Sunrise.
Tjipke's Pages. MSX Web Magazine.
Sunrise Hardware: makers of GFX9900 and Moonsound. They
provide MSX hardware and upgrades.
Parallax: the producers of games for MSX.
Fony: the MSX game and demo producers. Zandvoort'95 info.
Abyss: the MSX game and demo producers.
N.O.P.: MSX demos and TraxPlayer.

********** MSX BBSes **********

o Masco BBS (Norway)
SysOp: Benny-Roger Gundersen
Phone: +47 32883622 and +47 92212127
Equipment: 28800bps, V34, 2 lines
Language: English, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Spanish, etc.
Comments: Huge amount of MSX files in the MSX conference.

o Kalevala Box (Finland)
SysOp: Toni Siira
Phone: +358 187602210
Equipment: 14400bps, V32, 1 line
Language: English and Finnish
Comments: Lots of MSX files, MSX-only BBS.

o MSX BBS Hack Track (Holland)
SysOp: Wiebe Weikamp
Phone: +31 314333729
Equipment: 9600bps, 1 line
Language: Dutch
Comments: Only open 21:00-09:00 CET.

o UMF BBS #1 (Holland)
SysOp: Roald Andersen
Phone: +31 235848741
Equipment: 28800bps, V34, 1 line
Language: English, Dutch, etc.
Comments: Lots of MSX files!

o Genesis The 8bit Generation (France)
SysOp: Emmanuel Roussin
Phone: +33 139505411
Equipment: 28800bps, VFC, 1 line
Language: English, German, ,and French

********** Various Questions **********

This section will attempt to cover most questions asked about the real 
MSX hardware and software. Emulation-related questions are separated into 
a different section.

o What is GFX9000?
GFX9000 is a video extension for MSX. It is a cartridge with a separate
video output containing the newest V9990 chip from Yamaha. GFX9000 contains 
512kB of VRAM. It is designed by Henrik Gilvad and produced by Sunrise Swiss.

o What is SCC?
SCC is a special sound chip used by Konami in some game cartridges. It
adds several more melodic sound channels and wavetable sound, albeit a
very primitive one.

o What is SCC+?
SCC+ is similar to SCC but has more features. It was only used in a few 
games by Konami, such as Snatcher and SD Snatcher.

o What is MSX-MUSIC?
MSX-MUSIC is an MSX sound standard based on the OPLL chip from Yamaha. 
MSX-MUSIC hardware is present in most MSX2+ and TurboR machines. The most
widespread external cartridge implementing this standard is FM-PAC (Korean
and Dutch FM-PAK), which may also contain some SRAM used to save game
data. "PAC" stands for "Pana Amusement Cartridge", as the device was aimed
specifically at games.

o What is MSX-AUDIO?
MSX-AUDIO is an MSX sound standard based on the OPL1 chip from Yamaha.
One of the cartridges implementing this standard is the Philips Music
Module, which also contains 32kB RAM for samples. The MoonSound board is 
also compatible with MSX-AUDIO standard.

o What is MoonSound?
MoonSound is a sound extension for MSX based on the OPL4 chip from
Yamaha. It is designed by Henrik Gilvad and produced by Sunrise Swiss.
MoonSound has both FM and wavetable sound. It is mostly compatible with
OPL1-based MSX-AUDIO hardware (only the ADPCM and a small minor features
are missing), but has no compatibility with OPLL-based MSX-MUSIC. 
MoonSound is sold with 128kB SRAM and a 2MB ROM containing General MIDI

o Is there an English version of Metal Gear 2?
Yes, there is now. Maarten ter Huurne and Takamichi Suzukawa have 
translated Metal Gear 2 to English. You can get it from


o Is there a second version of Vampire Killer?
No, there is no second version of Vampire Killer for MSX. At least, it
wasn't released and nobody has seen it so far. There are many versions of
Vampire Killer on other platforms, where it is known as Castlevania

********** Game Hints **********

The following information is taken from the MSX Games FAQ by Nick Chudin
(posted in Russian to fido7.ru.msx newsgroup) and Maarten ter Huurne's WWW
pages. Refer to these sources for more hints and passwords. 

o Firebird Passwords
Pause the game, then press [HOME] to get the current password. Press
[HOME] again to enter the password. Special passwords:

Password Alt Function
superball / tround -- all round keys
kinoooihitodane / tsquare -- all square keys
haneyokagayake / shoes -- all stone heads give 10 feathers
ultrabox / boxes -- 9 item storage boxes
turbo -- 3 pairs of shoes for speed
metalslave / feathers -- 200 feathers
hoihoihoinohoi / bell -- compass (invoked via [F5])
fullitemdayoon / items -- 1 item of each kind
gaooooooooooh / tenlives -- 10 lives
enddemogamitaina / demo -- show final sequence
kokowadoko / rolls -- 6 terrain maps (invoked via [F4])
nandanandananda / eternal -- infinite lives
autoshot -- autofire when [SPACE] pressed
ilovehinotori / immortal -- infinite invisibility
dokodemomap / map -- 6 map scrolls (invoked via [F5])
hayame -- 3 bugs for better shooting

o Zanac-Ex Hints:
At the title screen, hold [CTRL]+[C]+[[]+[]] and select the level with
[LEFT] and [RIGHT] arrow keys. 
After the game starts, but before your plane appears on the screen,
press a digit key. This will give you a corresponding weapon.
Some of the yellow Destroy-All bubbles falling out of the stone
structures become black if you wait with getting them. The black bubbles
will teleport you across several levels. 

o Treasure Of Usas Passwords:
Press [CTRL]+[SHIFT] at the start screen to enter a password.

JUBA RUINS -- Stage 2

o Metal Gear Hint:
After destroying the Metal Gear you need to leave the building but your 
time is running out. Use the cigarettes which you received in the 
beginning of a game, and your time will be increased by 2000.

o Vampire Killer Hint:
White Bibles will decrease merchant's prices. Black Bibles will increase
merchant's prices.

o King's Valley 2 Passwords:
The password contains 8 latin letters from "A" to "P" which correspond
to hexadecimal numbers from 0h to Fh. The password has format aabbAAAA,
where "aa" is the number of a level (0-60), and "bb" is the number of
lives (in BCD format, 0 corresponds to 0 lives, 255 corresponds to 98

Example: 60level/98lives -> 3Ch/FFh -> "DM"+"PP"+"AAAA" -> "DMPPAAAA"

o Penguin Adventure Hints:
In order to save the princess in time, you need to use the warp passages
between the levels. There is total of 7 such passages. Try jumping into
cracks and pressing [DOWN] button. If you have a bell, it will sound in
front of the passage entrances. Some levels are impossible to pass if you
don't buy a scroll in a shop. 
At the level select menu, type "NORIKO" and then select a level. You
will then be able to continue after game is over by pressing [F5]. 

o Nemesis I Passwords:
Pause the game by pressing [F1], then type the password and press
[RETURN]. Most of the codes can only be used a limited number of times. 

* Once per game: 
HYPER -- All weapons
* On every stage: 
MISSILE -- Missile
DOUBLE -- Double
LASER -- Laser
OPTION -- Options
SHIELD -- Shield
DOWN -- Lose all speed ups
* To get all weapons on every stage:
MOMOKO -- Stage 1
CHIE -- Stage 2
AKEMI -- Stage 3
SYUKO -- Stage 4
CHIAKI -- Stage 5
NORIKO -- Stage 6
SATOE -- Stage 7
YASUKO -- Stage 8
KINUYO -- Bonus stage 1
HISAE -- Bonus stage 2
MIYUKI -- Bonus stage 3
YOHKO -- Bonus stage 4
* Any number of times:
BAKA -- Game over
AHO -- Game over

o Nemesis II Double-Cart Features:
Nemesis II shows up some hidden features when it is inserted into slot
#1, and there is another cartridge plugged into slot #2: 

* with Penguin Adventure (RC743)
You get a penguin instead of a space ship and power-ups are fishes.
* with Q-Bert (RC746)
Press [F1] to pause the game, then type a password and press [RETURN].
METALION -- Invulnerability
LARS18TH -- All weapons
NEMESIS -- Next stage
* with Maze of Galious (RC749)
Every time you lose a life you can get back the weapons you had.

o Maze of Galious Hints:
Pause the game, then type either "UMBRELLA" or "ZEUS", and continue the
game. "ZEUS" allows you to continue after the game is over. "UMBRELLA" 
will destroy all bats on the screen if you have the Sabre. 

o F1 Spirit Passwords and Features:
These are the special passwords to be used in F1 Spirit:

MAXPOINT -- All races possible
HYPEROFF -- Faster pit stops
ESCON -- Press [F5] to quit race
ESCOFF -- Disable ESCON effect
MITAIYOENDDEMO -- Show final sequence

This cartridge will also behave differently when Game Master I (RC735),
King Kong II (RC745), or QBert (RC746) cartridges are plugged into slot
#2. In this case, you will be able to select any race without gathering
necessary points. 

o Aleste Hints:
When the intro story is shown, press the [S]+[T]+[SPACE]. The game will
go to the sound test mode. Press [SPACE] to select the music, and [SHIFT]
to exit this mode. 

********** MSX Emulators **********

There are several MSX emulators available for those who want to run MSX
software on other platforms. You may consider the following text to be
slightly biased toward fMSX emulator, as the author of this FAQ also
happens to be the author of fMSX. 

Following are some common questions asked by the emulator users. Some of
them may seem very primitive to the aged MSXers, but as many emulator
users have never seen a real MSX in their lives, they may not know these

o Which MSX emulators exist?

* fMSX (Unix,Mac,MSDOS,Windows,PC9800,etc.)
fMSX is a portable MSX/MSX2/MSX2+ emulator written in C language by
Marat Fayzullin. It is written in C, and its source code is freely 
distributable for non-commercial purposes. Numerous ports and 
extensions exist for different platforms, such as the MSDOS version 
by Marcel de Kogel and Macintosh version by John Stiles. Further
development is greatly encouraged. The Windows95/WinG version is 
available from the author for $35US (with a free demo). fMSX can be 
obtained from


* fMSX-Amiga (Amiga)
This is an Amiga version of fMSX branched from the portable version 
by Hans Guijt a long time ago. It is quite different from the 
mainstream version and optimized to deliver maximal perfomance on
Amiga platform.

MSX2 emulator by CJS is able to access files in the MSDOS partitions,
emulates both MSX and MSX2, supports mouse, it is fast, and has very 
extensive documentation.Highly recommended for PC users. You may 
have known its previous versions under names "PC MSX1 emulator" and 
"MSX099". CJS MSX2 can be obtained from


* AmiMSX (Amiga)
AmiMSX is written by a group of Spanish guys. Its perfomance is quite 
impressive even on an A3000/25. Unfortunately, it is a crippleware: 
the freely distributable version stops working after several minutes. 

* Virtual MSX (Windows)
The Windows-only emulator by Sean Young has an emulation core written
in assembly language, and extensive GUI. Only MSX (not MSX2/MSX2+) is 
currently emulated though. Needs WinG. The Virtual MSX can be found at


This is a commercial MSX emulator produced in Netherlands. It is
programmed by Adriaan van Doorn and published by MCCM.

o I'm new to this MSX thing and don't know which keys to press.
This question is usually asked by American users who are rarely bright
enough to figure things on their own. There is an easy-to-use MSX
introduction written by Hans Guijt for such users. It is available at


Ironically, the introduction is somewhat skewed toward the Amiga version
of fMSX written by Hans :). You should also carefully read this FAQ and
all the documentation which came with an emulator you are using. 

o What do I do with .BAS,.GMB,.CRC,.LDR files?
These are BASIC programs. You run them from MSX BASIC with

RUN "filename"

o What do I do with .BIN,.OBJ,.GM files?
These are so-called BLOADable binary files containing binary data and 
code. They can be run from MSX BASIC with

BLOAD "filename",R

o What do I do with .BAT and .COM files?
These are MSXDOS batch files and programs. You need to boot MSXDOS and 
run them from there.

o What are the .ROM files?
.ROM files are binary images of cartridge ROMs. There are "normal"
cartridge ROMs which are 16kB or 32kB in size, and MegaROMs which can be
128kB, 256kB and even 512kB. Latter require MegaROM-Mapper feature (-rom
option in fMSX), as the actual cartridges contain special circuitry to
switch the ROM pages. 

o What are the .XSA files ?
They are compressed diskimages. Use F2D.COM (MSXDOS2) or F2D.EXE (MSDOS)
to uncompress them to a disk or XSD (Unix) to uncompress them to a .DSK
file. These programs are written by Alex Wulms and can be found at


o How do I use disks with fMSX?
fMSX doesn't use real floppies. Instead, it uses "disk images", which
are just raw files with all disk blocks written in a sequence. First, make
sure that the DISK.ROM file containing MSX DiskROM is present, and you 
are getting into DiskBASIC, not into usual BASIC. Then, use an MSDOS 
program called DCOPY.EXE to create disk images of your MSX disks: 

DCOPY <drive>: <filename>.DSK

They can also be created on a Unix machine with

cp /dev/fd0.720 <filename>.DSK

or a similar command. If you have a 1.44MB HD floppy formatted on MSX for
720kB, don't forget to stick a piece of tape on the HD/DD indicator hole.
Be aware though that HD disks formatted as DD are less reliable than
normal DD disks. 

After you have created disk image files, run fMSX in the following way: 

fmsx -diska <filename1>.DSK -diskb <filename2>.DSK

where two image filenames will become your drives A: and B:. You can
also have default disks called DRIVEA.DSK and DRIVEB.DSK and located in
the current directory.

o Emulator hangs when I try to boot from a disk.
This frequently happens when you try to boot from a disk or an image of
a disk formatted under MSDOS. Such disks contain the MSDOS 80x86 code in
their boot sector. Both emulators and a real MSX hang when trying to
execute this code. It is highly suggested that you format your MSX disks
either on a real machine or on the emulator (using CALL FORMAT command
from DiskBASIC), and don't try to boot with MSDOS-formatted disks in drive
A: (it's ok to have them in drive B: though, as MSX doesn't try to boot
from this drive). 

o Is it legal to spread MSX ROMs and cartridge ROMs?
NO. Nobody seems to care though, mainly because there is no profit to be
made on these ROMs any longer. Nevertheless, be aware of the fact that by
using the system ROMs not taken out of your own MSX machine and ROMs from
cartridges you haven't bought, you are formally commencing an act of
software piracy. 
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