*************** COMP.SYS.MSX FAQ ***************** compiled by Marat Fayzullin [firstname.lastname@example.org] version 0.5 the latest version can be obtained from http://www.komkon.org/fms/MSX/ Disclaimers: 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 * MSX BBSes * 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: http://www.stack.nl/~wiebe/mailinglist/ * FTP Archives: ftp://ftp.funet.fi/pub/msx/ Tools and documentation. ftp://ftp.komkon.org/pub/MSX/ fMSX, tools, games, more. ftp://msx.bnc.nl/pub/msx/ CJS MSX2 emulator. ftp://riaph.irkutsk.su/pub/ Slow. Do not overload the link. ftp://ftp.saitama-u.ac.jp/pub/msx/ Mirrors, Japanese user group. ftp://cam031313.student.utwente.nl/pub/MSX/ fMSX, utilities, games, demos. * WWW Pages: http://www.komkon.org/fms/MSX/ MSX Homepage. FAQs and Documentation. Russian software, such as TOR, DBG, RDV, and ND System. Game maps. http://www.il.ft.hse.nl/cgi-bin/MSX/ Wiebe Weikamp's Page. Mailing list, information, game trivia. Excellent site. http://avenue.tutics.tut.ac.jp/makuta/msx/link.html Yoshihisa Makuta's Page of Links. This is a huge collection of links to the homepages of Japanese MSX users. http://www.stack.nl/~mth/msx/ Maarten ter Huurne's Page. Lots of game tips and cheats. SCC and Moonsound documentation and music. Mayhem homepage. http://www.sci.fi/~tonisra/msx.html Toni Siira's Page. Latest MSX news. http://www.komkon.org/fms/fMSX/ Portable MSX/MSX2/MSX2+ emulator (Unix, Macintosh, Windows, MSDOS, more). http://msx.bnc.nl/msx/ CJS MSX2 emulator for MSDOS. http://web.inter.nl.net/users/A.P.Wulms/Html/main_index.html XelaSoft, Quadrivium, and Sunrise. http://huizen.dds.nl/~tchip/ Tjipke's Pages. MSX Web Magazine. http://huizen.dds.nl/~msx/ Sunrise Hardware: makers of GFX9900 and Moonsound. They provide MSX hardware and upgrades. http://toad.stack.nl/~cas/par/ Parallax: the producers of games for MSX. http://www.xs4all.nl/~ssfony/ Fony: the MSX game and demo producers. Zandvoort'95 info. http://www.worldnet.net/~benoitm/ Abyss: the MSX game and demo producers. http://www.stack.nl/~marq/n.o.p.html 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 samples. 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 http://www.stack.nl/~mth/msx/solideng/ 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 though. ********** 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 HARAPPA RUINS -- Stage 3 GANDHARA RUINS -- Stage 4 MOHENJO DARO -- Stage 5 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 lives). 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 things. 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 http://www.komkon.org/fms/fMSX/ * 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. * CJS MSX2 (MSDOS) 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 http://msx.bnc.nl/msx/ * 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 http://www.cs.vu.nl/~syoung/VirtualMSX/ * MSX4PC (MSDOS) 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 http://www.komkon.org/fms/MSX/ 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 ftp://ftp.funet.fi/pub/msx/archive/ 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.