Newsletter #11

by MSX Resource Center on 18-12-2002, 00:50

Hello and welcome to the eleventh edition of the MSX Resource Center Newsletter. It's been months since we've sent our previous newsletter and the MSX community seems to be more active than ever, so this edition is really packed with MSX news. In this newsletter you'll find a selection of the MSX news from April 24th to present. Just in case you're wondering if it's worth the read: there's news on the MSX Revival finally going global, there's a small hint about our upcoming challenge, a list many new software titles for MSX, reports on the latest fairs and meetings and much, much more. So, without further ado: here's newsletter 11!

MSX Resource Center
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As usual we start our newsletter with the milestones our website has achieved. And a lot has happened since we last wrote you. First and foremost we celebrated our 10th anniversary. Yes, that is right, the MSX Resource Center has been serving the MSX Community for 10 years now. And, looking at the growth of the last years, there surely are many more years to come in which we hope to inform and motivate you about MSX and MSX related topics.

During the past few months we broke the 1,500,000 visitor barrier with the Nedstat counter that has been couting visits to the MRC ever since August 1996. Only a few days later we welcomed our 2,000th member. Both milestones clearly show there's an increasing interest in MSX and prove there are still many active MSX users around, all over the globe. Their activity was proven once again on August 16th, when we posted our 2,000th newspost.

Last, but certainly not least, we celebrated the 25,000th forum post on our MSX forums. The forums have truly become a very important meetingplace for the entire MSX Community. Developers can (pre)announce their products and listen to the suggestions, bugreports and opinions of their userbase, new ideas and even development teams are born, old projects are brought back to life and discussions on the pros and cons of the MSX Revival and tons of other subjects give a clear view of the size and diversity of the MSX community. As we write this newsletter we've already moved on to a forum with more than 32,000 forumposts, receiving hundreds of posts every week. We'd like to thank all the people who contributed to the MRC forums so far and invite everybody to keep or start doing so in the future. As you are already a member of the MRC all you have to do to join in on the discussions is login with your username and password. We're looking forward to meet you there!

1,500,000 visitors at MRC
2,000 members on the MRC
2,000 newsposts at the MRC
MRC forums: 25,000 forum posts

As you probably know the MSX Resource Center is available in more languages than English alone. The entire team of MRC admins, webmasters and moderators are working on offering the latest MSX news in Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch on a daily basis. On all three websites cool milesones were achieved. The Portuguese MSX Resource Center, http://br.msx.org/ was launched at May 14th. On the Spanish MRC more than 1,000 newsposts were translated while the Duch MRC is getting very close to a completely translated news archive with more than 2,000 translated newsposts. In the future we would like to add other languages to the MRC. Japanese is high on our wish-lists, but very hard to accomplish. If you (or someone you know) can help out on translating newsposts from English to Japanese regularly don't hesitate to send us a mail.

Portuguese MSX Resource Center launched
Spanish MRC: 1,000 newsposts translated
Dutch MSX: 2,000 newsposts translated

By the way, did you know you can use your own custom RSS reader to keep track of the latest MSX news, reactions and forum posts? At the moment the MRC offers three different RSS feeds:

http://www.msx.org/newsfeed.php - Be the first to know the latest MSX news
http://www.msx.org/forumfeed.php - Keep track of the many discussions on our ever growing MSX forums
http://www.msx.org/reactionsfeed.php - Make sure you don't miss out on the reactions to newsposts, photoshoots and articles

Challenges
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On November 22nd we started the first MRC development contest ever: The MSX Snowfall Challenge. Six weeks later 25 new MSX titles, all based on the theme 'snowfall', had arrived. MSX guru Wammes Witkop took the time to judge them all and after the winners had been announced it was clear we should organize more Challenges in the future. Not much later we started the second MRC Challenge: the Under Water Challenge. Again we found an MSX celebrity, Frank H. Druijff, willing to judge all entries. 11 new MSX productions were the result. At the moment we have just closed the third contest: The MRC Bounce Challenge, to which 15 cool entries were submitted. André Ligthart and Martijn Maatjens, previously active in the Dutch MSX scene as 'ANMA' are currently looking at every entry, giving rates and comments and thus deciding the winners. A fourth MRC Challenge will be announced in the near future. It will be a bit different than the previous challenges, but it will certainly be 'tha bomb' (subtle hint).

Under Water Challenge
Bounce Challenge

Apart from the development challenges we have started the 'MSX in the Media Challenge'. The aim of the challenge is to get more attention for MSX in media that usually don't report on MSX. At the moment more than 50 nominations have already been spotted in the media, ranging from Konami mentioning MSX on many Metal Gear-related pages, MSX appearing in TV and Radio shows, Newspapers and news websites. The list of nominees is certainly worth having a look at.

MSX in the Media challenge
MSX in the Media: List of nominees

MSX-Revival
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When the first news on the MSX Revival surprised the MSX community, many people thought it would never result in a new MSX computer, nor would it ever move outside of Japan. Although things are going a lot slower than initially announced and although there are still quite some questionmarks it looks like the MSX Revival is finally becoming a global revival and with ASCII and MSX Association demonstrating the One Chip MSX1 prototype at Altera's PLD World 2004 fair it's only a matter of time before real, new MSX computers appear on the market. The One Chip MSX1 is a first step in introducing a new kind of FPGA computer as announced by Kazuhiko Nishi in Tilburg 2001. More information on the One Chip MSX1, including a first peek at the PCB, can be found in the links below.

ASCII and MSX Association demonstrate One Chip MSX1 at PLD World 2004
One Chip MSX1 - first peek

Apart from the One Chip MSX1, ASCII is also preparing a third edition of their succesful MSX Magazine series. Having sold thousands of copies of both MSX Magazine 1 and MSX Magazine 2, ASCII is looking forward to make MSX Magazine 3 just as succesful. Bernard Lamers was one of the editors of MSX Magazine 2. In MSX Magazine 2 he wrote an article on MSX in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil. Thanks to the help of active MSX users he managed to write an article containing news on recent MSX developments in these communities, completed with recent pictures. He has been asked to write another article for MSX Magazine 3 for which he could also use your help. This time Bernard will focus on MSX in Russia and Arab countries. Once again, he has asked the MRC visitors to help him out in finding as much information as possible.

MSX Magazine 3 announced - Help wanted

But here's the thing that's probably the most intersting to the readers of the MRC Newsletter, who are mostly not located in Japan: A young Dutch company called Bazix has recently become the official representative for MSX-Association when it comes to English communication. At the MSX fair in Bussum they announced who they are and what they are going to do. On their website you can find a translation of the MSX Logo usage policy, including downloads of many MSX Logo's ready to be used on e.g. your websie. Before the end of this year Bazix will launch a service similar to D4 Enterprise's succesful Project EGG, called WOOMB.net. On this website members can buy low-budget games previously released on MSX. As the games are packed in an emulator, MSXPLAYer, it's possible to play the games on ordinary Personal Computers. It is yet unclear which games will be offered at first or when the service will start. Of course, if you visit the MSX Resource Center frequently, you'll be the first to know.

MSX Revival goes global
MSX Logo's online at Bazix

Hardware
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The One Chip MSX1 is not the only new MSX computer that has been announced. Leonardo Padial, known from hardware projects like the Z380 board, memory expansions, slot expanders and flash cards has announced the eMSX2++ computer. The development of this 100% MSX2+ computer, built on a 15x20cm board, expandable with Z380 and/or eZ80 processors is currently still in the planning stage, but it certainly looks very promising. Padial estimates the basic eMSX2++ system will cost about 230 euro's.

eMSX2++

In Japan, Syntax have been working at MSX-Guncon, a new lightgun for MSX. Unfortunately the lightgun will not be compatible with ASCII's rare PLUS-X Terminator, but the developers plan to release several software titles with the lightgun.

MSX Guncon

But the most surprising hardware news from the past few months comes from Spain. Obsonet is a project many people have been waiting for: ethernet for MSX. Based on a Realtek chipset it is now possible to connect your MSX to your own LAN. Thanks to Nestor Soriano's Internestor Suite it's already possible to use the MSX for several Internet-duties and thanks to a special Internestor development competition (ILAC) there's more MSX networking software to come. For a price of about 40 euro's, the first Obsonet cartridges will be sold at the upcoming MSX User Meeting in Barcelona, on October 30th.

Obsonet

Games & Demos
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Apart from the more than 50 entries to the MRC challenges a lot of MSX games and demo's have been released in 2004. Imanok created a new game for MSX with a very special concept: Armwrestling. You can download the game for free to test your MSX armwrestling skills. SLotman of MSXFiles even released 5 games at a time on the MSXRio fair. Four of these games are remakes of Sega SG-1000 games, the fifth game (Maximum Penalty) is completely written in MSXPad, a Pascal development environment.

Armwrestling
Dragon Wang, Maximum Penalty, Mikie, Orguss and Starjacker

Olivier Hustin released a new version of Vscreen, an opensource, universal platform-game engine. With this new version it's almost possible to build a complete platform game without having to code a single line of assembly. A level-editor is available for both MSX and PC, but the package also contains several demo-levels. The quality of this smooth-scrolling engine is absolutely stunning. We're looking forward to see the first Vscreen games in action.

Vscreen 0.9a

On the MSX fair in Bussum, Near Dark released a music disk for Moonsound: Happy 10th birthday Soepfiskje. The music disk contains 13 songs created in Moonblaster Wave and a nice introdemo and interface. As not all MSX users visit MSX fairs Near Dark decided to offer the music disk in the MRC Webshop as well.

Happy 10th birthday Soepfiskje!

A few days ago Team Bomba released a second patch for their popular game Bombaman, which was released by Sunrise on the MSX Fair in Oss 2004. The patch resolves several bugs with custom-built levels. If you have bought the game, make sure you run this patch.

Bombaman - Second update

To top it all off, Eduardo Robsy's game development contest MSXDev'04 proved to be a huge success. A grand total of 16 brand new MSX1 games were developed especially for this competition, which was eventually won by Madonna Mark II with the addictive game 'Sink King'. Not long ago nobody would have expected new MSX1 games to be released, now there are 16 games waiting for you to be played. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the entries to this challenge. In other words: download them all!

MSXDev'04

Translations
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Most people never really got to playing Illusion City or Shalom because both games were only available in Japanese. Thanks to the efforts of several hobbyists both games will soon be available in Portuguese and English. From both Illusion City and Shalom new beta-versions of these localizations were released so that, finally, years after their original release non-Japanese MSX user can enjoy the storyline of these games as well. And as if that wasn't enough already: Illusion City can now be run on an ordinary MSX2 computer.

Illusion City Portuguese 0.3
Illusion City English 0.3
Shalom Portuguese beta 12

Fairs & Meetings
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It's always great to meet other MSX users. At the moment there are 3 big MSX user meetings planned for the near future. One in the Netherlands, one in Spain and one in Brazil. If you have the change to go to either one of these meetings, we strongly recommend you to do so. Going to an MSX user meeting is the ultimate way to give your MSX motivation a boost, to have a look at the latest developments and to get yourself some new (or second hand) MSX gear. On October 30th and 31st AAMSX will host the 26th edition of the MSX-RU in Barcelona, from November 13th to November 15th Brazilian MSX friends gather for another edition of MSX Jaú and on January 22nd, 2005, the Old Theatre of Oss will be crowded with MSX users from the Netherlands, at NBNO's traditional new-years-meeting. Once again, if you can go to one of these fairs: GO! :)

26th MSX User Meeting of Barcelona announced
MSX Jaú announced
Oss 2005 announced

If you want to taste the atmosphere of MSX fairs and meetings we have got just the thing for you: Photoshoots and reports of MSX fairs and meetings held between April and October 2004. This time we went to Tilburg, Bussum and MSXRio. Thanks to one of our active members we also have several pictures of the MSX user meeting in Mariënberg to offer. And for those who'd like to have a bit more details there are reports of both Tilburg 2004 and Bussum 2004. Another new initiative, the DevCon meeting, deserves a bit of extra attention. Unlike most MSX fairs and meetings, this user meeting aims at the MSX developers in the Netherlands. The first edition of DevCon turned out to be a huge success, so a second edition was held on the 28th of August. With Team Bomba and the Guru Logic team present, amongst others, the meeting turned out to be an excellent place to show some sneak previews, exchange some ideas, tricks and theories and have a lot of fun. If all goes well, another edition of DevCon will be held in the near future.

Tilburg 2004 photoshoot
Tilburg 2004 report
MSXRio 2004 photoshoot
Bussum 2004 photoshoot
Bussum 2004 - fair & marathon report
Mariënberg - October 2004 photoshoot
DevCon 2004 photoshoot

Apart from the fairs held in 2004 we are also trying to get a complete archive of pictures taken on MSX fairs and meetings in the past. Thanks to several of our visitors we were able to add a lot of pictures taken on fairs held in Tilburg and Zandvoort during the 90s. We also added a photoshoot of the historical MSX fair in Tilburg of 2001, where Dr. Kazuhiko Nishi announced his MSX revival plans to the international MSX community. If you have pictures taken on MSX fairs and meetings not yet listed in our photoshoots section, we'd gladly host them on the MRC. Please send us an e-mail if you'd like to publish your pictures on the MRC.

Tilburg 1990 photoshoot
Tilburg 1995 and 1996; Zandvoort 1995, 1996 and 1997 photoshoots
Tilburg 1999 photoshoot
Tilburg 2001 photoshoot

Related
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Konami and Hideo Kojima have built a huge reputation with the Metal Gear Solid series. The more popular the Metal Gear Solid series became, the louder became the call from the gaming community to re-release the first two editions of Metal Gear for modern platforms. For a long time it didn't look like Konami was willing to do so but recently Konami released both Metal Gear and and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake for mobile phones in Japan. It is yet unclear if Konami is also going to release international versions of the game. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was previously only available on MSX computers.

Metal Gear 1 for mobile phones
Metal Gear 2 for mobile phones

Wolf and Maggoo released two tools that will surely be of use to people who would like to create their own games with Vscreen. Maggoo released an easy-to-use Vscreen Map Editor for PC, while Wolf released Polka: a GFX editor for SCREEN 2 and 4. As Vscreen uses SCREEN 4 and MSX lacked a good SCREEN 4 GFX tool, this tool can be considered to be an Vscreen developer's essential. Of course the tool can also be used to create graphics for other MSX1 or MSX2 projects.

Vscreen Map Editor for PC
Polka, GFX editor for SCREEN 2 and 4

Utilities
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Yes, even more new software for MSX. Many people often approach the MSX as a gaming console, but the ever growing amount of utilities for MSX clearly show that there's more to MSX than just games. One of the largest MSX projects currently in development is Flyguille's MNBIOS, a new operating system for MSX, adding several interesting features like a multitasking, multicolor shell with support for long filenames. A third demo version has just been released. A programmers manual and a user manual are already available, so you can already try the features of this new OS.

MNBIOS - third demo version

MemTR is a new tool that solves a problem many turboR owners have experienced: by default the turboR always uses its internal (fast) memory mapper instead of the largest available memory mapper. Many software titles don't look for the available memory in all slots, resulting in only using the internal memory of the turboR. MemTR searches for the largest Memory Mapper and then selects it as the default mapper. This way it's possible to run software that needs just that bit of extra memory after all.

MemTR

Albert Beevendorp released a very interesting tool: IPS for MSX. IPS is a standard for creating patches. This way it is possible to distribute e.g. translation patches for copyrighted software, without distributing the copyrighted software itself. Of course, IPS can also be used to distribute patches of software you made yourself.

IPS for MSX 1.1

Marcel Delorme released a new version of MBWave in which a small bug was fixed and, more importantly, a solo function was added. Nestor Soriano released updates of both Internestor Lite and NestorBASIC. The most important new feature on NestorBASIC is that it now supports Internestor Lite, so that you can now even code internet applications in BASIC. The latest version of Albert Beevendorp's ROMload makes running games from Konami's Snatcher or SD-Snatcher cartridge easier and more pleasant than it ever was.

MBWave 1.16
Internestor Lite 0.4
NestorBASIC 1.10
ROMload 1.99r

With the increase of activity for MSX, the need for good development tools is growing as well. TNI and Sjoerd Mastijn help the modern MSX coders with their cross-development Z80 Assembly compilers tniASM and SjASM. Both tools can be used to compile Z80 sourcecode on PC. Needless to say there are a lot of benefits to compiling sourcecode on a fast PC.

tniASM 0.41
SjASM 0.39d2

Although a lot of coders try to squeeze as much as possible out of the Z80 by using assembly, languages like NestorBASIC, C and Pascal are increasingly popular amongst MSX developers. Arnold Metselaar wrote a set of tools that highly increase the ease of use of Hitech-C in DOS2. Amongst his tool is a nice 'make'-tool for MSX, which is a great tool for speeding up the compilation of large projects. On Hans Otten's website Pascal lovers can find MST's MDL-Lib, a Pascal library full of useful routines which can be used in your own Pascal projects.

Hitech-C DOS2 tools
MDL-Lib 2.2

Emulation
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The developers of MSX emulators are constantly looking for improvements to get closer to 100% perfect emulation of the MSX computer. During the past few months 6 different MSX emulators were updated, getting them several steps closer to perfection. Apart from emulating the MSX correctly, developers of emulators are giving more and more attention to the presentation by improving the GUI's and adding scalers that improve or decrease (to give that good old TV feeling) image quality. The following MSX emulators were updated since the last newsletter:

BlueMSX 1.7.0
fMSX 2.8
paraMSX 0.46b
openMSX 0.5.0
RedMSX 1.3
RuMSX 0.28

The MSX emulator for Nokia Series 60 phones, fMSX/S60, was updated as well. The new release adds savestates-per-game and several optimizations, making your favorite MSX games play even smoother than before on your mobile phones.

fMSX/S60 1.05

Websites
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We already mentioned it in the section on Obsonet: Nestor Soriano has started ILAC, the Internestor Lite Applications Contest. With a cool prize to win, a genuine turboR computer, this competition is likely to bring us several interesting Internet tools for MSX. Ricardo Bittencourt has already announced he will join the challenge with an MSX-DOS version of FudeBrowzer, the webbrowser for MSX.

ILAC'04

MSX Review 2 is a free, Spanish MSX magazine available in PDF format. The magazine contains arcitles on Obsonet, Call MSX 3, Bomb Jack and a preview of Paxanga's upcoming game Yupipati.

MSX Review 2

On Generation MSX, the most complete list of MSX software information a lot of features were improved, making it even easier to find the information you are looking for. If you want to know background information on an MSX game (like the releasedate, screenshots or the original saleprice) Generation MSX should be your first stop.

Generation MSX

After the success of the first 2 editions of the MSX Games Box's Wallpaper contest a new MSX Wallpaper contest has just been started: MSXArt'04. This year there are 5 different themes on which designers can base their Wallpapers. At the moment MSX Games Box already received 5 wallpapers. The contest runs until January 12th, 2005.

MSXart'04

Cybergamba's MSX Maps website is a rapidly growing website offering maps of several MSX games like Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2, YS, Golvellius, King Kong 2 and more. Are you in need of a map of an MSX game? Maybe you'll find it over here!

Cybergamba MSX maps

Last but not least, one of the most active Portuguese community portals, MSX Files has celebrated its 5th anniversary. We surely hope there are many more years to come as MSX Files has proven to be a valuable source of information on the Brazilian MSX community, while webmaster SLotman has become increasingly productive in developing new MSX software.

5 years of MSX files

Well, as you can see and read a lot happened! It is always nice to see enthousiastic people who participate in our Challenges, keep our forums alive and who created and use (new) demos, games en utilities with a lot of pleasure. Thanks for the support and keep in mind: if you see anything, anywhere concering MSX, please let us know!

Greetings,

The MSX Resource Center Crew
http://www.msx.org/

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