Newsletter #12

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

Hello and welcome to the twelfth edition of the MSX Resource Center newsletter, in which we bring you a brief overview of the latest events that went on in the MSX community since we last sent you a newsletter. As usual, the newsletter is packed with news, as the MSX Community just seems to be getting more and more active by the month. In this edition of the MRC newsletter you can find, amongst others, information on the upcoming One Chip MSX (you better believe it!), the new MSX Emulator Comparison (find out which MSX Emulators for Windows should be your first choice in emulation, which shouldn't and why), development competitions, tons of new software and lots more. By the way, did you know you can use your own custom RSS reader to keep track of all 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.

MSX Resource Center
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Every newsletter we report on some of the milestones the MRC has reached during the time between the current and previous newsletter. This time, there were 3. The Portuguese section of our website, 2,500 members at the MRC
2,000,000 visitors on the MSX Resource Center
Portuguese MSX Resource Center - 1,000 newsposts translated

You all probably know hosting the MSX Resource Center is getting increasingly expensive, while giving away prizes in our Challenges doesn't come for free either. Although the MSX Resource Center admins give enough financial input to the foundation to keep the site up and running for a long time to come, every now and then the MRC team introduce some new features like a webshop, affiliates, requesting donations, showing MSX auctions on eBay and showing content-based ads in order to be prepared for an even more expensive future. The income generated from these programs also make it possible to do something extra every now and then. The recently introduced eBay and Google ads do tend to slow the website down a bit, though, and can be a bit annoying as well. We therefore decided to reward our biggest fans with an ad-free MRC. All you have to do is log in and check which ads you don't (or do) want to see in the 'My Account' section.

MRC members gain control over MRC ads

We are currently running a poll during which you can decide which is going to be the most important MSX news of 2004. Was it the announcement and demonstration of the One Chip MSX1 by ASCII and MSX Association? Was it the completion of Bombaman? Or was it the release of the CD-ROM game Dungeons & Dragons? Or could it perhaps have been the announcement of Obsonet, an ethernet cartridge for MSX? It's up to you to decide. Cast your votes while you can!

Most important news of 2004

Challenges
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The element of competition has proven to give several MSX developers the little push they need to actively start developing products for MSX again. After the success of MSXDev'04 and various MRC Challenges in 2004, it was perfectly clear there would be new challenges and competitions in 2005 as well. The first two have just been announced. MSXdev'05, the MSX1 game development contest and the MRC Airwaves Challenge. With the first you can win a genuine Panasonic MSX turboR, while winning the latter will bring you eternal fame as your song will be broadcast on a Dutch Radiostation, just before the popular retrogaming show Airwaves will be put online for retrocomputing fans all around the world to enjoy.

MSXdev'05
MRC Airwaves Challenge

The results of no less than 3 MRC challenges were published since our last newsletter. The MRC Bounce Challenge resulted in the return of bouncy bouncy demos to MSX. With 15 entries and none other than the original ANMA crew as the main jurors of the challenge, the introduction of the 4motion engine, a spectacular multilayer bouncing demo from TNI and a surprising winner with a very original approach, our fourth MSX development challenge turned out to be a success as well. For the following challenges we decided to focus a bit less on coding skills, introducing an Xmas flavored music competition, the MRC MuSiXmas Challenge and a Bombaman Level Edit Challenge. Both resulted in a nice list of entries

Bounce Challenge - Results
MRC MuSiXmas Challenge - Results
Bombaman Level Edit Challenge - Results

Games and demos
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In January 2004, during the first MRC Challenge, the Snowfall Challenge, a new MSX group revealed itself to the MSX community: Infinite. They decided to take a look back at the year that has passed with News2004, a demo with an oldschool scroller, discussing the most important, funny or remarkable MSX news of 2004 according to Infinite.

News2004 by Infinite

Another interesting release that took the MSX Community by surprise was muZiX. An MSX demo created by a developer who would like to remain anonymous, sent from an anonymous mail.ru e-mail account to the MRC. With catchy PT3 PSG music and amazing graphical conversions, making the demo look good on MSX1, better on MSX2 and even better on MSX2+, the demo set a new statistical record on the MRC: 215 downloads in 6 days. As a small 'you heard it hear first' to our newsletter subscribers, we now have reason to believe the developer of muZiX isn't known in the MSX community, but frequently visits the MRC. In fact, he told us he was an active ZX Spectrum user, wondering what he could do in MSX-BASIC and what MSX users might think of his productions.

muZiX

At the end of 2004, several interesting things were released, like the promo versions of Bomb Jack (and MSX2 conversion of this classic arcade) and Yupipati (a suprising variation to paper-scissor-rock that seems barely playable at first, until you get the hang of it). SLotman, maintainer of the popular Brazilian MSX website MSXFiles, released an adventure for MSX on CD-ROM, inspired by the TV Animation series Dungeons and Dragons. The game comes complete with cutscene videos in .EVA format. On the MSX fair in Bussum DarkStone released their first MSX game, Bounce Mania, which was being put to the test on the MRC, together with BombJack. 2004 ended with a nice Christmas demo created by Zone Neutra for MSX1 with 32kB RAM. At the MSX fair in Oss Sunrise released the long awaited Moonsound version of the Lost World. People who had bought Bombaman could already have listened to the audio recordings of the game, but as of now the Moonsound songs are available in the game itself as well.

Bounce Mania - Review
BombJack - Review
BombJack - Promo
Yupipati - Promo
Dungeons and Dragons
Christmas demo by Zone Neutra
Lost World for Moonsound

There are some interesting releases coming up as well. XL2S released a proof-of-concept demo of a 3D Maze similar to Wolfenstein 3D. The result, which can be controlled by the user, is quite amazing. This concept could very well be a first step in a full game. The same goes for the Kuru Kuru Kururin engine, released by Maggoo, which proves the VScreen Platform Game engine can easily be modified to offer a completely different gaming experience. Other good news comes from Team Bomba, who have announced they are working on an MSX game for the GFX9000 cartridge and Ramon Verlinden, who is creating a cyberpunk RPG inspired by SD-Snatcher and Illusion City with ASCII's RPG development kit Dante2. The screenshots he published so far look very promising.

Maze - First person maze demo by XL2s
Kuru Kuru Kururin engine - Demo
Team Bomba announce Blox for GFX9000
Cipher - First announcement

Utilities
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Every MSX user who owns a SCSI, IDE or CompactFlash interface knows how easy it is to get used to the speed of harddisks, CD-ROMs, ZIP and CompactFlash compared to floppy disks. Luckily, there are several tools that make it possible to run sector-based disk games straight from harddisk. Near Dark have just released Runit, an improved version of Michel Shuqair's 'START.COM'. This version automatically turns of R800 mode, enables a normal DOS1 mapper (like MAP.COM and MAPIT.COM do) and uses less memory than START.COM, allowing it to run more software than START does.

Runit 1.0

Two classic MSX music trackers have recently been declared freeware. PSG Tracker, the.. euhm...indeed... PSG tracker by Flying Bytes and Oracle, a feature-rich MSX-MUSIC tracker by Fuzzy Logic.

Oracle 1.10
PSG Tracker

Development
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In a short timespan a broad range of tools that can be used to play .PT3 files, originally designed for the ZX-Spectrum PSG, on MSX. These songs can then be played from MSX-DOS, MSX-BASIC or in Assembly, in order to be used in new MSX productions. On the internet you can find huge collections of PT3 files, that often explore parts of the PSG barely used on MSX, like arpeggio and sawtooth waveforms.

PT3 Tools
PT3 player for MSX

Wolf_, well known for his activities as an MSX composer released a tool created in BlitzBASIC which makes it possible to edit SCREEN 2 and SCREEN 4 graphics in Windows. The project aims to become the ideal tool for developing graphics for games based on the VScreen engine, but can also be used for other projects that use these screen modes.

Polka 1.2

A new edition of the GFX9000 library, a set of routines which can be used to design your own GFX9000 software, has been released as well. The project is now more or less linked to Team Bomba's Blox. Routines needed for that game will all be implemented in the GFX9000 library, meaning the GFX9000 will more and more evolve into a basic set of routines that are sufficient enough to create an entire game. This should certainly encourage other owners of GFX9000 cartridges to give things a try as well.

GFX9000 library + font pack

Nestor Soriano has released new versions of InterNestor Lite and NestorBASIC and released a set of C routines called Inlib. All of these releases can be used to create Internet applications for MSX, such as webbrowsers, mail clients, instant messaging software et cetera, with as much ease as possible.

InterNestor Lite 1.0
Inlib
NestorBASIC 1.11

Although MSX users were quite reluctant at first, cross-development has gained a lot of popularity amongst the MSX developers in the past few years. This popularity also shows in the amount of cross-compilers available for MSX and how often new versions are being released. Since our last newsletter, new versions of asMSX, Pasmo, SjASM and tniASM were released.

asMSX 0.11c
Pasmo 0.5.1
SjASM 0.39e
tniASM 0.43

Revival
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In our previous newsletter we already reported ASCII and MSX Association were to officially announce the One Chip MSX. Of course, MRC would not be the MRC if you couldn't find some detailed information on this first MSX computer to be produced since Panasonic stopped producing the MSX turboR computers in the early 1990s. In the posts below, you can find out all about the preliminary specifications and connectors of the One Chip MSX1. It looks like production of the One Chip MSX1s will start somewhere around March 2005.

One Chip MSX1 at PLD World 2004 - First report
One Chip MSX1 - A closer look

Although it's taken more time than expected, it seems like the MSX Revival is about to take their first steps outside Japan as Bazix, the official representative of MSX Association outside Japan, informed us they will be releasing 3 MSX Games from Engine-Software (previously: MSX-Engine) in their upcoming retrogaming webshop WOOMB.net. ASCII announced they will be releasing their 3rd MSX Magazine (permanent preservation edition) in February 2005. At the moment, there is little known about the contents of this upcoming Magazine. All we know is Bernard Lamers has been working on an article on MSX in Russia and Arabic countries, while a new version of MSXPLAYer is most likely to be included on the CD-ROM that comes with the magazine as well.

Bazix to release MSX-Engine classics
MSX Magazine 3 - February 2005

Emulation
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blueMSX 2.1
C-BIOS 0.19
fMSX/S60 1.07

With all these MSX emulators around, it's difficult to make a choice on which MSX emulators are worth giving a go. MRC comes to the rescue with an extensive review of 12 different MSX emulators for Windows: the MSX Emulator Comparison. By looking at accuracy, usability, features and soundquality the pros and cons of each emulator are being revealed, resulting in an MRC EmuRank which gives an indication on how good an emulator is. As our tests gave the emulators a really hard time, only 4 emulators managed to score an EmuRank higher than 50%: blueMSX, MSXPLAYer, NLMSX and openMSX. Do you want to know in which order, and why? Find out all the details by clicking on the link below.

MSX Emulator Comparison

Translations
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Metal Gear 1 - English retranslation
Illusion City English 0.5
Illusion City Portuguese 0.5

Fairs & Meetings
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Unfortunately, there's some bad news as well this time. CGV Tilburg have informed us they are to discontinue the annual international computer meetings in its traditional form. As of 2005, there will still be an annual meeting open to people who are no members of the CGV yet, but there will be no standholders and only a very limited amount of attention for MSX. Basically, this means an era of (especially in the 1990s) legendary MSX fairs and meetings has come to an end. Luckily, MSX fairs in Oss and Bussum have a lot to offer for the MSX community. Other groups are likely to introduce an alternative to Tilburg as well.

Tilburg 2005 - Change of plans

We also have three upcoming MSX fairs for your agenda this time. Two in the Netherlands, and one in Spain. On February 12th, 2005 MSX Vriendenclub Mari・berg will hold an MSX meeting in Mari・berg, which will take place from 10:00 to 17:00. During this meeting there will be a special MSX auction, giving you the opportunity to sell and buy many cool MSX goodies. Traditionally this auction attracts quite some extra visitors, looking to complete their MSX collection. During the same days the MSX Posse Retro days will start. This 26 hour MSXing and retrocomputing event will take place in Deventer. Last but not least, the popular Spanish MSX fair MadriSX will celebrate its 10th anniversary. This internationally flavored MSX user meeting has decided to co-operate with RetroMadriDC, making the meeting bigger than ever, while focusing a bit more on retrocomputing in general.

MSX Posse Retro days
MadriSX 2005 announced
MadriSX joins forces with RetroMadriDC
All known MSX fairs and meetings to come

On January 22nd the annual MSX fair in Oss was held. For a while it looked like the fair would not be continued, but luckily this wasn't the case and another great day of MSXers meeting MSXers, new software releases, showing new developments and exchanging opinions made it a memorable day once again. If you missed out on the fair, you can still catch a glimpse of the atmosphere by looking at the pictures we took during the day.

Oss 2005 photoshoot

Websites
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Many MSX users will remember the popular Dutch MSX Computer Magazine (MCM) of Wammes Witkop, which later merged with the Belgian MSX Club Magazine (MCM) to become MCCM: MSX Computer & Club Magazine. This magazine played a key role in the increasing activity of (Dutch) MSX sceners of the early and late 90s. When the MCCM crew decided the time had come to stop in 1997, it was felt as a great loss to the MSX community. Several MSX fans around the world decided to continue the MCCM on-line and got permission to do so. MCCW was born. Unfortunately the initiative wasn't meant to last. After a long period of silence, the MCCW maintainers decided it was best to publish all unpublished material in one final issue: MCCW 93.

MCCW 93 - Final issue

An English MSX fan with the nickname 'djh1697' managed to get in touch with a man called David Hemmings, who used to be involved with the Public Relations of Konami UK. On the MRC forums, a list of questions was generated which were then asked to David Hemmings. His answers to all questions can be found in the interview djh published on his website.

Interview with Dennis Hemmings (Konami UK)

Well, as you can see and read a lot happened! It is always nice to see enthusiastic 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 concerning MSX, please let us know!

Greetings,

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

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