General MSX beginner questions, regions, controllers, models?

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By Noisepurge

Supporter (9)

Noisepurge's picture

07-05-2012, 18:01

Hi, im totally new here! I'm finding all about the MSX world as i want to buy a proper machine to play some classics. I'm also putting together a simple guide on buying an MSX unit, for other people as helpless as i am. There is a lot of information online on the MSX but i haven't been able to find answers to some basic stuff. Can you guys help me out?

Does the MSX games have region codes? Can i just buy any game version anywhere and it will work on all machines? I'm from Finland and i'm gathering info on this would be important regarding PAL/JPN games.

And is there some models that are considered "best" for average game use? I understand that getting one with 128kB's of RAM atleast and both cartridge slot and a floppy drive is good to have. But there is a million models to choose from(if even available) What would you guys recommend getting, something that's available, relatively affordable and solid all-around?

Also, it seems that i can't find much info on controllers, joysticks, gamepads. There are some Toshiba and Casio joysticks around but are those the only ones? Apparently you can solder an amiga joystick to work on it if you have the skills.

Thanks for reading and hopefully you guys can help me out here a little Big smile

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By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

07-05-2012, 18:29

Hi there, and welcome!

First of all:

Quote:

I'm also putting together a simple guide on buying an MSX unit, for other people as helpless as i am

This would make a great addition to our wiki! Maybe you can make this guide in our wiki, so all people interested in MSX can easily find it? It can be a kind of FAQ Smile

Now, for the other questions. I hope others will correct me or help improve the answers!

Quote:

Does the MSX games have region codes?

Nope, there are no region codes on the games themselves.

Quote:

Can i just buy any game version anywhere and it will work on all machines?

Well, within hardware limits. Of course you can't run an MSX2 game on an MSX1 (or tR games on an MSX2, etc), and the amount of RAM should be enough. If you have a Japanese MSX2 or higher, you might have 64kB of RAM, which isn't always enough to run European disk software (mostly scene stuff tho).

Another practical hardware issue is that Japanese computers run on 110V in stead of the 220V I think you use in Finland, so you'd need an adapter.

Lastly keep in mind that PAL games run on 50Hz and NTSC games on 60Hz, and you'd need a monitor or TV that can deal with this.

Quote:

And is there some models that are considered "best" for average game use?

I still like the Philips NMS 8245 a lot as a starting machine, as it's MSX2, not too big, has 128kB of RAM, a disk drive and 2 cartridge ports. I might be a bit biased as it's the first MSX I ever had (still have it), and I like it a lot :)

I'd say go with an MSX2 machine at least, as that gives you the widest range of games.

Quote:

Also, it seems that i can't find much info on controllers, joysticks, gamepads. There are some Toshiba and Casio joysticks around but are those the only ones?

There's more for sure. Gamepads are quite rare (there are some Panasonic ones), but joysticks are easier. The Arcade is a wellknown joystick that works fine on MSX.

And of course NYYRIKKI (also from Finland) wrote a good tutorial on how to convert a gamepad for use on MSX. You can find his article in our wiki, here: http://www.msx.org/wiki/How_to_get_joypad_for_MSX

By Noisepurge

Supporter (9)

Noisepurge's picture

07-05-2012, 21:15

Thanks for all the info! That Philips 8245 looks perfect for my purposes and it's one of the more better looking MSX's around! Tongue

I have the guide here: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=473147 But i'm sure i can copy that to the Wiki here as well. As i said on that board too, just let me know if there are any glaring errors in it.

I've made it from a viewpoint of an amateur. But those are the questions that have been raised more often when just wanting to get an MSX machine and start playing, don't want it to get too technical.

By Jorito

Mr. Ambassadors (1761)

Jorito's picture

07-05-2012, 21:30

I did a quick read of your guide, and I have some comments and additions you might appreciate:

Quote:

Getting a music cartridge mentioned here in Accessories is also a big plus for sound. And get one that has both the Cartridge slot, and a Floppy disk drive for maximum game compatibility. Your best bet at this moment is hit eBay or MSX.org trade-forum, and search with a manufacturer name and MSX2.

All MSXes have cartridge slots, so that's not an issue. Fully agree on the floppy disk drive tho.

As for the music cartridge: you'd definitely want an FM-PAC (or one of its clones, like the FM Stereo PAK or the Korean FM Ship (see more here).

The MSX-AUDIO and Moonsound cartridges you list are a nice extra, but only for games made by the MSX scene. For commercially released games you'd never need them. Another music cartridge might be a Konami SCC cartridge, but as that's only for scene games or pirated cracks of Konami games I think you can do without ;)

WRT to buying games: cartridge games are normally fine, but with floppy disk games you should keep in mind that floppies don't last for ages and there might be bit rot :)

Quote:

Need more in-depth info or guides? Read it all up in this great Ultimate MSX FAQ by The Red Devil & Manuel Bilderbeek http://www.faq.msxnet.org/ultmsxfaq.html

Here I need to step in :) The MSX FAQ is deprecated. In stead it's being incorporated in our wiki, you can find it here. We still want to update all the info there and create more extensive pages for it, but at least this one is more up to date than the one you link to.

By Manuel

Ascended (15752)

Manuel's picture

07-05-2012, 22:41

Note that there is one region issue (only one): Metal Gear Japanese release doesn't run on non-Japanese MSXes. The European release does of course and even runs on Japanese MSXes. That's all.

And there is one MSX2+ model which doesn't have the FM chip: the Sanyo PHC-35J.

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5513)

mars2000you's picture

07-05-2012, 22:53

Manuel wrote:

Note that there is one region issue (only one): Metal Gear Japanese release doesn't run on non-Japanese MSXes. The European release does of course and even runs on Japanese MSXes. That's all.

And there is one MSX2+ model which doesn't have the FM chip: the Sanyo PHC-35J.

The Panasonic FS-A1FX is also without the FM chip.

By Noisepurge

Supporter (9)

Noisepurge's picture

08-05-2012, 09:28

thanks a lot guys! i'll keep updating the thread for corrections and additional questions that arise.

By SkyeWelse

Champion (470)

SkyeWelse's picture

08-05-2012, 22:01

Nice to meet you Noisepurge.

Quote:

I'm also putting together a simple guide on buying an MSX unit, for other people as helpless as i am. There is a lot of information online on the MSX but i haven't been able to find answers to some basic stuff. Can you guys help me out?

This is great! I've been tossing around the idea of starting a website aimed at newbies just like myself who are just now entering into the MSX hardware world and hobby, and covering that type of information intended for the would-be MSX hobbyist. I also wanted to focus on showing folks where they can go to get some tools that can be very beneficial to them, especially if they own real hardware. Eventually the goal would also be to write about my findings on how to get started in MSX game development and what the starting points would be for that. Since I'm not a programmer, I'd probably just focus on what I do know, general graphic design and arts, and how to apply it to the MSX world.

Wanna join forces at all? I've already got the webspace with unlimited bandwidth, storage space, databases, whatever is needed.

-Thomas

By Manuel

Ascended (15752)

Manuel's picture

08-05-2012, 22:50

Why not simply add that to *this* web site? There's plenty of opportunities!

By SkyeWelse

Champion (470)

SkyeWelse's picture

08-05-2012, 23:27

Hi Manuel,

Of course I agree that it should be added to an already large resource of information in addition, but I think MSX newbies could benefit from having basic or general information about how to get started from a website tailored towards begginers only. I love spending time here at MRC and reading about new updates and findings, but for someone like myself who fails at programming, the information presented here can sometimes get a bit technical and potentially work against someone trying to just discover a starting point. Of course there are always opportunities available for folks like Noisepurge and myself to ask general questions, but even that can sometimes be daunting for "those who lurk". A website done very simply and not too technical would be another angle at providing this type of information.

-Thomas

By Jorito

Mr. Ambassadors (1761)

Jorito's picture

08-05-2012, 23:49

Well, that was one of the goals for the wiki here: make it accessible for newbies as well. We made a start by incorporating the MSX FAQ and startin with a description and examples of MSX BASiC commands and tutorials. But there is definitely room for improvement, and I can also see that we should make this information more easily available. That's easy enough tho, by just adding the starting information to its own section and adding a link to it in the main menu.

But... Since most people here grew up with MSX it's hard to imagine the typical questions a starter might have. So I'd really like some input on that! Or even better, if Thomas and Noisepurge could help us out by writing this info in our wiki!

Of course I am more than willing to help out (after all I worked so long on this website I want to make it the biggest success it can be) and am open for suggestions and comments. If you guys like the idea, just contact my through my profile and let's work on this a bit Smile

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