Growing up with the MSX system has been a trampoline for many a talented and ambitious people to professionalize what they liked doing best on their favorite home machine. Allowing hobbyists to learn the ropes considering programming, designing games and graphics or composing music in a playful manner has spawned an entire generation of professionals in the field. A nice example of this is Dutch game developer Two Tribes, known as Fony during the Golden Age of the Dutch MSX scene. In 1994, they released a succesful MSX2 puzzle platformer called Eggbert, which was ported as Toki Tori for the Game Boy Color and published by none other than industry giant Capcom. Later on, it also found its way to the iPhone and iPad. At the moment, Two Tribes is working on a sequel which is planned to be released on Wii U, Steam, Android and iOS.

Relevant link: Trailer at iPhoneclub (Dutch)

Comments (36)

By tfh

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12-08-2012, 14:12

The release is planned for the WiiU, not for the Wii Smile

By SkyeWelse

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12-08-2012, 23:14

Very cool. I've owned the GBC game for years and found it to be pretty fun. I had never realized that it was a re-release of a game called Eggbert that came out for the MSX. : ) Also didn't know that a remake was out for the the Apple App Store as well, so I just picked up that version today. I'll have to try out the original Eggbert sometime. : )

-Thomas

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

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12-08-2012, 23:33

SkyeWelse wrote:

I had never realized that it was a re-release of a game called Eggbert that came out for the MSX. : ) Also didn't know that a remake was out for the the Apple App Store as well, so I just picked up that version today. I'll have to try out the original Eggbert sometime. : )

Smile
Nice to know. The original Eggbert is fun and polished, too. Be sure to play it with MSX-Audio (Music Module), so you get better sound. Particularly, funny audio samples when dying. Wink

By JohnHassink

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12-08-2012, 23:36

@ tfh - thanks. Didn't even know the thing (almost) existed. Big smile

By SkyeWelse

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13-08-2012, 04:48

Quote:

Be sure to play it with MSX-Audio (Music Module), so you get better sound. Particularly, funny audio samples when dying.

By MSX-Audio or Music Module, do you mean FM Sound? I should have FM built into the Turbo GT that I use, but if MSX Music and MSX Audio are something different, I may need to know how to use it, or if any extra peripherals or module carts are needed that I should keep my eye out for someday. : )

I'm still pretty new to MSX hardware, so as far as I "think" I know about my current MSX audio capabilities, the turbo R has PSG / FM Sound built in and I get a variation of SCC through any roms loaded to the MegaFlashRom SCC+. Oh and MIDI out, but I still haven't set that up proper for anything to receive and play the MIDI sound yet. Guess I should learn what the differences really are some time, since I would be interested in learning the basics of tracking on an MSX just so I have a idea of how tracks are made.

-Thomas

By snout

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13-08-2012, 12:07

MSX-Audio (OPL-1) is indeed something different than MSX-Music (OPLL). For more information check this website. Both chips are similar (Yamaha OPL chips), but definitely not the same. Most notable differences are

- MSX-Audio can support different software-voices on each channel, while OPLL can only use one software-voice at a time. For the rest, you're tied to a limited amount of hardware voices (which, thankfully, can usually get the job done :P)
- In addition to OPL, there is also support for 8-bit 16kHZ ADPCM samples, most frequently used for drum&rhythm, but occasionally also for SFX.

After the release of "Fac Soundtracker" the Philips Music Module (which is an MSX-Audio extension) became immensely popular in the Dutch MSX Scene. The majority of Dutch MSX Scene releases from the 1990s supports this audio extension, often in combination with MSX-Music - resulting in a neat stereo sound.

One last interesting expansion is the increase of sample RAM from 32kB to 256kB, which was supported by - amongst others - Unknown Reality.

By Meits

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13-08-2012, 12:43

Repair-Bas has some on sale.
Rather cheap compared to what one had to pay for it in the mid nineties while they were booming business thanks to the mentioned trackers.

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

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13-08-2012, 12:53

The OPLL has a choice of two waveforms per operator; the traditional sine and it's the second one (which looks a bit like /\__) what makes specific sounds way more rich sounding than the MSX Audio version (MSX Audio only has sines). For me, this is probably the most important aspect. I can indeed live with the current hardware voice selection, Micro Cabin has proved that this OPLL (admittedly, supported by the PSG) is plenty.

By snout

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13-08-2012, 15:33

@wolf: afaik the OPLL can not accomplish the rawness of 'AM-Fuzz'-like sounds in a way the MSX-Audio can. Now I'm not a sound engineer and almost always resort to using default voices in any tracker, but could you explain why that is the case? (Or why it isn't?)

By Meits

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13-08-2012, 16:05

Sound richness can easily be heard... Audio has a wider palette, but is quite flat and without the depth of Music. That's probably why MB Stereo is so nice. You get the best of both worlds...

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

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13-08-2012, 16:19

Chip design. I just tried to make a sound like that in FM8, in both 'AM' and 'FM' mode I got to results which are as good as similar. I tried to do the same in MB (and ok, it was emulated), but the MSX Music is just a bit more course.. it's simply a different chip. FM itself is a simple algo and doesn't need to change among chips, but if register ranges differ, and e.g. the mixer in the FM-PAC is actually a filter rather than a mixer, then there's bound to be a wee difference.

Also, because the FM-PAC has two waveforms per operator, there are chances that people are working with that /\__ waveform when trying to convert an MSX-Audio instrument to MSX-Music. As we can't choose this waveform with a function that says 'waveform' people will usually be in the dark as for which wave they're using. You can select these waveforms though, just rotate the feedback paramter around a few times. Probably these waveform bits are located directly after the feedback register in memory and internally this feedback parameter appears to be acting as "5 bits" instead of 3 bits, so by changing the feedback around you are actually tweaking these waveforms. It's just wacky coding really.. Smile

Note that 'AM' is really a wrong term here. There is no 'AM' (which was supposed to mean Amplitude Modulation) because the 'AM' mode in the Music Module is also FM.

FM:

< FB >-[mod] -> [car] -> [output]

'AM':

< FB >-[car] -> [output] [car] -> [output]

So, in a way, 'AM'-mode is like having a dual oscillator mode where one operator moves between an extremely bright/noisy sawtooth (thanks to the feedback loop) and a sine, and in which the other is always a sine. In 'AM' mode, the bright/sawtooth carrier has no volume functionality, because the volume register defines the brightness (and this is why it's still FM, it modules its own frequency!). In the other carrier, the volume defines the loudness, but because nothing modulates that carrier, it can't be more than a sine.

The only thing I'm not sure of how 'feedback' and 'carrier level' work together to create this bright saw tone. Technically, you only need one parameter for this feedback loop, yet you have two. Maybe the feedback parameter is a multiplier for the total level? I dunno, never really cared either.. ^^

By SkyeWelse

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13-08-2012, 16:24

Thanks for the explanation! I guess I'm missing some other components that would improve the overall MSX experience and these music modules differ quite a bit from the FM Sound I have built in to the GT itself. I think that when I first did some MSX shopping and decided to go with the GT, I learned that FM Sound was built in and I guess I just assumed that was all I would ever need to get the ideal sound experience with any games or eventual music tracking as a standard. : 0

I noticed that there is a big price difference between Bas selling the loose carts and the "Philips Music Module with extension". I'm guessing it might help to get one boxed, perhaps with the manual so I can read about how to use it better, but what is this extension that Bas is referring to? Is that something I'll need or something recommended?

-Thomas

By snout

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13-08-2012, 18:02

Hmz, how to explain this.

Out-of-the-box, the Philips Music Module was not an impressive device. Once inserted, it would auto-boot an MSX1 program called 'Music Box' which contained some songs and a few things to toy around with, such as real-time distortion of whatever the built-in mic would record (i.e. your voice). IIRC there was even some (limited) MIDI support. Although this might have been fun, it was nothing to impress a musician or get them to actually compose music for the device.

As there was no additional software and the Music Module was built in a way that the few Japanese games supporting MSX-Audio did not actually work the Music Module was, to many, a terrible device and for Phlips a downright failure.

Until...

Until the Dutch MSX Scene discovered the device (and how to program for it) and released demos that supported the device (first only samples, afaik) and Fac Soundtracker. Now, all of a sudden, the MSX was capable of an amazing sound that nobody had heard before on MSX. Yes, like Wolf said, on paper the MSX-Music and MSX-Audio were not that different, but combining 9 FM voices with 1 ADPCM track of drums was simply unparallelled. Especially when the Dutch scene crew Impact came along and defined the sound of the Dutch MSX Scene for many years to come. (Little did we know that their songs were actually based on underground Italo dance songs at the time...).

Now one of the big problems of all this was that, after inserting a Music Module in your MSX, it would automatically boot that dreadful Musicbox software unless you pressed ESC at every single boot. Needless to say, this was very annoying when you had - like almost everybody at the time - your Music Module plugged in all the time.

In order to fix that, many MSX users just ripped the software ROM out of their Music Module until a more elegant modification arose: a simple EPROM rewrite, that would not boot the software unless the ESC key was pressed during boot (so exactly opposite of its default behavior). I think this is the extension Repairbas is talking about.

Rest assured though, most of the Music Modules you will find today will have this modification already. Do check if the internal software is still in there, though, because even though it is terrible it's still fun to play around with when you first get the device. And from a puristic view, the Music Module just isn't complete without it.

If you want to get the complete experience, get a boxed Music Module that not only contains the manuel, but also an Audio Cassette full of sound effects carefully selected by Philips to give you some nice stuff to fool around with. It's been ages since I listened to that tape (where do I even have a tape recorder?), but if my memory serves me right it all is quite hilarious. Very 80s, very "Ferris Bueller"/"Parker Lewis can't Lose" ^_^.

P.S.> In order to get support for the Music Module in those Japanese games I mentioned you should (let someone) upgrade the BIOS to MSX Audio Bios 1.3.

By mars2000you

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13-08-2012, 18:33

Quote:

P.S.> In order to get support for the Music Module in those Japanese games I mentioned you should (let someone) upgrade the BIOS to MSX Audio Bios 1.3.

Or use the magical poke :

POKE -54,35 : POKE&HF346,1:_SYSTEM

It will work with most Compile disk games and Disk Stations, not for the only three games on cartridge (Family Stadium, Labyrinth, Xevious - Fardraut Saga) that have support for MSX-AUDIO : the real MSX-AUDIO (Panasonic or upgraded Module) must be in slot 1, the game in slot 2. However, I'm not sure if MSX-AUDIO 1.3 has real support for these 3 games.

By Meits

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13-08-2012, 18:53

snout wrote:

In order to fix that, many MSX users just ripped the software ROM out of their Music Module until a more elegant modification arose: a simple EPROM rewrite, that would not boot the software unless the ESC key was pressed during boot (so exactly opposite of its default behavior). I think this is the extension Repairbas is talking about.

Judging the prices, I bet you get more than just the altered ROM. He has 256kB/Audio basic as a service as well. Seeing the 30 euro gap between the original and the upgraded ones, I bet you get the full monty, since the ROM has just a 10 euro price tag.

By SkyeWelse

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13-08-2012, 19:17

I see, thanks for clarifying. That must be what Bas meant by extension. I'll email him soon and inquire about this. I've ordered from him several times before, so I don't think it will be an issue to find out what all is in the price before ordering.

Interesting device and pretty neat that it's something that would add extra sound capabilities for the MSX for several newer Module supported MSX game development projects. Now I'm quite curious to hear what it all sounds like! : )

Would this add any extra unique sound to say, Kralizec's Goonies R' Good Enough when played from an original cart?


TokiTori GBC and Goonies : )

Also, when you say upgrade the MSX Audio Bios to 1.3, that would be on the Phillips Music Module itself correct? Is that something I could also ask Repair Bas about? The 256kB/Audio basic refers to the enhancement of the original Sample Ram that some games or programs may require to be 256kB? I was trying to wrap my head around what that was all about on one of the links you had mentioned above.

-Thomas

By JohnHassink

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13-08-2012, 19:30

SkyeWelse wrote:

Now I'm quite curious to hear what it all sounds like! : )

Like this. Smile

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LE7V8-fBj4

Also, Meits has uploaded some "MB-Stereo" tunes from his hand.

http://www.youtube.com/user/evilloke/videos

SkyeWelse wrote:

Would this add any extra unique sound to say, Kralizec's Goonies R' Good Enough when played from an original cart?

No, I don't think so...

By SkyeWelse

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13-08-2012, 19:52

JohnHassink wrote:
SkyeWelse wrote:

Now I'm quite curious to hear what it all sounds like! : )

Like this. Smile

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LE7V8-fBj4

Also, Meits has uploaded some "MB-Stereo" tunes from his hand.

http://www.youtube.com/user/evilloke/videos

Wow! Very nice sound, and I've been listening to some of Melts' music that had some voice samples, pretty amazing stuff that you can get this kind of sound out of the MSX. : )

Definitely would like to get one of these now if I can make sure all the necessary features / upgrades are there. : )

Do you also have a music channel, John, with your works? I'd be interested in checking it out.

-Thomas

By Meits

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13-08-2012, 20:18

@Thomas:
Before you go all bananas. That voice sample is in a Moonsound tune. It's not just a dump of MSX-Music plus MSX-Audio clips on my Youtube channel. Also Moonsound and MIDI. Read the clip info of the tune you play to find out what you hear.

By SkyeWelse

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13-08-2012, 20:29

I see, I guess I should look a little closer then. : ) The video in particular that I was looking at was your 'Come take my hand' mix and now that I went back there to see the description you did have a Moonsound tag in there...

-Thomas

By JohnHassink

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13-08-2012, 20:30

SkyeWelse wrote:

Do you also have a music channel, John, with your works? I'd be interested in checking it out.

Yeah dude.
http://www.youtube.com/user/johnhassink/videos

By wolf_

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13-08-2012, 20:58

snout wrote:

Especially when the Dutch scene crew Impact came along and defined the sound of the Dutch MSX Scene for many years to come. (Little did we know that their songs were actually based on underground Italo dance songs at the time...).

What should be mentioned is that there wasn't much to refer to with this built-in Music Module software. When SCC-Musixx came along, at least we knew that SCC music sounded like (thanks to Konami). When the FM-PAC came out for us, it was well supported by all sorts o' Japanese software houses. But this Music Module was fairly new to us. The FAC was among the first to experiment with it, but that was also because they were the first who could, technically, due to them having invented the wheel so to speak. The way their music (John van Poelgeest, Eric Duijss) was made was a bit like creating a midi file, but then without effects. Impact were the first ones to step away from this "midi file style" and used voicing similar to older analogue synths; sawtooths using the earlier mentioned 'AM' voices.

By SkyeWelse

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13-08-2012, 21:25

Great, I added both of your channels to my favorites. Definitely want to spend some time there to check out your works.

So far, I've been able to compare two tracks from Ys3 that have helped me understand the differences between MSX-Music and MSX-Audio. One by John, that I had heard before in a separate thread (Guess I could have gotten to his channel sometime ago... Hmm Hindsight.) Composed using FM PAC + PSG, correct? And this would be considered MSX-Music, right?

And then another by Melts which also sounds great, and yet very different, a much more ambient, harmonic chime/ electronic organ type of sound. And this I guess is what is referred to when you mention MSX-Audio, right?

And I've heard before what MSX PSG + SCC sounds like, but what would a track using MSX-Music + MSX-Audio sound like together, assuming I've understood this correct up to this point?

Another question I have, though it might be a obvious or silly question... in terms of game development and users having access to hardware, can all of this be setup so that if someone has the extra hardware, the software will identify it and change the music accordingly, and adversely, change the music to something else if different or no extra hardware is detected?

-Thomas

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

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13-08-2012, 21:37

@ SkyeWelse:

The song of Meits which you link to, is a combination of both MSX Music and MSX Audio. You hear both chips performing simultaneously. The popular term for music on the MSX using this setup is "MB-Stereo", named after Moonblaster 1.4 - the program which is commonly used to create it (the one you see running in the videos).

My Varestine song is indeed a combination of MSX Music and PSG, though the latter chip is only used for some drums here. The Escape From New York theme-thingy, on the other hand, is MB-Stereo.

To answer your last question: yes, you can implement a 'check' in your programs to see which soundchips are present. But playing a song designed for MB-Stereo with one of the two chips absent will automatically result in the song being played with what's available.

By Manuel

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13-08-2012, 23:06

Plug of YouTube vids of the original Eggbert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4jcjo0Nnec
and the promo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKSxGb3FxXY

By Samor

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16-08-2012, 09:29

SkyeWelse wrote:


TokiTori GBC and Goonies : )

A bit OT, but some nice stuff in that picture :)

By FiXato

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16-08-2012, 16:54

The MSX2 game Ducktales by Emphasys for instance is a game that uses both sound chips.
On my Ducktales YouTube Playlist you can find recordings of the game using only PSG, only MSX Music, only MSX Audio and using all.

By SkyeWelse

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17-08-2012, 06:58

@Samor

Thanks! I'm very into collecting games as a hobby, especially ones that I really enjoy. I'd say that the staples and largest parts of my collection would be anything Falcom, the Xak series, Zelda, Panzer Dragoon, Mega Man, Metroid, and Genso Suikoden. Though lately, my goal has been to try and get originals of various European Developed MSX games that I've come to enjoy recently, especially Kralizec's games. I'm hoping to get Invasion of the Zombie Monsters soon from a seller at Retroclassifcados and Caos Begins eventually from either Sunrise or the MSX Cartridge Shop. I definitely would like to get an original disk version of Eggbert too one of these days at some point. : )

@F1Xato - Cool! I love Duck Tales. I never knew there was an RPG for the MSX! That looks really interesting!

-Thomas

By tfh

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11-08-2016, 12:04

LOL.. On the meantime Toki Tori has been released on multiple platforms. Next month, Two Tribes will release their final game: RIVE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQyPIHAOd98

And for those still interested in the old stuff:

Download Eggbert: http://www.file-hunter.com/FONY/
Play Eggbert: http://www.file-hunter.com/MSX/Eggbert.html

By ren

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11-08-2016, 13:10

@tfh: could they possibly be motivated to work on something MSX again? Smile

By tfh

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11-08-2016, 13:26

I doubt they would be interested in that. They are quiting the games business anyway.
Last year I went to a Prodigy Concert with one of these guys and he already told me back then that RIVE was going to be their last release. After it's release he was going to travel for some time and think about what to do in the future. I doubt programming for MSX will be crossing his mind Wink

By ren

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11-08-2016, 14:12

Well, I read a bit about the reasons for leaving. I figured it could perhaps be fun for them/him to do something for a platform like MSX (again) hobby-wise or something.. Wink

By ssfony

Resident (48)

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14-08-2016, 21:41

Haha it would be great to make a game for MSX again, but I'm afraid that I don't really have much time to spend on it...
I guess the same goes for the Two Tribes guys...
Anyway, RIVE is a pretty cool game Smile

@skyewelse: if you read this, I still have some original eggbert disks lying around somewhere Smile

By tfh

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14-08-2016, 22:13

/me must admit that he doesn't even have an original Eggbert. I do have an original Toki Tori for the GBC :-)

By tfh

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06-09-2016, 11:03

By FiXato

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28-09-2016, 12:53

Weren't/aren't they also working on a console port of Terraria, if so, how does that work with leaving the games industry? Never mind, I was thinking of that other software dev with MSX-roots, (MSX) Engine Software.

My MSX profile