MSX2+
This page was last modified 11:11, 15 April 2018 by Rderooy. Based on work by Mars2000you and Grauw and others.

Contents

Introduction

After 1986, Microsoft stopped supporting the MSX standard and ASCII in Japan took over further development of the standard. Due to ASCII's lack of interest in the European market, no MSX2+ system was manufactured or sold outside Japan. Rumours and plans existed in the Netherlands to make a European MSX2+, but they never came to reality.

MSX2+ standard definition

  • At least 64kB RAM. All official machines have 64kB RAM, most in the form of a memory mapper.
  • 32kB BASIC/BIOS ROM and 16kB SUB ROM (MSX-BASIC version 3.0, with the command SET SCROLL added, for smooth scrolling in BASIC! And of course the new screen modes 10-12 were added, see below)
  • 16kB KANJI BASIC ROM + KANJI ROM
  • Yamaha V9958 Video Display Processor: backward compatible with the TMS9918/TMS9928 and V9938 (for more info: V9958 MSX Video Technical Data Book). The V9938's light pen support circuitry was removed in the V9958, probably because it was never used and the extra room on the chip could be used for the new V9958-specific features.

Not official, but very common:

  • 16kB DISK ROM
  • 720kB 3.5" floppy drive built in
  • MSX-MUSIC built in: OPLL YM2413, 9-channel FM synthesizer), 16kB FM-BASIC ROM.
  • RGB connector (the only video connector that can be used with European monitors due to the different TV system used in Japan (NTSC)).
  • CVBS/RF output, which is unusable without an NTSC-capable TV/monitor.

With the MSX2+ machines, two other hardware features introduced on some MSX2 systems became very common:

  • Ren-Sha Turbo: built-in autofire system. The repetition speed can be adjusted with a slider and most implementations have an LED that shows the repetition rate.
  • Speed controller: slider that can be moved to slow down the MSX

Another feature which previously existed, but was added to almost all MSX2+ machines, is a hardware pause button that pauses the CPU. This pause cannot be circumvented through software.

Graphic capabilities

  • Additional features: hardware scroll, vertical and horizontal
  • New graphic capabilities, along with their corresponding MSX-BASIC modes:
Mode Resolution Colors
10 256×212/424 pixels 12499 YUV (at once)
11 256×212/424 pixels 12499 YUV (at once) + 16 out of 512 RGB
12 256×212/424 pixels 19268 YJK (at once)


Notes

  • The size of the images is the same as that of a screen 8 MSX2 image (54kB). This is because the YJK modes in the MSX2+ VDP basically store a byte per pixel (just like in screen 8). The difference is that the design of these bytes is such that four bytes create four pixels in a YJK color space, by storing specific information in individual bits. In short, this means that two global colors are defined for a group of four pixels, and each pixel has its own intensity between these two global colors. In practice this runs down to a kind of color spill, like the one in screen 1,2 and 4. Its most typical use is that of a photo screen, as it is less likely that a user will use this mode for drawing. Screen 11 compensates this a bit by supporting an extra 16 screen 5 colors, at the cost of YJK color depth.
  • The VDP is in the same mode for screen 10 and 11, but BASIC handles it differently. So when programming the VDP directly, they are the same (both with RGB colors).
  • Additional KANJI screen modes (Japanese text screen modes). Hi-res graphics are not possible. All these modes can use 16 out of 512 colors. These screen modes use screen 5 or 7 in text mode - see CALL KANJI.
Mode Resolution Character size
0 64×13 characters 8×16 pixels
1 80×13 characters 6×16 pixels
2 64×24 characters interlaced 8×8 pixels
3 80×24 characters interlaced 6×8 pixels


Software

Very few software titles exists that are exclusive to the MSX2+ standard. However, some MSX2 games use the standard's enhanced capabilities if run on an MSX2+ system, mainly hardware scrolling. An example is Konami’s Space Manbow, which masks the borders on MSX2+ so that they don’t flip visibly. Most image viewers also benefit from the MSX2+'s graphic capabilities. Due to the greater amount of colours, GIF/BMP and JPG pictures are displayed very well. For several years there was no graphic program which used the screen 11 mode until a French group made one (Screen 11 designer).

A selection of MSX2+ software:

Name Developer Genre Exclusive Details
Arc Parallax Action No Optional screen 12 images.
Columbus TENCAS Drawing Yes Drawing program for screen 12.
Dix MSX-Engine Puzzle No Optional screen 11/12 images.
Doozle Drawing Yes Micro drawing utility for screen 11/12.
F1 Spirit 3D Special Konami Racing Yes Horizontal scrolling and screen 12 images.
Family Stadium Namcot Baseball No Horizontal scrolling.
Girl's Control Hard Shmup No Optional demo with screen 12 images. A bug in the
game causes the demo to not function on MSX Turbo R.
Golvellius 2 Compile RPG No Optional screen 11 images, and optional screen 5
graphics in the scrolling stages (screen 4 on MSX2).
Graph Saurus v2.0 Bit² Drawing No Also supports screen 12.
Laydock 2 - Last Attack T&E Soft Shmup Yes Horizontal scrolling and screen 11/12 images.
Master Of Monsters System Soft Strategy No Optional screen 12 images.
Megadoom FCS Platform Yes Horizontal scrolling and screen 12 images.
Mouse Master Drawing Yes Drawing program for screen 12.
Nyacle Racing Bit² Racing No Optional screen 12 images.
Psy-o-Blade T&E Soft Adventure No Optional screen 12 images.
Quinpl Bit² Puzzle No Optional screen 12 images.
Sea Sardine Side II MSX-Magazine Shmup Yes Horizontal scrolling.
Screen 11 designer FUC Drawing Yes Drawing program for screen 11.
Space Manbow Konami Shmup No Border masking. On MSX2 the side borders aren't
masked while scrolling (shaky border phenomenon).
Starship Rendezvous Scap Trust Adult RPG No Screen 12 images in Special Stage Michelle, on MSX2
screen 8 is used. Horizontal scrolling (by 8 pixels) in
the labyrinth portion, on MSX2 it is screen-by-screen.
Super Cooks Compile RPG Horizontal scrolling.
Tetris II Special Edition RAM Puzzle No Optional screen 12 images.
Twinkle Star Yoshida Shmup Yes Horizontal scrolling.


See the list on Generation MSX for additional software.

Links to MSX2+ software can also be found on this page: MSX2+ Software.

Computers

All MSX2+ computers were either originally released in Japan or have been upgraded from the MSX2 (or even MSX1) standard to MSX2+ specifications internally or with special upgrade kits (which were mainly sold in Brazil). Real MSX2+ computers were only produced by Panasonic, Sony and Sanyo for the Japanese market:

More recently, a team in Korea created the Zemmix Neo and Mini IQ-3000. There is also a DIY MSX2+ project known as the GR8Bit.