Category:The LINKS
This page was last modified 15:05, 13 September 2021 by Takamichi. Based on work by Mars2000you and Bodhi1969 and others.

Contents

Description

The LINKS was a dial-up service that started in March 1986 and was discontinued on 31 October 1994. It was exclusive to Japan and an initiative of Nippon Telenet with investments from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co (currently Panasonic) and Murata Manufacturing Co.

To use it, you needed:

  • a MSX computer
  • a modem dedicated to this network
  • a user-id, required to connect to the network. The user-id was also a kind of 'email' adress which could be used to send messages to other users.

Notes:

  • a Kanji-ROM was not required as this network used only Katakana and Hiragana characters, while optimizing the MSX graphical capacities to display messages, reviews, etc... in specific formats.
  • a MSX2 computer was of course required for the MSX2 games

Hardware

Three models of modems were released. All have a speed of 1200 bps and are based on a specific protocol developed by Eijiro Taki, president of Nippon Telenet.

Product Label Color Release Price Remarks
The LINKS NT-190
(NGA I)
TMA 1200 HSC Red or Orange 04/86 ¥29,800 Sold or leased also as Sanyo KA-MODEM-1 (black)
and also later sold as National FS-CM800.
Was also bundled with some ROM games
The LINKS VIIK
(NGA I + MSX-TELCOM)
TMZ 1200 JKC Black 04/87 ¥29,800 Hybrid modem with RS-232C interface +
MSX-TELCOM created by ASCII in 1986
Was also sold as Panasonic FS-CM820
The LINKS NT-300
(NGA II)
TMA 1200 BSC Blue 12/87 ¥14,800 Was also bundled with the C-Drive package


In addition, the built-in modem of the MSX2 Panasonic FS-A1FM also provided access to 'The LINKS' network, as did the Panasonic FS-CM1 cartridge.

Software

ROM

Disk

Download

These games had to be downloaded from the network:

  • A1 Grand Prix (Konami-Panasoft, this game is based on Road Fighter)

After downloading you start with the first stage of the game. Every time you complete one stage, you needed to reconnect the server, which records your time and shows you a list of the other competitors, and your "position". The fastest player is shown as "no.1 racer". The feature unseen in F1 spirit is, at certain check point, you are requested to choose one of three "magical stages". If you are lucky, you skip several stages, gaining huge advantage over other not so lucky competitors. Though there was no direct reward to winner (fastest competitor who connected after completing the final stage), the 5-match straight winner was awarded with an "original format" which was usable as a personal template in LINKS mail and BBS services.

  • c-Drive (The Links) The box of c-Drive contained only a modem cartridge and a login for the network where you could download the game. Same procedure as for A1 Grand Prix. It started on a separate network from Jan 1 1992 but became accessible from the LINKS several months later. Explained in MSX FAN 1992-03 page 98 and MSX FAN 1992-09 page 98.
  • Daiva Dr. Amandora (T&E Soft) - The surviving photo of the game package shows only the standard modem cartridge. MSX FAN articles explain the game had to be downloaded. Sources insist it was never released and the announced sessions were canceled.
  • Haphazard 1 & 2 (BAM) - Before being available on disk, the two games needed to be downloaded from 'The LINKS' network. Notes: The compilation with the 2 games includes Life Rumbling (人生ゴロゴロ) as extra game. Haphazard 3 can be found on Disc Station 15
  • Knightmare (Konami) - Version with addition of a score registration corner, so that each user can compete.
  • Life Rumbling - 人生ゴロゴロ (BAM) - Before being available on disk, this game needed to be downloaded from 'The LINKS' network. Later it was included in the Haphazard 1 & 2 compilation.
  • Network Rally (Konami, this game was described as a cross between Road Fighter and Hyper Rally) - Same procedure as for A1 Grand Prix. Also known as "Midnight Rally".
  • Twinbee (Konami) - Version with addition of a score registration corner, so that each user can compete.

Online role playing game

These are not the game packages themselves but the online tabletop role playing game systems running on the existing LINKS Network. The game master sends the player a notice about the story situation and the player replies how s/he acts. Then the game master sends the player a response. The player can contact and cooperate the other players.

  • Amanatsu High School Counterattack - あまなつ高校の逆襲 - The player plays a role of an Amanatsu High School (same school with Haphazard 3) student. Explained in MSX FAN 1990-11 page 73.
  • Magician Fairy School - 魔術師妖精学校 (The Links) - A promo can be found on Disc Station 20. The story is about the magic user's school and its title Majutsushi Yousei Gakkou has the double meaning of yousei (fairy) and yousei (education). The session ran between Jan 4 and Mar 29 1991. Explained in MSX FAN 1991-02 page 72.
  • RPG School: Applause - RPGすくぅる『Applause』 - The story is about becoming an adventurer in the sword & magic world called Riibabooku. Explained in MSX FAN 1991-08 page 77.

Online sessions

These are not the game packages themselves but the online sessions running on the existing LINKS Network.

  • Zero Special Rally Competition - The player reads the rally simulation article in Channel Zero, the LINKS's monthly subscription magazine and submits an email about setting the vehicle to join a rally session. The game master calculates who ran the fastest and is entitled for a prize. Explained in MSX FAN 1992-03 page 98.

MSX・FAN articles and the connection with MSX companies

The MSX・FAN magazine had THE LINKS INFORMATION PAGE which was started from the 1988-01 issue as the monthly article but became irregular after 1993-02. It nevertheless continued until the LINKS's termination was announced. Since almost nothing of The LINKS itself remains and very few information other than a few testimonies are online, those MSX・FAN articles are the rare valuable resources.

MSX・FAN had its own online forum called Meiousei Tsushin ("Pluto News") in The LINKS. Compile offered the customer support via The LINKS with Tanaka Katsumi, the famous Compile musician, in charge of the customer service. It is mentioned on several Disc Station manuals such as #22. Disc Station manuals say Humming Bird Soft and Microcabin also had their dedicated forums in the LINKS.

Links

Pages in category "The LINKS"

The following 8 pages are in this category, out of 8 total.

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