MSX Revived
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Friday, 10 November 2006
Most of us probably haven’t even heard of MSX, nope it isn’t the latest car from Toyota but rather a hardware initiative from the 1980s.

In 1983 the MSX initiative led by Microsoft were initiated. MSX were an attempt to create common standards among hardware manufacturers. Bill Gates appointed Kazuhiko Nishi from Microsoft Japan to lead the project, the company were inspired by standards such as VHS. But also by the booming console/home market led by Amiga, Atari and Nintendo.

A lot of hardware manufacturers were involved and computers from Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Samsung, Sanyo were introduced. The computers were very similar to Commodore 64 and essentially looked like a keyboard with a cassette player.

MSX didn’t catch on in the United States but became popular in Europe and Asia. The systems sold in about 5 million units until the project were scrapped in 1995. In comparison the Commodore C64 sold in 17 million units and Apple II 2 million units.

MSX came out in several different versions; the first system architecture was named MSX1, MSX2 (1986), MSX2+(1988) and MSX Turbo R (1990). The first three versions were based on an 8-bit processor and the games looked very similar to the ones played on the Nintendo Entertainment System (also based on an 8-bit processor). In 1990 the Turbo R architecture was introduced, it was based on a 16-bit processor. However it didn’t catch on due to lack of support and the competition becoming fiercer in the console and home computer market.

Several games were released for the MSX. The best selling ones were Metal Gear 1 and 2, Knightmare, The Goonies, Kings Valley 2 and Penguin Adventure among others. All of the were developed and published by Konami.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which is the best selling game ever for the MSX were introduced as a ”tactical espionage game” in 1990. The game was set in the future where you had to infiltrate the Zanzibar Island and rescue Dr. Kio Marv and later on destroy Metal Gear. Metal Gear 2 was isometric and more focused towards stealth than action. The game was later on released for mobile phones in Japan.

A revive in MSX systems has been seen in recent year. Most recently Basix a company based in the Netherlands released a new MSX system on November 21st 2006. The system includes 32 MB RAM, a SD/MMC card slot, S-video output and a lot more, the hole in your wallet will be 229 euros.

More info about MSX:

MSX Resource Center
blueMSX Emulator Previously Unreleased Japaneese Titles