NEC PC-9800 series

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NEC PC-9800 series
PC98RS.jpg
Developer NEC Home Electronics
Type Home computer
Release date 1982
Discontinued 2000
Predecessor PC-8800
Emulated

The NEC PC-9800, also known as the PC-98, were a family of computers made by NEC throughout 1982 to 2000. Despite using Intel x86 chips, MS-DOS and Windows OS, and many other superficial similarities, the series is not IBM compatible. Some PC-98 software may work on an IBM or vice versa, but this is very YMMV[1]. In fact, the introduction of a native Japanese version of standard MS-DOS in the early 90s and subsequent entry of cheaper foreign IBM clones in the Japanese market was the nail in the coffin for the PC-98. They were not released or marketed outside of Japan (besides few attempts such as APC-III and PC-9801FC), but still useful for playing early visual novels and Touhou games.

Emulators[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Libretro Core Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Neko Project 21/W Windows 0.86 rev85β2 High
Neko Project II kai Windows Linux macOS [N 1] git High ~
Neko Project II Windows Linux macOS (PPC/Intel) 0.86 Mid
Anex86 Windows e1 Low-Mid
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.243 Low ~
SL9821 Windows 0.4.0.3 High TBD
DOSBox-X Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.83.25 Low ~
QEMU/9821 Windows Snapshot 8/20/2012 Low
Mobile / ARM
Neko Project II kai Android iOS [N 1] git High ~
Neko Project II Android 20120217 Low
J98 Android J98-b Low
  1. 1.0 1.1 Only available as a libretro core outside of Windows and Linux.

Comparisons[edit]

Neko Project II
The best PC-98 emulator out there but went inactive since March 2016. Its major drawback is the non-remappable controls.
Neko Project 21/W
Based on Neko Project II but with a focus on PC-9821 series with enhanced options (CPUs, memory sizes, sound sources) as well as support for LAN board, PCI bus, CD-DA, windows accelerators, fmgen and so on.
Neko Project II kai
A more libretro-focused fork, which has also merged several improvements from 21/W.
Anex86
Another decent PC-98 emulator, which emulates EPSON PC-286/386/486 series which is a series of PC-98 clone computers made by EPSON Corporation rather than PC-98 series made by NEC. older and less powerful. It allows key rebinding. Some programs may have trouble running on this emulator due to so-called "EPSON protection" that prevents them from running on EPSON clones.
DOSBox-X
A very active fork of DOSBox that, among other things, adds support for the PC-98 as a target system. While it's very easy to set up, its PC-98 system is not yet complete.
MAME
It has drivers for various revisions but as of version 0.189, all of them are reported as Not Working. Support for the first batch or so of PC-98 games have started to be added to MAME in 0.201 (Aug 2018).
QEMU/9821
A fork of QEMU that supports PC-9800 architecture. No longer maintained. Able to boot MS-DOS, Windows 98 and Windows 2000, but software compatibility is hit or miss.

Usage[edit]

Note: This tutorial was adapted from this resource.

The PC-9800 series of personal computers had floppy disk drives (FDD) and hard drives (HDD) which contained the actual games and software to be loaded. Besides the emulator, you'll need a set of floppy disk images (FDI, FDM, NFD, D88...) or a hard disk image (HDI, HDM, NHD...).

You'll need a font if you want text characters to display properly in most cases. It can be downloaded here. Put it in the same directory as the emulator executable, and select it (Emulate/Font for Neko Project II, or Config/Font for Anex86).

You'll need to configure the emulator as well. In NP2's case, you want to go with the recommended configuration here:

  • Emulate/Configure/CPU: Number of cores to something like 32.
  • Emulate/Configure/Sound: Rate to 44k or 88k for better sound quality.
  • Device/Memory: 13.6MB
  • Screen/Screen Option: Check "Use skipline revisions", and change Ratio to 255. This gets rid of the existing scan line implementation, in case you want a better one with shaders from external programs. Keep in mind PC-98 games, more than any other system, are often graphically designed with scanlines in mind.

To play the games:

  • If using a floppy disk based game: Plug the first disk (FDI) into FDD1, and the second disk (FDI) into FDD2.
  • If using a hard drive based game: Plug the hard drive (HDI) into Harddisk/IDE #0 (if using Anex86, use the HDD1 and HDD2 fields and check the box HDD>FDD).

Then restart the machine (not emulator), and most games automatically launch from there.

Neko Project II's controls are not remappable. They're 2, 4, 6, and 8 on the numpad, arrow keys, enter, space, ctrl, z, and x. For games using the mouse, hit F12 to enable or disable mouse input. Use programs like Joy2Key to rebind other keys.

Resources[edit]

References[edit]