MSX emulators

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Revision as of 16:00, 6 November 2018 by Tommy (talk | contribs) (Pulls out the specific machine examples, as probably (?) readers of this wiki want to see tech specs in one place, manufacturers in another.)
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Developer Microsoft Japan, Sanyo
Type Computers
Generation Z80-based home computers
Release date 1983
Discontinued 1996

MSX is a Z80-based family of home computers, designed by Microsoft in cooperation with ASCII Corporation, which appeared in 1983. They were popular in Asian, South American and European countries as well as the former Soviet Union, but they are virtually unknown in USA.

The games came either as cassettes or floppy disks, but only the former is preserved on the No-Intro set for now. You'll also need an extensive BIOS pack, though RA's bluemsx core only requires four. There are game manager tools to help with configuring which BIOS and games come with which feature. The Japanese Wii Virtual Console also included basic MSX-2 emulation.


The MSX standard evolved in several steps, which are reflected in greater or lesser support by emulators:

  • the MSX 1 is the original 1983 machine, with a 3.58Mhz Z80, an AY 3-8910 sound chip, and a TMS video processor — it offers resolutions up to 256x192 with attribute-based colours, single-colour sprites and no hardware scrolling. This machine primarily differs from contemporaries such as the ColecoVision and Sega SC-3000 only in its sound chip;
  • the MSX 2 is a 1985 revision that significantly upgrades the video processor; the maximum resolution is now 512x212, sprites are up to 16 colour, hardware vertical scrolling is available, more normative bitmap and non-attribute-based tile colour modes are offered, and primitive graphics acceleration is available — the video processor can independently perform tasks such as drawing lines and filling rectangles. Unlike the TMS chip in the MSX 1, no other machines use this video processor, so MSX 2 emulation is attempted less often than MSX 1 emulation;
  • the MSX 2+ is a minor revision from 1988 that adds hardware support for horizontal scrolling and a few extra colour modes; some 2+ models offer an optional modest speed improvement to the Z80 to 5.37Mhz;
  • the TurboR from 1990 offers the R800 processor as an alternative to the Z80, which is an offspring of the Z800, offering Z80 backwards compatibility with significantly increased throughput.

Commercial software overwhelmingly targets the MSX 1 or MSX 2 standards, with some able to benefit from the improved horizontal scrolling of the MSX 2+. Neither the 2+ nor the TurboR sold in substantial volumes, and a proposed MSX 3 standard never reached consumers.

Specific Machines

MSX machines were manufactured by a wide range of companies including Pioneer, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, Sanyo, Philips and LG Goldstar. Wikipedia offers

Main article: [a full list]. Some of the notable machines include:
  • the Pioneer Palcom PX-7, an MSX1 computer aimed at the Japanese market. It was meant for attaching to a LaserDisc player, and as such has Superimpose capabilities (putting pictures and texts above the Laser Disc image). The PSG sound is stereo, contrary to almost all MSX machines. Pioneer also sold the ER-101 interface (Laser Vision) unit which made it possible for all MSX computers to have the same functionalities as the Palcom PX-7;
  • Panasonic's FS-A1 (1986), FS-A1mkII (W/ added keypad) and its Italian counterpart, the Toshiba FS-TM1 were based on the MSX2 standard; and
  • Panasonic's FS-A1FX (1988) and FS-A1WX (W/ added MSX-MUSIC & a Japanese Word processor) are MSX 2+ derived hardware; the FS-A1WSX (1989) was the last MSX 2+ computer.


Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Active MSX 1 MSX 2 MSX 2+ TurboR Accuracy Libretro Core Recommended
openMSX Multi-platform 0.14.0 Cycle
blueMSX Windows, Multi-platform[N 1] 2.8.2 Cycle
MAME Multi-platform 0.218 ~ ~ ~ ~ High
Pantheon Windows 9.228 ~ ~ High
CLK macOS and UNIXalikes 2020-02-16 Cycle
MSXPLAYer Windows ? ~ ~ ~ Mid
fMSX Multi-platform 5.4 Mid
MSX.emu Android 1.5.34 ~ ~ ~ ~ ?
  1. Only available outside of Windows as a libretro core (e.g. RetroArch).


An open source project that's cycle accurate with very high compatibility.
Another open source project in active development. In recent years, it has surpassed blueMSX in terms of accuracy and the quantity of emulated hardware.
- Official website of Takeda consisting of Takeda Toshiya's emulators for many old Japanese computer systems (See Source Code & Binary Archives under the Download sector here. Includes yayaMSX1, yayaMSX2, yayaMSX2+ (MSX/MSX2/MSX2+ emulators by Mr.tanam and Mr.umaiboux; and yayaFS-A1 by Mr.umaiboux).)
- Takeda Common Binaries (An archive of all Takeda emulators for Japanese systems including the FM-7 at Smaller file size than at the official website.)


External links