MSX emulators

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Developer Microsoft, ASCII Corporation
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.

Software came on a variety of media, including cassette tapes, 3.5" floppy disks, ROM cartridges, and laserdiscs. Only ROM cartridges are preserved on the No-Intro set for now. You'll also need an extensive BIOS ROM pack, though RetroArch'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

Main article: [Manufacturers list] (Wikipedia)

MSX machines were manufactured by a wide range of companies including Pioneer, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, Sanyo, Philips and LG Goldstar. 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 Platform(s) Latest Version MSX 1 MSX 2 MSX 2+ TurboR Accuracy Libretro Core FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
openMSX Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD git Cycle
blueMSX Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD [N 1] 2.8.2 Cycle
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.239 ~ High
WebMSX Web git High ?
fMSX Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 6.0 Mid ~
ares Windows Linux macOS v126 ? ? ?
CLK Linux macOS FreeBSD 2021-12-19 Cycle
Pantheon Windows 11.036 ~ ~ High
(fMSX based)
Windows MSX Game Reader
~ ~ Mid
DarcNES Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 9b0401/9b0313 ~ Low
Mobile / ARM
(blueMSX tech)
Android iOS Linux
webOS Pandora Dragonbox Pyra
1.5.54 PyraBuild 16 Pandora
~ ~ ~ ~ High ~
MiiSX Wii 0.4 ? ?
BlueMSXbox Xbox v8 ? ?
msxDS Nintendo DS 0.94 ? ?
DreamMSX DC Dreamcast 0.2g ? ? ?
UltraMSX2 Nintendo 64 1.0 ? ? ? ?
  1. Only available outside of Windows as a libretro core (e.g. RetroArch).


Another open source project in active development. In recent years, it has surpassed blueMSX in terms of accuracy and the quantity of emulated hardware. This is the only emulator that supports Palcom LaserDisc games.
An open source project that's cycle accurate with very high compatibility.
An open-source MSX emulator written in HTML5 and JavaScript. It can install as a WebApp on iOS/Android/Desktop, and then run offline. An extensive list of Features can be found at its GitHub page. It has customizable touch controls/virtual keyboard that suit Android and iOS usage, and you can join friends in multiplayer games. Made by Paulo Peccin (ppeccin).
This commercial emulator from the early 2000's were initially found bundled with magazines or hardware. Nowadays, the most recent version of MSXPLAYer is to be found accompanied with the MSX Game Reader released in 2004-2005. Its emulation accuracy of MSX 1 was only above average, but its TurboR accuracy was surprisingly good.


An open-source emulator that uses blueMSX's emulation backend and built on top of the developer's Imagine engine used in all his applications. It emulates the MSX range and ColecoVision. Most MSX games should run & audio can be good. Sega SG-1000 support is planned in the future. Contact developer for the Cydia store version on iOS.
- 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), yayaFS-A1 (by Mr.umaiboux) and ePX-7.)
- 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