MSX emulators

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MSX
Msx.png
Developer Microsoft, ASCII Corporation
Type Home computer
Generation Z80-based home computers
Release date 1983 (MSX)
1985 (MSX2)
1988 (MSX2+)
1990 (MSX turbo R)
Discontinued 1993 (MSX turbo R)
Emulated
For emulators that run on the MSX, see Emulators on MSX.

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 are virtually unknown in North America.

MSX software came on a variety of media, including cassette tapes, 3.5" floppy disks, ROM cartridges, and even LaserDiscs. Only ROM cartridges are preserved on the No-Intro set for now. You'll also need an extensive BIOS ROM pack, though if you're using the blueMSX core in RetroArch, you'll only need four of them. 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.

Emulators[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest Version MSX 2 MSX 2+ TurboR Accuracy libretro Retro
Achievements
FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
openMSX Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 19.1 Cycle
blueMSX
blueMSX_libretro
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD [N 1] 2.8.2
libretro core
Cycle ~[N 2]
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD git artifacts[N 3]
0.267
libretro core[N 4]
~ High
fMSX
fMSX_libretro
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 6.0
libretro core
Mid ~
Retro Virtual Machine Windows Linux macOS 2.1.9 ? TBD
WebMSX Web git High ~
Emulicious Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 2024-06-30 ? ? ? ?
ares Windows Linux macOS v139 ? ? ? roadmap
higan (火眼)
byuu (謬/view)
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD v110 ? ? ?
CLK Linux macOS FreeBSD 2024-06-03 Cycle
Pantheon Windows 14.062 ~ ~ High
MSXPLAYer
(fMSX based)
Windows MSX Game Reader
(Commercial)
~ ~ Mid
DarcNES Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 9b0401/9b0313 Low
MSXEC Windows 20240422 ? ? ? TBD
Mobile / ARM
openMSX Android 0.15.0 Cycle
blueMSX_libretro Android iOS libretro core Cycle ~[N 2]
fMSX_libretro Android iOS libretro core Mid
MSX.emu Android iOS Linux
webOS Pandora Dragonbox Pyra
1.5.77
1.5.46.02 PyraBuild 16 Pandora
High
Consoles
blueMSX_libretro Xbox One Xbox Series X/S libretro core Cycle ~[N 2]
fMSX_libretro Xbox One Xbox Series X/S libretro core Mid
fMSX PSP PSP 5.4.2
git
Mid
PSPMSX PSP 1.5.1 Mid ~
MiiSX Wii 0.4 ?
BlueMSXbox Xbox v8 ?
msxDS Nintendo DS 0.94 ?
MSXAdvance GameBoy Advance 0.4 ? ? Low
DreamMSX DC Dreamcast 0.2g ? ?
UltraMSX2 Nintendo 64 1.0 ? ?
  1. Only available outside of Windows as a libretro core (e.g. RetroArch).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Libretro core is still active.
  3. CI-Windows CI-Linux CI-Macos
  4. As 0.251, 0.139 (2010), 0.78 (2003), 0.37b5 (2000)

You may also want to check out Takeda Toshiya's website for emulators of many old Japanese computer systems (see the Download section of the Common Source Code Project). Includes yayaMSX1, yayaMSX2, yayaMSX2+ (MSX/MSX2/MSX2+ emulators by Mr.tanam and Mr.umaiboux), yayaFS-A1 (by Mr.umaiboux) and ePX-7. Emu-France also has a bunch of Takeda's emulators mirrored. Their downloads are smaller than Takeda's own releases.

Comparisons[edit]

PC[edit]

openMSX
In recent years, it surpassed blueMSX in terms of accuracy and hardware support. It's also the only MSX emulator that supports Palcom LaserDisc games.
blueMSX
An inactive open source project with cycle accuracy and, thus, very high compatibility. It is also available as a libretro core.
WebMSX
An HTML5 emulator written in JavaScript by Paulo Peccin (ppeccin).[1] It can be installed as a web app on iOS/Android/Desktop, and run offline. It has customizable touch controls and a virtual keyboard for mobile usage, and netplay support for multiplayer games. A more extensive list of features can be found at its GitHub page.
MSXPLAYer
A commercial emulator from the early 2000s that was also distributed through magazines and hardware.[2] Its most recent version was accompanied with the MSX Game Reader produced between 2004 and 2005. The accuracy of its MSX 1 emulation was only above average, but it had surprisingly good TurboR accuracy.[3]

Mobile[edit]

MSX.emu
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, and audio can be good. Sega SG-1000 support is planned in the future. Contact the developer for the Cydia store version on iOS.

Hardware Variants[edit]

Generations[edit]

There were multiple revisions to the MSX standard, 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 models[edit]

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.

Resources[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Icon Xbox.png
Consoles: XboxXbox 360Xbox One (X|S)‡ • Xbox Series (X|S)‡
Operating systems: MS-DOSWindows 95/98/MEWindows 2000/XP/VistaWindows 7/8/8.1/10/11
Home computers: MSX