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Les Dossiers de Passion MSX

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Pour lire les dossiers de Passion MSX en Anglais: Games - Emulation - Hardware - Interviews - The Box

Dossiers > Articles and Reviews in English > Games > [ENG] ASCII MSX MAGAZINE 2003

[ENG] ASCII MSX MAGAZINE 2003

  Released at the end of december 2002 in Japan, this book-magazine dedicated to the marvelous MSX system is one of the more positive elements of the official MSX Revival. Not less than 224 pages, almost of them are presenting the contents of the CD-ROM, and stickers as extra !!!

Viewed by many fans as the first MSX Bible, it's really a great presentation of the ludic, musical, graphical, etc ... capabilities of our beloved system. Even if the book is fully written in Japanese, it's so well made that it's worth the detour and the efforts to get it : the first editions are now sold out, but you can order a box that includes the three ASCII MSX MAGAZINE (2003, 2004 and 2005)

The goal of this review is some help to enjoy more all the treasures of the MSX Magazine 2003, in its book and CD sides. Note that demos and applications come with the 2003 edition of the MSXPLAYer; this version emulates a MSX2+ with 128 Kb RAM.

The book

After an intro, on pages 1 to 9, about the general concept of the MSXPLAYer, the book presents on pages 10 to 51, the games present on the CD in a version integrated with this emulator :

- 12 to15 : the action and thinking games The Castle and Castle Excellent (Ascii, 1986) with an extended review on pages 106 to 113 including tips and complete maps of the games
- 16 and 17 : the war simulation game Bokosuka Wars (Ascii, 1984 - see also the review on pages 114 to 117)
- 18 to 23 :
the shooting games Thexder (Game Arts, 1986), Fire Hawk (Game Arts, 1989) and Famicle Parodic 2 (Bit2, 1990)
- 24 and 25 :
the action and thinking game Quinpl (Bit2, 1988)
- 26 to 45 : different games released by Ascii between 1983 and 1985 : Theseus (13 mazes for an hero - see also the review on pages 122 to 125), Illegus (or Iligks Episode IV), Tawara, Rise Out (kind of Lode Runner with 20 levels - see also the review on pages 118 to 121), Pairs, Rotors, Trial Ski, Pai Panic, Red Zone, Scope On
- 46 and 47 :
the Project Egg trial versions of the RPG trilogy Ys : Ys 1 (Falcom, 1987) - Ys 2 (Falcom, 1988) - Ys 3 (Falcom, 1989)
- 48 to 51 : four non-commercial games : action with Astro Monsters (alphaH7, 1995) and Magical Labyrinth Remix (Gigamix, 1995-1998), thinking with Hoipple (Pastel Hope, 1992), interactivity with Greatest Fighter Yajiuman (1994-2002), an adventure with screen 12 digitized pictures

  Very logically, the book continues with detailed instructions about the MSXPLAYer on pages 52 to 61, interviews of people very active in the MSX Revival (including Kay Nishi, the MSX founder) on pages 62 to 75, presentation of the Intent MSXPLAyer bottom on pages 76 and 77 and MSX history from 1983 to 2003 allowing to better enlighten the evolution of the MSXPLAYer project on pages 78 to 83.

To have a good view of the MSX vitality in 2003, you need to browse through the pages 84 to 89 that present 16 websites with very interesting MSX contents, just before a comic strip about MSX-BASIC on pages 90 to 93 and a fan mail on pages 94 to 96.

Then we come to the reviews :
- the complete listing of a MSX-BASIC game on pages 97 to 101
- the instructions for the graphical tool Graphsaurus 2.0 (Bit2, 1991) on pages 102 to 105
- the extended reviews about 5 games (The Castle - Castle Excellent - Bokosuka Wars - Rise Out - Theseus) on pages 106 to 125
-
the MSX-BASIC games and applications available on the CD on pages 126 to 139

Back to the Net on pages 140 to 147 for the presentation of MSX or PC tools (always useful for MSX), that you can find by browsing on the good urls.

The last part of this book-magazine is full with many things :
- a FAQ for the MSXPLAYer on pages 148 to 151
-
the explanation of 4 MSX-BASIC listings (a game and 3 demos) on pages 152 to 159
-
the instructions for the musical tool MUSICA on pages 160 to 163
-
the technical specifications of the MSX hardware on pages 164 to 171
-
the MSX-DOS 1 commands on pages 172 to 177
-
the MSX-BASIC commands for MSX1, 2, 2+ and MSX-MUSIC on pages 178 to 220
-
the exclusive contents (PDF files) of the CD-ROM on page 221
-
the MSX games re-released by Project EGG for the Windows system with a special version of the MSXPLAYer on pages 222 and 223

I was telling you it was a Bible, it was not a lie ! Of course, all is written in Japanese, but you can though appreciate the pictures, examples and listings ! The most important for European fans is indeed the CD-ROM, but don't forget the pleasure of having such a great book-magazine !


The CD-ROM

  You see first on this CD-ROM 4 groups of 4 directories beginning with 0, 1, 2, 3 and including exactly the same files, the only difference is the skin giving another graphical design to the MSXPLAYer (blue, yellow, green or fancy)

1st directory - the installation gives 2 IMG files (one with mouse support) that hide actually 4 internal DSK files :
- one for the MSX-BASIC software presented in the book on pages 97 to 101, 126 to 139, 152 to 163 (including the musical tool MUSICA)
- one for the MSX-DOS software presented on page 139
- two empty DSK files (only one can be used in consequence of a bug)
2d directory - the 4 non-commercial games presented on pages 48 to 51
3rd directory - the graphical tool Graphsaurus 2.0 presented on pages 102 to 105
4th directory - the commercial games presented on pages 12 to 45 and 106 to 125

The four last directories can also be very interesting :

* doc includes 5 PDF files, i.e. the manuals of Castle Excellent and Graphsaurus 2.0, an excerpt from the MSX Magazine of summer 992 about MIDI music on MSX, a MSX-DOS 1 manual and a guide of graphical creation in MSX-BASIC
*
E includes the Project Egg trial versions of RPG trilogy Ys presented in the book on pages 46 and 47
*
images includes screenshots of the 4 MSXPLAYER skins for Windows and for Pocket PC
* PocketPC2002 includes 9 MSX games for Pocket PC, each time in 4 versions (different skins)

To fully enjoy this CD-ROM, I give here some tips and links to excellent tools :
- DiskManager : http://www.lexlechz.at/
- Virtual Floppy Drive : http://chitchat.at.infoseek.co.jp/vmware/vfd.html
- GETROM : http://bifi.msxnet.org/msxnet/utils/
- KANJIROM dump tool : check the Resource page of the blueMSX emulator !

How to install ideally the contents of a directory ?
- copy the directory on your hard disk
- rename it if it comes with Japanese characters
- rename eventually the .msi file for example as 1.msi
- modify in the same way the Setup.ini file
- execute Setup.exe

How to get on "external" DSK file the contents of the "internal" DSK files of the BASIC directory ?
- start Disk Manager to create a disk image and copy on this image the MSX-DOS1 files (MSXDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM)
- start Virtual Floppy Drive and insert the disk image in drive 0
- start finally the IMG file by clicking on basic_l.exe or basic(mouse)_l.exe
- select FDD in the MSX-PLAYer and make a reset
- on the command line, use COPY to copy all the files from A to FDD
- delete the MSX-DOS 1 files
- save the disk image in the Virtual Floppy Drive : you are now ready to use it in blueMSX, openMSX or another emulator !

How to get on "external" DSK file the contents of the "internal" DSK files of the 4 non-commercial games ?
The procedure is exactly the same as for the DSK files of the BASIC directory, but you need to edit the IMG file with an hexadecimal editor before launching the .exe file. Go to offset 403C and replace "nofdd" by "msx2+".

How to get the ROMS of MSX2+ emulated by the MSX-BASIC version of the MSXPLAYer ?

  - start Disk Manager to create a disk image and copy on this image the GETROM.BIN tool
- start Virtual Floppy Drive and insert the disk image in drive 0
- start the IMG file by clicking on basic_l.exe or basic(mouse)_l.exe
- select FDD in the MSX-PLAYer and make a reset
- run the tool by BLOAD"GETROM.BIN",R
- save the roms 1 to 4 and 6 as following :
1   MPBIOS.ROM
2   MPEXT.ROM
3   MPDISK.ROM
4   MPMUS.ROM
6   MPMSXKANJI.ROM

It's useless to save the fifth rom, as it only blocks the first cartridge slot by 8 times the contents of the music rom MPMUS.ROM and does not appear in the versions of the MSXPLAYer created for a specific application.

To get the MPKANJI.ROM file, you need to use the same procedure with a disk image containing the KANJIROM.BAS file.

How to build this configuration and improve it (MSX-AUDIO, MoonSound, X-Basic) for blueMSX ?
- download this file and unzip it in the "Machines" subdirectory of blueMSX : MSXPLAYer_2003.zip
- add the roms in the subdirectory "MSX2+ - MSXPLAYer 2003"

How to get more than 128 Kb RAM with the MSX-BASIC version of the MSXPLAYer ?
-
edit the IMG file : go to offset 406D and replace 8 by 16 (= 256 Kb), 32 (= 512 Kb), 64 (= 1024 Kb) or 128 (= 2048 kb). Attention ! Don't forget to insert 1 or 2 empty bytes before the modification and to delete 1 or 2 empty bytes before offset 4140

How to run "external" DSK games or applications with the MSX-BASIC version of the MSXPLAYer ?
- start Virtual Floppy Drive and insert the disk image in drive 0
- start the IMG file by clicking on basic_l.exe or basic(mouse)_l.exe
- select FDD in the MSX-PLAYer and make a reset

For games or applications on multiple disks (maximum 3), you need first to copy 2 disks on the "internal" disks A and C by using the COPY command of MSX-DOS, that you can find on "internal" disk B. This operation does not delete the original contents of the internal disks; actually, the savings are made under the form of special files that have priority on the original disks.

Remark : this copy procedure does not work with DSK files for which the data are stored in sector mode

How to run "external" ROM games or applications with the MSX-BASIC version of the MSXPLAYer ?
- start Disk Manager to create a disk image and copy on this image the MSX-DOS 1 files (MSXDOS.SYS et COMMAND.COM), a tool such as LOADROM and the ROM of the game or application
- start Virtual Floppy Drive and insert the disk image in drive 0
- start the IMG file by clicking on basic_l.exe or basic(mouse)_l.exe
- select FDD in the MSX-PLAYer and make a reset

Remarks :
- as the Megaram is not emulated, don't use EXECROM to run Megaroms
- the concerned tools can have trouble to run some roms


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