New to the community + MSX noob questions before taking the plunge

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بواسطة vraskin

Supporter (10)

صورة vraskin

06-01-2022, 17:58

Hey all! Brand new to the forum Big smile . Please let me know if this is not the correct place to post about this. I originally became interested in the MSX after trying it out on the MiSTer last year. A few days ago I unexpectedly got the chance to briefly play around with an actual MSX2 unit and immediately fell in love with it and decided to get one. I've done a bunch of research but there is an intimidating amount of information for someone not super familiar with old computers, so I have a couple of newbie questions before taking the plunge:

1. I'm mostly interested in the gaming aspect. Assuming I'm using a flash cart, how easy are the Japanese models to use for an English speaker? If i understand correctly you can choose one of a set of baked-in functions after startup that vary depending on the machine, and if you are using a flash cart it just boots directly to the flash cart. Is that correct?

2. Speaking of flash carts - it appears that the general consensus is that the MegaFlashROM SCC+ is the way to go. Any major pros/ cons to be aware of other than some minor compatibility issues? I'm trying to pick between that and the Carnivore 2.

3. Cost aside, is there an actual measurable benefit to getting an MSX2+ or Turbo over a regular MSX2? I really like the aesthetics of the FS-A1, but don't want to miss out on better performance for games. Is the experience actually measurably better or is it just superficial? If there's a huge difference I'd probably try to find an FS-A1ST - I only really need the one kidney anyway.

4. I know Memory Mappers and hardware expansions are a thing but I'm getting a big lost with all the jargon. Are Memory Mappers internal to specific games and "just work" when you plug in the appropriate cartridge, or is that something you have to actively insert/ manage? For hardware expansions - are there any "must haves" for the full MSX experience, or would the MegaFlashRom SCC+ include everything needed? I'm guessing there's probably external sound modules or something to look into.

Appreciate any help on this and excited to learn more about the hardware and game library!

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بواسطة Manuel

Ascended (18747)

صورة Manuel

06-01-2022, 21:30

Welcome! Looks like the right place to me.

1. Some Japanese machines boot into a Japanese firmware, but not all. You could try this out in a good emulator before buying a machine. The only flash cart that I know is able of skipping it is the Mega FLash ROM SCC+ SD. But I'm not sure it works all the time and for which machines.

2. This is a long debate. Depends on what you find important. Biggest plus on the C2 is that it also implements MSX-MUSIC. If the MSX you will buy doesn't have MSX-MUSIC, you will miss out on most modern MSX2 (and up) games regarding sound. I own a C2 myself and I'm quite happy with it, to be honest.

3.There will be no better performance on most games. There are a dozen or so games that will run smoother with enhancement patches on a turboR. And also a handful of games natively use the faster CPU of the turboR. The other thing is of course that MSX2+ and turboR have a better video chip (V9958 intead of V9938), but not many games will make use of it.
You can check the difference on a good emulator before buying.

4. If you mean with "Memory Mappers" the standard MSX RAM expansion mechanism, they are very generic. The C2 and the MFR SCC+SD both come with one. But there weon't be many games using that much of RAM. Almost all Japanese MSX2 games use only 64kB of RAM. Most European MSX2 games use 128kB of RAM. Practically all cartridge based games use 64kb RAM.
As I said in point 2: I would really recommend to get an MSX-MUSIC in some form.

Ask more questions and you'll get more answers Smile

بواسطة gdx

Enlighted (5372)

صورة gdx

07-01-2022, 03:01

Manuel wrote:

The only flash cart that I know is able of skipping it is the Mega FLash ROM SCC+ SD.

This is an almost useless function because the 1 or 2 games that need this already exist patched. Several ROM loaders do it automatically or optionaly. It is useless if you have a Japanese MSX.

Manuel wrote:

Depends on what you find important. Biggest plus on the C2 is that it also implements MSX-MUSIC.

If you get an MSX with the integrated FM, the MFR SCC+ SD is sufficient but maybe later you will want enjoy for another MSX which does not have an FM.

Manuel wrote:

There are a dozen or so games that will run smoother with enhancement patches on a turboR. And also a handful of games natively use the faster CPU of the turboR.

Another advantage is the fast file browsing on the flash card.

Manuel wrote:

You can check the difference on a good emulator before buying.

Turbo R speed is quite poorly emulated in general, this give you a general idea only.

Manuel wrote:

If you mean with "Memory Mappers" the standard MSX RAM expansion mechanism, they are very generic. The C2 and the MFR SCC+SD both come with one.

Attention, it is optional on the MFR SCC+SD.

بواسطة sdsnatcher73

Prophet (3035)

صورة sdsnatcher73

07-01-2022, 05:30

The skipping of the firmware is not useless, it is very much so a great feature of the MFR SCC+ SD because it will skip the firmware when booting into Nextor. With other multicarts (we really should not call them flashcarts) you will get into the firmware and on some MSX’s are even unable to boot into Nextor (e.g. Hitachi MB-H1, MB-H2, MB-H3 and Mitsubishi ML-F120D).

In general I would recommend starting of your journey with an MSX2 with no firmware or a removed firmware. If you get totally sucked in, at some point you may want to upgrade to a 2+ or tR. But then you can either sell your MSX2 (it won’t likely depreciate in value given the interest in MSX these days). On the other hand you will most likely be unable to part with it Wink

A multicart with FM or a 2+ with FM built in will greatly enhance your experience in many games! A Carnivore2 is not really more expensive but may be harder to obtain (but they are still being produced so you should be able to find one).

بواسطة Briqunullus

Champion (505)

صورة Briqunullus

07-01-2022, 11:33

MFR vs Carnivore2 is like Ferrari vs Lamborghini. There are differences for sure, and people will advocate for one or the other. In the end though, both are very powerful and you will enjoy them whichever you'll pick.

Memory mappers are a generic ram expansion like Manuel says. They are not necessary for playing games. However, your flash/multicard will boot into Nextor. That operating system needs at least 128K and preferably 256K of ram. Carnivore2 brings a 1024K mapper, so no problem there. With MFR however, a 512K mapper is only optional and you'll pay extra for it. Yet, it's highly recommended to do so.

بواسطة vraskin

Supporter (10)

صورة vraskin

07-01-2022, 18:12

Thanks for the info everyone! I ended up preemptively getting a Carnivore2. I'm stuck in Russia for the next 2 weeks with COVID so I figured I'd take advantage of there being a local supplier while I'm here. I figure I can always pick up an MFR later if needed since they seem to be more readily available.

Still debating what model MSX to get, but in the meantime I'm browsing system lots online and found one that comes with a game I can't identify. Any idea what it is?

Also, two more questions I came up with while researching what to buy:

1. As I understand it a number of cartridge games display in a different language depending on the region of the system. Is there a way to use a Multi Cart or some other external add-on to override the region setting and for example trick a Japanese MSX into playing a real cart in English? I'm guessing the answer is no, but figured I'd ask.

2. On the MiSTer I can get the MSX core to display long filenames by putting them in a zip file and opening via Sofarun. Is there a similar mechanism on the Carnivore2? I've always been obsessive about my filenames.

بواسطة FiXato

Scribe (1733)

صورة FiXato

07-01-2022, 19:27

vraskin wrote:

1. As I understand it a number of cartridge games display in a different language depending on the region of the system. Is there a way to use a Multi Cart or some other external add-on to override the region setting and for example trick a Japanese MSX into playing a real cart in English? I'm guessing the answer is no, but figured I'd ask.

http://bitsofbas.com/blog/post/38/regionswap-tool
bitsofbas might post more details here later :)

بواسطة Briqunullus

Champion (505)

صورة Briqunullus

07-01-2022, 19:46

vraskin wrote:

2. On the MiSTer I can get the MSX core to display long filenames by putting them in a zip file and opening via Sofarun. Is there a similar mechanism on the Carnivore2? I've always been obsessive about my filenames.

That's not a feature of the MiSTer, but a feature of Sofarun. And since you'll use Sofarun on your Carnivore2 as well, it'll work exactly the same.

This really is a great feature, I use it on my Carnivore2 all the time. Loading may be a bit slower due to unzipping (tip: turn of compression on your zip files), but I happily take that.

بواسطة Grauw

Ascended (10565)

صورة Grauw

07-01-2022, 19:48

FiXato wrote:
vraskin wrote:

1. As I understand it a number of cartridge games display in a different language depending on the region of the system. Is there a way to use a Multi Cart or some other external add-on to override the region setting and for example trick a Japanese MSX into playing a real cart in English? I'm guessing the answer is no, but figured I'd ask.

http://bitsofbas.com/blog/post/38/regionswap-tool
bitsofbas might post more details here later :)

Sofarun also has an option for changing language when loading ROMs.

vraskin wrote:

2. On the MiSTer I can get the MSX core to display long filenames by putting them in a zip file and opening via Sofarun. Is there a similar mechanism on the Carnivore2? I've always been obsessive about my filenames.

Sofarun works the same way on a real MSX, and it also supports Carnivore2.

بواسطة sdsnatcher73

Prophet (3035)

صورة sdsnatcher73

07-01-2022, 19:52

The game included is not very interesting. It is called Professional Mah-Jong Gokuh by Chatnoir.

SofaROM can patch the region the game sees (So it will work like you are running the game on a different region than the actual machine).

بواسطة vraskin

Supporter (10)

صورة vraskin

07-01-2022, 20:06

Happy to hear that there's a solution to the region setting issue for physical carts - I'm a pretty big collector for other systems so it's nice to know that I can keep doing that to some degree.

Quote:

The game included is not very interesting. It is called Professional Mah-Jong Gokuh by Chatnoir.

Aww, bummer. I thought it had a cool looking cover. Totally not worth what they're asking for the bundle then.

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