Zodiac 0.8.1

by MSX Resource Center on 21-04-2005, 00:00

Zodiac is a Japanese open-source MSX emulator in an early stage of development. Unfortunately, it has been a while since there was any activity reported on this project. The current version only emulates one MSX computer system: An MSX2 with 256kB memory and an MSX-MUSIC audio expansion. It can be started from the commandline, allowing you to run ROM and DSK images. By default, the emulator supports joystick emulation and uses a blur-filter which makes the images look a bit more like they were running on an old TV instead of a crystal clear SVGA monitor. So basically, Zodiac offers a plain and simple MSX2 gaming environment with joystick support and a TV-feel image.  




As Zodiac is in an early stage of development, accuracy runs behind on every other MSX emulator in the test. FAC demo 5, TNI's Bounce demo, Turnix, Unknown Reality and VScreen did not even boot at all, while all other tests only managed to score 1 point, meaning they would hang shortly after booting. There is one exception: Aleste 2. The entire game ran exactly as it would have on a real MSX2. The results confirm that Zodiac is currently only suitable for running plain MSX2 games.  




The only music chips Zodiac supports are the PSG and the MSX-MUSIC. Both don't sound bad, but not exceptionally good either. The PSG emulation has got quite some difficulties with high notes and non-square-wave sounds. A sawtooth-bass tends to sound more like an FM-PAC than like a PSG. The MSX-MUSIC sounds better, but quite sharp and not warm at all.  



Although the sources of Zodiac might be interesting to other developers, there is no reason why anyone should use Zodiac as their default MSX emulator at this point. Most MSX software does not run without flaws, the sound-quality of the emulator is below average and the lack of a GUI is not making it score high on usability either. This does not mean Zodiac isn't an emulator worth looking out for in the future. Sometimes it takes only a few small steps to boost accuracy significantly.  


Information chart

MSX2 CPU Benchmark:         962
MSX2 VDP Benchmark:         586
turboR CPU Benchmark:       N/A
turboR VDP Benchmark:       N/A
MSX1/2 accuracy score:      18.80%
turboR accuracy score:      00.00%
Music quality score:        16.70%
Usability & Features score: 17.60%
CPU load MSX2 idle:         ~ 90.00%
CPU load turboR idle:       N/A
MRC EmuRank:                15.85%
Emulator interface:         none
Save-states:                no
Screenshots:                no
Joystick support:           yes
Mouse support:              no
Printer support:            no
Real disk support:          no
Multi-disk support:         no
Change disk:                no
Dir as disk:                no
MSX1 palette:               no
Image enhancements:         no
Fullscreen:                 yes (only)

Zodiac website: http://zodiac.sourceforge.net/


To see how Zodiac compares to other emulators, check out the MRC EmuRank chart.