MSX1 vs C64

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By Shinobi

Expert (70)

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27-01-2018, 22:30

I am Iraqi, and as an Iraqi kid, in 1999 I saw MSX in my friend's house when I visited him, it was Sakhar AX170 (Arabic version of MSX1) I fell in love with it although that I got Sega Mega Drive, so after several months I convinced my dad to buy me an MSX, he bought it to me with a 3.5" floppy disk drive and some Arabic Educational Software Cartridges from Al Alamiah Company, and the journey began, I didn't know how or what was programming back then, until I found a BASIC book and started playing with it.
Recently, as a retro games lover, I supplied my raspberry pi with several SD carts, one for Raspbian with openMSX and other with Combian64 which is a C64 that starts on boot without linux booting screen. Recently I knew about C64, and it was interesting, seems that MSX wins technologically except for the video card, the C64 one is better. But my love is for MSX, C64 don't give me nostalgia, although it has 25,000+ games and they're great, and there are plenty of books in English available to download. In addition, Japanese machines are more friendly than American, in C64 games you switch joystick ports and playing with keyboard keys in games seems quirky and strange as opposed to MSX system in playing games. MSX colors are brighter too.
What's your opinion in C64 and MSX??? I searched alot and never found a good comparison and experience explaining both machines, let's discuss it in here.

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By JohnHassink

Ambassador (5423)

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27-01-2018, 23:08

In certain European countries, during the '80s and '90s, there was a (perceived) rivalry that went from schoolyards to especially the demo scene.
There even existed an MSX demo group called "FAC", meaning "Federation Against Commodore".
http://www.generation-msx.nl/company/fac/392/software/
Even if their target appeared to be particularly the Amiga and not the C64, their purpose was to prove that MSX(2) demos could be just a good, if not better than the ones on the 'rival' system.
As fans of retro computers are more or less in the same boat in this day and age, the 'hostility' seems to have faded.

What I personally think of the C64 itself is: some nice and cool games (shame about only one single action button on joysticks and having no cursor keys though), confusing BASIC, ugly and weird screen resolution and colour pallette, and I never was a big fan of the SID chip either.
All in all it's okay, arguably better than MSX1 but obviously loses to MSX2 and higher.

By hamlet

Scribe (2823)

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27-01-2018, 23:06

The C64 forced you to learn assembly language, because even in BASIC you have to use pokes and sys' commands. The BASIC was part of Tramiels business to buy computers for the masses, not the classes. Buyed from Microsoft on 1977 it had to serve the PET generation as the VIC20 and the C64. Of course there was many games avaible for the C64, many of them was graphical pretenters, they lacked in gameplay. The MSX came in 1984 to the market, as the C64 has been sold for nearly two years. Commodore used custom chips and special build ones out of their own factory: MOS. Even Atari and Apple had to buy the 6502 from Commodore. MSX was a high priced product in the beginning, using standard components that was easily avaible all over the world. That time the exchangebility of hard- and software was a novum. Even if you bought a machine from the same company, you was often forced to buy new periphals. Not so in the MSX standard.
As I grew up in school with Commodore, a C64 was my first home computer, I sold it in 1985 to buy a Sony. My friends all got Commodores, but I did´nt care bout the games. I wanted to go deeper and use a programming language, that wasn´t in need of peekin' and pokin'. For me this was a good choice, I wrote my first programms, a drawing app, that grews with me over the years. I used the MSX as my main computer until I bought a Mac in 1999, so I was never forced to use a own Windows computer in my life. Not knowing that MS did accompanied me all the time...

By Shinobi

Expert (70)

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27-01-2018, 23:11

Actually, MSX sound is better. I don't like C64 sound.
Weird colors and they are pale too. MSX colors are brighter.
Scrolling in C64 is hardware pixel by pixel, in MSX it's the software and must be done in a way to avoid flickering.
Sprites in C64 are multicolored. in MSX they're single color.

Finally, when I came to learn about C64, I saw MSX more standardized, and more organized. man, those Arabic educational software are awesome for kids.

How to do multi colored sprites in MSX, I think by making two sprites one near the other (hair sprite and face sprite - in case of character head in a game)..

I have the gamebase64 collection for C64 it has 25,000+ games and software, most of them are made by ordinary users, I think if we collected software made by MSX users over the year, the number would be the same.

By Shinobi

Expert (70)

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27-01-2018, 23:15

Nice story, Hamlet.

MSX-BASIC is better of course. Assembly is needed sometimes, peeks as pokes was my main mystery when I was a kid. I opened some games programs when I was a kid and tried to understand them. since I got no books other than BASIC book, I didn't understand anything of it.

By TomH

Champion (327)

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28-01-2018, 14:46

The SID is actually pretty amazing; the MSX edges it only once you get an SCC or OPL involved, I think. The difference is that the SID uses phase accumulation rather than clock division, which gives finer tone control, offers not only AY-esque symmetric square waves but also assymetric waves, and triangle, sawtooth and, if you're willing to link channels, something a bit like ring modulation, plus a configurable filter stage. Tunes to check out: Fairlight, Stormlord, Cosmic Bakery.

By Wild_Penguin

Hero (579)

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28-01-2018, 18:38

To my ears, the sid always sounded too "noisy"; it's as if the chip is trying to accomplish too much to what it is worth for and this causes some "extra hiss" which is always present.

Despite that, in all fairness I think the SID is way more versatile (never composed anything serious myself, but the specs and tunes speak for themselves). Plain square waves can sound nice too, but the MSX really shines with the already mentioned extra chips!

By ToriHino

Champion (400)

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28-01-2018, 18:52

For me the SID easily wins over the PSG anytime. I grew op with both the C64 and MSX next to each other, somehow the MSX always was my favorite, except for the sound chip. It wasn't until the additional sound chips arrived for the MSX that for me it was a fair (though more difficult to compare) competition.
Even today it's amazing what sound they can get out of the SID, it can even simulate the PSG now Big smile
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6FvMJe2sc0

By PingPong

Prophet (3495)

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28-01-2018, 18:55

SID is superior to PSG only from a technical point of view.
In real scenario, C64 tunes are not better than msx ones, it's more a way programmers used it than tech specifications.
Both AY & SID are generators of noise instead of music.
The real difference is FM OPx chips, here the difference is not only a tech question. Listen to a FM Chip tune and you see the real difference between a croaking TOAD ( SID & PSG ) and a marvellous chirpy bird.
Often SID tunes sound like a chainsaw.....

By hamlet

Scribe (2823)

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28-01-2018, 19:59

It is like comparing Joe Cocker and Kate Bush. They are both great for their fans. And in our minds they become better year by year.
It is fantastic what influence those chips take in modern music. If you listen the sound of LukHash or Welle:Erdball you don´t ask for what chip it is.
I buy a lot of chip tunes album, but today I found a special gem on iTunes store:

By ren

Paragon (1338)

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28-01-2018, 19:56

Some chirping birds here.

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