There are many many MSX emulators available on PC. With the help of MarsUpOne, here is a quick start guide on choosing the best and most adapted emulator for your needs.
To download the emulators presented below, just go to the corresponding website. However, not all of them include the systems ROMs... if this is the case, just use the ROMs used in another emulator (e.g. NlMSX). Be aware! Sometimes you need to change the ROM names and make some additional changes...
Small MSX emulator Instructions Guide:
To run MSX emulators you need the system ROMs which exist in four main variants: MSX1, MSX2, MSX2+ and MSX Turbo-R. Some emulators already have those ROM files, others don't.
Games and other software exist in three different forms - which in the case of emulators are considered as images:
- DSK images, equivalent of a MSX floppy disk (360 Kb or 720 kb) - within your emulator you need to select the DSK image either for the A or B Drives (they are of course virtual drives!).
- ROM images, equivalent to MSX cartridges (most commonly 16 Kb, 32Kb, 64 Kb, 128 Kb, 256 Kb, 512 Kb) - select the ROM image of your choice for the Cartridge Port 1 or 2 (or A-B depending of the emulator) and indicate if necessary the cartridge type (here, you need to play a bit... - however, some emulators have an option to guess the cartridge type ("Automatic" or "Guess") which works fine 9 times out of 10.
- CAS images, equivalent to MSX tapes (not recommended, it is not practical). Emulators tend nowadays to transform those CAS files into usable WAV files.
On the musical end, the MSX platform uses various sound chips:
- PSG (basic chip), SCC or SCC+ (special chip added on some Konami game cartridges)
- FM-PAC or MSX-MUSIC (Panasonic Amusement Cartridge),
- Music Module
- MSX-AUDIO (Philips cartridge),
- PCM (only on Turbo-R),
- MIDI (included or via an extension).
If music and sound quality is of importance to you, it is best to choose an emulator that has support for most of those sound chips.
Also if you are not literate with DOS commands, you might want to use special launchpads with some emulators (e.g. for fMSX-Dos ...)
Top10 recommended emulators (by MarsUpOne)
A very stable emulator, more and more powerful (from MSX1 to Turbo-R), best for FM-PAC music, Music Module and Moonsound. Fully customizable and friendly GUI. Use Visual MSX in combination for the user interface.
A very ambitious emulator supporting MSX1 to Turbo-R. Good sound emulation as well as extended graphic capabilities (VDP). However needs a high-end PC to run and user interface is average (you can however use the Catapult launchpad with it).
One of the most recent fMSX clones, with an inspired GUI from MESS and RuMSX. Good emulation quality as well as sound emulation (including FM-PAC and Music Module)
A free emulator, which replaces very well fMSX-DOS, with high quality FM-PAC and Music Module sounds. Good user interface.
URL: http://my.dreamwiz.com/sharksym/paraMSX.files (all versions incl. Betas)
An emulator having a stereo option, enabling you to enjoy simultaneously FM-PAC and Music Module sounds. Very interesting, especially if you like demos.
The latest of the fMSX emulators. based on the interface and options of blueMSX, its performances are optimised. On the minus side, no Music Module support.
Another ambitious emulator, especially for the quality of sound (3 options for FM-PAC: modulable MIDI; OPL3; software emulation). fMSXSO has a great set of menus for configuration.
Comes directly from fMSX-DOS version 1, but with a perfect Screen 12 and digital sound quality (PSG, SCC and FM-PAC). Exists in two versions: DOS and Windows but unfortunately without Launchpad.
A multi-platform emulator that evolves continually, especially for MSX support. For long limited to MSX1, it now supports MSX2 as well. Perfect PSG / SCC sound emulation. On the minus side, does not support DSK files.
Certainly the easiest of all emulators to use. Unfortunately sound emulation is very average. RuMSX is a good introduction to MSX emulation (including Turbo-R) with nice options.
More MSX emulators for PC?
There are many other good (and less good) emulators available. For a full list, please visit MarsUpOne (in French), which contains a description of all of them.
The MSX Games bOX does not give any support via e-mail.