MSX2 Japanese Computer

The Japanese MSX2 8-Bit Computer: A Deep Dive into Retro Computing

Classic Computer Retro
MSX2 8-bit computer

There are multiple variants of the MSX2 8-bit computer. The one that I currently have in my possession is the Panasonic A1 Personal Computer FS-A1.

If you want a full list of MSX computers, check out the computer fandom page.

In this article, I want to cover the cool things about the MSX2, some of the best games, and the hardware you need for the system. While emulators can provide a taste of the MSX experience, there’s nothing like using the real hardware. Below, we’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions about the MSX2.

What is the MSX Game System or Computer?

Japanese MSX2 8-BIT Computer

MSX stands for Microsoft Extended. Japan wanted to market a computer designed for home use. During the development of the MSX, there were no standardized computers. Bill Gates of Microsoft helped companies like Phillips, Sony, and Panasonic standardize their computers so that all software would be compatible across different brands.

The MSX runs Microsoft BASIC and MS-DOS 1.1.

The BEST MSX2 Computer

With numerous variants of the MSX2 available, a common question is: which MSX2 should you get? While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, the Sony Hit-Bit F1XD checks all the boxes for me. It comes with a floppy drive, internal power, and an appealing design.

I plan to exchange my FS-A1 for a Sony HB-F1XD. There’s nothing wrong with the FS-A1 I own, but it lacks a floppy drive, and I had to order the power adapter separately. I also don’t find it as aesthetically pleasing as the Sony HB-F1XD.

Panasonic FS-A1

Since I own this variant of the MSX2, here are some technical specifications of this 8-bit computer:

Panasonic MSX2 2023, MSX Computer
  • CPU: 8-bit Zilog Z80A running at 3.58 MHz
  • RAM: 64 KB built-in, expandable up to 512 KB
  • ROM: 32 KB built-in, containing MSX BASIC and system BIOS
  • Video display processor: Yamaha V9938, capable of displaying up to 512 colors and resolutions of up to 512×424 pixels
  • Audio processor: Yamaha YM2413 FM synthesis sound chip, capable of producing 9 channels of sound
  • Storage: Built-in 720 KB 3.5″ floppy disk drive, optional external SCSI interface for additional storage devices
  • Expansion slots: Two cartridge slots (compatible with MSX, MSX2, and MSX2+ cartridges), two expansion slots for additional peripherals
  • Ports: Two joystick ports, two MIDI ports, one RS-232C serial port, one parallel port, one RGB video output, one composite video output, one audio output
  • Operating system: MSX-DOS 2.20
  • Power supply: AC 100V, 50/60 Hz

The Panasonic FS-A1 was popular for gaming and productivity activities and was released in Japan in 1986.

Emulating the MSX2

Not everyone wants to buy or import a Japanese MSX2. Retro hardware is getting more expensive and less practical, especially if you already have a modern gaming desktop or laptop.

For those who want to experience MSX software, emulators are a great alternative. BlueMSX is one of the best emulators for the MSX and MSX2, allowing you to play almost any game.

You can download BlueMSX from their official website. Additionally, you can use the live version of the emulator by visiting their site, but you’ll need the ROM file of the game you want to play. For legal reasons, it’s best to search for MSX ROMs on



When it comes to old-school gaming, many people compare the MSX2 and NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). The NES was a powerhouse gaming console in the United States and one of the most popular systems ever created. The MSX2 was a home computer with cool features and a wide range of games.

The MSX2 attracted tech-savvy people because it was more customizable, while the NES won the hearts of many with its easy-to-play games and memorable characters. The MSX2 had more advanced graphics and features, while the NES focused on providing a fun and reliable gaming experience.

The MSX2 boasted a diverse range of software, including popular titles like “Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake” and “Gradius 2,” showcasing the system’s technical prowess and captivating gameplay. The NES captured the imagination of gamers worldwide with iconic games such as “Super Mario Bros.,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and “Mega Man,” laying the foundation for beloved franchises that have endured to this day.

Must-Play Video Games on the MSX2

Here are some must-play video games on the MSX2 8-bit computer system:

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

Become a master of stealth in this legendary action-adventure game. Join Solid Snake on a high-stakes mission, infiltrate enemy territories, and outwit your adversaries to complete thrilling missions.

Gradius 2

Take control of a powerful spaceship in this challenging side-scrolling shooter. Battle through space, confront colossal bosses, and upgrade your arsenal to save the galaxy from imminent destruction.

Vampire Killer

Embark on a gothic adventure as Simon Belmont, a vampire hunter destined to defeat Dracula. Wield your legendary whip, traverse treacherous landscapes, and battle hordes of monstrous creatures.

Nemesis 3: The Eve of Destruction

Engage in heart-pounding shoot ’em up action as you pilot an advanced spacecraft. Navigate visually stunning environments, dodge enemy fire, and protect the universe from imminent peril.

King’s Valley II

Embark on a thrilling treasure-hunting journey in this captivating puzzle-platformer. Guide Vicktor through perilous tombs, solve intricate puzzles, and collect precious gems before time runs out.

Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter

Immerse yourself in an enchanting action RPG adventure as Adol Christin. Explore ancient ruins, battle fearsome monsters, and uncover the secrets of the mythical land of Ys.

Aleste 2

Experience intense shoot ’em up action in this visually stunning game. Command a formidable spacecraft, decimate waves of enemies, and conquer colossal bosses in a high-octane battle for survival.

The Maze of Galious

Embark on a captivating platform-adventure as you search for ancient treasures. Navigate intricate mazes, battle enemies, and solve challenging puzzles in your quest for glory.

Golvellius: Valley of Doom

Join Kelesis, a valiant warrior, on a heroic journey to save Princess Rena. Explore a vast world, combat menacing monsters, and unravel the mysteries of the Valley of Doom in this action-packed adventure.


Prepare for a unique isometric shoot ’em up experience. Guide a fearless knight through perilous dungeons, overcome challenging obstacles, and vanquish formidable foes in an epic quest for glory.

Eventually, I plan on making videos to go into each section of each of these games so you can see the MSX2 gameplay and perhaps learn a little more in the videos as you scroll by.


I’m really enjoying the MSX2 and miss the uniqueness of computers from back in the day. While modern desktops are powerful and customizable, there’s something special about retro computers. The MSX2 had standardized hardware, but each company added its own flair to the design.

This article will be updated when new information becomes available. Be sure to check back as I add more videos covering gameplay and talking about the MSX2.

About Author