MSX is a standard computer architecture that Microsoft first talked about in 1983, when it was still called MSX. American and British people didn’t like MSX-based machines very much. They were popular in other Asian, European, and South American places. The hardware in the first generation of MSX computers was similar to the ColecoVision and SG-1000. Sony, Philips, and Toshiba made their own versions of the machine. Japanese companies like Konami and Hudson Soft made some of the best MSX games, and some of the most important franchises were started there. For this list, I’m only including games that were made for the first MSX machines. MSX2 had enough important games on it that it should have a separate “list.”
Golvellius is an adventure game made by Compile that takes a lot of ideas from The Legend of Zelda. In this game, you play from an overhead view. It has a huge world, and a lot of exploration is important. There are a lot of secrets to find in the game, and there’s a hidden cave on almost every screen on the overworld map that you can find. Plenty of other things can be found as well. These include herbs that can help you get better, shields that can protect you from attacks, and boots that let you walk on water. You don’t have to be good at puzzles to get through the dungeons, but they help break up the action and add a little variety. A lot of the dungeons in this game are played from above and have forced scrolling, but some are more like traditional side-scroller games. Golvellius was first released on the MSX in 1987. The next year, it was made for the Sega Master System with better graphics and completely new overworld and dungeon layouts. A version for the MSX2 came after, and it got the same update. The game was so different from the original that it is often mistakenly called Golvellius 2. The music in the original Golvellius is very good, and it’s one of the best adventure games of its time.
A game company called Compile was the best at making games that move horizontally. During the 1980s, games like Zanac and Aleste helped to shape the genre. Guardic isn’t like most Compile games. It’s a little different. When you fight your enemies instead of going through long scrolling levels, you have to take down just a few enemies at a time. During the fight, the background doesn’t move. In the end, you get a game that feels a lot like a new twist on Galaxian or Galaga. There are a lot of enemies to kill, and it can be hard to figure out what they’re going to do next. Guardic gives players a lot of different ways to kill them. It is possible for players to use their power supply at the start of each battle to improve their main weapon or make them faster. They can also choose a secondary weapon to use. It’s important to change your weapons before every fight, so you’ll need to think about where to spend your energy. Giving yourself the most energy for your weapons will make it easier to take down your enemies, but you’ll have less energy for future fights if you do this. The game has some hints of RPGs in it. It’s like walking through a maze as you move from one battle to the next. You can choose which way to go. Players can also meet friendly people in battle who can give them special abilities. There were a lot of different things about Guardic that made it different from other games made by the same company, but it wasn’t as big as some of them.
Konami was the only game developer who had a lot to do with the MSX. There is a good chance that a lot of Konami games will show up on this list. When you get power-ups, you can choose how your ship gets better. Gradius has an innovative “weapon bar” power-up system that lets you choose how your ship gets better after you get power-ups. In 1985, the game was first released in arcades. It was then made for a lot of different types of devices. Gradius II came to arcades in 1988, but the MSX version of Gradius 2 came out the year before. Gradius 2 follows the same basic formula as the first game, but it adds a lot of new power-ups, like a boomerang-themed wave. There are also extra power-ups you can get that let you do things like slow down time or drill through certain obstacles. There are more boss fights in Gradius 2 than there were in the first game. After defeating a boss, players can fly into their cores to get new weapons in a mini-stage. The main stages are well-designed and have a lot of interesting places, like plant-based worlds and LifeForce-themed organic planets that make you feel like you’re flying through intestines. A lot of the scrolling in Gradius 2 isn’t very smooth, but that’s normal for games made for the MSX.
Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family
Drasle Family is the fourth game in Nihon Falcom’s Dragon Slayer series of action-RPGs, and it’s one of the best. This game is a side-scrolling adventure game like many others in the series. It has a huge open world like what you’d find in Metroid games, but it’s not as big as Metroid. Typical for the time, the Drasle Family doesn’t give very much help to people who play. In the huge dungeons, there are false walls and hidden doors at every turn. The process of getting through these dungeons is made even more difficult by hordes of monsters, dead ends, and poison bottles that aren’t what they seem to be. The best thing about the Drasle Family is the whole family. Five family members each have their own special abilities that the player can use instead of just controlling one person, which makes the game more interesting for the player. The father can throw axes and move heavy blocks out of the way, but he can’t jump very high. The mother is a sorcerer who can use magic to shoot blocks, but she isn’t very strong. Most of the time, the son is useless, but he’s the only one who can wield the Dragon Slayer sword, which is needed to fight the last boss. The daughter is very good at jumping and can use the most important items in the game. The family pet has a limited range and can’t use any items, but he is adorable and can sneak by enemy monsters without being seen. Dragon Slayer games were usually released on a lot of different home computers. The MSX and MSX2 were the only home computers that got ports of Drasle Family.
In Knightmare, you play as a medieval-themed shooter that moves horizontally. The music in the game is ridiculously catchy, too. During the game, there is a brave knight named Popolon who is equipped with a sword, arrow, throwing knife, and boomerang. Popolon can also get things that will help him run faster or protect him from enemy attacks. When you fight skeletons and bats, it feels more personal than when you shoot down spaceships. This is even more true when you fight the big bosses in each stage. Slow and choppy scrolling is what you’d expect from a game made with MSX hardware. However, the enemies are very persistent, and the game is known for being hard for the right reasons. For example, Knightmare is part of a trilogy, but each game is completely different. This makes Knightmare feel unique on the MSX, at least until Square stole the idea and made King’s Knight. In any way, Konami was one of the best MSX game developers, and Knightmare was one of their best games. I’m a big fan of puns, so Knightmare was right up my alley right from the start.
The Maze of Galious
The Maze of Galious is the next game in the Knightmare series, but it doesn’t play like the first one at all. The first game was a forced-scrolling shooter, and the sequel is a side-scrolling adventure game with platforming elements, so it’s not the same as the first. In some ways, the game feels like a natural link between The Goonies and The Goonies II, like a bridge. There are a lot of castles where the game takes place, and they’re full of monsters, stairs, hidden treasures, and more stairs. The Maze of Galious was one of the first examples of a “Metroidvania” game. Instead of breaking the game into stages, it let players explore a huge world instead. Popolon and Aphrodite were the protagonist and the damsel in distress in Knightmare. The game itself lets players control these two knights, who were also the protagonist and the damsel. Their skills are unique to them. In the game, Popolon is strong enough to break through boulders faster than Aphrodite, who can hold her breath longer and is good at swimming in the water. This also means that each knight has their own power metre to show how strong they are. There is a problem, though. Each character can only be brought back to life once before they die for good. The goal of each castle is to get rid of the great demon that rules it. Find the demon’s name and type it into the MSX’s keyboard in order to call him or her. At any time, you can type in a few secret “cheat” words that can help you. Another interesting thing about the game was how it used the MSX’s second cartridge slot in a unique way. If other Konami games like The Game Master, Q*bert, or Knightmare are added, players get extra points. There are some problems in The Maze of Galious that don’t make sense. Simon’s Quest has nothing to do with this game. It was ahead of its time in many ways.
Road Fighter (1985)
This list of the best MSX games of all time starts with 1985’s Road Fighter. This is the first game.
What’s the deal here then? Does anyone fight in the middle of a busy highway? Fights on the highway?
You might not have known that Road Fighters is a racing game, but it is. Players have to keep an eye on their fuel tanks and time as they race through top-down levels.
Sorry, but there aren’t any fights going on.
Crashing into walls or cars can make you run out of gas, and gas can cause crashes. So if you don’t have any insurance, there might be a lot of fights going on
You can get gas while you’re driving and fill up your tank while you’re on the move. Watch out for people who drive purple cars. They change lanes like maniacs.
Space Manbow (1990)
Taken 14th place on this list of the best MSX games of all time.
Those who like side-scrolling shooters will be in heaven with this R-Type-like game, too. Grab power-ups as you shoot down enemies in crazy-busy games.
People who remember Flappy Bird might not like this: If you don’t like it when Space Manbow has a few small gaps in it, you might not like it at all.
Space Manbow is the name of a game.
Well, they drive a ship based on a mambo fish. No, mambo fish don’t fight with swords or spears, but they do have the same general shape.
There are a lot of weird skulls and insectoid aliens to blast through, and you have to keep from exploding in a fireball.
You might not think it’s that interesting or even that simple, but we think it’s great!