SuperSoniqs announces “Franky” a new VDP cartridge for MSX computers

We are SuperSoniqs, a new international group of MSX techies. This blog is about a exiting new product for MSX computers called “Franky” (working name). Franky is a VDP on a cartridge, most specifically the VDP used in the Mark III, SMS1 and SMS2 range of game consoles.

Last week, our prototype board saw the daylight and turned out working as expected. As a result this blog has been started to update the community with the latest news and progress on this new and powerful extension for your MSX.

“What does Franky do?”, you might ask. Well, it is not a Sega in a box to start with. You really need a MSX to control the card. True, existing SMS home-brew software can be easily converted so that all your favorite programs will run, but that’s not why we have designed this card.

The Sega VDP used in the Master System and others is actually a MSX1 compatible VDP with an extra screen mode. The extra screen mode not only gives you the possibility to use horizontal smooth scroll, but also allows for two color palettes of 16 colors, one for backgrounds and one for sprites, out of 64 available colors. Besides, this VDP also includes it’s own three channel PSG with noise generator (looks very much like the MSX PSG) so you will have the option of using six channels of PSG in your MSX. That’s pretty cool huh?

As history has shown us, a new card is nothing without software. Therefore we take this opportunity to call upon all active developers to support this card.

How can you help? We are searching for developers that does or want to do one of these things:

  • Extending existing PT3 replayers and/ or trackers on MSX to support the new PSG channels.
  • Modify your old MSX1 productions to execute the VDP code on the new VDP card and toy around with the new VDP possibilities. Only a few commands are necessary to accomplish this.
  • Build in support for new games to support this new card. For example: if you build in code for your MSXDEV productions to support both MSX1 and MSX2, you can probably easily extend your MSX1 code to support the new VDP card and use some more colors for backgrounds or sprites. Please note that this card will support MSX1 computers and up!
  • If you are part of a MSX emulator developer team, please consider adding support for the Sega VDP. This will allow for more people to develop things quicker.
  • If you are a crack in extending MSX basic, you could extend basic with some new commands for this new VDP and build in PSG.

How can you get one? Well, we are currently busy with finalizing the second prototype and then we need to do some further testing. After testing has finished, we will produce a sample batch of 10~20 cards, depending on interest.

If you are an active developer and you or your team want to develop for this card, please send us information about your new or existing project(s), and we will send you one for FREE upon approval of your project. That’s right, FREE (as long as stocks last). If you need multiple cards, you can get additional samples at production costs, depending on amount of submitted projects and while stock last. If you have won a MSX development competition lately and you have a great new project (or old one you want to adjust), we will probably put you on front.

Please do note that your announced project will be published on this page for all to see. If you finish your project you can keep the card. We’ll make a hall of shame for those who don’t 😉 We will update this site with technical documentation to aid your development efforts.

What about us normal MSX users? Well, we don’t like vaporware and as much as we want this card to be produced for a bigger audience, we don’t make any promises for a time to market estimate. If there’s no interest with developers we will produce a few, play some sega stuff, enjoy it  and that’s that. If you know people who develop things for MSX, well you know what to do..

You can contact us via e-mail: info@supersoniqs.com

P.S. Did you know your MSX1 can now potentially do graphics like this? (Press HQ button first when available.)