Hudson Soft converted and published Stop The Express (aka Bousou Tokkyuu SOS) itself in Japan in 1984.
Space Manbow is an original MSX2 release from Konami. It first came out in 1989 and it ‘wowed’ home users with it fantastic graphics and smooth scrolling. Unfortunately it was never released outside of Japan.
Despite that, Space Manbow has garnered many admirers over the decades, and it is looked up on with great respect. It’s fairly easy to find and to play. BlueMSX is a brilliant emulator. You could try that.
Note: what is curious about this game is the title. Your ship is named after a fish called a “Mambo“, but Konami decided to change that to “Manbow“. You could say that something has been gained in translation in this case, rather than lost.
The MSX version of Manic Miner was produced by Software Projects in 1984. It’s a rare British MSX title, written by Cameron Else. It’s also fast and beautifully playable.
Graphically, the MSX version is almost identical to the ZX Spectrum original, but with a slightly different colour palette. Where the MSX version does beat the original is in terms of frame rate and lack of slowdown – the extra power of the MSX delivers a speedy and responsive experience.
This is up there with the best Manic Miner conversions, and is maybe even arguably the best out of all of them.
More on The King of Grabs: 10 Best Manic Miner Conversions
The MSX version of Chuckie Egg was produced by A&F Software and released in 1984.
Graphically, the use of colour in this version is strange, but at least Henhouse Harry (the main character in Chuckie Egg) benefits from some extra colour. His animation is a bit stunted though. Harry moves around quickly enough, and the controls are very responsive, so running and jumping feels good – as it’s meant to in Chuckie Egg.
No idea why, but the programmer/artist decided to make wide ladders again… They simply don’t look as good as the narrow ladders of the original.
Some of the levels are also different to the Spectrum version. Like the Amstrad version, this MSX version has certain blocks missing, or dropholes that used to line-up but now don’t. It might seem trivial, but these minor differences can make a huge difference to how a level is played.
Overall, though, the MSX version of Chuckie Egg is pretty good. It’s not perfect, but then again: nothing ever is.
Konami themselves converted Super Cobra to the MSX, which is surprising because it’s missing the infamous ‘colour cycling’ of the arcade original (and all the other conversions). MSX Super Cobra stays distinctly green. And I have to wonder if that is an oversight, or a bug.
The game itself plays well enough. The programmers decided to use a single button to drop bombs and shoot, which makes the game easier.
The mile waypoints in this are in hundreds of miles, not thousands of miles like the arcade game. Not sure why. There don’t seem to be any ‘base’ sections in the landscape either, with the tall concrete walls…
This is a relatively half-baked version in truth. It should have been a lot better – especially from Konami themselves.
The official conversion of BurgerTime for the MSX was created by Dempa Shimbunsha and Data East in 1986.
It looks a bit like a Spectrum game, which is ironic because there is no official BurgerTime on the ZX Spectrum (there are plenty of bad clones though).
Gameplay-wise, MSX BurgerTime is relatively close to the original – ie. very challenging – and general BurgerTime play strategies work in this also. The controls are thankfully not very ‘sticky’ and movement between platforms and ladders is seamless.
The recognisable, warbling BurgerTime tune is comforting too. Overall this is an excellent conversion.
The MSX conversion of the classic Bugaboo (The Flea) has a slightly different title to the original, but the same great gameplay.
In it you play a flea who has to jump out of a deep canyon, at the same time avoiding the attentions of a flying dragon that will eat you if it catches you. Staying one step ahead of the beast is a very tense experience.
This excellent MSX version, called Booga-Boo, was converted by Steve and Ann Haigh and published by Quicksilva in 1984.
Back in 1987, Konami‘s MSX2 release, The Treasure of Usas, wowed everyone with its ace graphics, colourful sprites and smooth movement. It really showed that the MSX2 was a machine to be reckoned with.
Usas is a weird mix of platform game and RPG, although the role-playing elements are very light. But you can in fact play any one of two different characters (WIT or CLES) and build their vitality, speed and jumping prowess as you go, which is somewhat unique and interesting.
The Treasure of Usas even has pretty decent boss battles (for a platform game), although it is no Super Mario World in that respect.
Known in its native Japan as Hi no Tori Hououhen, and Firebird in the West, this 1987 Konami release for the MSX2 is a vertically-scrolling shooter of some repute.
Firebird is based on a very popular Japanese Manga series (Hi no Tori, or “bird of fire” or “Phoenix”) by Osamu Tezuka.
Firebird is a very tough game to master and is quite simplistic by today’s standards, but was significant at the time and has a cult following still now. Worth a play if you can find a copy.