Microsoft's Computer Gave Birth To Japanese Gaming Legends

Illustration for article titled Microsofts Computer Gave Birth To Japanese Gaming Legends

Microsoft has been successful the world over with its operating systems. Even in Japan, Windows is the most common OS. However, the computer giant hasn't seen those same results there with gaming. That hasn't always been the case.


In the early 1980s, Microsoft Japan aimed to create a standard for computers akin to the VHS format. Thus, any MSX branded computer — regardless of maker — would be compatible with other MSX software and products.

The exact meaning of MSX is still unclear. Some people say it means "MicroSoft eXtended" and refers to the MSX-Basic programming language Microsoft created. Kazuhiko Nishi, who was at Microsoft Japan and spearheaded the MSX, said the moniker means "Machines with Software eXchangeability". However, Nishi apparently also used the "MS" for whatever company he was talking with. Companies like Sony and Matsushita (National Panasonic) were involved in manufacturing the hardware, so supposedly Nishi would tell those companies that the "M" meant "Matsushita" and the "S" meant "Sony". Note: Other companies like Hitachi made MSX hardware as well.

The MSX dipped its toe in the already crowded U.S. market, but was met with slow sales. It did find success in Japan, where game developers created an array of titles for the computer system. Bomberman, Metal Gear and Puyo Puyo all debuted on MSX hardware. And big titles like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest also got MSX versions.


As the years wore on, the MSX never quite lived up the standard it was originally intended to be. Game-wise, more and more developers made their titles for arcades and cheaper home video game machines, leaving the MSX out in the lurch. By 1995, it was discontinued. The Xbox 360 lives on, it's been a smash and has certainly made a bigger impact than the MSX. Unlike the MSX, however, it hasn't yet given birth to a handful of Japan's most successful video game franchises.

Ultimate MSX FAQ, List of MSX games,,] [Pic]

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Matsushita was officially changed to Panasonic Corporation in late 2008.