Helger Lipmaa's MSX Page

Once upon the time, during the high school, I was very much into MSX computers and I coded a lot but for only my own satisfaction. Now, in the Internet era (I think the first version of the current page was made around 1996), I have decided to make some of my programs to bein public domain. That is, you can freely copy them under the condition that you let me know how did you like them! It was back in 1990 when I did anything with MSX; I cannot guarantee that they run on every MSX computer (or emulator) that is out there now (though I hope they will!).

For those who don't know what is an MSX, I'd suggest to look at http://www.msx.org. Basically, a MSX II computer had a 3.58 MHz Z80 processor, 128 KB RAM (or less) and 128 KB VRAM.

At the high school we had a Yamaha KYBT MSX-2 "basic" network (one YIS805 and ~9 YIS503III's) (as far as I remember), with pecularities like Russian keyboard and Russian fonts in ROM. At this time, MSX-s were almost the only computers with full programming environment available in Estonia, so it is not a wonder they became so popular. Some other MSX guys from our school were:

From those people, I only have programs written by myself. Ville and Indrek programmed actively on the Agat computer that our high school had before obtaining a class of MSX-s. (Differently from me, most of them work or have worked as professional programmers.)

Other guys from Estonia whom I can remember: Janno Ossaar, Markus Klesman, ... There is also an MSX mailing list at lists.ut.ee.

My programs

Figure 1. The time has passed. O'Connor under different versions of fMSX and under different Linux desktops, and with BlueMSX 2.8.2 and Windows 7.

Game: O'Connor among The Falling Walls

The game was written from late 1989 to summer 1990, when I was at the last year of the high school. I was the coder, idea generator etc. The music itself and parts of the music coding was written by my classmate Indrek Pinsel, now a professional programmer and a free-time DJ. He and two-years younger Alar Koot, who is now a professional designer, also helped me with the graphics. In particular, Alar helped me to design the final screen, and some of the icons. Many other pupils (like Helvis Ints) provided invaluable help continuosly play-testing the game. Several levels would have been much easier or more boring without their ingeniousity. Note: the game is said to be copyrighted by the "Santa Claus Software". Of course, there was no such company. It was just me and my friends.

About the name of the game. I jusr happened to design the protagonist to be redheaded. So it was just proper that I, then at high school, made an assumption that he is Irish. And, O'Connor sounded very Irish. (Though I later became to regret the choice, since the inclusion of the apostrophe in file names can be problematic.) The first name of O'Connor might have been Patrick; it is not mentioned anywhere in the files, and I really don't remember. May be he did not have any first names. "Among the falling walls" was a logical part of the name, since the walls really fall in this game. An earlier name of the game was called "O'Connor in the cellars of Boston" because the levels look like dungeons, and "cellars of Boston" was an internal joke (a catch phrase) about something that we had at this time. (Why Boston? Which joke? Don't remember, again...)

Game Intro

"O'Connor" is somewhat similar to the well-known MSX games "Rise Out" and "Lode Runner" --- it is a platformer, with one screen = one level. At every level you must collect all "collectibles" (hearts, by some unspecified reason) and then find an "exit" (a key). You can shoot walls like in "Rise Out", there are also enemies (two skeletons) whom you cannot shoot... However, "O'Connor" has much more possibilities than either "Rise Out" or "Lode Runner". The most innovative factor of this game was its dynamicism: many walls, floors, ladders, almost everything can change their location (in a deterministic way) due to your actions. You can push stones, shoot certain construction elements so that they start to move (and then construct floors or routes from them, or block enemiies), etc. So, the very room itself changes during the game several times. Despite the previous description, it is a puzzle game. All actions are deterministic, and you have to figure out what to do when and at what order. Some of the later levels are quite challenging (although earlier levels are often too easy...), and it may take a while to find out the winning solution.

Keys: Space (shooting), arrows, select (selecting a level), F1 (suicide).


Copy both of the files to the floppy disk (similarly when you use an emulator) and then

To run it you'll need the MSX computer to have at least the 9938 videoprocessor introduced with MSX-2 (O'Connor runs in SCREEN 4, and makes the full use of user-defined palette and also of more colorful sprites compared to SCREEN 2 of 9918, present in MSX 1), but not the MSX-2 BIOS, so "O'Connor" runs on old SVI 738 by Spectravideo. The latter was actually one of the goals, since at this time the SVI 738 computer was popular in Finland, and I was hoping to sell the game there. (NB! "O'Connor" does not run on MSX I, though.)

Moreover, "O'Connor" should run on most of MSX2 emulators, too. I've tried it myself on fMSX-unix v 2.7 with flag -msx2 (on Linux) and on blueMSX 2.8.2 (on Windows XP and later) and it worked perfectly on both.

All 8x8 "symbol" blocks (walls, staircases, ...) in "O'Connor" (including for O'Connor himself and the skeletonspwd Editor of Items (see below).

Please let me know, if you have tried O'Connor: did you like it?

Some user comments:

Editor of Items

A character editor called Editor of Items (version 1.5) for Screen 2 and Screen 4 that also works with 9918 but it also knows how to use some extra features of 9938, so you can define palettes etc. You can edit 8x8 and 16x16 symbols that were suitable also to use as sprites, their colors row by row, a test screen editor. A lot of functionalities everywhere but a bit uncomfortable to use. It was used by me to design all the symbols and sprites in O'Connor.

Copy both of the files to the disk and then
        RUN "ANIM.BAS"
Set Up! was made using my "trademarked" method to code the stupid things (e.g. disk operations) in MSX-BASIC. You'll like the editor. It has everything me and my friends programmers have ever needed.

Other programs

Other Things Done in Estonia

There were some other people in Estonia that were actively programming on the MSX computers at the same time. I am sure there is a lot of software out there, some of it might be lost. Here I only list things that I have a copy of.
Phobos - a shoot-em-up game; runs both on MSX 1 and MSX 2 (on screen 4). Attackersoft 1990. Program by Markus Klesman & Oleg Maskhov, graphics by Raul Keller.
Adventurer: King of England; a maze-based game. Requires MSX 2. Attackersoft 1990. Program by Markus Klesman, graphics by Kaspar Loit and Raul Keller, music by Markus Klesman.
Turbo assembler for Z80. Includes support for undocumented Z80 instructions. Sundry Inc. 1990. Janno Ossaar. (I have v1.02 from 04-29-1990)
Sort - sorts floppy directory. Fully automatic + manual reordering. Sundry Inc. 1990. Janno Ossaar.

Kain Väljaots has uploaded a copy of his old MSX notebook.

Other Stuff

In 1990, I participated in the Soviet Union Informatics Olympiad in Kharkov. I made friends with the local MSX guy, Ted Chary (Alex Garmash). From him I got a lot of software, including some done by themselves. For example, they had made Nike DOS, an MSX-DOS based DOS (with many additional features).


Tuuli Lepik wrote a MSc thesis END IF ehk varane arvutikunst ja uute meediate algus on the people in Estonia in 80's who worked on early computers. It has a section (Section 8.6) on my production. In Estonian.

Passion MSX has a posting about Estonian MSX games.