NEC PC-88 Series (Emulators + Tools + Lists)

 

NEC PC-88

Page last updated on 25 November 2020.

 

Lots of emulators updated with new builds!

  • Added new builds for M88X, Q88X and VAEGX emulators. They all support FMGEN sound also (instructions can be found in the brief description I’ve added for each of them).
  • New builds for M88, X88X emulators. Added a backup of the Takeda Toshiya’s common source project, dated 17 August 2020.
  • Added a new build for the FMGEN sound library, FMGENX.

 

The PC-88 was a line of Z80 based PCs released only in Japan by the NEC Corporation.

The first one of them, the PC-8801, was launched in 1981.

There were a lot of models for this line, a good and extensive summary can be found here here (archived version, main version now dead with Geocities Japan ✝ ).

An exhaustive catalogue of the games released for the system, along with other informations, can be found here on the excellent PC-88 Library, now again online. If you see garbled text, set the SHIFT-JIS encoding for the page in your browser.

The main OS for these machines was the BASIC (included with the PC
itself), but a very primitive version of MS-DOS and CP/M (the latter
supplied with the game Zork) were also available for use.

EMULATORS

M88: maybe the most used emulator for the PC-88. It’s open source and it’s the only emulator that supports CD emulation so far no longer true! Takeda Toshiya’s one emulates CD too (builds from 19 December 2018 onwards), and is able to run properly both the data and audio channel together even on mounted images.

 

 

PC88 WIN: a very old and outdated emulator. However, it can be useful to run some games that M88 won’t run.

QUASI88: a very good, accurate and complete open source emulator with some great debug functions.It got ported on the PSP too. Unfortunately, it’s in Japanese only. To make it work, you must
put your BIOS files in the ROM folder and rename them in this way:

FONT.ROM = Font rom

N88.ROM = N88 Basic rom (32k)

N88KNJ1.ROM = Kanji 1 rom (128k)

N88KNJ2.ROM = Kanji 2 rom (128k)

N88SUB.ROM = Disk rom (2k or 8k)

Please note that the emulator is case sensitive.

 

New version for the Q88X emulator. It also support FMGEN sound by adding the ‘FMGenDll=path to fmgen.dll‘ line in the q88x.ini file (which is automatically created in the .exe directory after the first run).

Quasi88 is being ported on the Wii by jpzm. The port is still much in the works, but you can download it and follow the progresses on the project’s GitHub.

J80: A Java based emulator focused on the 8001 series.It’s still in development, so check out the project’s site often! The archive contains the emulator plus all the tools listed on the site and a copy of the site’s page (in Japanese). I’ll update the archive along with the updates on the emulator’s main site.

88VA Eternal Grafx: An emulator for the 88VA model. To be able to save states, just add “Statsave=true” (minus the ” of course) somewhere in the INI file. A new option, named “Stat” will appear between “Replay” and “FDD1”

VAEGX: An emulator for the 88VA model, based on the 88VA Eternal Grafx one, with enchancements.

Upgrade for the Vaegx emulator, supports also FMGEN sound by adding the ‘FMGenDll=path to fmgen.dll‘ line in the vaegx5.ini file (which is automatically created in the .exe directory after the first run).

X88000: An open source emulator focused on the
emulation of the old PC-80xx models. It’s tape emulation is far better
than the one of M88 and it’s required to play some games.

XM8: A new open source emulator for PC8801MA written on the basis of the ePC-8801MA emulator written by Takeda Toshiya. Currently runs on Linux,Windows and Android.

Excite88: Another brand new emulator for the very first model of the PC8801, running on Windows (from 7 onwards). However, it’s still in infancy, according to the project’s page notes it runs only tape images in CM8 and T88 format and doesn’t support yet disk images, but it’s a feature that will be present in the future releases of the emulator. Check for updates often.

ePC-8001mkIISR, ePC-8201 and ePC-8801MA: A collection of new emulators by the brilliant mind of Takeda Toshiya, who is breathing some new life in the retro Japanese emulation scene. These three emulators are quite interesting and emulate the PC-8001mkIISR, PC-8201 and PC-8801MA series, like the names imply. In particular, the MA one is able to emulate the CD games too, being the second emulator able of doing so On the builds from 18 December 2018 onwards, CD emulation is fully supported both on the audio and data track. All of the emulators are for Windows and have both binaries and sources available to the general public, and come together bundled with a lot of other emulators written by Mr Toshiya. The development is also quite active, so I suggest to use Toshiya’s site as a main reference. I’ve uploaded here, for backup purposes, the last bundle of source and binaries.

 

PC88SR: One of the very first PC88 emulators ever
written, with a lot of nifty functions, like the patch function (which
ended up in a M88 unofficial build too). This one runs EXCLUSIVELY on
PC98.

MESS: Standing for “Multiple Emulator Super System”,
this ambitious emulator aims to emulate properly a lot of different
systems and machines, even the NEC PC88. Since it’s in constant
development, i’ll just add the link to the project’s main page.

To run any of these emulator, you’ll need the BIOS files of the machine. I won’t supply them, so don’t ask.

TOOLS

D88 Manager: as the name implies, a manager for D88
images. Among the functions, you can protect/unprotect disk images and
split D88 files that contain multiple disk images.

D88 Slowinfo & D88 Viewer: Two D88 utilities
released by Peter_J. As the name imply, they are tools for analyzing,
extracting and editing data on and from .d88 disk images. Instruction
and help files are inside the archive.

XDISK: another disk images manager. It supports 88VA images too.

D88EDJ – D88 Editor for Java -: like the name implies, it’s a Java jar to extract and work with D88 images, available both to command line and GUI usage. It originally can be found here and was released back in 2004. Quoting the (translated) text that comes with the original page: Currently, it is possible to list the disk images inside the D88 file, divide it into a single file, switch write protection ON / OFF, and rename the disk name.
Also, only when the disk format is N88 DiskBasic, PC-8001 MicroDiskBasic, Magical-DOS, or Frost-DOS, you can display the list of files inside the disk and expand the files.
A data dump function has been added as an extra.

2D Tools Set: A tool set released back in 1998 (!!) for dealing with D88 operations on a PC98 machine. A typical usage would be to convert the D88 image to .2D format with 2d88, and then extract the files with pick2d. It’s original web source page is here.

Tools included, according to the (translated) text of the page:

2d88: Convert between D88 and 2D files
binadj: Removes headers from DISK-BASIC machine language files
d88disp: Displays sector information of D88 (this is not related to 2D image, but temporarily ^^;)
pick2d: Extract a file as a DOS file from a DISK-BASIC image
store2d: Save (?) a DOS file to a 2D image
wipe2d: Clear unused area of 2D image

 

FMGEN DLL

FM Gen X DLL: DLL file for the latest FM-GEN audio drive. You can use it with different emulators, (M88X,Q88X and VAEGX) by adding the proper value in the emulator’s ini file.

TECHNICAL INFO

D88 FILE FORMAT SPECIFICATIONS: A copy of the amazing work done by Ashura. It documents the structure of a proper D88 file in detail. Ashura worked over a Japanese document that can be found here.

COLLECTIONS

Here is a list of my PC-88 collections. I’ve divided it in several
.txt files. Please remember that you will need to be able to read
japanese characters in your text editor in order to read them properly.

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