the large Japanese MSX fair
The MSX World Expo ‘99 report
Well, after some adventures, two Matra agents — S.T.A.R. & Z-0 — got to cruise overhead to Chiba, Japan, to attend MSX World Expo ‘99. At first I was supposed to go alone (Z-0) but fearing possible organisation glitches and the risk of losing myself in Japan, S.T.A.R. decided in the last minute to go with me. Frankly, the expectations were no good. Here’s an excerpt from a message sent by the organisation:
Something pretty apart from conventional fair guidelines. So SBB could be censored, there was a chance to have no stand, I couldn’t sell the products by myself and the organization was retaining a percentage of our sales.
Luckily, thanks to Takamichi Suzukawa, we could talk with Mr. Pen before the event, who gave us a space in the stand reserved to Spain.
The entrance was crowded with students offering meals, T-shirts and other ‘handcrafted goods’ typically found in this kind of events. The expo was being held at classroom 652. It was built to show non-MSX people what the MSX is and how it’s spread world wide. So the fair concept was more of a true expo than a user meeting. And it was nicely organised.
The room was divided in five sections: amusement corner, international corner, game corner, repair corner and sales corner. Of course the admission was free.
What could be seen
The international corner consisted of several tables with Dutch (!) & Japanese info panels, country flags and several country-specific computer models & related items.
The expo was headed with a couple of superb devices from Mr. Pen’s private collection: a red HB-101P and a slot-mouthed robot: its mouth accepts a programmable MSX cartridge and it performs all displacement actions absolutely off the computer.
Next, an Arabian MSX with an Arabian keyboard running a shocking — and Arabian as well — holy Koran cartridge.
Then in the corner, a Korean stand, with three MSX-compatible consoles from Daewoo. Astonishing design, just like crazy SCI-FI flick spaceships.
Next we found various fanzine format press, like Popipu, MCCM and our Hnostar, which linked with the Spain stand, where Matra was placed, exposing and tempting people to play Sex Bomb Bunny and SaveR’s Kaotika. We asked Manuel Pazos to present some Sonyc copies but unfortunately they never reached Japan due to post service problems.
Then it was the Dutch stand, where several demos were played and a Japanese (!) slot expander was shown.
In the other corner there was the Brazil stand, featuring a MSX turbo R linked to another slot expander and a cd-rom which was playing EVAs with Evangelion musics & Ace of Base’s ‘Happy Nation’.
Finally there was the Japan stand. It was not the usual product avalanche overkill but just two bare computers showing Gigamix’s Magical Labyrinth Remix — see Hnostar 42 — and a mobile phone which was supposed to be connected to a BBS.
Almost hidden it was the repair corner, where we believe no equipment was actually repaired, as it looked like a kind of a scrapyard, judging by the condition of the machines lying around there. Close to this area, possibly the best of the expo: the most impressive thing I’ve seen for years: a true mini drum set played from a tracker’s drum channel. A striker-driven device triggered by a MSX turbo R.
The usual wintel brick emulators, and a SEGA Saturn playing Konami’s Collection cd were also around here.
And then it was the surprising MSX Magazine #1 (800¥). This magazine is edited by Syntax with actual brand/logo permissions from ASCII Corp.
Essentially, that was the expo all over. After the first day there was a debate about the role of ASCII in MSX history/future, and the second day a summary of the fair and a little statement on what it was called: the revival of the survivor.
S.T.A.R.’s exquisite behaviour, with his innate honour and relationship skills, was definitely a major score. The deals arranged with Imahi from Sintax, the bizcards swapping, the present offering and tokens of gratitude expressed by the Matra agent were reflected by all the presents.
Worst: not that bad, but it was shocking that the organisation was retaining a 10% of the sales profits for a task we could manage ourselves, perhaps — and just perhaps — better than them. And of course, the lack of attention from the organisation to all the messages sent by Matra to confirm assistance. That however has a logical explanation: they don’t speak English, so all our messages were hardly understandable for them.