• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here

Best Games era (years) for the MT-32

Smack2k

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2013
Messages
1,348
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
What was the best era for the Roland MT-32 in terms of games that really used it and hadn't passed it by yet?

What hardware was best for it? A 486 era machine?
 

olePigeon

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
1,178
I don't know if it's the best, but I've always associated the Roland MT-32 with a 486 machine. Probably because that's the era in which I grew up. I never got to enjoy very many DOS games, much less with MIDI because we had an Apple II at my house. I've only just now gotten into the 486 scene, buying up a few of the games that I did have a pleasure of playing (Darklands, Eye of the Beholder trilogy, and Stunt so far.) None of which have MIDI, though.
 

Trixter

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
7,259
Location
Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
Class of machine didn't matter; you could use an MT-32 with 808x on up. However, most games that supported it worked best on 286 and later.

The "king" of excellent MT-32 support is obviously Sierra; any game they made that supports MT-32 will not disappoint you in how it drives the unit. Some Sierra adventures will even scroll little custom messages on the MT-32's display as they load instrument patches. (Something I never got to see with an LAPC-1.)

A not-necessarily-complete list of all MT-32 software exists.
 

PeterNC

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2013
Messages
2,694
Location
Miami, FL
BTW: you need SoftMPU or an intelligent MPU-401 (clone) to drive a MT-32 in many early games that supported the module. FYI: the MT-32 also exists as the LAPC-I, LAPC-N, CM-32L, MT-100, CM-64 and CM-500. The early games were designed for 8086/8, 80286 and 80386SX. By the time 80386DXs and 80486s became en vogue for games MIDI had typically moved on to UART (not intelligent) MPU-401 and GM/GS.
 

motley2659

Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
48
1) Does SoftMPU have a minimum CPU and/or RAM requirement?

2) I've seen videos on youtube showing SoftMPU outputting MIDI to an MT-32 through the serial port. Does that require a sound card or could you do that on say a 5150 with no sound card (stipulating that SoftMPU works on an 8088.)?
 
Last edited:

KC9UDX

Space Commander
Joined
Jan 27, 2014
Messages
7,468
Location
Lutenblag
1) Does SoftMPU have a minimum CPU and/or RAM requirement?

2) I've seen videos on youtube showing SoftMPU outputting MIDI to an MT-32 through the serial port. Does that require a sound card or could you do that on say a 5150 with no sound card (stipulating that SoftMPU works on an 8088.)?

I wonder, how did anyone connect an MT-32 to their PC? I had, and still have, an MT-32, but it never occurred to me anyone thought of it as a PC accessory. I used it with all the rest of my MIDI stuff, which at one point included an XT, but I never used it the way most people did, apparently. I just used it as a really lousy-sounding MIDI synth.
 

PeterNC

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2013
Messages
2,694
Location
Miami, FL
FYI: some games refer to LAPC-I/1 or just Roland for MT-32/CM-32L or GM/GS or Sound Canvas in some cases. There are even games that mention SCC-1 like Lords of the Realm. Other Roland GM devices: RAP-10 / SC-7 / SCD-10 / SCM-10 / SCB-7: all based on SC-7 with GM only. SC-55MKII/2/ST, SC-88(-Pro/VL/ST), CM-300: all GM/GS. There are countless GM modules / wavetable daughterboards from other brands.
 
Last edited:

SiriusHardware

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
577
Location
UK
I wonder, how did anyone connect an MT-32 to their PC? I had, and still have, an MT-32, but it never occurred to me anyone thought of it as a PC accessory. I used it with all the rest of my MIDI stuff, which at one point included an XT, but I never used it the way most people did, apparently. I just used it as a really lousy-sounding MIDI synth.

The Roland MPU-401 was 'the original' in-PC add-on MIDI interface card but huge numbers of the Soundblaster / Soundblaster clone sound cards which included a 15-way sub-D 'game' port also implemented MIDI on two pins of that port. As far as software was concerned, this hardware also looked like a Roland MPU-401 MIDI interface. To make the MIDI fully operational an extra bit of plug-in hardware with an integral optocoupler, output driver and 5-pin DIN connectors was required.

If you have a PC with a 15-way sub-D game port on it, the chances are that it already almost has MIDI. Google 'game port MIDI cable' to find the other bit you need. If you like messing with electronics then this portion is not hard to make yourself, but since they rarely cost more than a few dollars / pounds / euros ready made, it is hardly worth it.

Owners of Atari ST computers were even luckier - they came with a fully functional MIDI interface, and a lot of Atari ST games did support the standalone MT-32.

Having said all that, the MT32 version was not always the best version of a game's soundtrack. I always thought the very best version of the DUNE (PC) soundtrack was the 'native' PC version that it played through the Soundblaster AWE64 that I had in that machine at the time. The MT32 version just wasn't as thick / rich.

In fact the MT32's sound generally was quite thin - but it was a nice novelty at the time, having up to eight instruments (one of them a sampled drum kit) playing simultaneously out of a little box like that. In fact the MT-32 could produce much better sounds than the stock sounds if you used a computer based editor to create and upload your own sounds - the better game soundtracks did just that and used the same capability to make the MT-32 play realistic custom sound effects not found in the MT32's stock set of sounds.

The real design flaw with the MT32 was that it did not have non-volatile 'patch' (sound definition) storage memory, so if you designed a new sound you had to save it off-module (typically to a computer) and then upload it back into the MT32 next time you powered it up.
 
Top