TECH NICHE

GETTING IT ON MICRODRIVE

Interface 3
Supplier: Evesham Micro Centre
Retail price: £39.95

By now you will have seen a few ads from the chaps at Evesham Micro Centre claiming that they can sell you a machine that transfers any program to microdrive. Well we wouldn’t blame you if you took it with a bucket of salt: We did. I mean to say transfer any software, get past all protection? come on chaps.

Evesham Micro are not exaggerating, Interface 3 will load every game from tape to microdrive, with no exceptions. CRASH technospert Franco Frey tells me that the actual electronics in the box are pretty old hat, not to say cheap, but the way the thing has been worked out makes it a masterpiece. To transfer (please note fanatical avoidance of the word copy!) a program follow nine simple steps:

  1. Attach Interface 3 to Spectrum
  2. Load game
  3. Find place in game where it naturally pauses (eg stops to display score)
  4. Push red button
  5. Insert blank tape and hit any key
  6. Watch file save
  7. Take off interface and load the transfer software
  8. Follow prompts to load the game file
  9. Follow prompts to save file with new header to microdrive.

That’s it. The whole operation can take less than fifteen minutes and what you get at the end is a perfect microdrive version of the game that starts from where you stopped it.

The device is totally passive until you press the button, so no game can detect its presence. None of those smart anti-hacking methods will work because you don’t have to load the game from the start — so they may as well not be there.

The software supplied with the interface even checks through the loading screens for hidden machine code, if there isn’t any then why waste space saving the pretty piccy? One other useful little trick the box can perform is to take a snapshot of whatever is on the screen. When you press the button, that screen is then saved as a SCREEN$.

At nearly £40 Interface 3 is a considerable investment but as it seems to beat all other transfer systems hands down it is a certain method of getting your favourite games onto microdrive and thus onto your computer in a much faster time. Since you have paid out so much for those anyway, and many software houses seem to do little to help you utilise them, it must be considered a worthwhile investment.