Author Topic: CPC464 Tape / multiface help  (Read 3704 times)

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Offline Grimmsqueaker

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CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« on: 11:59, 06 June 14 »
Introduce myself first methinks with this being my second post.

Always been into the C64, got my machine back from my mother February last year, I also got my Megadrive (Mk1) with its MegaCD etc back a few months later. This got me back into collecting & gaming retro, C64 was always first and formost for me with it being my childhood machine. Then last April (2013) I decided to grab a Spectrum +2A and have been playing around with that. I have quite a few systems now and I am gradually building up the games on each of them.

So earlier this year I decided to get myself the Amstrad CPC464 with loving tapes and the 8 bit computers that were big in the UK. Standard 464 with a 640 color screen and I also got the MP3 analogue tv tuner. I had to mod the TV tuner as voltage in was designed to be hooked into the 644 screen via circular 12v. Easy enough to do, disconnecting the wiring for the 12 volt in and then using a 12 volt router plug, cut the end off it and soldered it directly onto the board so device now has mains input and effectively I have another crt screen.

I have had good success with both C64 and Spectrum using Tapir and audiotap to record the relevant emulator files out of the PC into a tape recorder onto brand new Maxell normal position tapes (packs of 5 tapes for a few quid on Amazon is cool) and all but every one of the games done in this way have worked perfect.

So earlier this week I decided to start looking into doing the same with the Amstrad.

I am starting to succesfully manage to transfer the cdt files back onto proper tapes, I have found though that there appears to be a lot of bad dumps on CPC Power. Non of the Ocean or Imagine games work and certain other games just crash while loading or completely freeze.

I don't want to use an in car tape adapter, I am wanting to use proper recorded tapes.

So far I have done the alignment on my 464 and thoroughly cleaned the heads, I have also cleaned the runners for the belt and replaced it, I have around 50 originals now and and only 1 game doesn't work out of all of them, I have also cleaned and aligned the recording head on my stereo.

I have managed to fill a 90 minute tape with single load games and all of them work first time so thinking this is not an alignment issue.

Strange thing here though is that the Ocean and Imagine games for example (tried Robocop, Batman the Movie & Rastan) work on Winape but not when transferred to proper cassettes. I have also found that single load games that don't work on WinApe don't work on the proper hardware either. To do a bit more testing I downloaded both versions of Rick Dangerous, the original release and also the Six Appeal release, original doesn't work, however the Six Appeal does but it takes an age to load as it loads on the standard blue screen saying Loading Block from start to finish.

I also have an original Ricochet release of The Eidolon, this didn't work from day 1 when I got it, always crashed on the B side when loading the first level. however, I have now managed to fix it by re recording the B side of the tape. I had to convert the cdt to a WAV file using WinTZX, then play it through Windows Media Player, reason for doing this is that the image was to long to fit onto the tape as there was a good 20 seconds of blank at the start so had to cue up both tape and output to start at the very start. Thankfully this game now works perfect!

So got to thinking a bit outside the box, I grabbed the multiface rom image and attached it to Winape, then getting a working disk version of a single load game (Same as doing the freeze on C64 with Action Replay saving to tape). I decided to grab Druid2 just to test, load the game in from disc and then freeze the game and save it to tape (WAV file), the WAV file loads perfect on Winape so I know I have a good sound file, transferred to a tape but it finds the game on the 464 but then the drive stops when it clears the screen (does the exact same thing on Winape if I disable the multiface). Thing here though is that it won't load back without a multiface, I have read that the multiface tags it or something to stop piracy back in the day, can't be loaded without the multiface (Unlike C64 Action Replay that can be loaded without an AR cartridge plugged in).

So can anyone suggest anything to try out here as it seems like I am almost there but just need to overcome the last few hurdles.
« Last Edit: 12:01, 06 June 14 by Grimmsqueaker »

Offline CraigsBar

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #1 on: 16:23, 06 June 14 »
As I understand it, contrary to the advertising, the multiface only checks for the presence of a multiface, any multiface at load time. and not the specific one the game was saved with. This however only helps you if you can get hold of a real multiface.
There is a pd program "anti-multiface" that reportedly removed this restriction from the saved files, but as I had a multiface I never needed it.  I think I still have a multiface for the Cpc 464 that I could part with as I have a 2nd plus machine one that I still use. Let me dig it out and test it, if you want it I am sure we can arrange a price that suits.

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Offline Grimmsqueaker

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #2 on: 16:49, 06 June 14 »
Thanks for the reply.

Been doing a bit of testing again this afternoon and I think I have come up with a solution that works in both Winape and also recording the tapes back to proper media.

I grabbed the Java program CDT2WAV (version 1.1)

Created the WAV files from my non working cdt files, thankfully this only takes a second or so to do each file.

So for example first thing I tested was original Rick Dangerous & Jack the Nipper. I have been unable to load either of these as cdt into Winape previously. So once they were WAV files tried them again in Winape and both loaded from the sound file rather than cdt. So I then transferred them to tape from the WAV file in Windows Media Player, I removed all enhancements like equaliser to get a steady sound.

Previously doing this the sound was to high so must have been creating out of range distortion recording onto the tape, I have been messing with the sound and found that 10 - 12% volume maximum is all that is needed and now everything is transferring perfect and loading immediately. I did find it a bit strange that there were more non working than working.

Another good thing about transferring to WAV is that I can see when selecting multiple files how long the entire tape will be, so running on a 45 minute per side (90 minute tape) as long as I have a minute or two left after all files selected with roughly a 20 second gap between each game I am now good to go. Its taken me a good few days to get to this point but its looking like I have now firmly hit the nail square on the head!

Offline CraigsBar

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #3 on: 17:06, 06 June 14 »
Excellent.
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Offline Grimmsqueaker

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #4 on: 17:11, 06 June 14 »
Its a learning curve with the CPC for me, I never knew anyone back at school that had them, we were all C64 and Spectrum users primarily with the odd few having BBC or MSX.

After watching a few of Xyphoe vids on Youtube seeing just what the Amstrad could do I had to get one. Very impressed with the machine and I actually play on it more than my C64 recently (like I said previously I was a C64 all the way user, 400 original tapes came back with my machine! ), love the color palette on the Amstrad with it being so vibrant, its just a shame that devs like System 3 just ported Spectrum versions of their games to the machine rather than doing them properly, would have loved to see proper Amstrad versions of Vendetta, Myth & Last Ninja 2.

Offline Cholo

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #5 on: 19:38, 06 June 14 »
About Multiface 2: i think i recall there being a type-in in one of the Amstrad Action magazines that "cracked" the multiface 2 saved files so that it didnt need the MF2 to run. But i sadly cant remember the exact mag no. so hopefully someone will recall it. I assume the MF2 devs changed their rom afterwards tho, so it may not work with later version of the MF2 either.

Anyways this is a great idea for a rom project: making/cracking a MF2 rom so it produces backups that can load without having the hardware present. Even tho this is a bit of a "grey" area i think we could benefit from it seen from a retro gamers point of view.

Anyways, here is some quick tips on amstrad tape handling.

The native tape system: Early games all used the normal "Block" loading system aka im sure you are familiar with the usual Run, Load, Save commands that other system also use. The great thing about the amstrad system is that its "read error" friendly .. aka instead of crashing when it gets a error, it will ask you to rewind the tape and try again. As the system also uses many smaller blocks .. aka a screen file is usually 8 files long and a game can spand 20+ blocks too .. it becomes a real lifesaver. Ive had orginal amsoft & elite brand games with like 3 big physical unrecoveral errors on them .. but because the game is written on both side of the same tape .. all i had to do was flip the tape over ever time i encountered a error and it would read a unscratch block from the other side.

Seen from a retro gamers point of view this is also great news. I know you mentioned you dont want to use a car tape adapter .. but considering knowing the amstrad block loading system .. ill just mention that if you use a tape adapter you can adjust the output audio "on the run" aka like if you get to block 3 and it wont load then you can adjust (like volume) and rewind the audio and try again right there on the spot.

Translating a translated tranlation: When mastering a original game tape i imagined it happened this way. John made the Loader.bas file and recorded it to a tape on his 464, then when downstairs to Bob who had made the Screen.scr loader screen and they'd record it on the tape using Bob's 464 and then finally stop by Jack and record the main game.bin onto the tape on a third 464. Then blindly send the "master" tape to be mass produced. So much could go wrong .. alignment, signal strength, timings etc. Especially with protected games that actually use "weak signal" etc.
Translating  amstrad tape games to CDT can be really tough as not all programs can handle the "weak" stuff and it can simply be translated differently. Running the CDT on emulator may work on some and on others not .. as emulators translate the CDT differently. Being a retro gamer add another translation from CDT to Wav that can also go wrong. And finally there is the playback of the Wav too.
EDIT: the point being, so much can go wrong so if you cant get a protected CDT game to work, its probably best to try transfering a cracked "block" version instead.

Here is a couple of tips that may help with unprotected "block" games tho:

Making backups of you existing tapes: Back in ye olde day i backed up quite a lot of games and the reasons was many .. faster loading speeds, less blocks .. but the main reason was to make really reliable copies. Really easily done with a "block" copying program like JL-Copy and Amsback. Simply insert the source tape and press enter and let it load the file, then when prompted swap in the destination tape and record the file. Its that easy (suggest 2000 baud & Quicksave). The resulting tape being made by the actual 464 itself make it quite reliable with strong steady signal (unlike the crappy original junk ones).

Cant find a working CDT file of a game? Then look at the DISK games. That right, many of those "cracked" DSK files are actually tape game, but put on a DSK for easy emulating. Quite easy to spot as say you insert a DSK in you emulator and CAT it, you may see the Block files like: Zorro.bas, Zorro1.scr, Zorro2.bin, Zorro3.bin. Then using your trusty JL-Copy/Amsback choose source/input disc as "A:Zorro.bas" and destination/output as tape and you can record the file to cdt or audio file (depending on emulator). Guessing the right order of the files isnt always that easy tho, but if you record one file at a time you can obviously test it in the emulator before transfering to real tape. If the game has a BAS loading file you can try looking inside it for the right order (aka Load"Zorro.bas":list).

Back again to the evil car tape adapter. In theory you can have JL/Amsback running on both you pc and 464 at the same time, thus copying a file direct from DSK (if the audio in the emulator is high enough) into the memory of your 464 and then swap out the adapter and insert a empty tape to make instant reliable backup in just 2 steps or so. Anways that just some wild thinking. Oh, and the files produced by MF2 is block files too i think (probably easier to "patch" while on a DSK first).
« Last Edit: 19:48, 06 June 14 by Cholo »

Offline AMSDOS

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #6 on: 00:19, 08 June 14 »
About Multiface 2: i think i recall there being a type-in in one of the Amstrad Action magazines that "cracked" the multiface 2 saved files so that it didnt need the MF2 to run. But i sadly cant remember the exact mag no. so hopefully someone will recall it. I assume the MF2 devs changed their rom afterwards tho, so it may not work with later version of the MF2 either.


In Issue 57 (June 1990) in the Cheat Mode section there's a program to De-Compress Files saved by the Multiface 2. Not sure if you're that's the program you're referring to.
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Offline Terje_Norway

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #7 on: 00:39, 08 June 14 »
Hi,


Sorry for perhaps being a bit late on this post. I'm not sure if I have read all postings in this thread either  :-\


Back in the late 80's and early 90's I had the same problem. That means running MF2 files without the MF2 present on my machine.
I found a program called ANTI-MULTIFACE.


You can read about MULTIFACE here : (Anti-Multiface is also mentioned is these links)
Multiface - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Multiface II - CPCWiki


This program is to be found below (on several of the discs actually) :
http://www.genesis8bit.fr/frontend/file.php


Hope this is of any help.


Yours


Terje Grind
NORWAY

PS This program requires a 128K machine.




Offline Grimmsqueaker

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #8 on: 10:53, 08 June 14 »
I only have a 464 so no 128k for me!

I finally worked it out fully yesterday and everything I am transferring back to tape now is working great, the Ocean and Imagine games like Robocop, Batman etc I have to set the volume to 10 and they work just fine. There is only 2 games that are causing me issues now, Platoon and Druid 2, Yesterday I spent a good hour just recording the first 2 minutes of Platoon ranging the volume from 2% up to 24% but its the same thing every time, with Platoon it finds it no issues then does the multi colored lines (Speedlock protection) and then on second bit with same lines it freezes and resets.

Druid 2 with it being the Firebird loader (Bleepload) where it does the Hexadecimal count, it finds the game, then blue screen with Enlightenment in red at top, does the bit saying searching and then it doesn't work once it goes onto the blocks and fails on first block.

I have done 3 tapes now with 6 - 7 games on each side and each one is working just fine so 2 games out of all those is a drop in the water! Since converting to WAV using CDT2WAV and playing through media player success rate is all but 100% :)

Offline Gryzor

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #9 on: 12:50, 08 June 14 »
I admire your dedication, if not for any other reason then because I love tape-loading :)

Just my two cents, different companies using different duplicating/loading methods/speeds meant that results were not 100% uniform. I remember that on my original 464 Capcom/Go! original games refused to load whereas everything else was fine...

Offline Grimmsqueaker

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #10 on: 13:04, 08 June 14 »
I have read somewhere that apparently originals at times can be funny to load on the 464 due to the reasons you mentioned.

I have found that some are a bit more touch & go than others, Tiger Road (GO & Probe) goes through the loading but just doesn't finish, it resets when the data finishes.

I do love proper tapes myself, with being a tape user on the C64 back in the 80's (still prefer my C64 tapes over the disks I have for it), the loading screens, the music it just takes me back. I did have the option of a 6128 but I wanted the 464 with it being primarily tape. There was also the whole thing with it having a tape counter, if I got the 6128 and just used my stereo there is no counter on it so to load a mix tape of games would mean loading every game till I got to the one I wanted, my Spectrum +2A is a nightmare with this so I tend not to do to many tapes for it.

I have virtually answered my own questions, reading and looking on the wiki etc.

At least this thread may actually be of some use to other people in the future if they are wanting to transfer stuff to proper cassettes to use on their 464's.

Offline Cholo

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #11 on: 18:47, 08 June 14 »

In Issue 57 (June 1990) in the Cheat Mode section there's a program to De-Compress Files saved by the Multiface 2. Not sure if you're that's the program you're referring to.

Thanks, i think that is the one. I do remember reading about it and even tho i didnt have a MF2 myself it did feel like really fundamental news.

Ohm and speaking of tape games loading with music. There is a couple of amstrad games that does it too. Like Spiky Harold, Helichopper & a couple of other Firebird tapes.
Edit: and even tho you can experience the music/loading on emulator its just not the same as its hard getting the right audio volume (aka low enough so you can hear the music and not so high that the data sounds disrupt it).
« Last Edit: 18:49, 08 June 14 by Cholo »

Offline Grimmsqueaker

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #12 on: 19:07, 08 June 14 »
Yeah, I was quite surprised hearing a tune play while the first Druid game loads after it puts up the loading picture, here's me thinking only the C64 did that!

The first Druid transferred to tape quite easily with only 1 or 2 attempts at getting the volume right, the loader Firebird uses is what is causing me the issues at the minute, I will work it out, probably need to tweak the output volume on the PC to a certain level.



Offline TFM

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Re: CPC464 Tape / multiface help
« Reply #13 on: 18:18, 02 September 14 »
About Multiface 2: i think i recall there being a type-in in one of the Amstrad Action magazines that "cracked" the multiface 2 saved files so that it didnt need the MF2 to run.


AA helped cracking games? Seriously? Guess companies really *liked* that  :laugh:
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