Multi-Cart Backup 2.0
by Joe Waters

PRICE: $8.95 U.S.
MEDIA: Disk/Flippy DDP
SOURCE: Practical Programs

Multi-cart Backup is a copy utility written in SmartBASIC
that allows the user to copy multiple Colecovision game
cartridges onto one disk. The advertisement in Practical
Programs' catalog states that "up to 16" cartridges can be placed
on one disk/ddp. This is possible, assuming that we are talking
about a 256K DDP and no cartridge is longer than 16K bytes
(though most of the more recent cartridges are 24 or 32K).
However, for a disk, you can not expect to get more than 8
cartridges (more likely 6 or so) on a disk. The program is
loaded by means of a FastSaved BASIC 1.0 file. You will have to
initialize a fresh DDP or disk, because, as with nearly all of
the other cart copiers on the market, this one has a unique
directory format. Nothing against Practical Programs (or anybody
else for that matter) but it would be nice if everybody got
together and decided on a universal directory format for game
cartridges. It would also be nice if IBM would become the
subject of a hostile business takeover by Coleco, and
subsequently Coleco would go out of business. However, that's
not likely to happen either. Too bad. Anyway, the cartridge
saving routine is simple and self-explanatory. It works quickly
and efficiently, saving only those blocks off of the disk that
are actually used by the cartridge. The BASIC program also
allows one to replace existing carts on the media, or rename
existing cartridges in the directory, as well as printing a hard
copy of the directory on either the standard ADAM printer or
through the parallel port.
I do have one major qualm with the program, however. It
lies with the boot block loader. While in most respects the
loader is nice (it comes up with the title screen, displays the
contents of the directory with file sizes for each file [a
feature found in no other copy programs that I know of], and asks
you to select with the joystick), the method of joystick entry is
tricky and awkward to use. There is a window at the bottom of
the screen that contains the currently selected file, and you can
move up and down the list by moving the joystick up or down. The
problem is that the program does not watch for the joystick to be
moved, change the title, and then wait for the joystick to be
returned to the center. Instead, if you press down on the
joystick and hold it for more than the merest fraction of a
second, the names scroll by ("at machine language speed!"). This
makes accurate selection when you have 12 or 13 carts on a DDP
extremely difficult and tedious. However, this is also an error
which can be easily corrected, and hopefully Practical Progams
will do so with their next revision.
Other than that one slight difficulty, this program is a
fine cartridge copier. There is a slight drawback since you must
first load SmartBASIC before running the program, but this is
overshadowed by the fact that Practical Programs includes a FREE
copy of their SmartBASIC 1.5, Multi-loader, Pro-Load, and Pro-
Copy software with Multi-Cart Backup. Thus, while you are forced
to boot SmartBASIC in order to copy a file, you have a BRAND
SPANKIN' NEW version of BASIC to boot, so it's not so bad...

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