Datel launches new cheat products (or 'game enhancers' as it likes to call them) all the time, but recently the company has been branching out into other areas, giving gamers the chance to do a variety of things with their consoles - and take advantage of the Internet and the growth of other forms of digital media - in a variety of different ways. Its most recent launch, the new Action Replay MAX for PS2, arguably represents the pinnacle of its efforts to date, incorporating support for DivX movies, MP3s and even Mega Drive ROMs, loaded via CD-R or flash drive. It also features all the other functionality you'd expect from a Datel device, including cheat code downloads, memory card management and even online instant messaging. In a recent interview made available by Datel PRs, the company's technical director Alex Edge makes the case for the new product.
Datel: In a nutshell, which of Action Replay MAX's new features should we be most excited about?
Alex Edge: Action Replay MAX is the only product in the world that lets you burn your own music, movie and retro game discs and then play them directly on a standard, unmodified PlayStation 2. This means you can insert an ordinary CD-R into your PS2 and instantly experience DivX movies, MP3 music and Genesis/Mega Drive games on your TV, effectively freeing your digital media library from the constraints of the PC. With over 50,000 preloaded cheat codes and the best code support in the business, Action Replay MAX is the ultimate video game enhancer.
Datel: What is Datel's philosophy behind releasing a video game enhancer with enhanced media support?
Alex Edge: Action Replay MAX may be the best-selling cheat code system, but we're not a company that has ever rested on its laurels. Over the years we've continued to set the standard against which other videogame enhancement products are judged. Action Replay is a constantly evolving product, and it's always fundamentally been about enhancing the gamer's experience. The Action Replay community is always interested in getting content before anyone else, whether it's the latest cheat codes, game saves or trailers for the latest games or movies. They've got it to get it somehow, and that's where we come in. For most people the PC is still their access point for digital content because it's usually hooked up to a broadband connection. We wanted to give Action Replay MAX users a seamless way of tapping in to that content and experiencing digital media on their PlayStation 2.
Datel: Is it true that you decided against support for streaming digital content over a network?
Alex Edge: With support for music and movies already built in to Action Replay it would seem like a natural thing to do, however we believe that in a real world setup this is simply not what people want. With MAX you've got the ability to take massive amounts of content from any source, burn it straight to CD-R and use it directly whenever and wherever you want to. Once you've got this capability, messy WAN setups simply don't cut it.
Datel: There's been a great deal of interest in Action Replay's support for USB flash drives. How does this work?
Alex Edge: For large music or movie files then it makes sense to burn them to a CD-R because you can fit over 600MB on your disc, and you'll get faster data transfer rates. But for small files like Action Replay MAX codes, PS2 saves and retro games, the flash drive is a small, neat and fast way of moving your data between a PC and your console. You can use our own PS2-compatible MAX Drive, or other manufacturers'. We've successfully tested many different brands of flash drive with Action Replay MAX.
Datel: The emulation feature has created quite a stir in the media. Why do you think that is?
Alex Edge: Well, it's the first time you've been able to play ROMs on a standard, unmodified PlayStation 2 so everyone is very excited about it. People are really interested in the roots of gaming. They're used to the lush environments of games like Metal Gear Solid or Grand Theft Auto: Vice City which really push the boundaries but, as great as modern games are, many gamers still get really excited about the 16-bit classics that they grew up with. I'm not saying gamers will play retro games instead of today's epics, but there's definitely a fascination in seeing the games that inspired and influenced today's titles. Action Replay MAX is the only video game enhancer that supports emulation, so it's natural there's a big buzz about it.
Datel: What about the legalities surrounding downloaded game ROMs?
Alex Edge: Public domain Genesis and Mega Drive ROMs can be found easily on the internet, and it's perfectly legal to download and play them. Some of them are surprisingly good - you should try them! Of course we ask all gamers to be responsible. Only download ROMs from a web site if you're certain that they have the permission of the legal copyright owner, otherwise you could be breaking the law.
Datel: Will other retro gaming formats be supported in the future?
Alex Edge: We have the capability to do this, so it could happen. That's all I can say right now.
Datel: The new online chat feature within Action Replay MAX sounds interesting?
Alex Edge: We've incorporated our new MAX Instant Messenger software, which lets you chat online with other gamers. We envisage users swapping cheats and game tips, and basically chatting about anything they like. You can enter text using a standard PS2 joypad or our Powerboard PS2 keyboard. The chat client is packed with features like smilies, public or private chat rooms, and all the things you're used to seeing on similar high-end PC applications. Uniquely, you can even post messages alongside PC and Mac users on our Codejunkies web site discussion forums - all from your PS2. So now it's easier than ever to be part of the growing Action Replay community.
Datel: Does Action Replay MAX still feature broadband code support via Sony's network adaptor?
Alex Edge: Yes. Action Replay MAX is the only system with live code updates. If you've got a broadband enabled PS2 you can download the latest Action Replay codes in just a few seconds. It's the fastest and most seamless way of getting new cheats for new games. With broadband take-up increasing at an incredible rate, it's not hard to see why this has become a very popular feature.
Having said that, we recognise that not everyone has a broadband connection, which is why you can easily obtain new codes in a variety of other ways. In fact, no other game enhancer offers as much flexibility as the new Action Replay MAX. You can download our latest codes via an internet-enabled PC and then transfer them to your PS2 using a USB flash drive or burn them to a blank CD-R. You can still manually enter the codes yourself using a compatible USB keyboard such as our Powerboard, or a standard PS2 game pad - it just takes a bit longer!
Action Replay MAX is available now for Ł19.99, with an Action Replay MAX EVO Edition for Ł29.99 including a bundled USB flash drive. Both are available from June 11th at Codejunkies.com.