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Fuse

Author:Frederick Meunier, based on Phillip Kendall's Fuse for Unix program
Author's Website:N/A. Fuse for Unix site is here
Fuse icon

This is the Mac OS X version of the Free Unix Spectrum Emulator. The main thing is that it's the best Spectrum emulator I've used on the Macintosh. Well, I can hardly have a two-line review, so I'd best elaborate.

Fuse OSX doesn't need any of the pre-compiling that the Unix version does. This, for me is a big plus. Whilst some people may be able to eat, breathe and sleep Linux or Unix, I'm not that fortunate. So, after dowloading, you simply drag the folder into your Applications folder (or where-ever you want) and hey presto! Ready to use.

Machines

There are six different 'official' Spectrums emulated (three made by Sinclair, three by Amstrad) and three clones (two Timex and a Pentagon machines). This makes Fuse quite comprehensive. There are several file formats which Fuse can load. These include .sna, .z80, .tap, .tzx, .dsk (standard and extended versions), .trd and .scl disk formats.

As Fuse can load so many file formats, it is good to see that it allows you to load them easily. For example, there are separate Open... file options for the snapshot, disk, tape and cartridge formats. Quite obviously, you need to be emulating a Plus Three to load in the .dsk, one of the Timex machines to load in the cartridges or the Pentragram machine to load in the .trd disk files. Makes sense, really.

Fuse also allows you to load / save in the RZX format, which is useful if you're entering any of the online games which require "proof" of your score (or whatever). Whilst this isn't a file format you would use every day, it is a ‘nice to have’ feature so that if you do enter any competitions, you can still use Fuse.

FUSE graphics modes

As I've mentioned in the Spectacle review, once your host machine is able to emulate a Speccy at 100% speed, it the extras that count. Fuse has loads of 'extras' and other such 'nice to have' features. For example, there are several different graphics modes (see image for the full list). What the AdvMAME 2x screen does is create a subtle stylised rendering of the traditional Speccy resolution. It looks quite good, although I can imagine that it'd affect some of the stippling or shading effects in some of monochrome games. Check here for a composite of the original and AdvMAME 2x screenmodes.

What else? Well, unlike Spectacle, Fuse has 'real' joystick support. That is to say an actual Macintosh controller as opposed to the cursor keys emulating a joystick. I already had HID Wizard installed (an InputSprocket-compatible shared library for HID input devices), so I imagine that this 'helped' Fuse recognize my [little-used] Gravis Eliminator Pro controller. It seems to work well, taking the place of the Kempston joystick option. HID Wizard is available from VersionTracker.

Any downers? Well, funnily enough, the downers I originally listed in this review have been addressed! The first one was Fuse not saving your preferences - it does now. The second (and last) personal downer was that the Fuse Help option within the Help menu didn't work. It does now.

screen

(The readme instructions are still typically Unix-y; that is to say full of 'how to decompile the kernel' etc which only people smarter than me seem to be able to understand.)

The built-in screen grabber is very useful, but instead of using the Save As... menu option, I have to choose the Export Image menu option. Additionally, this exports the image as a .bmp. Not entirely sure why, but it's just a little oddity that I thought I should mention. (It could have something to do with Fuse's 'nix heritage).

It's also now possible to search for POKEs via the Poke finder option. This works in a similar way to the old Romantic Robot Lifeguard Multiface Add-on device. This involves a bit of work -ie the POKEs are not simply handed to you on a plate - but the instructions explain how to do this quite well. However, I would prefer an 'Enter Multiface POKE' option. Other emulators can handle this - why not Fuse?

Anyway, for niggles and pet peeves, this program has very few. Fuse is the emulator I use the most, which is perhaps not an unusual comment given that I'm using my iBook every day. However, had Fuse been riddled with bugs, unresponsive or generally an unpleasant experience I wouldn't, regardless of which hardware platform it ran on.

Fuse is a solid program which would score 9/10 if I rated programs on TRB. But I don't, so ner. Fuse will have to settle for a glowing review instead ;-)

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