Memor32 – The next level of save management
The recently released Memor32 is a 32MB memory card with a difference. Not only is it 4 times larger than your standard Sony card but also has some interesting tricks up its sleeve.
Featuring the standard dimpled effect seen on almost every unofficial memory card since Datel’s first release many years ago, the Memor32 looks like any other card, what sets it aside from it’s contemporary brothers is the mini-USB connector on the side. It’s this port which gives the card one of its unique traits, using a standard mini-USB cable you can connect the card directly to your PC to transfer your saves using the Memor32 Save Games Manager.
The Memor32 I received was lacking the mini USB cable and any software disc. The cable itself is common enough and I had several spare ones in the house, if you don’t receive one from your supplier you can pick one up at any decent PC stockist. The Memor32 software is available from their website as well as the drivers you’ll need to use the card with your Windows PC. Mac and Linux support has not been announced at this time although that doesn’t mean we will not see some from either the Memor32 team or an interested third party should the USB API used to communicate with the card be opened up to the public.
The Save Game manager is quick and easy to install and I recommend you do this before you attach the card to the PC. On the first connection of the card to the PC you need only prompt Windows to look for the required drivers in the Memor32 driver installation directory. Once finished you’re ready to backup/restore some saves.
The Save Game Manager, or SGM, is the official software for file transfer. Itï¿½s already had several updates since the product launch and I suspect we’ll see a few more to come. Previous versions would not start without the card being attached but this has been addressed in newer builds.
Using the program is easy enough; saves are backed up in a logical folder hierarchy with an extra file, presumably containing extra information about the save.
This method of backup, instead of using a container format, has already been found to cause an issue, as illegal filename characters on Windows and PS2 differ slightly. This can be worked around and I fully expect to see this addressed in a future update. The SGM can also export saves on the PC side in .m32 format which is simply a renamed zip file containing the contents of the save folder. It’s good to see existing tried-and-tested technologies used and makes supporting this export format very easy for 3rd parties. Reading and writing speed is not as fast as an official card but this is the norm for 3rd party cards and is well within acceptable limits.
Version 1.2 of the software added support for .max saves, the most common PS2 save format available. For people upgrading from a Max Drive this allows easy access to all your old saves, for others it means a vast catalogue of saves is at your fingertips.
The benchmark for compatibility with save formats is the Grand Theft Auto series. Before and during my time at Datel this was a huge issue, many people, myself included, lost many hours of play time due to the saves transferring products of the time not restoring the files with the correct file attributes. The initial SGM software failed this test but after corresponding with the Memor32 team the problem was noted and a solution found within a short time. Personally I consider this a fantastic result and shows some real dedication from the Memor32 team. All GTA games pass the test with flying colours now and restoration of other games saves works as expected.
The Memor32 also has another more interesting trick up its sleeve. The Memento team are producing a specialised and free firmware for the Memor32 which enhances it’s capabilities to match those of a classic mod chip. I will not be covering the ability to run backups of games but needless to say it works as expected and should this non solder and no swap method be of interest to you then you will get your money’s worth from this feature.
The recently released 1.2e firmware has fixed some important issues around the DEV implementation. The DEV capability allows you to boot homebrew programs such as ULaunchElf from either the Memor32 or a USB pendrive. This allows you to not only run classic console emulators on your PS2 but to turn it into an advanced media player with SMS. Assigning ULaunchfElf to load from the Memor32 on boot by holding down a shoulder button gives you FTP access to your PS2, memory cards and any hard drive you may have attached.
Not only this, but UlaunchElf has many extra features including the ability to import/export .psu save files. Using PS2 Save Builder or PS2 Save converter means that pretty much any save can be converted to .psu format and transferred to the Memor32 card via one of several different methods. This is a huge advantage as with any new format, saves in the .m32 format are hard to come across although the Request section of the Memor32 forums is always a good place to start for saves in .m32 format.
You can have four homebrew programs loaded up on the Memor32 itself, simply use the SGM to copy them across and, based on the filename, they are launched by holding the relevant should button. The Memento logo is displayed during launch so you know that the program is now launching. Four boot programs is more than enough and should you require more, adding ULaunchElf will allow you to load as many programs as you like from USB device, memory card or hard drive.
The Memor32 is one of the few products to pique my interest in the last few years. Not only is the save transferring so much easier and faster than other products thanks to the simple PC interface but its feature set is always expending thanks to the Memento Team. As a memory card it shines above others and with the firmware expansion it’s in a league of its own.
I can thoroughly recommend this card to anyone looking to backup their saves or expand the capabilities of their PS2 without voiding the warranty by installing a mod chip.