Tape Recovery Simulator 96K Early Access Preview: Re-e-e-e-e-e-wind

Ever want to fix the data on tape without just blowing on it or using your best HB pencil? Why not try Tape Recovery Simulator 96K Early Access?

Tape Recovery Simulator 96K Early Access is one of the few times you can safely use ‘anal’ without getting flagged as a dubious website. Anal retentive, that is. When you use that to describe a person, it can be somewhat negative – least, that’s my stance. In terms of this game, it’s a requirement to do a decent job in the illustrious world of tape recovery.

As a man (allegedly) with white flecks in his beard, I used to have several tape decks – from the ZX Spectrum to a stack system used for copying <ahem> making backups of other cassettes to play on my Walkman. With orange foam headphones, might I add? The UI reflects this period very well.

Anyone from the same era or a bit weird and got into the cassette phenomenon late will know that medium eventually breaks. Forget blowing on a cartridge; you try winding up a tape with a pencil or reassembling once it snapped. It sounds like hell, but that nostalgia may make a welcome return in Tape Recovery Simulator 96K Early Access; it’s just that it’s a little too authentic.

Tape Recovery Simulator 96K Early Access provides a microEmulator, email client, UltraFine Tuning and an Advanced Virtual Tape Player, plus many more tools to perform the role. They’re all straightforward once you take a few moments to get your bearings, but it’s the actual doing that makes me realise why I never pursued that career as a sound engineer all those years ago. 

Typing Load “” is as natural to me as those days of ICQ and a/s/l?

Your email client is the source for jobs and communicating with the other two employees. There’s a lot of banter and usually amusing, but once employed, the tone changes, which feels like unpaid work rather than entertainment. Unfortunately, you can’t resize the email window panes, just the overall size, meaning you can only see three emails at once – and you’ll get bombarded with them constantly.

Typing Load “” (you only have to type ‘L’ here) is as natural to me as those days of ICQ and a/s/l? BASIC was something I skipped, and that becomes prevalent here and when my kids ask me questions about Scratch. While nothing is daunting about commands, it’s not intuitive for non-techy types like me. Completing the tutorial became counter-productive when using the wrong command recommended in the tutorial.

I can honestly say that this was one of the most arduous tutorials I’ve completed, but as a result, upon completion, it was a satisfying experience and necessary to continue playing. The resulting emails and initiation into the big leagues with Expert-Expert Systems were not as uplifting.

Emails are frequent, and the ding sound of another deluge of insults and complaints from your boss became stressful. You could mute it, but that defeats the object of the game. A note on that, if you don’t like the sound of dial-up, you’ll hate this. I liked it, as I did with the loading screens, making it all feel somewhat real. But, as stated, in those days, the loading screens were the annoying bits of waiting around, polishing off another bag of Wotsits or Quavers while in limbo.

As I update this Tape Recovery Simulator 96K Early Access preview, my email is still ringing, emulating the real-life emails I get.

Tape Recovery Simulator 96K Early Access is an enthusiast’s piece, in my opinion. I don’t see it winning over newcomers; instead, the technically adept and who already have an interest. Reliving tape loading screens again and learning about terms like the Kansas format and loaders was interesting, as all I cared about in the olden days was when Jet Set Willy would load. 

I’m not remotely an authority on sound design or programming, but Caffeine Withdrawal Games has done a decent job within the context of tape recovery. But as this lacks dead grandpas, locating castle walls or polishing cars, it’s a simulator for a niche audience of A/V fans and those who want something different, which this most certainly is. I honestly can’t think of anything like it. Sound good? It’s heading to Early Access on Steam – details below (a.k.a. add to your wishlist!).