IT SEEMS SUITABLE to announce the results of the CRASH READERS’ AWARDS 1984 in this issue of CRASH because it marks the end of our first year of existence. Unlike most other computer magazines CRASH started life as a mail order catalogue which reviewed games as a part of its service, leaving customers to make up their own minds about actually buying. Because of this earlier background, some of that philosophy carried over into the magazine. The idea was to act as a service not only to readers, but also to the software industry — a means of bringing both sides together. All too often, people ‘suppose’ what others want and magazines go along with it regardless. Only time will tell whether or not CRASH has had any significant effect on either software producers or software buyers, but it seems logical to let readers say their piece on what software and hardware they have liked best during the past year. These are the results of the 1984 CRASH READERS’ AWARDS...
by GREMLIN GRAPHICS
One argument about the ‘Oscars’ is that it is the films towards the end of the ‘Oscar’ year that tend to win the awards, with the earlier ones tending to be forgotten. That’s as may be, but Gremlin’s Monty Mole won by a comfortable margin over Jet Set Willy, taking over 40% of the total vote. Third in line was Frank N. Stein from P.S.S.
Written by Peter Harrap, Monty Mole sprang to fame via the TV news, with its timely caricature of Miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, but it was the complexity of playing the platform style game that gave it appeal, along with its lively graphics. One reviewer said, ‘The graphics, design and animation of all the moving characters is excellent, amusing and attractive, and that adds quite a bit to the playability of the game.’
There could hardly be any doubt as to the outcome in this category and Ultimate’s Sabre Wulf won hands down, getting 49% of the vote, with the next being Cavelon from Ocean with 11% and then Antics from Bug-Byte.
Despite arguments about Ultimate’s steep price increase and whether Sabre Wulf was merely an Atic Atic with leaves on, the game has caused more praising mail than any other game we can think of this year. The graphics were excellent, and the game a tough one to play, though perhaps not quite as hard as Atic Atac. The sort of excitement that a new Ultimate game can produce is summed up neatly by one reviewer who said, ‘After waiting a week in a state of extreme anxiety for the phone call to say IT’S HERE! I almost fainted when it came!’ The same reviewer has recently been in a state suitable for hospitalisation with the wait for Underwurlde and Knight Lore!
by GARGOYLE GAMES
The extraordinary solid 3D graphics of Ad Astra launched Gargoyle Games, and CRASH was proud to be the first to spot it in the May issue, when we said things like, ‘The stunning graphics are the first thing to hit you in the eye...’
‘With its superb graphics, speed and mass of alien weaponry, Ad Astra is a difficult and addictive game to play.’
It was a comfortable win over Micromega’s Code Name Mat and Black Hawk from Creative Sparks. We have to admit some puzzlement that Micromega’s Death Chase didn’t crop up near the top of this category, but Gargoyle’s win is well deserved, and the Birmingham-based software house is set to give us more surprises in 1985 with their unique graphics.
DALEY THOMPSON’S DECATHLON
This was a pretty tight fought category, as you might imagine. Decathlon took it with 17% of the total vote, closely followed by Jet Set Willy with 15% of the total vote and Sabre Wulf with 12%.
Being the year of the Olympics, 1984 saw a spate of ‘Track and Field’ type games appearing in the early summer — some are still appearing even now, but clearly Ocean’s glamorous tie up with British star decathlete Daley Thompson, was set for the top. At CRASH we had a good chance to play the game as it was used to test the joysticks for the ‘Battlefield’ article. The reviewers liked it, even after seeing the CBM64 version, with the only gripe being that Daley looked as though he had been washed in Bold!
LORDS OF MIDNIGHT
by BEYOND SOFTWARE
One of the most firm wins in any category goes to Beyond’s Lords of Midnight, which received 51% of the vote, way ahead of Sherlock from Melbourne House with 10% and Adventure International’s The Hulk. Perhaps the surprising point is that Lords of Midnight is more of a strategy wargame than an adventure, but clearly, the way it has combined all the various elements within its framework has impressed enormously, and no one could possibly argue that it isn’t loaded with graphics of a very high standard indeed. Derek Brewster kicked off his review with the words, ‘Beyond have produced a game of immense complexity that transcends the simple word-matching of the mainstream adventure and in many respects more resembles a strategy wargame.’
by DIGITAL INTEGRATION
Few would deny Digital Integration’s right to take the category with their superb program Fighter Pilot, which has remained consistently high in the CRASH Hotline chart for some time — a proof of its high popularity. It wins comfortably with a high 35% of the vote from Psion’s Match Point which received 18% and Micromega’s Full Throttle with 14%. Written by Digital’s co-owner Dave Marshall, himself a fighter pilot, this sophisticated program was the main attention grabber at the ZX Microfair where it has first launched in February. Much was due to the fact that before Fighter Pilot flight simulations always seemed a bit slow, this was the first to offer arcade games something to get their teeth into.
by MELBOURNE HOUSE
A rather peculiar category this one — hard to describe accurately, but everyone seems to have got the idea. Outright winner with 18% of the total vote is Melbourne House with their superbly graphic Mugsy, another popular CRASH charter. Not too far behind was Incentive with their look at the software business called Millionaire, and just behind that comes the ubiquitous Beyond with Lords of Midnight again. It would be fair to add that Football Manager received a very high vote, but as the program dates from 83 it isn’t eligible.
Mugsy scores so heavily with its tremendous comic style graphics, suited to a game set in the roaring twenties when hoods were really hoods, and people were assets to be squeezed.
There was a fair selection of wargames voted for which means that the percentages gained by the top three are fairly low. Imagine’s colourful Stonkers came out ahead with 25% of the overall vote, very closely followed by Lords of Midnight. Further back was Red Shift’s elegant Rebel Star Raiders. CRASH was only medium impressed by Stonkers, but admitted that the game was different to any wargame before it, one reviewer saying, ‘The game appealed to me much more than most of the other wargames due to its higher quality of graphics, large scale and simple controls.’ The bug which causes the program to crash was noted, but to our knowledge Imagine never corrected it before they crashed themselves.
by ATLANTIS SOFTWARE
The budget priced game from Atlantis was a clear winner in this category, although there were masses of votes for games like Scrabble and Cyrus IS Chess, both of which pre-date 84. Eights is an elegantly written program based on a clever and playable card game, and certainly at its price is excellent value. Not far behind came Artic’s Death Chess 5000 and DK’Tronics’ Jumbly.
LORDS OF MIDNIGHT
by BEYOND SOFTWARE
Beyond’s supremacy in this category is undoubted with 34% of the total vote. Second is Ultimate with Sabre Wulf with 12% and Jet Set Willy coming in third from Software Projects. Lords of Midnight author, Mike Singleton, deserves the award for the development of this popular game, which seems to occupy the time and imagination of so many people. Derek Brewster said, ‘Many features of the game are new or are developed to an elaborate degree setting new high standards in Spectrum software.’
by LEVEL 9 COMPUTING
Text-only adventures still represent a large chunk of the market, with Level 9 one of the most respected (although they too have turned to graphics with their latest release). Snowball won this category hands down, with Dennis through the Drinking Glass by Applications coming in second and Incentive’s Mountains of Ket following close behind. There were many votes in this category for games which were not copyrighted in 1984, and were thus ineligible.
In adventures it is usual to boast of the number of locations, but Snowball probably takes the biscuit with over 7,000. Of the game, Derek Brewster said, ‘This is very much my idea of an adventure and is set to become a classic.’
This was a very hard fought category with Gilsoft just pipping Oasis to the finishing line by one vote! So the machine code adventure writing utility The Quill, another long stayer in the CRASH Hotline chart, takes the award from the graphics designer White Lightning. Third was Melbourne Draw from Melbourne House. Certainly Gilsoft have made an appreciable dent in adventuring consciousness with The Quill, not only by offering BASIC programmers the opportunity to write complex machine code adventures, but also in spawning a plethora of commercially marketed adventure games from numerous software houses, many of which have been excellent. To complement The Quill, there is now The Illustrator, a graphics designer specially created to work in conjunction with The Quill.
by ELEPHANT SOFTWARE
The top contenders in this category were numerous! That the winner received only 17% of the total vote goes to show that most of you have your favourite bummers, and they are often quite varied. Following very closely on the heels of Kosmik Pirate comes the megadventure Voyage Into the Unknown from Mastertronic, and trailing in as a sad third Formula One from Spirit Software.
COMCON JOYSTICK INTERFACE
by FREL LIMITED
It would only be fair to point out that the winner by votes was the Currah Microspeech unit, but this is not eligible as the unit was released in 83 and not 84. But Frel were not so far behind in votes, as this essentially simple plug-in joystick interface has proved enormously popular and within a fairly short space of time too. The second most voted for add-on was the Ram Electronics Ram Turbo interface. Perhaps the significant factor in the popularity of the Comcon interface is its simplicity and flexibility, working as it does with virtually any game, and programmable in seconds as the game loads. Also, because of its simple construction, the price is among the lowest on the market — an added advantage.
This category certainly aroused a lot of interest, and a wide spread of choices too, reflected in the low percentage scored by the winner, Ultimate’s Sabre Wulf ad with 11% of the total vote. A fairly close second was the Software Projects’ ad for Jet Set Willy, followed by the strikingly simple ad from Mikro-Gen for Pyjamarama. While no one could really argue that all three adverts are not well designed and attractive, we wonder how much opinions have been swayed by the games themselves!?