This was the first time that Newsfield took a stand at the Personal Computer World Show — previously a mob-handed extended visit took place, with carrier bag laden minions tramping round the show and disappearing to Ludlow at the end of the day.
This year, everyone came, except David Western, Oli Frey and Gordon Druce, who stayed behind in Ludlow slaving away over this issue of CRASH aided and abetted by Lloyd Mangram who scampered back to help muttering darkly about hating crowds.
A successful show was had by the CRASH, ZZAP! and AMTIX team — and thousands and thousands of AMTIX Issue Zeros were given away to visitors to the stand. Watch out for Issue One of our new Amstrad magazine — it’ll be on the streets any day now!
The stand taken by System 3 at the show was rather unusual, in that about half of it was a stage. All the world came to see a trio of scantily clad females go through their dance routine — a promotional stunt to draw attention to the company’s forthcoming release, Twister subtitled for some reason The Mother of Harlots.
While the dancing certainly attracted crowds and crowds to the System 3 stand, as System 3 Supremo Mark Cale rather expected, it also attracted the attention of the show organisers who threatened to turn off the power to the stand if the naughty bits didn’t cease forthwith.
On the trade days the shows went ahead, but complaints were laid with the organisers who threatened to close down the stand. Despite calling upon Fleet Street photographers and claiming that all that was being offered was ‘entertainment for the kids’, Mr Cale conceded the point and withdrew his dancers.
Karate demonstrations continued on the stand, however, with a veritable wall of building blocks being destroyed during the show to remind people that International Karate is on its way, and a bemuscled hunk of a man was in permanent attendance to promote the third promised release from System 3 — American GI.
Activision promised that the stunning games Rescue on Fractalus and Ballblazer which owners of Atari and Commodore computers are getting so excited about, will soon be available for Spectrum owners. There were no details of price or similarities to the originals but they should (with any luck) be available by Christmas. Other goodies the Activision mob were frothing about included Hacker, a game where you accidentally break into some large mainframe whilst playing on your computer and are greeted with a simple ‘Logon Please’ leaving you entirely on your own as to what to do next! ‘After all,’ said Activision, ‘it would be like that if it happened in real life!’ Wonder how they know that?
Another promised release is their latest graphic adventure, Mindshadow which is dedicated to Amnesiacs Anonymous. Still, the game does have some very interesting ideas in it and the translation to the Spectrum shouldn’t do it any harm. One game Activision will not be bringing out for the Spectrum (at least in the forseeable future) is The Great American Cross Country Road Race. Well frankly, with a roll-off-the-tongue title like that, who can blame them?
To see the Sinclair stand at the show, you would be excused from thinking they didn’t make the trusty Spectrum. Apart from the blurb for the special Spectrum pack Dixons will be handling this Christmas, there was nothing particularly new, exciting or even hopeful about the stand. Sinclair wanted nothing to get in the way of his new half price QL offer. It looked as though he was trying to forget about the machine that really made it for him — but in return it looked as though the public wanted to forget about him. The Sinclair stand just wasn’t the centre of attraction that it had been at previous shows. It appears that no matter what he does about the QL, people still remember the damning press the machine first received. If this is Clive’s Christmas offering then the company are really walking on a tightrope!
Sir Clive arrived on the first day of the show with Bill Jeffrey, the new Chief Executive of Sinclair Research, but they both remained tight-lipped about the the new 128K Spectrum, pausing only to deny that it would be available this year.
In the wake of another success with Way of the Exploding Fist, Melbourne House revealed glimpses of their latest offerings at the PCW show. The main attraction was their rather unimaginatively titled Fighting Warrior, which uses ancient Egypt rather than the mysterious Far East as the setting for arcade aggro. Steve Cargill, the programmer responsible, apparently produced a specially easy version for demonstration on the Melbourne House stand — so anyone who managed to play the game through at the show is in for a surprise when the finished version hits the streets!
You are an Egyptian warrior on a quest to free a princess, and have to fight your way across a horizontally scrolling landscape, defeating hordes of devils and demons who are intent on preventing you from ever achieving marital bliss. Looks promising!
Melbourne House were also running the animated film version of Lord of the Rings as promotion for their upcoming sequel to The Hobbit. There was plenty of excited sales pitch offered on this game and it does sound very interesting, but we’ve yet to see anything... One new program we did manage to have a quick preview of was Asterix, based on the phenomenally successful cartoon series of the same name. With cartoon characters wandering around on a 3D screen, it looks as though once again, the good old Spectrum has been pushed to the limits — but as to what it’s about? Well, nobody would say, actually...
Mintel Publications, the market research people have come up with some interesting figures for the future of home computer and video console games.
Video consoles and games made about £25 million last year, about half their 1982 sales peak, and this year the figure will only be about £16 million according to the Mintel forecasters. However, it’s a different story for the home computer games market, valued at around £100 million. In 1980 about a million units were sold and by the end of this year, Mintel estimates another seventeen million units will sell. Even so, they expect the phenomenal market growth witnessed to date will reach a peak before long. The outlook suggests fewer software companies which implies market stability.
On the hardware front, the prediction is that more people will buy disk drives and bigger machines to cope with new software. Apparently, wide audiences are expected for the games and entertainment programs, due to the rise in unemployment.
So there you are, it’s all in black and white. And if you want the full report, Leisure Intelligence, Video and Computer Games is available from Mintel Publications for £125 a single issue, or you could subscribe for £420 per annum...