April is a relatively quiet time in the microcomputer games world when commentators like myself and the companies which produce the games ponder on the state of the industry now that we’ve seen the last of those long wintry nights. Three aspects of the games playing scene have recently made themselves conspicuous.
The first is the rise of the cheap game reflected in Mastertronic’s standing as a chart success company. Cheap games have become much more interesting recently and have become an important and sizeable part of the market. In particular the standard of graphics has risen markedly which has gone a long way towards compensating for the lack of originality expected of such games. In turn this has put an enormous amount of pressure on the expensive games to provide not only the last word in graphic techniques but also innovative features and storylines. The strain in producing such blockbusters is almost tangible to anyone who has dabbled with the idea of writing a computer game. Expensive games require an immense amount of time and dedication on the part of the programmers.
The second aspect is the demise of the small independent software house and the rise of the large combine. While the British Telecom and Ocean empires expand, so the independents have contracted, along with their innovative philosophies. Ultimate were innovative until their later games were little more than an attempt to cash in.
The third aspect is the appearance of a new computer, compatible with the 48K Spectrum, which all and sundry have attempted to critically take apart. The 128K is in fact a fitting compromise between technical novelty and software compatibility. Such compatibility has ensured the computer’s success and promises to supply a steady stream of games which utilise more memory, display finer graphics, and encourage greater interaction. The chief beneficiary will no doubt be arcade adventures, but the arrival of the new Sinclair model will be applauded by all quarters of the computer retail sector.