It may be quiet on the software scene, but it’s certainly a hive of activity in Lloyd’s Forum this month...
I have grown to despise summer. When you live in a town as historically important as Ludlow there’s absolutely no chance of getting down to a few quiet hours of peaceful typing on my Hermes. What I really need is a nice, quiet holiday in sunny Bournemouth. Sipping cups of Earl Grey, as scantily clad ladies pass me by. Whoops, I’d better watch what I say or I might be in for a bit of literary discussion. Just as you thought Maria Whittaker had gone back into the ad-manager’s closet along comes... Corrine Russell promoting Vixen. The morals of censorship are discussed in SPLIT SCREEN, but that doesn’t stop you airing your views...
Did you know that Lloyd Mangram is an anagram of Grammy Dolnal, Gary Mman Doll, Lord Mogy Lamn, Lady Marg Moln, Mallmy Dragon, Allarmm Dogy, Maglorm Dylan and Mad Mong Rally?
Jonathan Reid, Scott Wright and Greg Cogzell
Maybe the question should have been, did I want to know?
I’ve had a sort of fairly goodish idea, Lloyd; I thought that perhaps you might like to share it with other CRASH readers. I run a fanzine, Microchip, and have been doing so for about two years now. However, I have experienced the problem that clogs nearly every fanziner in the land — lack of review copies from software houses. I convinced a few of our credibility, but alas I shall have to start all over again after having a ‘fallow period’ for my end-of-year exams. Unfortunately, I think now that many fanzines are set up solely for the purpose of obtaining free software, and this problem has been heightened by competitions such as the well-intentioned YS Fanzine of the Year.
With this in mind, I am considering setting up a kind of umbrella organisation for fanzines. If a fanzine publisher can produce tangible evidence that he/she produces a fanzine for general public consumption, say by sending me two constructive issues of his/her publication, then he/she will be able to state that they belong to such an umbrella organisation. Also, we fanziners could pool our resources e.g., by having a national reader popularity chart, similar to that in CRASH. Such a chart would be meaningless now, because of the fairly low circulations of most fanzines. Any organisation such as the one I am proposing would arguably have more muscle with software houses, as they could be assured of a fanzine’s existence, if you see what I mean.
The sooner software houses start to realise what a faithful bunch of Speccy-bashers fanziners are, they may twig that the future of the Spectrum games market lies with the youth of today, who will ultimately be the adult journalists of tomorrow. Even if people with loadsamoney DO desert the Spectrum for the bright lights and pretty pictures of 16-bit land, there will still be the hard core of REAL enthusiasts, who will perhaps have only the amateur press to turn to.
Anyone who is interested in forming such an organisation should contact me,
enclosing a SAE for further details.
Steve Thomas, Microchip Magazine
PS. We’re relaunching in July!
I have looked through many fanzines that have flowed through the CRASH offices, on their way to the all-seeing eyes of Dominic Handy; and there have been many. many excellent ’zines that would not only deserve the time of software houses, but also their support. I have also seen many journals that would look more at home on the walls of a suburban WC. The latter is the main, and just, cause for software houses not sending out review samples to ’zines. Would you send free copies of your magazine to people who were just ‘mucking about’? I think not, and quite rightly so. However, it’s a bit tough on the supply of games to fanzines. It would be ideal if the companies would pick and choose the best magazines to supply, but sadly they don’t have the time to look through nearly one thousand fanzines (yes, that many)!
Anything that gives worthy fanzines even an ounce of credibility can’t
be bad. All fanzine editors write to Stephen now. It’s probably the best
idea to come out of Cheltenham since the National Express coach at 14:30.
I bought your magazine yesterday and was embarrassed when the newsagent inquired if it was for my grandson.
Your young readers of 28 years should think of women like me — nearly sixty. I recently retired and bought a computer so that I could keep my brain active and learn computing. I was given a game, Impossible Mission, as a present and have become hooked on action games.
My problem is buying more games, as I have to pretend that I am buying them
as presents for young relatives. Now that I have discovered your magazine I can
read about the different games, and so can just ask for the game I want to buy
by name, instead of looking through the available software.
I know what you mean. I always get my games from Aggie at CRASH
Mail Order — it saves money, and a lot of embarrassment. And don’t
worry E, Impossible Mission II is coming to your Spectrum very soon.
Till then, why not try Action Force II for some real action. It
certainly loosens up my joints!
I’m writing to find out if I’m the first person to complete Rastan. I completed this game after just two days of buying it, and just to prove that I have completed it, and that I’m not telling porkies, here is the message that appears at the end of the game:-
YOUR QUEST HAS ENDED
AND YOU HAVE FREED YOUR LAND
PRESS ANY KEY
PAUL MURRAY PROGRAMMER
ED KNIGHT FOR GRAPHICS
MIKE AND STE FOR CARTOGRAPHY
I would also like to know who wrote the little story for the back cover of Rastan. From reading the back cover I thought that it would be a challenging game, but when the game had finished loading I found that it was nothing but a mere kill-everything-in-sight game. Why couldn’t Imagine put some real storyline into the game, instead of the usual ‘You must save your:- land/planet/universe or your pet budgie’?
It’s a pity Rastan doesn’t have the lasting appeal of
I can hardly believe that you had time to play Rastan if you spent two days buying it! And as you didn’t enclose a date of purchase it’s hard to say if you’re the first to complete it.
I share your feelings about game inlays, though. Perhaps, it would be an
idea for all software houses to put the game category on the back of the inlay:
i.e.. shoot-’em-up; graphical adventure; bash-’em-up. etc. But some
games are very hard to categorise and such systems are difficult to implement.
Till then you’ll just have to wait for the CRASH review...
Firstly, why is it that CRASH is slowly but surely turning into a top shelf magazine? I decided not to make a fuss about it when the Maria Whittaker advert came out, but it seems other software houses are taking the liking of this ‘technique’ of advertising, The Vixen advert backs my point.
I quickly skipped the page in case my Mum saw it and to evade having an embarrassing argument with her. Can’t anything be done to stop these adverts? I can’t really see the point in linking a sexy woman and a computer game. Seeing CRASH is the biggest selling computer magazine, can’t you set the example and ban these adverts.
Next point is that SCORES is becoming a total failure! It is falling into
the same pit as Hall of Slime did. Anybody can just write in saying what they
presumably got and their name is in CRASH with a chance of a £40 prize. I
would have a guess and say that over 50% of scores sent in are not genuine.
(E.g., I know for sure that the highest scores on Zynaps and
Flying Shark are complete and utter lies!!!) It would be best if a
photo or evidence is required to have your name in SCORES.
The advertising link is not meant to be between ‘sexy
women and computer games’, but between ‘sexy women’ and
computer game buyers — a very different matter. It’s quite strange
that all the letters of complaint are coming from men, when it is they
(according to the all-knowing ad agencies) who are supposed to be getting the
‘kick’ from it! Read this month’s SPLIT SCREEN article for a
view from the so-called victimised party — women — and the affected
party — men. Just think, though, it is the male population who are really
suffering — they’re the ones out of pocket at the end of the day...
Is Nick Roberts CRAZY?! In Issue 50, Garfield was reviewed, and was a Smash. In the very same issue, Nick printed a whole map of the game, lots of tips, then, in Issue 51 a cheat mode. In Issue 51 he printed a whole solution and some solutions for Nebulus. In Issue 52, he printed a whole solution to Dan Dare II. I think whole solutions spoil games. I wanted to buy Garfield, until I saw the solution in the same issue. It would put anyone off buying it and any game they could buy and already have a full solution to. Software companies would surely not want this. But I think there should be a system, rather like that of Signstumps. And that brings me to a complaint about the Adventure Trail. Derek Brewster never printed a full solution in Adventure Trail (only once, and that was someone else’s fault) yet when he left, you printed a full solution for Sinbad And The Golden Ship.
Nick says, he always likes to keep you informed of the latest
tips for the latest games. Pundits say that sales of a full-price game are
usually dead after three months, therefore so are Nick’s tips —
unlike an adventure game which seems to last for ever. As Nick always says,
‘Better to be one step ahead of the crowd than spilling sticky cherry
cola in your Amstrad keyboard’. Well, he’d know!
Alan Sugar stated that the +3 ‘was not the last Spectrum’, so what will the +4 have? Obviously a disc drive; with the new support for the +3, Amstrad would be stupid to leave one out (though the new one could be a bit quicker). After five years on the market, the Speccy deserves more and better colour (and no colour clash either). This would completely revive the Spectrum software industry, bringing up the quality of games. Unless the +4 can bring better graphics and sound to the speedy owner, the Spectrum will become obsolete by the 1990’s.
Richard ‘The Maniacal Mapper’ Clark
One thing that Alan Sugar did not state was whether the next
Spectrum will be compatible with the last. To have all the visual and audio
features of more expensive computers AND be compatible with the old Spectrum
will prove difficult, though. Amstrad are always ones to keep VERY quiet about
any future plans — you only know when THEY want you to know. Take a look
at this month’s news for more revelations about Amstrad.
I think that there is very strong evidence for there being a subliminal message in MicroProse’s games, which all seem to feature good ol’ Uncle Sam defending truth, justice and the American way against the evil un-American forces of subversion, particularly as these games are released when America’s military might is being used to squash every Tom, Dick and Mullah who comes along, the idea of subliminally justifying this and softening the public’s minds to these conflicts is useful to America. Remember, MicroProse’s chief is employed by the Pentagon...
Finally, may I suggest to Robert Hanway
that if he wants a good 128K only game, then CRL have produced a very much
upgraded version of Tau Ceti, called Tau Ceti: The Special
Edition. This features many, many improvements upon the excellent
original, and should fill a gap!
MicroProse inform me that their joint owner, ‘Wild’
Bill Stealey, is just a ‘fun loving guy’. Anyway. MicroProse would
have a hard time releasing a game when the Americans weren’t at war with
I have just got Issue 52 of CRASH and feel I have to write and complain. CRASH has steadily been going downhill, but this issue seems particularly bad and here’s some gentle hints on how to bring CRASH back up to its high old standard.
Firstly the cover, I mean it’s just all writing, apart from the tiny quarter page drawing in the comer, it looks as if it was whipped from underneath Oli’s airbrush before it was anywhere near finished.
Now Playing Tips and Nick Roberts. The guy is a first class pranny, he prints pokes for games which get 12% (really worth while) and the maps are ultra-rubbish, too big, no detail and badly drawn. So do everyone a big favour and do some serious grovelling to Robin Candy, to get him back on the job (yes I know you’ll hate it, but Nick is such a git: look at his Target: Renegade review ‘do you ever feel like kicking your dog’s head in?’, what a weirdo).
Now reviews; all reviews should be given a full page, budget or not. If
you’re not careful you may end up in the ridiculous situation of ZZAP
where a game gets 90%, still only has a page and one screen shot. Now the big
complaint, the thing which really annoyed me this month was the appearance of
the dreaded mail order companies, long lists of games with a massive one pound
off, your rival mags are full of these rubbish adverts, not are they incredibly
boring to look at, they are notoriously unreliable and thousands of people have
lost money through them. Please get rid of them, or before you know it you will
be printing listings (arggh, no, arggh mass suicide!). Anyhow, CRASH Mail Order
is just as cheap, and ultra fast. It took a week for me to get
Cybernoid while my friend has been waiting five weeks for a game order
through Your Sinclair. So please take my advice, give Oli less work, get rid of
Nick, get rid of mail order adverts and give a full page review to all games
and CRASH will be Number One again.
The theory behind putting text on the cover is to inform the potential buyer of what’s in the magazine. Are the facts that Nick Roberts is on the cover (of Issue 52) and dislike of Nick wholly unconnected? In defence of Nick I must say that a playing tipster’s maps are only as good as his suppliers. Nick will always put in a beautifully drawn map, if he has one. Nick says, if you want some good artwork then take a look at next issue’s Beyond The Ice Palace map.
And to the ever-running space argument. Ed (yes that means all of them!) has constantly told me that it would be totally impractical to give every game review a whole page. Poor games don’t necessarily deserve as much space as good games; after all if you’re not going to buy it then why read a lot about it! Budget games generally get less space because cheap games are mostly bought on impulse, with a few spare coins. Whereas full-price games are ‘high-risk’ purchases and deserve more comprehensive and in-depth reviews.
As to mail order. Well you know who’s the best, so send Aggie your
Many of my friends who have Spectrums are hoping to advance soon into the 16-bit world, by buying Amigas. Now at £450 for an Amiga it’s a big step. But what will they do with it, just play games; my friends are just basically buying Amigas to play souped-up versions of Spectrum games.
Just because the Amiga has better sound and graphics it doesn’t make the games any more playable and addictive, which is in my opinion what counts in a game. They will spend £25 on a game, the same game on a Spectrum could be just as compelling and playable, and when you’re enjoying a game you don’t seem to notice the inferior graphics and beepy sound.
It’s fair enough buying a 16-bit machine if you will use it for things
other than games. If you want superior graphics for a games machine, why not
buy a Sega System for only £100?
Consoles are a completely different matter. Many people, including myself, could not bear to have the limitations of a console, instead of a computer — buy a console as well as a Spectrum!
Buying a computer is just like buying a car. The great expense is not the
initial purchase cost, but the hidden running costs. Is it really worth paying
an extra £15 for enhanced sound and graphics (although you should see
Interceptor on the Amiga — Ed). As the Amiga is still in its infancy
I’d wait a while till the market place settles down to an acceptable
quality. Read the 16-bit feature for more information and thoughts on the new
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll tell you the tale of The Quest for Cruciality. Once upon a time there lived a fair maiden who did enjoy to bash aliens to bits upon occasion. To read also she did crave, and so to CRASH she didst resubscribe. The maiden wast a vain wench, who to seem most hip ’n’ trendy didst magically appear a noble tome upon the door mat. Which whereon she seizest and didst peruse with utmost delight.
Soon her gaze didst alight upon a magical design, in which didst rest four likenesses. One likeness it didst bear two darkened circles where mayhap lay its eyes.
‘Oh wow!’, didst cry ye faire maiden, ‘How cool ’n’ froody be they’!
Straight away prepare didst she for a quest of mighty length. Though abandon must her trusty joystick (she doth it trust not to work), her bard’s manuscript ‘So’, and her Stephen Donaldson fables, she doth grit her teeth and mount her trusty steed (this sprinter she doth trust to be late by full half one hour of day).
Across the plain she didst speed, and espiest west she by an evil giant, ‘Hey nonny nonny!’ didst cry ye giant, ‘How ’mazing hip ’n’ trendy she be’, and in his great surprise didst let fall ye soil from ye olde spade which carrying he hadst been, so he blocketh her retreat with a hill of steep sides.
Bat an eyelid she didst not, so cool wast she. On she didst speed on her steed, until at length didst she attain ye olde town of Scropesbury. There she didst search both high and low, within every nook and cranny, for to see if these so hip ’n’ trendy magical glass circles were therein concealed.
In vain wast her search.
‘A lack’, she bewaited, ‘Oh woe is me,
How mayst I so trendy be
When I hath not ye ultimate accessory?
Where findeth one glasses like to Steve’s?
If I don’t get some I’ll be peeved!’
The moral of this story is
That if your aim so trendy tis
Never go out without dark glasses
Even if a cloud it passes.
(Answer would be appreciated, even if a mite belated...)
PS. Yes. I know my poetry is awful.
Answer? What was the question, Vicky?
Apologies due to the CRASH reviewing team whom I criticised in my letter, published in Issue 51. I stated that I was unhappy with the reviewing standards in Issue 49. I have to admit that Rampage is rather repetitive and therefore boring, and Scruples is only ‘pas mal’.
On to the real point of my letter — i.e. software standards. Ocean have put the ‘bad old days’ behind them, and thankfully have moved it to pastures new — good software. Combat School, Match Day II, Platoon and Firefly have been released since Christmas, and all have been first class.
Hewson are, without doubt, the most consistent software house. Cybernoid — The Fighting Machine is perfection personified. Graphically superb, superlative sound and playability, and magnificent animation. If every game was as good as Cybernoid, then the world would be a better place.
GO! have stalled, after a promising start; Trantor has been the silver lining to the cloud. Unfortunately, GO! got the licence to produce Capcom arcade games. The licence could have been put to better use by a company who worry about quality not quantity.
US Gold are consistent, but bad. Although saying that, to every rule there are exceptions — Out Run and World Class Leaderboard are examples of good US Gold games.
Every software company has, at one time, churned out a product saying to themselves ‘This game is crap, but we’ll con the public into buying it’. This has got to be stopped. Only the software-buying public can do this.
Flooding the company’s office with complaint letters, or even
boycotting their software until a promise of quality comes from the company,
are ways of doing this. Hewson and Ocean have led the pack for so long now, it
is time for other companies to try and regain the lead!
Congratulations are certainly due to Hewson and Ocean, but
let’s try and forget the past and look forward to the future, US Gold
insist that their product is consistently improving (and after looking at one
of their assessment sheets I must say they are trying VERY hard); GO!, on the
other hand, seem to have reached a satisfactory standard now (Bionic
Commando is great fun), I can’t wait for The Great Giana
Sisters. Compared to four years ago the software scene is much better,
with a larger range of ideas, a higher quality of product AND (on average and
forgetting the new budget boom) only £1 per game more! But, as Mrs Mangram
always says, there’s always room for improvement.
Recently I spent ten days in France, staying with a French family as part of my A-level studies. I met several people of my own age, most of whom had some sort of computer. Surprisingly, I found that the Spectrum was quite well-known. It seems that French computers often represent a better package hardware-wise — everyone assumed I had a 128K (which is true), and could not comprehend the idea of a mere 48K RAM — but the standard of programming is way behind Britain’s. They also nearly died when I said I used a cassette player to load programs.
Finally, a point for you personally. You remember you were talking about synchronicity in your Christmas History? Well, it was happening to me while reading CRASH. Now come on, own up — which one of you has a penchant for using the word ‘eponymous’? It must have come up about seventy three times in four months!!
Finally (yes, I know I said ‘finally’ last time but I’ve just thought of something else), I might as well shove in my oar on the 8-bit/16-bit debate. it seems to me that nearly all 16-bit games at the moment are mutton dressed as lamb, crummy ‘Pong’ clones that look like classical paintings (OK, so I exaggerated). I’ve even played one game where the sound was digitised onto an Amiga from a SPECTRUM! Shumthing wrong. shurely...
Congratulations on your fifty issues.
John A Swan
I’m surprised that they knew about the Spectrum —
there’s hardly any in France. Programming standards in France are rapidly
rising: software houses like Loriciels, Infogrames and Titus are now familiar
names in the UK software market. Regarding the tape recorder: the only reason
we have slow cassette players is to allow us time to enjoy a pleasant cup of
afternoon tea with mother.
Well that’s it for now. I’m off to book my coach trip down to Bournemouth. Ed says I can have three (!) days off this year (so long as it includes a Saturday and a Sunday — Ed). So with any luck I’ll be back next month with a fresh and revitalised Forum (and slightly tanned, if the colour of this page is anything to go by). In the meantime why not drop me a postcard from your holiday haven — I’d send you all one but I don’t know where you’re going... So if you’ve anything to say for yourself (or anyone else) drop me a line; as always it’s LLOYD MANGRAM, CRASH FORUM. You could find yourself the lucky recipient of a £30 software voucher! But then again who cares about the money, it’s the fame I love!