CRASH and the software houses show off on the Olympian heights as The PCW Show turns ten

THE PCW SHOW opens the doors of the new software season on 23 September — just as CRASH reaches the newsagents with a special feature packed issue 45 to mark the busiest months of the year.

Organisers hope the massive 10,000-square-metre show at London’s Olympia will attract more than 70,000 microcomputing visitors for its tenth anniversary. Every year so far the PCW Show has broken its own attendance records, and last year there were 66,030 visitors.

For two days the show is limited to business and trade visitors, but from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 September it’s open to everyone.

The software houses will be out in force, with playable demos of their Christmas games as well as current releases. And most of last year’s exhibitors are returning with bigger stands.

Piranha bares its teeth at The PCW Show with a line-up including Yogi Bear

Piranha is splashing out on a huge set-up with playable demos of such new games as Flunky, Yogi Bear and Judge Death, and ‘we’ve got this great loony who’s actually going to dress up as Berk from Trapdoor,’ babbles Piranha’s Helen Holland enthusiastically. ‘He’s there to celebrate some exciting news about a new Trapdoor game.

‘And we’re running competitions every hour. We’ve got Spin The Wheel and High Score Challenge and joke-telling comps and there’s loads of amazing prizes too! AND there’ll be a tank full of live piranhas, or is that ‘piranhi’?’

If you don’t want to join in the jollity and prefer technoflash and glitter, try the Ocean stand — a smart two-storey building. The ground floor houses the promotions for their new releases along with arcade machines and the Ocean shop, where you’ll be able to buy sports bags, T-shirts and games.

Upstairs are the business offices, but Ocean’s Colin Stokes doesn’t want his team stuck away wheeling and dealing. He explains: ‘We see The PCW Show as our window of opportunity (who said poetry was dead?). It’s difficult to quantify how much business is done; nine tenths of our objective is to say ‘hello and thanks’ to all the people who have bought our games over the past year.

‘This year we want to really treat them to a good time and we’ve got loads of arcade machines — the two specials being Renegade and Combat School, which are great games. We’ll also be showing off Freddie Hardest and Navy Moves, our two new Dynamic titles, Gryzor, Rastan Saga and of course Renegade, which will all appear on the home computers for anyone to play. There’ll be film shows, too, for those who just want to relax for a while.’ So much for business.

The Activision entourage (Electric Dreams, Activision UK and System 3) have some really special things up their sleeves. Electric Dreams is turning last year’s pyramid stand into a Grand Prix circuit complete with a massive tyre to celebrate the launch of Super Sprint, their latest arcade licence, Also on show will be Super Hang-On and Firetrap.

Activision is sharing a stand with System 3, which plans to display The Last Ninja and a preview of its sequel Bangkok Knights, a Thai boxing simulation. System 3 will also try to tempt you with International Karate II.

Rampage, Lock-On, Knightmare and Galactic Games are among the autumn offerings from Activision itself. But the American giant’s star turn will be an Activision/System 3 licence of the hit new Arnold Schwarzenegger film Predator (which opens here around Christmas).

And who could forget the razzmatazz of US Gold? The US Gold stand will have the usual array of videos, arcade machines and playable games including World Class Leaderboard, Solomon’s Key, Indiana Jones and some special arcade licences which Lloyd Mangram plans to preview in the next CRASH.

If you’re looking for surprises, keep an eye on the Ariolasoft and Virgin stands. Virgin is launching a business label, but Pat Mitchell says ‘don’t despair — we’ve got games too!’. They’re more ‘secret special licensing deals’, apparently.

And Ariolasoft is launching the new Viz Design label. The names of the games are, of course, secret, but we can exclusively reveal that one of them is ██████. (Parts of this report have been deleted in compliance with an injunction against CRASH obtained by Ariolasoft under the Official Secrets Act and upheld by the Law Lords.) (Other parts of this report are not true.)

Elite will be at the show with a smashing Christmas line-up including Ikari Warriors, Buggy Boy and Thundercats, all set for preview soon in CRASH.

New faces this year will include Electronic Arts, Mattel and Microprose. Electronic Arts, launching a European operation this autumn, is concentrating on the 16-bit market (Atari ST and Amiga), but there should be some Spectrum products. And toy manufacturer Mattel will be there with the Nintendo console reviewed in the July CRASH — you can try your hands at some of the great games, and if you fall in love with it you can buy one too.

Microprose is exhibiting on its own for the first time, showing off Gunship. The company’s president ‘Wild’ Bill Stealey is promising to challenge a few visitors at his own games!

And there’s going to be a Gremlin at the show — yup, a real live one which will introduce all the new games from Gremlin Graphics. For starters there’s Gary Lineker’s Superstar Soccer and Mask II. For a main course sample the delights of Basil The Great Mouse Detective (licensed from Walt Disney), the gruesome Blood Valley and Masters Of The Universe (from the film). And for a sweet take your pick from two: Compendium (a wacky computer version of classic boardgames) and Alternative Games (a bizarre pack of sports simulations with events such as log-flogging, boot-throwing and running up walls).

‘It’s going to be very good this year,’ predicts Gremlin Marketing Manager Sue Quinn, ‘I’m really looking forward to it.’

And so are we. CRASH will be there on the top floor along with ZZAP! 64 and Newsfield’s new baby THE GAMES MACHINE. So do come up and say hello (and please bring us up a cup of tea, because it’s incredibly thirsty work!). And remember — next month’s huge preview section will be packed with details of games at The PCW Show.


The ghost of CRASHes past haunts Olympia... here the team talks to visitors at the 1985 PCW Show


THE MICRO BUSINESS is going for the hard sell with massive autumn ad campaigns — in the midst of criticism from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

There’ll be more TV ads than before in an industry traditionally dominated by magazines: Virgin and Beau Jolly plan to push their compilations (Now 5 from the former, Five Star Hits and Computer Hits from the latter) on the box.

Origin Systems (which produced F-15 Strike Eagle) is also looking at a TV campaign for its releases through MicroProse — but, says Product Manager Ray Evitts, ‘there’s split thought on it because of the cost involved’.

Marketing games can be expensive. US Gold is reportedly spending over a million pounds on advertising this year, and Amstrad plans to spend £17 million on autumn ads — with a big TV boost for its Spectrum +2, according to the industry paper Computer Trade Weekly.

But the fast-moving computer trade has fallen afoul of the ASA, a body set up by the ad business to check out ads which aren’t ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’. (The ASA deals with print, poster, cinema and leaflet ads; the Independent Broadcasting Authority covers radio and TV. The ASA monitors some ads itself and also judges complaints from the public, though it has no legal power.)

The computer business is the third worst in the ASA’s books, behind the holiday and car trades; several hardware manufacturers and suppliers have been upbraided in recent ASA reports. They’d been making false claims in ads and advertising products when they weren’t available.

Sir Clive comes up with the ideas — but his products don’t always appear as promised

Many ads for Sir Clive Sinclair’s products, from the QL to the C5 electric vehicle to the long-delayed Z88, have fallen afoul of the ASA, and Amstrad’s major ‘How much computer can you buy for £450?’ PC 1512 campaign was criticised earty this summer — because it didn’t point out you’d also have to pay almost £70 VAT.

The ASA has also upheld several complaints against computer repair shops, but ads for games software haven’t caused much offence — yet.