LM’s Forum

Up hill, down dale... as winter sets in the cottage is becoming more and more isolated, and I must say I don’t relish the thought of cycling home in the cold and the dark. They make me come into the Towers to use this ridiculous word processor now!

Dom says it’s ‘more efficient’ or something. Efficiency is as efficiency does, according to grandma — anyway, you’ve been rather efficient at letter-writing this month, and choosing what to print was a difficult decision.

The £30 software prize goes to someone who’s obviously well on his way to writing the Oxford Companion To Coin-Op Conversions, but other topics include... well, read on and see.


Dear Lloyd
I saw your suggested topic for a letter in the ‘closing titles’ of Forum and decided I would inform you of what I think will be ‘in’ as Spectrum games go, a year from now.

I came to the obvious (and I think definite) conclusion that the trusty arcade conversion will still be the most popular game. ‘But won’t everybody be tired of conversions? I hear you cry. I think not!

Last Christmas we had the overwhelming success of the arcade-cum-computer smash Out Run, which was the clear best-seller for about three months over the festive season and after.

Look at some of the CRASH Smashes of 1987. There was Enduro Racer, Combat School and the much-talked-about Gauntlet — not excluding others such as 720°, Athena, Space Harrier and Star Wars.

Following on this year we had more of the same: Street Fighter, Gauntlet II, Flying Shark and Super Hang-On were the more successful of the bunch.

Already this year more coin-ops are being produced for Christmas. These are Afterburner, Operation Wolf, and Double Dragon, which all promise to be the best game this year. All these games look like being the biggest sellers.

It’s not just the name of the coin-op that sells the game, though, it’s what the game is made up of what makes the game tick. This factor will, I think still be as popular in a year’s time.

This factor is violence or destruction. This is what really makes the game exciting, the satisfaction of disposing of the wicked enemy and saving your people. Excluding sports sims, violence is the only thing that gets your adrenaline flowing or your pulse racing.

I feel confident that the main selling game a year form now will be a vigilante beat-’em-up or an alien shoot-’em-up derived from a major coin-op.

Daley Thompson may bring out another decathlon, or a Football Manager III may be produced, but they lack the element of violence which tries to break out of everyone.

The CRASH charts prove my point. In 1987 coin-op conversions filled 33% of the chart every month on average. In 1988 this figure had jumped to 40½%. In 1987 violence-related games were 60% of the charts — an obvious majority. In 1988 the figure also increased, this time to 64½%. Surely if these figures had jumped that much from 1987–1988 they will be even higher next year as they grow in popularity.

On a different note, congrats to Nick Roberts who I criticised way back in Issue 51. His tips and POKEs section is now much improved (with a little help).

Also, who is your granny and what is the meaning of life? Thanks for letting me air my views.
Chris Harby

Whew! I don’t think there’s much I can add to that — except to say that you seem to have forgotten RoboCop, which is a bit of an oddity because it’s not a direct coin-op conversion but a sort of simultaneous conversion of film and arcade game.

Also, I think you underrate sports sims somewhat — a Football Manager III would almost certainly top the charts for just as long as most coin-op conversions.

Finally, Granny won’t tell me the meaning of life. She says I’m not old enough yet.

Oh, one other thing — you win £30 worth of software.


Dear Lloyd
On Sunday September 18 I went to my first PC Show. What idiot decided to put the music-orientated stands in one area? The resultant noise of fifty trillion clashing music demos was teeth-grating!

Please correct me if I’m wrong (and I expect you will), but surely the NEC would be a better choice of venue for the PC Show? It is more central (not so far from Shropshire!), if anything it’s more accessible, as easy to find, and, above all, bigger!

It’s not even as if the majority of visitors are from within the London area — if anything surely they would reach a wider audience in the Midlands. If they really must have the show at Earls Court they could at least have clearly-labelled floor plans at regular intervals. I usually like to think I have quite a good sense of direction, but I spent the better part of an hour trying to find the Incentive stand for a second time!

I think it is a shame to ban under-18s from the business section. I am interested in a career in software engineering, so I would have liked to see some of the latest developments — and many other under-18s must be genuinely interested too.

Maybe they should put up a sign saying NO PLAYABLE GAME DEMOS IN THIS HALL, or something similar, to discourage that game demo addict who, once he starts playing (it’s always a he, incidentally) refuses to stop until he has completed the damn thing — by which time the person who misguidedly chose the shortest queue will be considering homicide, if not suicide, and will probably have lost interest in the game anyway!

However, I think the business section should be held as a separate show, at another time, and open to visitors under 18 (not that it will make any difference to me next year anyway!). There would be no joystick junkies, but seriously interested under-18s would still go: it would be less crowded, because the people there would want to be there, and won’t have just wandered vaguely in from the leisure hall — and there would be loads more actual floor space. Still. I’m probably wasting my ink. See you there next year!
Victoria White (’from the county with an alternative name sniggered at by French people’)

PS A serious letter! Gasp!

PPS Does Nick Roberts really like Debbie Gibson? Was he dropped on his head as a baby or something?

Actually he keeps getting dropped on his head by those offensive know-it-alls in THE GAMES MACHINE next door.

You’re not a lone voice when you make that point about the PC Show, Victoria — in fact, in all the conversations I’ve had upon the subject, not a single person has had anything positive to say about jamming the leisure and business halls together!

In fact, many people want a separate games show. But perhaps there are, from the organisers’ point of view, some reasons against that.

First reason: they only have to advertise and publicise one show instead of two. Second reason: they can claim over 100,000 attendance for the whole show, which sounds good to the exhibitors. If there were two separate shows, neither would get that many. Third reason: the first two days of the show are given over to ‘the trade’, which includes software distributors and shops — many of which are concerned with both business and games.

As for the location issue, I think it’s just Londonitis again — you know, ‘if it’s not in the capital it’s a bit provincial’. An absurd attitude when you consider that the majority of gamers — not to mention software houses! — live outside London.


Dear King Lloyd
What a SupercoolHipandTrendy­SuperblyDrawnMagnificentlyStunningly­BrilliantlyMagicallyTerrifically­GreatlyWonderful mag CRASH is. (Well, what else could I say?)
David Hickman

You could add how SupercoollHipandTrendy­SuperblyDrawn­MagnificentlyStunningly­BrilliantlyMagically­Terrifically­GreatlyWonderful I am.


Dear Lloyd
I don’t know if this has been done before, but I hope to be the first to analyse programmers and put them in order of merit.

Raf has a flair with graphics and exploits his ideas to the full (unlike most who have an it’ll-do policy). His programming skill is good enough, but it’s his animation that hit me hardest. (Are you sure the memory is the one that is running out and not your talent, arff arff?)

There you are Lloyd, a different kind of chart for you and I’m sure more of the usual cloning will follow.
Denzil Durkschnider

It’s nice to receive a letter that’s not about 16-bit upgrades, not about sexism, noot about the state of the world, but actually about what CRASH is most interested in — games!


Dear Lloyd
I have recently purchased a Spectrum, and I would like to complain about the quality and quantity of the software I would like to see.

The first three games I purchased were Sport Of Kings, First Past The Post and The Derby. All three are horse-racing games and all three are identical — the horses and jockeys are about an inch high, the race is on a straight track and the horses race in a straight line. Surely someone should write a better program than this.

But the real reason I am writing to you is for an answer — is there a greyhound-racing game? I have looked everywhere but I have not come across one. It might not be the most sought-after program, OK, but original yes. as far as I can see there isn’t one.
Lee Eccleshare

Try Wembley Greyhounds, £7.99 from D&H Games. We haven’t played it at the Towers, but it seems to have a decent array of features (though the graphics look very limited — mostly text). It will run on 48K or 128K Spectrums.

You might have trouble finding it in a software shop, but D&H do run a mail-order service.

Write to them enclosing: a cheque or postal order for £7.99 made out to D&H Games, a short letter explaining you want Spectrum Wembley Greyhounds and giving the catalogue code for this game (which is ‘WG'), and a large envelope addressed to yourself with a 25p stamp on it.

Or, if you want to see their full catalogue, telephone them, and explain that CRASH sent you in the D&H direction!


The Night Before Christmas 2001

’Twas the night before Christmas
and all through my home
Not a creature was stirring.
not even my clone.

The test tubes were hung by
the burner with care
In hopes that Saint Nicholas
soon would be there.

The androids were nestled
all snug in their beds
While visions of mc2 danced
in their heads.

My wife in her jump suit,
and I in my vest
Had just settled down to some
drug-induced rest.

When, out by the labs, there
arose such a clatter
My bed woke me up to see
what was the matter.

Away to the window,
I hastened my mass
Tore open the blast shields, and
threw up the glass.

The refraction of moonlight
through smog-ridden air
Gave a luster of midday to
everything there.

When what to my bionic
eyes should appear
But a mass-driven sleigh with
some strange landing gear.

With a quick little pilot,
a company man,
Who did what was asked and just
followed the plan.

More rapid than phantoms
his coursers they came.
He impulsed his crewmen,
then called them by name

‘Now Redox! Now Hewlett!
Now Quasar and Photon!
‘On Laser! On, Xerox!
On Pulsar and Proton!

‘To the top of the dome, by the
air-intake vent.
Now dash away quickly before
our fuel’s spent.

So, up to the air-vent
his coursers they flew,
with a craft full of toys and
Saint Nicholas too.

And then in a flash, on
the dome I did hear
The scratching and scraping
of stout landing gear.

I steadied my blaster,
my chest to the ground.
And then, through the air-vent
He came with a bound.

He was dressed in a three-piece
he’d rented near here.
(Why purchase an outfit you
wear once a year?)

A life-support system
he wore on his back,
while toys for the androids
he took from his pack.

He brought out the toys that
department stores sell —
The elves at the pole could not
make them so well.

He checked with the base ship
while doing his work,
And filled all the test tubes,
then turned with a jerk.

His antigrav belt was
secure, I suppose —
and, pressing the keys, up
the air vent he rose.

He sprang to his craft, gave
a shout to the crew.
The ship heaved a shudder,
and skywards they flew.

But I heard him exclaim,
as he flew out of sight,
‘Merry Christmas to all,
and to all a good flight.’

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! To you Lloyd and all at CRASH...
Peter Young

I’ve had to change some lines
to fit it all in,
but I’m really no poet —
I can’t make them scan or rhyme at all.


Dear Lloyd
This is my first letter I’ve sent to CRASH and I’m glad to say I’m not going to complain (simply because there’s nothing to complain about).

In fact I’m going to do quite the opposite. Every month I read complaints about CRASH, but why? If you look through any magazine there’s going to be at least one thing you don’t like. My message to people that criticise CRASH is ‘save your paper. Lloyd’s heard it all before’.
David Whitlam

ONE THING YOU DON’T LIKE????? Step outside and say that! (But thanks for the letter really — it’s nice to know someone’s still rational out there.)


Dear Mr Anagram (sounds better, eh?)
I would like to congratulate Your Sinclair on being the best magazine around, but I can’t because CRASH is.

Creeping and crawling apart, here is the point of my letter. There. Did you see it? It was cunningly disguised as a full stop. No? Well I’ll kill it then. (SPLURRRGGGHHHH!) And now folks, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, my top ten favourite computer games!!

Did you spot the three deliberate mistakes? They’re all foods, not games; there are only five of them, not ten; only dogs and Coronation Street fans eat Pedigree Chum!

Ah yes, before the hand grenades inside my feet blow up, I would like to congratulate Oli Frey on being the best, most radicasualistical artist in the whole wide Multiverse. (Now I know that you’ll be sitting there in your designer armchair saying ‘Ha! His titchy opinion doesn’t mean very much’, but it does, so there. And Oli is still cool after all that.)

Still on this subject, Oli doesn’t get enough praise or publicity so I’ve started a fan club for him. It is called Oli Rules In British Lands Everywhere (ORIBLE for short).

Alas, as they say in all the best cartoons ‘TH-th-th-th-that’s all folks!’
Brian McConnell

My armchair is something of an heirloom and dates back to long before this ridiculous word ‘designer’ was invented.

Now if I was Nick Roberts, I’d swallow a last mouthful and say ‘that’s it for another rad, hip, trendy, with-it Forum’... or whatever it is people say these days.

But I’m not — I’m Lloyd Mangram, and I get by with a little help from my granny and a lot from you. This month I’ve had one of the best postbags since the great days of ’86, and it seems like good times are back in town again.

Goodness, I am slipping into that pseudocool Nick Roberts style, aren’t I? Time to go before the wind changes and I’m stuck like this... keep writing to: LLOYD MANGRAM’S FAB’N’BRILL FORUM, CRASH.

(On second thoughts, leave out the ‘fab’n’brill’ bit — grandma probably thinks they’re soap powders and she’ll pester me to buy some. Shopping on a bike isn’t easy!)

Don’t forget that each month’s top letter wins £30 worth of software — the winner’s choice.