LM’s Forum

‘Years may come and years may go, but the coming of spring remaineth slow’ — yes, you guessed it, grandma’s definitive word on why it’s usually so cold right into March and April!

Well, I don’t know about you, but we’ve certainly had a warm few months here at the Towers (apart from a cold snap the other day... and the day before... and the day before...). And my Forum postbox has been sizzling hot, too, what with the Curious Case of the CRASH Covermounts adding to the usual array of controversy, complaint and cartooning.

But first things first; this month’s £30 software prize goes to a fanzine fellow who’s produced a little booklet of all-time greats which I enjoyed as much as CRASH’s (well, almost...)


Dear Lloyd
Can I just add my two penn’orths to the raging debate over CRASH’s all-time greats?

About May 1988 the Chic Computer Club published a fanzine/booklet entitled The Spectrum Software Collector’s Guide — which is in similar style to your supplement, and sought to assemble the very best titles released on the Spectrum throughout the years. We obviously faced a similar problem to you as to how to define the best games out of the vast choice available to Spectrum-owners.

One of our alternatives was the one which you seem to have selected — simply to let an acknowledged Spectrum ‘expert’ or two select those titles which in their opinion were the ‘best’.

What we tried to do was to temper our opinions with some hard facts — namely the sales and popularity charts for Spectrum games throughout the years. We then combined these with review ratings and audience feedback (eg year-end awards), and came up with a set of games which is based more on hard fact than speculation.

I’m sure you could do better than us if you put your collective minds to it, but for the moment I really feel that our list of games is closer to a definitive list of all-time greats than the CRASH one. It includes Pyjamarama, Shadowfire, Manic Miner, and The Hobbit, which by our calculations came out as the longest-running Number One of them all! How could you not select it? There has never ever ever been a game which caused such an immense reaction among Spectrum-owners for so long!

So if any of your readers are interested in a more factual selection of all-time classics, or a trip down Memory Lane, the Spectrum Software Collector’s Guide is available from Chic Computer Club. The normal price is £1.99 and we’ll even knock 50p off for CRASH readers in a fit of generosity!
Steve Winter

I have one semantic quibble with your points, Steve — though as I mention above, your Spectrum Software Collector’s Guide is a pretty comprehensive list of 104 greats.

The problem is that you’re talking about being ‘definitive’, and we’ve all said in Forum hundreds of times if it we’ve said it once that greatness in games, or anything, is a matter of personal taste. It just happens that some games have so much for everyone that they meet everyone’s personal taste!

Using the sales figures and readers’ votes is a good idea, which perhaps CRASH could incorporate next time it does a similar project. But it still doesn’t solve the problem — if I happen to believe that Piranha’s Flunky was the best thing since sliced bread (I don’t!), does the fact that it’s not in your list make it any less ‘great’ for me?

Ah well, philosophical folk always tie themselves in knots, grandma says. So I’d urge readers to make up their own minds by getting hold of the Chic Computer Club’s publication if they can — it’s nicely designed and packed with pictures, though of course they’re all black-and-white and the reproduction is a little gloomy. (They’ll have me writing Fanzine File next!)

Also, at the end there’s a quiz — one question about each of the 104 greats in which you can earn a certificate by playing all the games.


Dear Lloyd
Why the telephone competition — what happens to people who don’t have phones? The price of CRASH is surely enough without having to pay to enter competitions — please revert back to the comps-on--the-page format. The phone system is fine for tips and releases but for competitions — no thanks!

Continuing on the competition line, where are the results from the Christmas edition?

Yet another complaint comes through the new charts. If you’re going to change them, why not include the Gallup charts, as they mean far more than the current ones?
Michael James Brown

And I thought I was the only person in Britain without a phone... I agree that it’s not very easy for the untelephonic to enter the Hotline comp, but we certainly haven’t given up on ordinary competitions either. Look at it as a phone comp gained rather than a printed comp lost!

As for the charts, I agree (again) that CRASH’s system is not as scientific as Gallup’s. However, there are problems with printing Gallup charts too — most notably the time delay. By the time Gallup had compiled it and sent it to us and we’d printed it, the chart would already be well out of date.


Dear Lloyd
Hello! And welcome to the Leigh Loveday Humble Opinions and Trivial Complaints Department. A list of the same follows:

1) Why was the Christmas Special out on November 17 when it could have been out on December 15?

2) Why, in the Christmas Special with so many extra pages, was Jetman still only given one page (albeit in colour) and the Forum only three pages?

3) I am getting quite irritated with the misleading review index (page numbers sometimes wrong) and omissions of Hot Shot games (eg in the aforementioned Chrizzy Special, Hot Shots were above 80%, but Rex got 82% — no sign of it in the Hot Shot index).

4) I, (and most of my friends) agree with Nick about Red Dwarf (talk about trivial!).

5) What’s the slimy thing in the page margin called (if anything)?

6) Why don’t you review all budget games?

7) Could you please Sellotape your cover cassettes on lengthways, because when I try to pull the Sellotape off, it pulls the cassette tape out with it, therefore ruining my demos.

8) Is there any reason for the recent lack of software? (Only 16 reviews in Chrizzy Special! Even less previously!!)

9) I do believe that CRASH is getting smaller. Not thinner, but smaller in content (ie the reviews are getting too short, etc).

10) Aha! A chart! My favourite 128K music...

Right, that seems to be it. Pack up lads, we’re off ’ome for tea (oh dear, this letter was serious up to there.) Oh, and please don’t give me a short answer. Please?
Leigh Loveday
PS Antidisestablishmentarianism (LMLWD?)

Dear me, you sound like grandma complaining when I happen to pick up the wrong kind of Chelsea buns in town for her...

1) They say Christmas is getting earlier every year, but the real reason the Christmas Special came out in November is that monthly magazines appearing in December suffer quite a lot of problems.

Many newsagents were closed for several days at a stretch last year, what with Christmas Day falling on a Sunday and everybody taking weekdays off instead, which slows down sales. Also, everyone’s so busy stuffing themselves they sometimes forget to buy CRASH (difficult as it is to believe). So, we felt that if we were going to put a lot of work into a Christmas Special, we might as well get it out early so it had a good month on the shelves!

2)There are always limitations on space (which is why Ed Dom likes those one-word answers) — that should answer question 9, too.

3) There is no excuse for the errors in the review index, as we well know, but sometimes last-minute changes are made to the order of the reviews after the index has been typeset, and there isn’t time to correct it. As for Hot Shot problems — maybe (I don’t know myself) the game was only reviewed very close to the magazine’s completion.

4) What is Red Dwarf?

5) The ‘slimy thing’ has recently been christened Leigh.

6) We review most good budget games, but the reasoning is that most people can afford to gamble two or three pounds on a game being good, whereas they don’t want to risk £10 or so on a full-price game. Also, many budget games are pretty predictable in content... Anyway, Ed Dom informs me that a new budget section, Budget Bureau, has just started on page... umm... 66 (I think). Why not take a look and send me your views?

7) The cassettes wouldn’t be so securely held; think about it.

8) Less is more, as a famous architect once said (actually, I shouldn’t let Dom hear that, or he’ll be telling me all the time...) Seriously, I think the answer is that most software houses are more concerned about quality than quantity now.

PS Triiodothyronine


Dear Lloyd
Is your granny a little stiffy?!? (Ooer, sounds kinky.)

Is the reason she won’t tell you the meaning of life because she is in a lead coffin six foot under?!? If so, are you telepathic and is that how you contact her??
Jayson ‘idiot’ Snipe

PS Do you still wear women’s underwear? And as you’ve probably noticed, I’m mad!!!

PPS Your mag is dead good.

No, no, no, I never did, I did, I know.


Dear Lloyd
In reply to Paul Clements’s letter in Issue 58 of CRASH, I think that the price of games is very reasonable. Very few games are priced over £10, and most are worth it; who wouldn’t pay £15 for Driller?

Also, has he never heard of mail order? CRASH’s own is one of the best and most reliable around.

Most of my friends get £10 or more every week, I myself get £15 a week; therefore if Paul gets only £7 a month, a small price rise would seem catastrophic.

A game that costs £8, Head Over Heels, gave me 250 hours of enjoyment. This works out to 3.2p per hour, pretty damn cheap!

At the PC Show, I bought an Amiga A500. I am very impressed with such games as Starglider II, Carrier Command, and Rocket Ranger, but in the last week I played such games as Head Over Heels and Rampage on my Spectrum and didn’t touch my Amiga for over five days!

Great mag. Viva CRASH.
Simon Brown

As you imply, ‘expensive’ means different things to different people — and if you get eight times as much pocket money as Paul, obviously games don’t seem so hard on the wallet to you. There’s no argument, really, is there?


Dear Lloyd
There have been many complaints that recent games are not original enough. So to counter this, my father’s game Continental Drift is about to hit the market. Well, maybe...

The idea is that you are the captain of a large continent, Gondwanaland. You must split it accurately into the modern-day continents of Africa, India, South Amenca, Antarctica and Australia. This has all the makings of an exciting real-time game — you have 2,000 million years to complete it. And I’m sure that Nick will be very disappointed to know that there will be no need for an infinite-lives POKE (although extra time may be needed)!
Tom Price

The graphics are rather slow-moving, the sprites are very large and rather jagged, and it takes some time to get into the game. Definitely one for map maniacs.

Well, I’m off home to get the fire alight before grandma starts finding fault with the younger generation (that’s me, believe it or not...). Many of the letters lined up for this month didn’t get in, so I’m holding a few over for next time and also I apologise to everyone whose letters were dramatically edited! Certain editors hand out pages like they were old misers distributing tenners...

Anyway, keep them coming: the moans and groans, smart talk and serious talk, and even tenners if you like. Don’t forget that there’s a £30 software prize for the best letter chosen each month.

And finally, remember to write ‘personal attention of Mr Mangram’ on the envelope, so they get through the Towers’ postal system unscathed. See you here in a few weeks’ time.