Live Circuit

Some funny things go on in the CRASH offices you know. Some things (like the production team) you get used to. But the other day, I witnessed a spectacle never seen before: the members of the advertisement department standing on their desk yelling ‘Yeeeeek! Vermin! Call Rentokill!’ It would appear we have a new arrival here at CRASH HQ. To whit: a mouse. Though why such a small rodent should intimidate that lot is beyond me. Enor, as we’ve called him (Geddit? Enor-mouse?!!), seems perfectly friendly to me. He’s always leaving small presents on desks for people to discover in the morning. Anyway, where was I? Ah, letters. The introduction of 128K-only games is this month’s topic and further comments are welcome (as are mouse disposal tips). Letter of the month goes to Jadgev Kenth who gets a £40 software voucher. If you fancy the same prize, jot your wibblings down on paper and whizz ’em off to: NEWSFIELD, LLOYD MANGRAM’S FORUM, CRASH.

OH NO! IT’S THE 128K DEBATE!

Dear Lloyd
I’m writing to you in the hope that you can salvage my Christmas. I’m a 48K Speccy owner and I’ve been reading your excellent magazine for over a year I’ve had my Spectrum for four years and my software collection consists of six full-price games (yes, only six!). This Christmas, I was hoping to add NARC to my collection. After reading your review I was fascinated, so I dropped subtle hints to my parents. They noticed and bought me the game. Imagine my disgust when I discovered, on Christmas day, that NARC was a 128K only game. I was really upset. I had geared myself up for the game only to be let down.

My very thoughtful parents (who kept the receipt) let me return the game. I asked the man for RoboCop 2. Guess what his reply was? Yep, ‘128K only’! Then I asked for Navy SEALS. 128K only! Arrggh! Three brilliant games and 128K only!

I know that the 128K machine cuts out muliti-loads and you get better music and graphics, but please, please, please software houses, give us 48K owners some games!

If RoboCop was 48K, couldn’t RoboCop 2 be 48K as well? I am sure the vast majority of Speccy owners hawe a 48K. Ocean is losing profit. Surely the more people who buy the games the more profit? Why doesn’t Ocean produce a 128K game and then convert it unto a 48K game? That would only involve taking certain bits and pieeces out. As long as there is gameplay there, 48K owners wom’t mind.

I know 48K owners can still buy other games, but games like NARC, RoboCop 2 and Navy SEALS are destined to be chart toppers. How do you think 48K owners feel if they can’t even get the chance to play let alone buy the game? I feel very angry about this. My Christmas was ruined.
Jagdev Kennth

Do the vast majority of Speccy owners have 48K machines? Who knows? There are no surveys or information relating to that much-pondered question. If anyone has an absolutely correct idea then they’re probably on their way to making pots of money!

Ocean’s decision to place its major Christmas titles on the 128K machines were twofold. The 48K hasn’t been on sale for over four years and thousands and thousands of 128K Spectrums have been sold since then. But it’s the quality of the games themselves that are most important. Ocean’s Development Manager Colin Gordon says that Ocean didn’t make a decision months ago only to publish 128K only games from now on. Though he did feel a lot of games were suffering because of the need to produce a 48K version.

Each game is now assessed at the design stage by the programmers to see the pros and cons of developing a 48K/128K game or a 128K game only. The games such as NARC, RoboCop 2 and Navy SEALS were so detailed and had so much depth that the programmers felt they could only do the games justice if they were given the whole 128K memory to work with. If they were forced to produce a 48K version the game would have been poor — and maybe you would have felt more cheated on Christmas day with a very poor rendition of NARC that cost your parents 11 quid.

However, don’t fret: Ocean’s next major coin-op conversion, Smash TV is to be published in 128K and 48K formats. The programmer decided that the major elements of the game could be squeezed into a 48K machine but it will be the 128K owners who reap the rewards of all for the fancy bells and whistles.

Remember that the Speccy was originally launched in a 16K and 48K version in 1983 what would things be like now if everyone had stuck to producing games that ran on the 16K as well as the 48K? Anyway, there are still plenty of excellent 48K games to spend your dash on — in fact, have a £40 software voucher and cheer yourself up!

There was loads of mail on the 128K subject, the following few extracts are just a pick of the comments CRASH received after Christmas...
LM

Dear Lloyd
I got my CRASH Chrissy Special, looked at the games and the demos and... NARC! Wow! And SWIV! Mega! I flicked through the mag to find instructions and... ‘Superb 128K playable demo from Storm!’ Wot? Where’s NARC? Ah. ‘Death-dealing 128K demo from Ocean!’

Whatever happened to us humble 48K owners? All the rest of the games are 48K/128K so why can’t the demos be that way too? Apart from that CRASH is absolutely wickedly, radically... urn... bodicious!
James Town

...Have you noticed that while most 48K games have a lot of colour clash (when the games are in colour), the 128K games (like Saint Dragon) have very little, if any. Also, with 128K games there’s little chance of anything on-screen disappearing. I would like to see more 128K games, but, I’m sure, few 48K owners would agree with me.
Richard Bain

...Finally! And about time too! What am I going on about? Proper 128K games. I bought a +2 when it was first launched, having previously owned a 48K Speccy and I desperately wanted some special software developed for the 128K machines. It was around 1986 and a few software houses released 128K games (Robin of the Wood, Sweevo’s World, Supertest 128) but since then nothing (except US Gold’s Bedlam which was okay).

And now Storm and Ocean finally see sense and let rip with some excellent titles. Saint Dragon was great but my fave rave this Christmas was RoboCop 2! The sound! The music! The endless gameplay! I think most Speccy owners have 128K machine these days (all my friends do) and I would like to see more 128K-only software being developed.
Simon Bridge

...RoboCop was a great game and I played it for ages last year. I couldn’t wait until RoboCop 2 came out because it had to be bigger and better. And it was. So big that I couldn’t squeeze it into my 48K Spectrum. A 128K only game means a lot of people can’t play it. I was really annoyed. Surely a cut-down version of the game could have been included on the tape that would have worked on 48K Speccys?
Peter Jones

All I can say to 48K owners is don’t get a different computer — get a +2! I had RoboCop 2 for Christmas and it’s really excellent. That depth of gameplay with all the sonix couldn’t be squeezed into a 48K machine (without about one thousand multi-loads!). I also just got E-SWAT which has a 128K version of the game on one side of the tape and a 48K on the other. Though it’s not a particularly brilliant conversion the 128K game is tons better than the 48K which is awful. The game playing area only takes up a quarter of the screen! Next on my list of games to get is Navy SEALS and to anyone who is still using a 48K machine: sell it!!
Anthony Hobbs

If you have further comments to add about the 128K games situation, you know where I am. Don’t forget to write which Speccy you own, and, if possible, whether your friends have a 48K or a 128K model.
LM

GOING CHEAP?

Dear Lloyd
In the last issue of CRASH (Issue 84, January), in reply to a letter from Andrew Potts you told him that most of the software sold in the shops in 1989/90 was budget software. Could this be the solution to full-priced software houses’ piracy problems?

Most people buying computer games are still at school and have less money than software houses think. They don’t mind paying a few pounds for a good game, but they have difficulty finding a tenner or more. Usually their parents are reluctant to hand over this much cash for a game when they see budget games selling for much less.

I myself am only 11 and I get £1.10 pocket money each week — I don’t mind saving up for over two months to buy a full-price game. I am sure other people share my views.

In the summer, when hordes of footballing games came out, they flopped because of the price. I’m sure US Gold and Ocean could have made some more money out of them if they were sold at about £5.99. But by the time people had saved up their money the World Cup was over and the thrill wore off.

At this rate people will forget about piracy and make their own games as I have done.
Sean Wilson

Many software houses have become set in their ways and are currently unlikely to change — games are sold for either a tenner or £3, that’s the established pattern which everyone understands. A mid-price point, as you suggest, has been tried a few times over the past few years and without success — maybe the majority of people, including games players, distributors and shop keepers, see it as half the price of a normal game and therefore half the quality.

Software houses do realise that there isn’t that much money in the pockets of younger games players, which is why we have sudden waves of full-price releases at Christmas, Easter and September, when games are most likely to be bought as presents. Budget software sells steadily throughout the year because of its pocket money price point which is affordable to most people.
LM

MAKE IT YOURSELF

Dear Lloyd
How correct you are to say the Speccy has a lot of life in it yet. Personally I think Andrew Potts (Issue 84) should simply throw his money away rather than get a console. Doesn’t he know he can (if he’s intelligent) make programs on a Speccy? I only have eight full-price games for my Speccy (hint! hint!), including the best release of the year, Pang. I think budget software is better than most full-price games. Offer me Dizzy 3 or RoboCop 2 and I would pick Dizzy 3.
Paul Kerr

The art of programming seems to be getting lost with the Speccy turning into a 100% games machine. There are a few creative and intelligent amateur programmers out there and they can gain a reputation for themselves through the CRASH Powertape. So if, like Paul, you write your own games and feel it’s up to standard, send it along and before long CRASH could be showing your talents to the nation!
LM