This month in... The Games Machine '88
Word on the street was that Atari was readying not one, but four new ST machines. The main one would be a "super ST" that would take on the Amiga, then there was a portable ST, a "Pocket PC" and an ST based console. Not only that, but the existing 520STFM would have its price slashed by £100 and get a software bundle valued at £440. How many of these would actually hit the selves?
Perhaps an indication of the reasons behind Atari's aggressive moves, Commodore posted profits of £32 million.
Electronic Arts was finishing up the legendary Deluxe Paint II for the Amiga.
People were beginning to question whether Nintendo could succeed in the UK. Only 40,000 consoles had been sold but Nintendo were adamant sales would pick up.
The public unveiling of the SAM computer would take place in December. MGT - the company being the SAM - had just signed a deal that would allow it to package up five to twelve Spectrum games on "software albums".
The rumours surrounding Amstrad's 16 bit gaming machine continued, and were still completely contradictory. Spectrum based gaming machine or a 4 colour PC aimed at business?
- TGM visited Microprose HQ in the US to find out what the company had in the works. "F-19 Stealth Fighter", "Samuari" (a sort of successor to "Pirates!"), "Covert Action", "Times of Lore", "Red Storm Rising" and a certain footie game only referred to as "Soccer" were shown. The company itself seemed to be going from strength to strength and was valued at over $20 million. They also treated their staff well, with a profit sharing scheme, the latest equipment and a great environment. Sadly things changed when they sold to Spectrum Holobyte, which was the beginning of the end. Somewhat oddly, the article refers to Origin as being a division of Microprose.
- "Whatever happened to the Nintendo?" read the headline of an article questioning Nintendo's relevance. While the NES had seen considerable success in the US, the same wasn't the same in the UK. Would this whole console thing last in the face of the 16bit home computers which provided many of the same games and actually allowed kids to learn how to program? The conclusion seemed to be that the quality controlled exclusive games and a big marketing push should turn things around.
- Mel Croucher continued his look into computer crime in the wake of what was the biggest ever attempted computer fraud. The fake transaction (£32 million quids worth) was only discovered as the computerised system experienced a failure while it was being processed so it had to be checked by hand.
- Brian Fargo, the producer/director at Interplay, was interview about their upcoming "Neuromancer" game. Interestingly, it was Timothy Leary - a friend of Fargo's - who introduced him to the book. Leary had secured the rights to the game from the movie producers (25 years on and we're still waiting for that movie) and had approached EA. That deal fell through, as did a subsequent deal with Activision, and Interplay managed to grab the rights. Also mentioned was "Battle Chess", which ended up being one of the killer apps for the Amiga.
- Mel Croucher examined the hitech gizmos that were starting to appear in cars. Route navigation, dashboard computers, HUDs and E-Keys were discussed. Mel's predictions haven't quite come to pass, though "Maybe the most ironic aspect of computerised cars is the fact that as they become common, the 1990s will see the beginning of the end of rush hours and daily trips to the office, shops and schools."
- "Hostages" from Infogrammes.
- "Chrono Quest" by Infomedia, published by Psygnosis.
- "Bamboo" was teased as the new game by Boys Without Brains which would be published by Thalamus. It sounded promising (8 way scrolling shoot 'em up similar to "Commando"), but never appeared.
- "Fusion" by Bullfrog, published by EA.
- "Shogun", "Journey", "Zork Zero" and "Battletech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception" from Infocom. "Battletech" was developed with Westwood and was quite a departure from the usual Infocom fare.
- "Street Fighter" Go!/Capcom - ST 54% Amiga 51% "Street Fighter is a prime example of a 16-bit conversion with worse gameplay than its 8-bit brothers, relying only on the superior graphic capabilities."
- "Helter Skelter" Audiogenic - ST/Amiga 87% "Helter Skelter is one of the most fun games of the moment, and at a nice price too." (£14.95)
- "Ultima V" Origin/MicroProse - PC 91% "Arcade players could gain hours of enjoyment from this, opening the area of role-playing games to them with one of the best of the genre now available."
- "Starglider II" Argonaut/Rainbird - Amiga/ST 97% "Starglider II is surely destined not only to break software sales records, but most likely increase hardware sales too as it perfectly displays the potential of 16-bit machines."
- "Wasteland" Interplay/EA - C64 81% "It took Interplay two years to develop Wasteland, and judging from the success of their Bard's Tale series the programmers could have another UK hit with this role-playing Commodore 64 and PC game."
- "Eliminator" John Philips/Hewson - ST 92% "Play it on a big TV screen, with atmospheric grime on screen, and you might think you were in the arcades."
- Jeff Minter's latest light synthesizer, "Trip-a-tron" for the ST was reviewed. No score, but a generally positive tone. "Trip-a-tron is unlikely to sell in great numbers. It is a very specific product. And unless you're prepared to take time and explore its possibilities thoroughly, it soon becomes boring. But if you're the sort of person who's a big fan of laser shows like those shown at the Planetarium, chances are you will get much enjoyment out of this unique product."