This month in... The Games Machine '88
Rare had been inundated with calls from developers wanting in on the Nintendo market and the Z80 arcade board that they (Rare) were working on. This all follows on from a pretty amazing interview with Rare in the previous issue of TGM - amazing because it was the first (and perhaps only?) proper interview conducted with the Stamper brothers. Everyone had been wondering what happened to Ultimate Play The Game (arguably the finest developer of the 8bit years), and now we all knew. Their arcade board would never see the light of day, but I know someone who worked with it and it sounded rather tasty indeed...
News arrived that Rob Hubbard had joined Electronic Arts in California. It was great to see him achieve the success he well deserved, but at the same time it was the end of an era as his focus shifted away from writing music.
The new adventure game from Fergus McNeill was announced. Delta4 developed some of my favourite adventures on Speccy/C64 - brilliantly funny - but this was to be a serious affair and was to be released under a new label "Abstract Concepts".
Mel Croucher took a rather cynical in-depth look at games sales charts. There were a lot of questions over how, for instance, "Outrun" could be selling an estimated 30,000 copies a week and be number 1, but then other top 10 games were selling 400-600 per week. There was also scepticism over "Paperboy" staying in the charts for 68 weeks without advertising, plus the sales that companies like Codemasters, Firebird and Alternative were claiming seemed to some to be suspicious. Manipulation by publishers or just the nature of the industry? Mel himself apparently got a game in the top 10 of a magazine without having sold a single copy (the game was "The Bible" - I have no idea if it even existed).
Mel wasn't done yet and was back at the end of the issue with a scathing summary of recent gadgets titled "Toys for the Boys - the Yuppie's Guide to Electronic Rubbish".
- Steve Wilcox of Elite on the company's history, their development process, the move to 16bit machines and the somewhat cautious decision to start producing games for Nintendo.
- "Xenon" (Bitmap Brothers/Melbourne House) - Amiga 88% "One of the best action games on the Amiga to date, setting new standards in coin-op conversions" ST 85% "Xenon is the most challending ST shoot'em-up so far." (Sound & music were weak compared to the Amiga version)
- "Oids" (FTL Games/Mirrorsoft) - ST 82% "Oids is a great game, so take a look at it (if only to see the sickeningly amazing animated effect of Oids going up in smoke)."
- "The King of Chicago" - (Cinemaware/Mirrorsoft) Amiga 80% "If you have two [floppy drives] then, despite the high price, the game's depth and playability make it highly recommended."
- "Magnetron" (Graftgold/Firebird) - Spectrum 48/128 80% "It is an old idea, but Magnetron is damned playable" C64/128 73% "The end result is a fine, playable game, but likely to be of more value to players who do not have Paradroid."
- "Get Dexter II" (ERE Informatique/Infogrammes) CPC 87% "Get Dexter II is a superb sequel and one which will hold your interest for a long time."
- "Ferrari Formula One" (EA) - Amiga 93% "In short, Ferrari Formula One is a masterpiece of a program which no Amiga owner should be without." - I'd totally forgotten about this game. It was indeed really, really good.
- "Cybernoid" (Raffaele Cecco/Hewson) - Spectrum 48/128/+3 84% "Classic shoot-'em ups are always fun to play and this is no exception" CPC 80% "Certainly one of the better shoot-'em ups to appear for the Amstrad, and well worth looking at."
- "Dungeon Master" (FTL Games/Mirrorsoft) - ST 94% "Dungeon Master is a role player's dream, but capable of providing a good deal of enjoyment for any ST owner"
- "Mercenary" (Novagen) - Amiga 89% "Though something of a literal translation from the Atari ST - the sound takes understatement too far and the gameplay doesn't differ from the 8-bit versions - it's thoroughly deserving of any Amiga owner's attention."
- "Firefly" (Special FX/Ocean) - Spectrum 48/128 90% "A classy shoot-'em-up combined with elements of chance and the need for perfect timing makes Firefly a great start to a new label." C64/128 90% "The Commodore version, naturally, is packed full of great sound FX and music, and what it loses in playability it certainly gains in presentation."
- "Leisure Suit Larry" (Sierra On-Line) 83% "The quest to lose Larry's virginity, without catching anything unspeakable, is an entertaining one, wholeheartedly sexist, but nonetheless a jolly good romp (can I say that?)."
- "Beyond Zork" (Brian Moriarty/Infocom) - 87% "The inclusion of the role-playing elements add just a little more spice to the standard text adventure, and with that extra sprinkling of realism, Infocom are really cooking."
- "The Three Stooges" and "Loan Ranger" from Cinemaware
- "Interceptor" from EA. I remember being absolutely enthralled by Interceptor's attract mode as it ran on a loop at a department store in town.
- "Obliterator" from Psygnosis
- "Where Time Stood Still" by Denton Designs for Ocean
Scans of the full issue can be found here.