This month in... Crash '86
On the back of the news that the price of the Spectrum 128K had dropped following the acquisition by Amstrad, rumours started to circulate that a 256K "games machine" was in the pipeline. According to the rumours the machine would be Spectrum based but would use credit card sized "cartridges". Reactions were mixed - while this would drastically reduce piracy, software houses feared Amstrad having control over what games would be released. During the announcement of the Amstrad takeover of Sinclair, Alan Sugar suggested that they may introduce an "approval process" for the regular Spectrum to try to lessen software incompatibility between hardware revisions.
Virgin Games and New Generation Games signed a deal to give Virgin rights to the whole New Generation back catalogue. Meanwhile, Virgin purchased Leisure Genius - the developer behind several successful adaptations of popular board games.
Clem Chambers of CRL was in a bit of hot water after trying to launch a scheme where classified ads were placed to try to recruit kids at school to sell CRL's games on commission. Clem said, "Anyone would have thought I was trying to sell heroin."
The Consumer Electronics Show held in London was described as being "the pits" as no home computer companies and only a handful of game software houses showed up. Not only was the show lacking in interesting companies, but also attendees - so much so that the organisers pondered opening it up to the general public.
Firebird signed a deal with Level 9 which would see revamped versions of several adventures released on the budget label in the UK and the US. Level 9 also announced a new adventure "Knight Orc" and said that they had pretty much wrapped up the much anticipated "The Price of Magik".
- "Spindizzy" Paul Shirley & Phil Churchyard/Electric Dreams - Crash Smash 93% "A very neat game - a very neat variant on the maze/mapping theme, brilliantly done."
- "Knight Tyme" David Jones/Mastertronic - 128K Crash Smash 94% "Another excellent adventure from David Jones. Stunningly good value for money." (RRP was £2.99)
- "KWAH!" Silhouette Software/Melbourne House - Crash Smash 91% "The game really is something new in the adventure world - it has lost the drudgery that many arcadesters accuse adventure games of possessing."
- "Alien Highway" Mark Haigh-Hutchinson/Vortex - 89% "Another one for Highway Encounter fans everywhere." I met Mark some years ago when he had just gone to Retro and I had just started at Factor 5 - a very nice guy and it was tragic to lose him to cancer so young.
- "Heavy on the Magick" Gargoyle Games - Crash Smash 9/10 "Heavy on the Magick is something that has been promised to the computer games world for some time but until now has never quite materialised."
- "Desert Rats" CCS - Crash Smash 92% "Whilst some of my original reservations still apply, this game has been so well executed and provides players with so much, to give it anything less than this would be a crime."
- "Bounder" Gremlin - Crash Smash 90% "A very original platform variant, neatly executed."
- "Pentagram" Ultimate - Crash Smash 93% "Sabreman fans can't afford to miss this one!". From the end of the review "The existence of Pentagram was first alluded to in Underwurlde, and now, nearly six months after it was first advertised, it has arrived. But Sabreman's trials and tribulations are still not over: Mire Mare and the future beckons the intrepid adventurer..."
- "Quazatron" Steve Turner/Hewson - Crash Smash 94% "I reckon this is one of the best games to ever come out on the Spectrum."
- Crash launched their "Genesis" project whereby one lucky reader would get to "design" a full release game developed by Design Design and published by Domark. The winner (aka The Designer) would spend time with Design Design and Crash throughout development, and Domark would let them in on "some of the secrets" of publishing - they would even get taken to the tape duplication factory to witness it take physical form. As if that wasn't enough, the winner would also get 10% of the royalties (a minimum of £1000). A winner would be chosen in two months and the game would be on the shelves in time for Christmas. This was pretty much a dream competition.
Accompanying the competition announcement was a feature where Graham Stafford from Design Design gave a condensed guide to designing games.
Some choice quotes:
- "Remember, across the whole spectrum of decisions you must make: a good original idea is usually much better than an old one."
- "...there are two major restrictions to game design that apply when dealing with any computer: available memory size and speed"
- "...try not to limit your horizons too much, but don't go silly."
- regarding graphics: "A very important part of a game these days, some would say unfortunately big, so time spent here is worthwhile."
- Interview with Realtime who had just released the excellent "Starstrike II". They were unsure if any more could be squeezed out of the Spectrum, but then they would go onto port "Carrier Command" which was an impressive feat.
- Graeme Kidd took a look at the ever increasing number of cheap compilations.
- Crash put out a call for readers to submit any "homegrown" games that people would like reviewed. "It's not easy to break into selling your own software today - and with the advent of large companies who work to commercial margins there's almost certainly quite a few decent programs out there that only get sold to friends, relatives and people in the street."
- A new regular feature began called "On the screen" where readers could send in pictures they created on their Spectrums. Amazing how well I remember all of the first batch.
- "Action Reflex" Christian Urquhart/Mirrorsoft
- "Biggles" Mirrorsoft
- "Pyracurse" Mark Goodall & Keith Prosser/Hewson
- "Ghosts and Goblins" Elite