This month in... The Games Machine '88
Commodore had been reluctant to try to bring the Amiga's price in line with the cheaper Atari ST, but this month the long rumoured £100 cut happened. The ST had stormed ahead in sales and it looked like it would be a tough battle for the Amiga, which Commodore had originally pitched as a business machine but was now accepting that it's destiny would be games.
Sugar's Amstrad entered into a partnership with Murdoch's Sky satellite TV company which would see Amstrad producing and selling £199 dishes that would receive the four Sky channels once the service launched early in the following year. Robert Maxwell's BSB was also in the running, but had received some scorn due to adopting an arguably superior format other than PAL meaning separate dishes would be required.
Code Masters were about to move into full price (£9.99) games. No titles were mentioned, but rather than going for more complex games they would be throwing in freebies (tshirts etc).
EA's lineup for Apple computers (II, IIgs and Mac) would finally be released in the UK.
A slightly odd line of products was released by Trilogic whereby old C64/128 machines could be re-used by new Amiga owners as printer buffers. I'm not sure just how much need for this there was.
Amstrad was gearing up to launch a new computer to take on the 16bit machines. It would be called the Sinclair Professional PC, cost £299 and run MS-DOS. Scepticism was high over its ability to compete with the Amiga: "it can't be both a PC compatible and an Amiga-killer." Meanwhile, it looked like Amstrad was determined to sell off its stock of Spectrum +2s and +3s - was a +4 on the way? There were also completely contradictory reports of the fate of Amstrad's rumoured low cost (£50) console - it was either cancelled with the team having left the company, or "hundreds of thousands" of units had been ordered.
CD manufacturer Nimbus expressed concerns that the new format may only actually last up to 8 years before deterioating, rather than the much promoted "lifetime". In other CD news, Sony had begun production of mini CDs for singles after a pronounced argument with Philips over the fact the new size would not play in some players. The compromise would be to include a ring adapter.
Toshiba were manufacturing full colour LCD TV screens that were 4" across. TGM were somewhat baffled as to why such a thing would be made...
WH Smith, Boots and Woolworths were putting their combined feet down over irregular shaped game boxes that were causing them considerable annoyance to stock on shelves. From now on, only a small set of box sizes would be allowed
- Mel Croucher took on people claiming their creative endeavours were original - "...there is no such thing as a new idea. All ideas and treatments of those ideas are recycled time and time again." He cited a number of examples from the movie industry: "Back to the Future" (an episode of "Lost in Space"), "Blade Runner" (an episode of "Star Trek"), and "Star Wars" ("The Snow Queen").
- TGM's series on Cyberpunk continued, this month looking at Cyberpunk on the screen. "Aliens", "Blade Runner" and "Max Headroom" were all discussed in some depth.
- The first home release of "Dragon's Lair" arrived for the ST and received a full feature. It all seemed to stackup well against the original, but at £99.95 for the laser disc, £19.95 for the cable and £400-800 for the disc player it'd be hard to justify.
- Mel Croucher surveyed various video gismos to enhance one's video work: titlers, microphones, fader/mixers, enhancers and even designer raincoats for camcorders.
- A silly piece on haunted computers of press publications.
- The first National Computer Games Championship held in Britain was under way with the first few rounds having been completed.
- Audiogenic were making the switch from "less popular" 8bit machines which were getting a bit long in the tooth to the ST and Amiga. The first two 16bit titles up were "Helter Skelter" and "Emlyn Hughes International Soccer". The highly regarded Binary Design team had been commissioned to produce a big game for Christmas, but there were no details.
- Activision was readying a batch of ports of "R-Type" for home computers. Like with many ports they all varied in quality and content.
- Gremlin were finishing up a game in which you play a TRex trying to retrieve your stolen eggs, which results in destroying much of Japan. The game was previewed as "T-Wrecks" but ended up being released as "The Muncher" as part of a Chewits production.
- Mastertronic signed a deal with Psygnosis to bring "Barbarian" and "Terrorpods" to 8bit machines. An ambitious task to say the least.
- After the success of the original, Rainbow Arts were busy on a sequel to Giana Sisters titled "Arthur and Marthur: Giana Twins In Future World". By the looks of this it never made it out, presumably due to the the lawsuits from Nintendo.
- Microprose had almost finished "Red Storm Rising" - an arcade strategy epic based on Clancy's "Hunt for Red October".
- There was a more in depth preview of "The Kristal" - the game that originally started off as a stage musical. The game's director claimed it would be "the biggest game ever!". It didn't really live up to the hype..
- "Where Time Stood Still" Denton Designs/Ocean - Spectrum 128 95% "An instant classic on the Spectrum - the game's great wealth of graphic detail is suggestive of a black and white movie."
- "Barbarian II: The Dungeon of Drax" Palace Software - C64 94% "This is a brilliant arcade/adventure on disk and although we haven't played the cassette version yet, each level seems substantial enough to make multiload a very minor irritation."
- "Mickey Mouse" Gremlin Graphics - Spectrum 87% "While neither the tower section or any of the subgames set new standards for the Spectrum, they're well-integrated and produce a surprisingly addictive game overall."
- "Hawkeye" Boys Without Brains/Thalamus - C64 80% "Hawkeye is a good version of a tried and tested format."
- "Corruption" Magnetic Scrolls/Rainbird - ST 73% "Corruption is like unto a jelly that won't quite set, it has all the best ingredients but they just don't gel."
- "Mindfighter" Abstract Concepts - ST 45% "I hope Abstract Concept's next adventure will be a substantial improvement, after all the authers are very nice people." I also had high hopes for this Fergus McNeill provided some of my favourite gaming moments with the Delta4 games, but this fell well short.