This month in... Zzap!64 '86
An article appeared in the Canberra Times in which a Mr Paul Gathercoal blathered on about the evils of games. Mr Gathercoal firmly believed games were corrupting the minds of children, driving them to lives of robberies, killing and masturbation. He claimed that playing "Franke Goes To Hollywood" would lead to "pill-popping". What utter nonsense.
Gary Liddon had buggered off to Newsfield's new software house, Thalamus, and a call went out to find someone to replace him at Zzap!.
With the PCW show (and Christmas, for that matter) approaching there were a tonne of announcements... which included quite a few which never saw the light of day.
Infocom had released two new adventures: the somewhat lewd "Leather Goddesses of Phobos" and Brian Moriarty's "Trinity". The latter - a game where the player attempted to change the course of history and avert a third world war - was the second game in their "Interactive Fiction Plus" range and required a C128, disk drive and monitor capable of 80 columns (or a 16bit machine).
Gremlin were to demo a bunch of new games at the upcoming PCW Show. In addition to a C64 port of their "cult" Spectrum game, "Jack the Nipper", there was "Future Knight", a follow up to "Way of the Tiger" in the form of"Avenger", a Snooker and Pool sim and footie management sim "Footballer of the Year". Shaun Southern was also bringing his very impressive C16 3D racer "Trailblazer" to the C64. One game that was not going to be ready to show was "Pentacle", which was suffering "technical problems".
Elite had an impressive line up planned, with no less than five arcade conversions, two sequels and one license tie in. The arcade games making their way to the C64 were: "Paperboy", "1942", "Space Harrier", "Ikari Warriors" and "Buggy Boy". "Airwolf II" and "Commando II" were the sequels, and after an infamous failed attempt (featuring impossibly lush graphics), "Scooby Doo" was finally approaching completion thanks to Gargoyle Games.
Stavros Fasoulas revealed that his followup to "Sanxion" would be another shoot 'em up, and would feature two new music pieces by Rob Hubbard (his most experimental yet), and sound effects by David Whittaker. I assume this was "Delta". Thalamus had signed a "thinking man's shoot em up" called "Starline" from new team Kinetic Designs who had cut their teeth on Compunet demos (the team included none other than Bob Stevenson).
The US Gold stand looked to be packed with a slew of games: arcade conversions "Gauntlet", "Xevious", a vertical scrolling shoot 'em up "Ace of the Aces", three new games from Epyx ("Movie Monster", "World Games" and "Championship Wrestling" ), and a new 10 pin bowling game from the guys that wrote the excellent "Leaderboard" called "10th Frame".
Zzap! apologised to KCS for getting the price and functionality of their Power Cartridge wrong.
It looked like this PCW Show would be a rather tame one as far as System 3 were concerned. They had gained a bit of a notorious reputation for their previous antics, but this year they would be part of Activision's "immense" stand. They would be showing "Bangkok Knights" and "The Last Ninja". Mark Cale teased a couple of games that weren't quite ready to be demoed: one referred to as "Dominator - The Legend Begins" (apparently "not just a computer game"), while the other was a fist fighting game called "Knuckles".
After about a year in development, Virgin's "Dan Dare" was done. The review copy narrowly missed the deadline, but Zzap! said it was worth the wait.
Imagine and Ocean had a whole load of games to show off. Unsurprisingly there were a number of film and TV tie ins: "Street Hawk" (yes, it was finally complete - well, that's what Ocean said, but that would turn out to be cobblers), "Highlander", "Cobra", "Top Gun", "Short Circuit" and "It’s a Knockout" (?!). There were some coin op conversions too: "Mag Max", "Mikie", "Yie Ar Kung Fu II", "Hyper Rally" and "Terra Cresta". It wasn't all licenses and arcade ports though, with "The Great Escape", "Galvan" and "NOMAD".
Dire Spectrum surfing simulation "Surf Champ" - which came with a crappy plastic "surf board" that fit over a small section of the keyboard for controls - was being ported to the C64.
"Pub Games" from Alligata was a collection of eight "pub events" including bar billiards, table footy, dominoes and a couple of card games.
"Flash Gordon" from Mastertronic was due out in time for Christmas and would feature "many types of game" and a cracking Rob Hubbard soundtrack.
Andrew Braybrook's "Alleykat" was complete but narrowly missed out on making it into this issue.
Orpheus were to be showing a couple of their own games, "Web" and "The First Starfighter", but rather intriguingly they were also promising conversions from Nintendo's new console... "Super Mario Brothers" on the 64?? (it was not to be)
The stunning arcade game "Marble Madness" was making its way to home computers thanks to Electronic Arts and Ariolasoft. There was also a sequel to "Scarabaeus" in the works by Andromeda imaginatively called "Scarabaeus II".
The rather brilliant looking "Sacred Armour of Antiriad" by Palace Software was almost ready.
An interview with Greg Barnett who had worked on some of Melbourne House's biggest games, including "The Hobbit" and "Way of the Exploding Fist". "Fist II" was in development and Greg was cocky talking it up while pouring scorn on British developers. Andrew Braybrook was "professionally competent" ("Uridium" "only uses 40 to 50 percent of the 64's capabilities", didn't you know), Rob Hubbard was "very popular but I can't understand why", etc. Quite an odd attitude to take.
- "Beyond the Forbidden Forest" Cosmi/US Gold - 91% Sizzler "This must be one of the best games I have ever played. The atmosphere created by the parallax scrolling, the gradual change between day and night, and the haunting music make this latest gem more an experience than a game."
- "Druid" Firebird - 88% "A great two player game and a real 'fix' for Gauntlet junkies."
- "Powerplay" Arcana - 95% Sizzler "This is what a computer trivia game should be - fast, uncluttered, action packed and with a clear objective."
- "Parallax" Sensible Software/Ocean - 93% Sizzler "A neat mix between a shoot em up and an arcade adventure, with a few other things thrown in for good measure." The title music is - in my opinion - the finest piece of game music ever.
- "Hacker II" Activision - 88% "A very clever sequel, but as with all sequels, the magic has faded."
- "Iridis Alpha" Jeff Minter/Llamasoft/Hewson - 95% Sizzler "Another stunning and innovative Minter release which earns itself the position of the best shoot em up on the 64 to date."
- "Equinox" Mikro-Gen - 83% "A great game for arcade adventurers and shoot em up fanatics alike."
- "Super Cycle" Epyx/US Gold - 95% Sizzler "Epyx have excelled themselves and come up with the most addictive and exhilarating race game yet; I was surprised to find that even Pitstop II is considerably slower in comparison!"
- "Collapse" Firebird - 85% "The cheapest arcade puzzle available and definitely one of the best."