This month in... C&VG '88
Loricel's next attempt to crack the UK would come in the form of Porsche racing game "944 Turbo Cup". Driver Rene Metge ("who?" asked C&VG) provided the endorsement and the software house hoped to include a model car in the box, but apparently British retailers weren't so keen.
News hit that the highly rated "Great Giana Sisters" had been pulled from the shelves. Nintendo weren't terribly impressed with the rather blatant Mario rip off from Rainbow Arts.
It seemed we may have been reaching "peak multi sporting event games" as both Martech and Tynesoft announced Circus titles. Martech's "Circus, Circus" (unreleased) would feature six events from "the Human cannonball to tight rope walking", while Tynesoft's "Circus Games" would include trapeze, tightrope and tiger taming.
Telecomsoft snapped up the rights to three coin-op conversions: "Mr Heli", "Bubble Bobble 2" and "P-47". I guess they ended up losing "Bubble Bobble 2" as that didn't appear until it was published by Ocean in the form of "Parasol Stars" (which happened to be one of the finest arcade conversions ever).
The PC Engine had a challenger in Japan in the form of the Sharp 68000x. Despite only having a handful of arcade ports, the quality was meant to be as good as it gets. Amusingly the news snippet referred to Tony Takoushi coming up with a "hot poop" at the machine. I'm guessing they meant "hot peep".
There was a new range of cheap LCD handheld games from System, including "Formula One", "Soccer", "Tennis", "Driving" and "Space".
Software house The Big Apple launched earlier in the year with some fan fare, but had only managed to deliver one game so far. That was about to change with not one but five: "Lasertrain", "Harrier Strike Mission 2", "The Fool’s Errand", "Thud Ridge" and "Greased Lightning". Actually, no, it wasn't about to change - they failed to release any further games.
Digital Integration's next flight sim would be "F16 Combat Pilot".
Alternative's new full price label Again Again's first title would be "The Munsters".
Rainbird's upcoming "Weird Dreams" was a "just plain bizarre" surreal creation from Herman Serrano which featured the "most disturbing atmosphere we've seen in recent times."
I may have spoken too soon about "peak multi sporting event games" - Electronic Arts revealed "Caveman Ugh.Lympics" which would feature dinosaur racing, T-Rex pole vaulting and whacking each other with big sticks. Thankfully that wasn't the only incoming title from EA: "Modern Wars", "Deathlord", "Powerplay Hockey", "Fusion", "Powerdrome" and Games Workshop license "Chainsaw Warrior" (never released).
Firebird's two main releases for Christmas were "Fist+" (more of the same martial arts action, but with three players by the looks of it) and Wild West themed "Blazing Barrels" (unreleased?).
"Hellfire Attack" from Martech was a attack chopper shoot'em up.
"Rugby League Boss" was, as the name suggests, a Rugby League management sim. There were no details other than that, so I'm guessing it was "Rugby League Manager".
I'm not sure what the background here is, but the upcoming post-apocalyptic vehicle board game "Dark Futures" was apparently "the only cars-with-guns game of recent months not to lie under the shadow of a monstrous law suit." This was despite being unashamedly inspired by Mad Max.
C&VG were puzzled by the title of one of Ubi-Soft's Christmas releases - "Puffy’s Saga"... I'm not sure I get what was wrong with that name. Other titles from them due up were "Iron Lord", "Skateball" and a space adventure that sounded similar to "Captain Blood".
This month's movie reviews were: "Big", "The House of Carroll Street", "Nico", "Demon Demon", "Consuming Passion" and "A Fish Called Wanda".
John Minson visited Microprose HQ to check out a bunch of new games they were working on. The day concluded with Wild Bill Stealey taking John up for a ride in his T-28 Trojan jet trainer.
One side effect of Minson's US shindig (and a long lasting hangover following the PC Show) was that he found himself lamenting the fact that UK games retailers only stocked the current top 10 chart games, whereas you could find pretty much anything you wanted in the US stores. That was actually rather insightful and sadly the chart mentality (which, if anything, hinders discoverability) is even more prominent these days.
- "R-Type" Electric Dreams - Spectrum 93% ST 85% "I did have my doubts about the Spectrum version of R-Type, but Electric Dreams has coped admirably, and the end result is fantastic! The graphics are obviously a pale imitation of the original, but nevertheless they still capture the spirit nicely, and what is lost visually is made up by the gameplay."
- "Microprose Soccer" Sensible Software/Microprose - C64 95% Game of the Month "I was overwhelmed by Microprose Soccer. It's undoubtedly the best football game ever produced and even puts the superlative Epyx series of sims to shame for sheer playability!"
- "Elite" Firebird - ST/Amiga 82% "The ST [and Amiga] version of Elite is excellent, and boasts superb presentation, fast and smooth gameplay, great graphics and five new missions."
- "Power Drome" Electronic Arts - ST/Amiga 80% "The bottom line for Power Drome is that it is a good 3D style racing game for the ST and Amiga and as there aren't many games around that fit this description I can recommend it thoroughly."
- "Gaplus" Virgin - C64 80% "Although the game concept is an old one, Gaplus is an enjoyable and frenetic blaster."
- "Pacmania" Grand Slam - Spectrum/ST 87% "Although the PacMan theme is a very old and simplistic idea, Pacmania is enjoyable and highly addictive. It has a timeless appeal lacking in a lot of today's software, and is that sort of game that gets loaded months after it was first bought, just for a couple of quick goes."
- "Nebulus" Hewson - Amiga/ST 96% "Nebulous is simply brilliant. It's crystal clear objectives and unpretentious gameplay conspire to provide one of the most playable and challenging programs around."
- "Speedball" Bitmap Brothers/Image Works - Amiga/ST 84% "That said, Speedball is going to be a monster hit. It turns the well worn sci-fi theme of future sports into a thumping good computer game."
- "Soldier of Fortune" Firebird - Spectrum 81% C64 65% "In contrast, the Spectrum version looks completely different, with larger, more interesting sprite designs, nicely detailed indicators and decorative screen borders. They're like two completely different games, and the Spectrum version is immensely superior."
- "Ingrid’s Back" Level 9 - All platforms 9/10 "Ingrid's Back has the funniest humour of any Level 9 game yet!...Without a doubt, this is the most enjoyable Level 9 adventure I have played to date. Go out and buy a copy!"