This month in... Zzap!64 '86
In his editorial, Roger Kean pondered whether the games industry "coming of age" after 5-ish years with the conglomeration of software houses and the emergence of a small number of dominating companies was a good thing. On the one hand it did mean developers were able to focus more on creating games rather than managing the marketing and distribution, but on the other the desire to get as many games on the shelves as possible was putting a real strain on quality.
"Ark Pandora" was to be Rino's second game and would feature music by Ben Daglish.
After many delays, Archer Maclean's "International Karate" was finally here and would be getting a full review next month.
Late breaking news arrived that Infocom had merged with Activision. This, sadly, would be the beginning of the end for the adventure masters.
Bug Byte had recently been saved from going under by Argus Press and were working on games, "Ollo I" and "Ollo II". The former would be similar to "Xevious", while the latter more like "Time Pilot". (Unclear if these were released)
Bubble Bus's Spectrum hit "Starquake" was coming to the C64.
6,000 copies of "Elite" for the Amstrad were sold (out of a 15,000 run) before Firebird discovered the tapes were faulty.
Rumour had it that Rainbird had paid £100,000 for a game called "Reach for the Moon".
Tony Crowther had teamed up with Ben Daglish to form WEMUSIC which would create soundtracks for games.
Software house Taskset closed its doors.
A group of the top programmers on the C64 gathered to challenge each other in a series of games (unsurprisingly the games they chose were their own). Archer Maclean chose "Dropzone", Tony Crowther "Black Thunder", Chris Butler "Z", Andrew Braybrook "Paradroid" and Jeff Minter "Mama Llama". The final game was Novagen's "Encounter". The scores were: Jeff Minter 22, Andrew Braybrook 21, Tony Crowther 16, Chris Butler 14 and Archer Maclean 13.
The 1985 Zzap! Readers Awards were announced:
- Best Game Overall: "Elite" Firebird
- Best Platform Game: "Monty on the Run" Gremlin Graphics
- Best Shoot Em Up: "Dropzone" US Gold
- Best Arcade Adventure: "Entombed" Ultimate
- Best Text-Only Adventure: "Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" Infocom
- Best Graphical Adventure: "Red Moon" Level 9 (for some reason Lemon64 does not have this game listed)
- Best Flight Simulation: "ACE" Cascade
- Best Sports Simulation: "Summer Games II" Epyx
- Best Wargame: "Theatre Europe" PSS
- Best Graphics: "Winter Games" Epyx
- Best Sound FX: "Exploding Fist" Melbourne House
- Best Music: "Monty on the Run" Gremlin Graphics
- Tackiest Game of the Year: "Cops and Robbers" Atlantis Gold
- State of the Art Award: "Little Computer People" Activision
A very impressive looking game called "Mindsmear" got an indepth preview complete with screenshots. It would feature true 3D graphics (even "The Eidolon" was "no valid comparison"). Sadly this was an April Fools Joke.
This month's Zzapback featured:
- "Everyone’s a Wally" Mikro-Gen
- "International Basketball"
- "Lode Runner" Ariolasoft
- "M.U.L.E." Ariolasoft
- "Pitstop II" Epyx
- "Super Pipeline II" Task Set
- "Theatre Europe" PSS
- "On Court Tennis" Activision
- "World Series Baseball" Imagine
- "Zoids" Martech - 96% Sizzler "A very challenging and excellent arcade adventure/strategy/shoot em up."
- "Spellbreaker" Infocom - 92% Sizzler "Nevertheless, Dave Lebling (co-author of Zork and Enchanter) has done an excellent job. Dave was responsible for Suspect, a real tour de force of character interaction, and the influence of this game can be seen at times in Spellbreaker, where the characters play a rather more significant role than in Sorcerer, for example."
- "Nine Princes in Amber" Telarium - 83% "The parser isn't that brilliant, but once you get used to it you will find the gameplay is very complex and quite absorbing - and the location descriptions aren't bad either. Different, but refreshingly so."
- "Perry Mason - The Case of the Mandarin Murder" Telarium - 87% "Definitely recommended to all whodunnit fans and frustrated lawyers alike."
- "Lord of the Rings" Melbourne House - 85% "I am inclined to think this is more of a tribute to Tolkien than to Melbourne House, but nevertheless I feel this is a game I can safely recommend to the more wealthy Wizards among us."
- "Questron" SSI - 91% Sizzler "Funny and well thought out computer role playing game."
- "Norway 1985" SSI - 85% "Mixed feelings prevent me from rating this higher. It really is a very good game, but I fail to see why you need to by [sic] another game first. This attitude is not good for wargaming."
- "Gemstone Warrior" SSI - 80% "Fails to meet the high standard of other SSI games - it may never find the right market." (The problem here was that it was presented as a strategy game but was in fact more of an arcade adventure)
- "Field of Fire" SSI - 96% Sizzler "The flexibility, realism and complexity of the scenarios will provide the player with many months of rewarding gaming."
- "Master of Magic" Mastertronic - 88% "Master of Magic is a terrific game. It's well designed, fast and exciting. It plays well and demands a lot of skill from the player."