By Lloyd Mangram
we have a summery cover to suit the season, and one
that isn't related to any game. This is a splendid example
of the Spectrum device being used in a surreal manner
to create effect. The distributor voiced a worry that
readers wouldn't be able to tell from the painting that
it was a computer magazine. But one glimpse of that
P-quotes-PRINT key was like a neon sign to any rubber-keyed
Spectrum owner - and they were all rubber keys then.
In order not to distract from the picture, the cover
lines were kept, for CRASH, to a modest minimum.
The King Street offices are situated on three floors above
a Victoria Wine shop in the very centre of Ludlow. In August,
when CRASH moved in, only the top two floors were used, and
they looked empty enough when we were all installed! The first
floor was occupied by a subtenant who astonishingly enough
was also in the computer business, a programmer of educational
Reception, mail order, subscriptions and administration went
on the second floor, run by Franco Frey and Denise Roberts.
Denise had joined Newsfield only a month or two after Matthew,
to take over his mail order responsibilities when he was moved
across to do CRASH reviews back in December 83.
Of the four rooms on the top floor, one became an art room
for layout and one a writing room with two desks and typewriters,
one held the process cameras and the other was used for photographing
screens and as a photographic darkroom. It was great luxury
to have all that breathing room, and at last a proper set
up existed for receiving visits from software houses. Our
first two such were notable. Graham Stafford and Simon Brattel
of Crystal Computing came to tell the world that they were
henceforth to be known as Design Design, and to give the reviewers
a preview of Dark Star, just about the fastest 3-D
vector graphics game ever written. And Gargoyle Games, in
the form of Greg Follis, Ted Heathcote and Roy Carter, nipped
over from Dudley to show us a game in a revolutionary new
style for which Gargoyle was to become celebrated. It was
Tir Na Nòg.
We were doing well for previews, for a day later Andrew Hewson
appeared bearing gifts in the form of Steve Turner's latest
game, The Legend Of Avalon. This graphical adventure
marked a distinct change of pace and 3-D style for Steve,
and even in an unfinished form it looked very exciting. These
early previews made CRASH's manifesto of being first with
new games, new software houses and innovations a reality.
The 'exclusives' war was beginning to hot up, but we felt
well satisfied with August!
When not hard at work looking after the business end of CRASH
or reviewing utilities, Franco Frey wore his other hat as
an engineer. For some months he'd been developing a hardware
programmable interface for the Spectrum, and suddenly it was
ready to market. We had tried out several prototypes in the
office, and they made setting up joysticks much easier. It
was the Frel Comcon, which was to become a huge success. Our
preview was a rather easy scoop to make!
games were more in the news than the reviews, although Creative
Sparks's Black Hawk was Smashed for its addictivity (certainly
not its graphics whatever the ratings said), and of course
there was the state-of-the-art sports simulation from Psion,
Match Point. Derek provided the third: Adventure International's
The Hulk with its pretty graphics.
Legend provided us with hype when they announced The Great
Space Race. The campaign relied heavily on the reputation
of their Valhalla, although many suggested that Legend
was busily recreating an aura of success around the earlier
game greater than it really deserved in order to justify claims
for The Great Space Race. 'A spectacular futuristic
romp . . . ' said our News page hopefully, but there was to
be a five-month wait to find out whether or not the hype would
justify the hope.