By Lloyd Mangram
cover ideas arrive without trouble, but there were always
issues when nothing suggested itself. Normally Oliver
prefers to work one-and-a-half times up on finished
size to allow for crisper detail, but when he's running
late the repro house would rather have the painting
same size. This cover was the first done at printed
size because the decision to go with the joystick-comparison
article was made at the last moment. In some ways it's
my personal favourite - you could cut the atmosphere
with a knife - and yet it was done in three hours flat!
I can remember Roger and Oliver being rather proud of having
raised as much as £4,000 in prizes, possibly because
it indicated how far CRASH had come from that first issue
when C&VG regarded us as a local fanzine with potential.
Now, without a lot of effort, we had software houses eager
to participate in competitions and put up real money in value.
Once again, the DIY section was the biggest in the contents.
And talking of the contents page . . . another development
was taking place, almost wit bout anyone noticing it. The
page's basic shape had remained the same for a while, using
rainbow colours when we had time to put them in. Originally
this complicated procedure was undertaken by our repro house
in London, but after CRASH moved into its new offices, a film-processing
machine was purchased to shoot finished artwork to negatives
for the printer, thus cutting overhead costs considerably.
Matthew and Roger, who looked after the technical end of layout
as well as writing reviews and articles, began to experiment
with preparing colour for the printer. For several months
to come, they were to do the contents page in-house. which
explains why it was more or less ambitious, depending on how
much time they had.
From this small beginning Newsfield began to do more film
planning, adding colour to many pages that otherwise would
have been monochrome. Today the process requires an entire
department of its own, managed by Matthew Uffindell.
The big feature was a comparison of joysticks, which was
pretty exhaustive - and exhausting - The team were thrashing
the damned things for weeks, using Ocean's Daley Thompsonís
Decathlon as the wrecking game. And that came on top of
several tiring days at The PCW Show, held at Olympia. CRASH
didn't have a stand because of the cost, but Roger, Oliver
and Matthew waded round talking to as many exhibitors as they
could, Wearing specially-made CRASH badges, they were frequently
stopped by visitors who wanted to meet anyone from the magazine.
usual the show prompted massive releases of games and there
were seven Smashes. Pyjamarama was the second Wally
Week game from Mikro-Gen, a massive leap forward with its
arcade and adventure combinations. Delta Wing (Creative
Sparks) was a sort of forerunner of mercenary. There was Hewson's
Legend Of Avalon, the complex helicopter simulation
from Durell called Combat Lynx, and two games from
our own Derek Brewster, the arcade Jasper and the enduring
adventure Kentilla. Jasper just made it by a
spot, but the tragedy is that although Derek had it ready
before Jet Set Willy, contractual complications delayed
its release; had it been released then, it would have been
a real eye-opener, but advances in software were being made
fast and it was almost out of date.
There was one other Smash, Booty, our first budget
hit from newly-created Firebird.
This was our first issue composed on a computer. Learning
to use a word processor and then all the complications involved
with getting the typesetting back for layout meant it was
quite fraught at times, and for most things I still preferred
my typewriter. However, the length of POKE routines was increasing,
and dealing with them was never my strongest point, so I was
secretly pleased to discover Robin Candy entering them happily
for me on the Apricot when Roger wasn't around. It was the
thin end of the wedge of course - discontented with providing
review comments and sorting mail, Robin wanted to get do some
serious writing, and for me, the writing was on the wall as
far as Playing Tips was concerned.