By Lloyd Mangram
most respects, Issue 14's was the first CRASH cover
to be absolutely tied to a particular game, Everyone's
A Wally. Though it's not his favourite working style,
once in a while Oliver likes to get away from the action-packed,
atmospheric mode and do something a touch more comic,
and the six characters in Micro-Gen's arcade adventure
offered the month's best opportunity. The picture with
it's bright, brash colours is in complete contrast to
the previous month's. Then as now, Oliver always tried
to keep readers guessing what the next issue's cover
surprise will be . . .
Secret negotiations had been taking place with Chris Anderson,
Editor of publisher VNU's Personal Computer Games, and at
the start of February they came to fruition: he joined Newsfield
to edit a new magazine for the Commodore 64 to be called Sprite
& Sound. Shortly afterwards PCG ceased publication as
part of VNU's planned reduction in computer titles. And just
weeks after a jingoistic blast in the press from Big K editor
Tony Tyler about the qualities computer magazines needed to
survive, IPC axed his magazine after not quite a year of existence.
The dramatic changes in the outside world were reflected
in CRASH Towers. The earlier financial struggles during the
lean times had eased as CRASH's circulation rose, so the company
could afford to hire some more staff to ease demands on Roger
Kean's time. In this issue, Graeme Kidd's name first appeared
as Assistant Editor, while shortly afterwards Jeremy Spencer
joined CRASH to look after software and the reviews. The art
department, too, expanded; Gordon Druce, now Art Director
of CRASH, started as a humble paste-up artist to help David
Western, who was still responsible for the photography - and
had the added burden of the forthcoming Commodore magazine
to cope with.
CRASH ended up on telly again, this time on TV South West's
Saturday Freeze Frame programme. TSW wanted Matthew Uffindell
and Robin Candy to discuss how CRASH reviewed games. It meant
a trip to the Plymouth studios, a nerve-racking wait of four
hours and then 15 minutes before the cameras. The two lads
carried it off admirably, able to be blasé now that
TV appearances were becoming commonplace!
Giving us one of those exclusives, Firebird brought early
copies of a game called Hedron to be reviewed. The only change
Firebird made before releasing it was to the title: Hedron
was renamed Gyron - a fortunate alteration when, many
weeks later, a rival magazine quietly laid charges of piracy
at CRASH's door. Illegal copies of Gyron had found
their way into the market before the game's late-spring release
date. Our security was understandably called into question
by Firebird, but we were able to point to our early copy,
still with its original Hedron loading screen; recovered
pirate copies had a Gyron loading screen. The rival
magazine made no further comment.
a 3-D maze game of great originality, requiring fast thinking
and joystick dexterity, received a well-deserved Smash, as
did Mikro-Gen's Everyone's A Wally for improving yet
again on the Wally Week saga. Adventure International caught
a Smash in the sticky web of Spiderman, second in its
Questprobe series from Marvel Comics and American adventure-programming
whiz Scott Adams. Classic game themes earned Incentive and
Bubble Bus Smashes too - Incentive for a licensed conversion
of Moon Cresta, an unusual departure for the software
house best known for its text adventures. But the shoot-'em-up
was lovingly adapted for the Spectrum and proved that a well-implemented
alien-zapper could still be a winner.
Previously Bubble Bus had only been a Commodore 64 house,
but with Steve Crow's Wizard's Lair it had a Spectrum
winner, and the game went on to be converted for the 64 where
it became an early Sizzler in ZZAP! 64 . . .
ZZAP! . . . ? Well, no-one really liked Sprite & Sound.
Newsfield was expected to come up with something as sharp-sounding
and short as CRASH, so in the end we settled on ZZAP!, adding
the 64 as an afterthought. But as events were soon to prove
there was nothing ‘afterthought’ about ZZAP!