By Lloyd Mangram
had been decided to run a sports-simulation feature
in May's issue for some time, so a topic for the cover
wasn't in question, but Oliver's problem was how to
portray the subject without using the trite picture-montage
method. In the event, he turned the idea on its head,
creating this startling montaged footballer, his body
entirely made up of recognisable sporting equipment,
booting a spaceship towards the onlooker. Perhaps what's
most remarkable is that the picture was painted in only
three to four hours while Oliver fitted in his new commitment
After a few verbal run-ins with the rival publisher of Your
Spectrum (now Your Sinclair) we had some innocent, esoteric
fun on the cover by referring to the sports games article
as: 'Sports Scene - Last gasp of a dying genre?' (The publisher
of Your Spectrum was called Sportscene Publications.) A rather
more virulent form of such fun was shortly to get CRASH into
a lot of trouble, but more of that later . . .
Despite the time of year - start of the summer slump - software
held up really well, and there was a lot of it about. The
six Smashes were very varied: two from the arcades for US
Gold, Bruce Lee (the first of the kick-'em-ups, except
perhaps Bug-Byte's Kung Fu) and Spy Hunter were great
fun, Hewson's Steve Turner repeated his successful 3-D adventure
formula with a return to Avalon in Dragon Torc and
made it even more fluent, Level 9 predictably delighted Derek
Brewster with the unusual Emerald Isle, the name of
Imagine reappeared under its new owners, Ocean, with the interesting
simulation World Baseball, and Melbourne House offered
a mixture of brain-teaser and 3-D action in Starion.
There's a story attached to the last. Paula Byrne, then at
Melbourne House, came up to Ludlow to show the CRASH team
an early version of the game. Supposed to arrive for lunch,
she finally appeared at four o'clock, worn out by the drive
and having lost her way several times. As you can imagine,
Paula wasn't in the best of moods, but it worsened when she
opened up the cassette case to find that the tape inside was
not only an old Commodore 64 game, it wasn't even by Melbourne
House! We received Starion by post a few days later.
The story has remained a secret till now, but, Paula, the
statutory 30 years is too long to wait to reveal the truth!
It's interesting to note that during 1985 the average price
of Spectrum games had already risen to £6.95 and, in
many cases, £7.95, an increase of some £2 over
the two years 1983-85. Today's prices reflect a further rise
of £2, again over roughly two years. The major exceptions
then were Ultimate at the top end of the scale with £9.99
games, and Mastertronic, Firebird and Atlantis at the lower
end, all of which have maintained their budget structures
of £1.99 and £2.99.
And at a budget price John Minson was given his first tentative
try-out for CRASH, turning in some news items, while in the
fledgling Tech Niche section another new contributor appeared:
Jon Bates. Composer and computer musicologist, he reviewed
nine music programs, further expanding the scope of CRASH.
After their TV tie-in deals Fall Guy, Dukes Of
Hazzard and Airwolf, Elite popped up with one of
the oddest endorsement deals of the day, the not unsuccessful
horse-racing game Grand National. (Elite was about
to go one better and produce a tyre tie-in with Dunlop for
the appalling 911TS). Another, and less successful,
tie-in was Quicksilva's Fantastic Voyage based on the
20th Century Fox film. Computer games hadn't quite matured
enough to deal with the big boys of Hollywood, and Fantastic
Voyage was an old hat film by some years. But this situation
was changing; soon tied-in games would compete with their
film sources for simultaneous release.
While we were working on CRASH, down in Yeovil, Somerset.
where Chris Anderson lived and the ZZAP! 64 writers were based,
the new magazine's first issue was being completed. Newsfield
was about to double its production base.