By Lloyd Mangram
was time for another grotesque cover after three relatively
calm ones, and with fangs and venomous saliva foremost
in his mind Oliver sought a suitable subject. He found
it in Level 9's Red Moon adventure, which featured
mythical beasts. It's interesting to compare Oliver's
painting with that of the game's packaging: Level 9
provided a sinuously elegant snake-dragon, vibrantly
attractive and decorative, CRASH had this stark, violent
monster, virtually bursting off the cover with its sheer
ferocity. The startling impact is quite otherworldly
and satisfyingly terrifying.
After a terse apology for the delay in putting Issue 19 on
sale, the editorial speculated on Sinclair’s rumoured launch
of a 128K Spectrum. Commodore had released a 128K machine,
Amstrad was about to show its CPC 6128, it certainly seemed
time that the Spectrum should be upgraded. Sources suggested
Sinclair’s new computer was code-named The Derby, and speculated
that it might appear at The PCW Show in September, only a
month away. Prediction can be a dodgy game, and as we now
know the wait would be far longer.
CRASH Software Editor Jeremy Spencer was part of the local
landed gentry (so he claimed!), and on his several acres raised
sheep who thought they were dogs, dogs who thought they were
writers (a picture of one appeared at an Apricot keyboard)
and horses who thought they were artists - well, one foal
was named Oli. Oli became something of a mascot, with regular
update pictures appearing as he grew up. This rural aspect
of what was otherwise a technological entertainment magazine
puzzled many of our rivals, and possibly some readers too.
but it was all part of CRASH’s idiosyncratic style.
Visitors to the Ludlow offices could have been forgiven for
thinking that eccentricity and not idiosyncrasy was the hallmark
of CRASH staff, for the place was littered with flashing,
whirring dinosaur monsters - Zoids. They were there because
Martech had the licence to produce a Zoids game, there
for reference because Martech wanted Oliver to do a cover,
and there because Jeremy Spencer couldn't resist them. He
interviewed Martech's Zoids development team, Electronic
Pencil Company, a job made all the more satisfying since the
team had also programmed Jeremy's other favourite game, The
Fourth Protocol, which Derek had Smashed the month before.
Icons had come a long way since Pete Cooke's first tentative
use of them and they were obviously here to stay. In The
Fourth Protocol icons were more than just a useful device,
they were the very essence of the game, helping to generate
a nail-biting atmosphere in this unusual adventure. Electronic
Pencil Company was, like Denton Designs, another example of
the new spirit of professionalism in software writing which
was making it easier for software houses to concentrate on
sourcing ideas and marketing them.
This more forward-thinking approach, however, placed extra
pressures on Roger Kean as the publisher of CRASH. Software
houses had caught on to the power of having their game featured
on a cover. At this stage Martech wanted a Zoids cover
soon, Domark wanted one for its Friday The 13th licence,
and Beyond wanted one for the much-hyped forthcoming Superman
game. Of course, all these would appear at the same time,
he was assured, so they all wanted their covers the same month!
In the event, both Martech and Domark were satisfied and Superman
turned into a debacle.
a couple of disappointing Monty games, Gremlin Graphics put
Monty's creator, Peter Harrap, back into the hot seat and
he turned up with the Smashed Monty On The Run. His
original was barely revamped but the sequel was more difficult
and had the novelty of a somersaulting mole, a device used
many times since. Others were sprinting as well, for Design
Design released On The Run, an elegant maze game with
large graphics by Stuart Ruecroft, who had earlier been employed
by Fantasy. Also among the month’s hits were Costa Panayi’s
isometric Highway Encounter, Red Moon and the
welcome return of veteran Spectrum programmer Don Priestly
with Popeye, using the huge, animated characters that
have since become his trademark.