By Lloyd Mangram
hadn't had a space shoot-'em-up picture on the cover
of CRASH all year, and only the footballer from Issue
16 had managed to get above the stratosphere. Oliver
looked around for a possible subject for this issue,
settling on a game previewed in it: Hewson's Astro
Clone. In truth the cover could be referring to
any number of games, or no game at all, but it's a fascinating
insight into an illustrator's mind, showing that without
some subject to hang the design on in the first place
it's hard to get going at all. The ends need a means
to justify them.
The eighth PCW Show was over, giving an excuse to print lots
of those pictures you cringe at years later - and people wonder
why I hate being photographed! Oddly, the usual flurry of
hasty releases just in time for the show failed to materialise,
leaving the hordes milling around watching demos.
CRASH had little better to offer, for the real action took
place in the featured previews, which gave the ever-space-grabbing
Robin Candy a fine time: three previews only he could handle
(according to him). A Gargoyle Games fan since Tir Na Nòg,
he pestered Greg Follis daily till an early version of the
next game was viewable at the company's Dudley offices. Marsport
followed in the footsteps of Dun Darach, but with a
new hero and a different style of control from the familiar
A Steve Turner fan since Avalon, Robin was able to
gurgle happily about Hewson's Astro Clone, which weirdly
enough resembled Marsport in some screens. And a dangerous
Elite fan since Firebird released the Commodore version,
he could finally get to grips with an early copy for the Spectrum.
Another preview - and it turned out to be far too early -
was of Elite’s cartoon licence Scooby Doo. As outlined
in this issue, the game sounded and looked marvellous, but
alas it was not to be. Elite ran into programming problems
which it couldn't resolve, and dropped the game. Later it
would be contracted out to Gargoyle Games to redesign and
would appear in time for the next year's PCW Show.
Actually in review, the Smashes included Nightshade
from Ashby-based Ultimate with the confusing programming credit
of Rare Ltd. Despite its high rating, there was a hint of
disapproval in the critical comments, a note that no progress
had been made since Alien 8. Speculation ran rife that
perhaps the most successful software house ever had begun
to lose its touch, not helped by further rumours that British
Telecom, which was releasing converted Ultimate games on the
64 through Firebird, was in the market to buy the Leicestershire
Brewster picked on an adventure with the Wild West-like title
of The Touchstones Of Rhiannon to Smash - actually
it was about Robin Of Sherwood - but down in arcade alley
the joystick-wielders were struggling over the complex karate
movements in Melbourne House's genre-founding The Way Of
The Exploding Fist. There was some disagreement over its
playability, but its evident qualities made it a Smash.
The results of the 1985 CRASHtionnaire were published, revealing
that at 17.2 years the average reader's age was far higher
than anyone had anticipated, and that Playing Tips was a clear
winner as a section. Another result was a demand for a pay
increase from Robin (it went to arbitration, but I can't remember
Three fresh names appeared: Simon N Goodwin’s Tech Tipster
contributions started, answering those little problems that
affect the technically-minded, and Ian Craig featured as On
The Cover artist. Ian would later join Newsfield as an illustrator.
The third was a new staff member, Sean Masterson, who took
over Frontline after a two-month gap left by Angus Ryall’s
departure from computer gaming.
This month saw the start of Newsfield's Amstrad magazine
AMTIX! in direct competition with Amstrad Action, which was
launched at the same time. Jeremy Spencer became AMTIX! coeditor
with Roger Kean, each of them doubling their existing roles.
And Newsfield had spawned its first spin-off, for Amstrad
Action's publisher was Chris Anderson, ex-editor of ZZAP!.