By Lloyd Mangram
this is a personal view, I'll be honest and say that
though this isn't the worst CRASH cover it's certainly
Oliver's poorest. There's no doubting the visual impact
created by the hand seen in close-up, bearing its blood-drenched
dagger, but there's also little doubt that this was
a subject in which Oliver had little interest - or rather,
he felt less out of sorts with the subject than with
the way the Editor wanted it portrayed. To fans of the
gore-a-minute film series, there was no need for a cover
line to say 'Jason's back' in Friday The 13th.
Some readers, newsagents and several readers’ parents were
appalled by the cover, and extended their opprobrium to the
Friday The 13th preview which showed Domark’s Mark
Strachan and Dominic Wheatley posed in a particularly gruesome
and bloody manner. One parent, so upset by what she saw, sent
the whole caboodle to the Press Council. Nothing came of it,
but clearly the affair was an unhappy one. I defended the
cover in the Forum, but it was seen as unfortunate in the
sense that the preview was a thin editorial excuse for forcing
the cover idea on Oliver - especially thin when you consider
that the game itself would not be reviewed till June 1986
and then would only receive 32%!
Roger Kean had expressed doubts about the subject, feeling
that it would be better to do a humorous picture, more in
the cartoon style of Mad, but he was away from Ludlow when
the final decision was taken and the cover painted.
Two other previews struck a somewhat happier note. Robin
Candy had been aware for some time that Gargoyle Games had
in mind a 'fun package' for Christmas, so he was pleased that
they revealed the new comic hero, Sweevo, to him first.
The other game previewed had been gestating far longer, for
over 18 months in fact. It was PSS's Swords And Sorcery,
programmed by Mike Simpson, who also devised the MIDAS adventure-writing
system which Swords And Sorcery used. MIDAS was vaunted
as a revolutionary piece of adventure/role-playing game graphics
and control software from which would spring many games in
the same vein as Swords And Sorcery. However, to date
not much has been made of it.
An unusual event occurred: Mosaic's The Secret Diary Of
Adrian Mole was reviewed twice, once in the ordinary game
reviews, where it got 86%, and again in Derek's Adventure
Trail, where he gave it a Smash. That was no bad thing for
the reader - but a damned nuisance for the index and historical
were seven Smashes in all, reflecting the closeness of Christmas
boom time. With only a few games to its credit - but very
polished ones - Microsphere reprised Skool Daze with
the improved Back To Skool. Melbourne House scored
two with its Marble Madness-like Gyroscope, and the
spoof adventure of foreign seaside silliness, Terrormolinos.
Durell gave us Critical Mass, a game I never liked
much, and the flight-simulation freaks at Digital Integration
slammed in with Tomahawk - that military helicopter
that positively reeks of danger.
The last Smash was for a new software house, Electric Dreams.
Launched at The PCW Show, Rod Cousens's Electric Dreams was
an offshoot of Activision. Its first released game was I,
Of The Mask, an elegantly contrived 3-D 'tunnel' experience
by Sandy White, whose previous games were the revolutionary
Ant Attack and its sequel Zombie Zombie.
Swallowing up existing software houses was by now an established
practice, but creating offshoot labels like Electric Dreams
was fairly new. It smacked of corporation tactics and echoed
the music industry with its giant parent recording companies
and their numerous labels each specialising in a different
musical style. Ocean had done much the same with Imagine when
it bought the title from the Receiver. To start with, Imagine
specialised in sports games, but with its Konami licences
Imagine's game portfolio broadened out. No-one was quite clear
what Electric Dreams would do that was different from Activision,
but everyone agreed it would be interesting to wait and see.