By Lloyd Mangram
editorial brief was simple enough: make something out
of Samantha Fox Strip Poker and Starstrike
II. It was an inhibiting notion, and one which Oliver
left till he could no longer avoid doing the illustration.
With this cover, a very popular one, it is the strength
and dynamism of Oliver's composition that makes it work
at all. He was pleased with the effect, but in general
he hated the illustration and felt it was rather like
a poorly-licensed game - the subject was unsuitable
for an exciting picture.
The month's two big bits of news were of a very different
nature. Most important was the announcement, as the issue
went to press, that Alan Michael Sugar's Amstrad had bought
out Sir Clive Sinclair's Sinclair Research, and thus the ZX
Spectrum would from then on belong to Amstrad. There were
very mixed feelings about this move at the time, and few people
today could honestly say that many of their doubts have been
The other was that the Audit Bureau Of Circulations had declared
CRASH the biggest-selling computer title in Britain, overtaking
both Sinclair User and Computer & Video Games (though
the latter had a marginally higher figure when foreign sales
were taken into account). It was a triumph for everyone, but
especially for the original tiny team that had dared to challenge
the entrenched positions of so many established titles. W
H Smith, before the launch of Issue 1, had said that CRASH
could never really succeed as a games-only, single-user magazine;
two years later we had proved them wrong.
It was a happy moment for the whole company, but before the
issue was completed, something quite sad occurred. The rumbling
arguments between Robin Candy and Roger Kean, which had flared
up over Roger's insistence that there should be a picture
of Robin on the new Playing Tips heading because there had
always been one of him there, suddenly reached flashpoint.
There was an argument in the middle of the office and as a
result it was decided not to use Robin any more. He was able
to take a last look at his Playing Tips being laid out in
the art department before leaving. However, as every CRASH
reader knows, it may have been the last of Robin Candy's Playing
Tips, but it was by no means the end of Robin, though a year
was to go by before his reappearance.
Max Headroom finally arrived, and though it rated
fairly well (85%) it was something of a disappointment. Not
so Realtime's Starstrike II, however, with its filled-in
vector graphics pushing the Spectrum beyond limits already
set by pundits, sitting atop a fast and complex shoot-'em-up
game. We also Smashed Ultimate's Cyberun, often forgotten
since but more of a follow-on from Lunar Jetman than
anything to do with the isometrics of Knight Lore etc.
the huge success of the film the game version of Back To
The Future from Electric Dreams came as a damp squib,
a mishmash plot based on the film's action but with no game
behind it. There was far more fun to be had with Imagine's
excellent implementation of Konami's Ping Pong and
Gremlin's karate-book tie-in The Way Of The Tiger.
But the game which caused most excitement was Ocean's Batman
from Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond, who had gone out of their
way to make the most densely detailed isometric graphics yet
seen. And the game was good too.
Near the end of April as the May issue concluded, the three
Newsfield directors, the brothers Frey and Roger Kean, took
a week off in Cornwall to work out the details for a new magazine
they were planning. It was to have a broad subject base and
be aimed at the so-called youth market. No-one could think
of what to call it, so for the time being they jokingly gave
it the working title of LM - Lloyd Mangram's Leisure Monthly.