By Lloyd Mangram
cover was tied to Heavy On The Magick, the latest
from Gargoyle Games. In the past Oliver has been happy
to work with their games as cover themes, but he had
little chance to see this one. However, the other options
for the month's cover had already been used for ZZAP!
and AMTIX! (notably Redhawk, on AMTIX!). The
editorial decision was postponed till the last moment,
as was increasingly the practice, leaving only hours
for the illustration to be done. Again, composition
turned what could have been a weak cover into a powerful
CRASH was continually adding new sections. In this month
John Minson went solo as his Fear & Loathing page was
detached from the news, freeing him to be even more irreverent
(or should that be irrelevant?) about the software industry.
John had earlier done a piece about play-by-mail games, and
now Brendon Kavanagh arrived to start a regular column devoted
to the subject. Then there was the Art Gallery - or On The
Screen, as it became known - a page of readers' Spectrum art
sponsored by Rainbird, producers of the Art Studio graphics
utilities. And to top that off, we began the first of a long
series (Genesis) aimed at finding the CRASH reader who could
design a complete game worthy of being programmed by Design
Design and marketed properly by Domark.
Domark were in need of a lift too, for after an age Friday
The 13th had arrived. We were kinder than ZZAP! (they
gave it an appropriate 13%), but it was still pretty dire.
So was much else on the tie-in front: Ocean's TV licence V
was poorly thought-out and boring, TV's The Young Ones
fared hardly better from Orpheus, and in an attempt at a really
obscure tie-in Firebird gave us The Comet Game to coincide
with the arrival of Halley's interplanetary body in our skies.
The natural phenomenon was magnificent, the game was silly.
Derek had been quiet for some months, with nothing very inspiring
to review, but he got Heavy On The Magick and delightedly
Smashed it. Meanwhile Gary Liddon was given the task of solo
reviewing - a departure from the norm - for Red Hawk,
a comic tie-in from Melbourne House. That was a Smash too.
So was the excellent Spindizzy, which restored Electric
Dreams to some of its former glory. The Spectrum version was
by Paul Shirley (aided by Phil Churchyard, who had done the
Sweevo's World screen editor for Robin Candy's Playing
was a great game month, because there was also the first ever
128K Smash (Knight Tyme from M.A.D.), one for Sean
Masterson's Frontline (the CCS Desert Rats), a marvellous
conversion of the Commodore 64 hit Bounder (Gremlin
Graphics), another for Ultimate in Pentagram, and Quazatron,
an extremely clever conversion that was almost a rewrite of
Hewson's huge Commodore 64 hit Paradroid. That was
by Andrew Braybrook, but Steve Turner's Spectrum Quazatron
borrowed from it and reinvented it, making it a wholly new
and interesting product.
The big problem, of course, was the Playing Tips, now rudderless
without Robin. The answer lay with Hannah Smith, and though
she might seem in retrospect to have been an obvious choice,
a lot of soul-searching went into the decision. Would a predominantly
male teenage readership accept a 'girlie tipster' stepping
into the shoes of Robin "Very Popular" Candy? We
thought they just might. They did. Promoting Hannah as the
'computer world's first and only female tipster' would lead
to a veritable war with Computer & Video Games who claimed
that their Melissa Ravenflame held that pre-eminent position.
But at least readers could ring Hannah and speak with her,
whereas doing the same with C&VG led to long silences.
It was to lead to an attempted confrontation at the 1986 PCW
Show when Melissa Ravenflame stickers running down Hannah
were plastered over everything, including the Newsfield stand.
Hannah issued a head-to-head challenge, which, not unsurprisingly,