By Lloyd Mangram
Smith's claim to unique girlie tipsterdom and the backlash
from C&VG's 'Melissa Ravenflame' led directly to
this cover - basically an advertising campaign for Hannah.
The original brief - Hannah mud-wrestling with Melissa
- was deemed too inflammatory, so Oliver substituted
an alien for the Ravenflame. More in his element than
for several issues, Oliver turned in what became the
most popular cover of the year, atmospheric, amusing
and provocative by turns. CRASH always seems at its
best with its back to the wall fighting for a belief
. . .
Three new names appeared on this issue's masthead. lan Craig
was a well-known commercial illustrator, and some of his computer-related
work had appeared the previous year in the Issue 21 On The
Cover feature. The object was to have someone to help with
the massive workload of illustrations, which up till then
had all been on Oliver's shoulders. Tony Flanagan was a college
lecturer from near Telford who wanted to move into journalism.
He became the third Staff Writer for CRASH, but his time at
the Towers turned out to be short. The third name had a familiar
ring about it, especially to ZZAP! readers, for it was Julian's
brother, Jonathan Rignall. The increasingly complex film-planning
work we were undertaking in-house meant that Matthew Uffindell
had less and less time to spare in the process camera room
making halftone pictures. So Jonathan was brought into the
department as a process-camera operator.
The month of July saw much activity on the new magazine,
too - LM had become a reality, a launch date was set for a
free copy with the Christmas Specials of the three computer
titles, and Roger Kean was beginning interviews for the large
new editorial team that would be required for this ambitious
project. It was also clear that the King Street offices could
no longer cope. Newsfield had been searching for over a year
for premises big enough for expansion, but there was nowhere
available in Ludlow. So a large semidetached house similar
in size to the King Street headquarters was purchased and
converted to offices for administration and LM editorial.
This was on Gravel Hill, Ludlow (once misspelled 'Grovel Hill',
and it would soon be nicknamed 'The Grovelry' since it was
where the pay cheques were issued . . . ). But the move was
still over a month away as the August issue started.
In the meantime, the tiny CRASH office was even more cramped,
so Tony Flanagan was dispatched to Liverpool to interview
Software Projects about their forthcoming conversion of Dragon's
Lair. Interest ran high, partly because of Dragon's
Lair arcade fame, partly because no-one could see how
Coleco's complex, interactive game would come out on a home
micro. It was hoped they would do better with it than US Gold
did with the conversion of Kung Fu Master, a flaccid
beat-'em-up which got 56% - the same as Subterranean Nightmare,
but the latter was a £2.99 budget game under US Gold's
new Americana label. Americana worked well enough for them
on the Commodore 64, where golden oldies imported direct from
the States offered good value for money, but of course in
converting most lost their original qualities on the Spectrum
and proved to be no more than low-value games like so many
other budget products of the period.
Firebird scored a budget Smash, Rebel Star, with Sean
Masterson in Frontline, and a full-price one with Heartland.
This arcade adventure was programmed by Odin, who had ceased
marketing their own product to become Telecomsoft developers
. . . the absorption of independents by larger software houses
continued. The Edge had a hit on their hands as the Marble
Madness clone Bobby Bearing found CRASH favour; and
so did Palace with the follow-up Cauldron II, successful
because though it was a sequel in name, in gameplay it was
entirely different from the first Cauldron, a very
polished platform game. Hewson brought out Pyracurse,
an isometrically 3-D scrolling adventure in the mould of Dragontorc,
but the peculiar problems it presented made it special.
Our peculiar problems were about to start - school holidays
and nowhere to seat anyone . . .