By Lloyd Mangram
the letdown of the Lightforce cover illustration,
Oliver Frey steamed back in with a large close-up monster
picture. The excuse for it was Ocean's Cobra,
and rather than slavishly devise some illustration based
on the game Oliver chose to interpret the title literally.
The serpent is very much in Frey/CRASH style: chromium-plated
needle fangs, slavering jaws agape dripping what could
be alien machine oil. Its impact is undeniable, and
I think it was the strongest image of the year.
if to make up for the November issue, December's provided
seven Smashes. Denton Designs struck back after some indeterminate
games with The Great Escape for Ocean, displaying yet
another form of isometric perspective to describe the World
War II POW castle from which the player hoped to escape. And
Hewson must have been pleased; Steve Crow, with three previous
Smashes for other software houses to his name, programmed
his fourth for them. Firelord was a game of chivalry
set to Steve's characteristically attractive graphics. Then
there was the risky conversion of Andrew Braybrook's monster
Commodore 64 hit Uridium. The risk paid off - much
credit to Dominic Robinson, who recreated the original fast-scrolling
bas-relief graphics very well.
Durell clocked up another Smash with their dragon story Thanatos,
and Mosaic's adaptation of a Dick Francis novel gave Derek
a pre-Christmas treat in the Adventure Trail. Ocean hit big
film tie-in time when Cobra - cynically expected to
be a terrible disaster - turned out to be a fast, addictive
and playable winner.
One of the year's big coin-op successes had been Gauntlet,
an obvious case for conversion. US Gold had the official rights,
but clones were a-cloning and it was a close race between
Firebird, who got a Smash for Druid, and Electric Dreams,
who just didn't for Dandy. But what was interesting
was Dandy's claim to originality, for the coin-op Gauntlet
was a conversion of the original Atari game called Dandy written
by student John Palevich!
There were some close misses, too; Palace's The Sacred
Armour Of Antiriad, for example. But if Ocean's tie-in
gamble with Cobra had paid off, US Gold's big gamble with
The Goonies did not - it was a dispiriting mishmash
of a game.
December was also notable for the first time budget-game
reviews were grouped together; this 'budget ghetto' had (and
has since) often been considered for CRASH, but rarely repeated.
Kat Trap was coming along well, and after the previous
month's preview December's issue included an article about
how Oliver was painting the game's packaging - and the ad
appeared too, though it wasn't included in Bill Scolding's
wry look at software advertising, a funny article which reviewed
some recent ads and rated them in traditional CRASH style.
The first issue (Issue Zero) of LM was almost ready for printing;
to reach as many readers as possible, it was to be included
free in the Christmas Specials of CRASH, ZZAP! and AMTIX!
rather than go on the newsagents' shelves on its own. Up in
the art department life was frenzied, as they would soon be
working on four magazines simultaneously. Still, two new paste-up
artists appeared to help out: Sebastian Clare and Tim Croton.
Sebastian's father had once owned a company called Small School
Software, whose premises had been the first floor of the King
Street Offices before CRASH editorial moved down there late
in 1984 . . . circles within circles.
And there were two other new staff members; in film planning
Newsfield took on Nick Orchard, a school-leaver, for Matthew
Uffindell to train as a colour film planner (he was bearing
in mind the extra work involved on the all-colour LM). And
downstairs in the photographic department, Cameron Pound received
some help from Michael Parkinson, a YTS trainee from nearby
Newsfield's first office Christmas do, held at a restaurant
outside Ludlow, had been for ten people. The second had been
for 40 (staff and family) and was held at the Bull Inn (home
of the fictitious Old Flatulence Bitter). This year's was
to be for some 64 staff and many invitees - we were getting