By Lloyd Mangram
Enduro Racer cover is a very straightforward
one, and it was chosen largely for the opportunity it
offered Oliver to produce an exciting action picture.
The main figure is smaller than it might have been because
there had to be a strap announcing the Playing Tips
Supplement, which was nicely tied in: the biker looks
like he has just leapt over it. Never one to miss a
light-hearted dig when the occasion arises, Oliver made
the crashing biker wear a helmet adorned with the letters
For the April issue, Roger Kean had become CRASH Editor halfway
through its production schedule. With May's issue he felt
he could really get to grips with some of the problems that
had been ailing the magazine.
The reviews were first. Several previous issues had failed
to cover anything like the volume of games released in the
month, and it had always been CRASH's boast that we did cover
everything. The problem was that since the early days the
number of pages devoted to features and specialist sections
like Frontline, Tech Niche and Adventure Trail had expanded
dramatically. Increasing the number of review pages would
mean expanding the magazine beyond its economic size. Much
tighter writing would be required from now on, so that a review
would take up less space and more would fit in.
Roger and Ciarán looked closely at recent reviews
and decided that many were heavily padded without providing
sensible information. One result of the new attitude was that
the issue packed in 37 reviews (more than for ages, excluding
February's issue) and still left space for the other features,
including the 32-page Playing Tips Supplement. The reviews
were also split into three categories. each with a different
design style: Smashes, those above 50% Overall and those below,
allowing us more freedom to give short reviews to games that
hardly deserved a full page to themselves.
Then there was the extra colour: in May's issue virtually
every game was featured in colour (apart from some latecomers
and the adventures), even in the Playing Tips and Frontline.
Readers seemed to approve of the colour, but not every letter
was so kind about the shorter reviews - the shortness of the
Krakout review was especially resented by some.
The number of reviewers also came under consideration. Ben,
Paul, Mike and Richard were doing a sterling job, but it was
felt that some fresh blood was required, and over the next
few months that would arrive. The first new face in was that
of Gareth Adams, another Ludlow local studying at the College,
and a CRASH reader from the start.
A casualty of the new broom was my Hall Of Slime. To be honest
it had outgrown its usefulness and there was a thought of
axing it to make way for something new, though no-one knew
quite what at that time.
While the dust appeared to be settling at the King Street
offices after six months of unrest. Newsfield was facing a
serious problem with LM. Despite its obvious popularity with
readers, LM was in financial difficulties. Circulation was
increasing nicely, but advertisers were still too wary of
the 'youth market' and thus the magazine's revenue was almost
non-existent and it lost nearly £20,000 each issue.
The gamble had not paid off. It was like AMTIX! all over again,
only on a spectacularly larger scale. Emergency management
meetings were held to see if anything could be done, but to
no avail. A few days before Issue 5 was due to go to press
at the end of April an announcement was made to the company
that LM would have to close down.
For the second time within two months, the management were
faced with making staff redundant. It was a terrible blow,
personally, in terms of prestige and financially. Trade papers,
including Computer Trade Weekly, erroneously suggested that
Newsfield had lost half a million on LM. The real figure was
nothing like that, but it was a heavy enough loss. The leave-taking
a few days later was sad - but on the bright side, all the
LM staffers found themselves other publishing work within
a few weeks.