By Lloyd Mangram
Dan Dare and the original Hulton Eagle
comic, the greatest inspiration to the younger Oliver
Frey had been the films of James Bond (he has them all,
except the subject of this cover, on video). So it was
no hardship for Oliver to do a Bond illustration for
Domark's The Living Daylights. It was good timing,
too, because this issue hit the streets several days
before the film opened in London, making CRASH one of
the first magazines of any type to carry the image.
Synchronicity is a bit like déjà vu in reverse:
if you hear or read a strange word you have never heard before,
and then, over the next few days, several times you happen
to see or hear that word used, that is synchronicity. Early
in the month of June, Roger Kean attended a software fling
on a Thames boat given by MicroProse. Mingling with the massed
computer journalists, he was bemused to be confronted by someone
from Computer & Video Games who informed him that they
knew Newsfield was planning to break with its machine-specific
tradition and publish a multicomputer magazine rather like
C&VG. It was certainly news to Roger, though, he said,
he kept a 'poker face'.
Two days later Newsfield's advertising department offered
up a plan for a multicomputer entertainment magazine to cover
all popular 8-bit and 16-bit computers, not to outdo CRASH
or ZZAP! but to complement them. A few hours later, when no-one
outside Newsfield's management had been told of the proposal,
someone rang up from a software house to ask how long it would
be before the new magazine would happen. It seemed like an
A few days later THE GAMES MACHINE was born, in concept at
least, aimed to publish its first issue in time for The PCW
Show in late September. A fortnight later we first heard that
Future Publishing intended launching Ace - now that's synchronicity!
Meanwhile CRASH was settling in nicely. Three more reviewers
joined the stable: Robin Candy, now doing comments, Mark Rothwell,
a friend of the brothers Rignall, and then Nick Roberts. Nick
lived in Ludlow, had read CRASH for three years and felt he
could take the Tips off my shoulders. To try him out, Roger
asked him to do review comments, and so he too started coming
in after school hours. His quiet, no-nonsense attitude quickly
earned him everyone's respect, and it was clear that it would
not be long before my temporary Playing Tips stint ended.
And in fact there was a fourth reviewer. Dominic Handy had
been a regular visitor to the Towers over three years, usually
to buy games from the mail-order department - though his views
on some games occasionally found their way into print via
one or other of the reviewers - but also to undertake the
odd writing job. As a film buff he was a natural for the new
video section, and he started coming in more and more often.
The scope of CRASH continued to expand, with features on
special effects in The Living Daylights and on the Nintendo
console adding more reading matter to the magazine's Spectrum
And an unusual aspect of this CRASH was the OINK! Supplement.
This had been arranged two months earlier in conjunction with
the anarchic comic's publishers, IPC, and CRL, who were producing
a game based on its piggy antics. To my knowledge, this was
the first time anything like this had been tried in a computer
magazine, and we were interested to see the reaction. Predictably,
it was mixed! Many thought it insulting to have a young children's
comic in CRASH, yet newsagents had been moving it out of reach,
considering OINK!'s contents to be of a nature more adult
than was suitable for youngsters.
We saw an early version of the game on the Commodore, were
given a rather useless Spectrum screenshot (the background
only), and to date, that's been that . . .
At the very moment when it seemed the year's earlier troubles
had become a memory, an earthquake shock hit us. Without warning
Gary Penn, ZZAP! Editor, resigned, saying he was worn out.
As he had some holiday owed, he left at the end of the week,
and everyone held their breaths to see what would happen .