Letters

Once again I emerge from beneath a massive pile of paper which makes my desk groan to bring you the world’s most amazing letters pages, well, it’s a fairly good one anyway. Quite a lot of carping going on this month, but we’ll get to that later. First, Letter of the Month — I picked this learned treatise on the fundamental ethics at the heart of Design Design games....

AS CLEAR AS CRYSTAL

Respected Sir,
Over the last few months I have been studying various offerings by that notable institution — Design Design (which name can also be taken to mean Crystal, if you see what I mean). I have made several observations and discoveries, and gleaned others from various acquaintances. I would be pleased to see what other little details have been unearthed from these programs by CRASH readers.

Invasion of the Body Snatchas: Try putting the following into the hi-score table:

There are others.

Dark Star: In a similar manner to IOTBS, the latest Design Design offering has certain phrases which elicit interesting responses. Try these:

Certain other silly messages can be found in the program, not so well hidden, but still not immediately obvious. Try printing out the hi-score table without the printer attached — another laudable message! Also from the options menu choose ‘game type’ and press 7 when on the menu which includes ‘no planets’, and all those.

Another interesting pursuit for students of Design Designology (the games are secondary to the front end) is the origins of the names etc in the hi-score tables. Dark Star has a choice of about five tables which might appear. One of these is full of quotes from Monty Python, ‘Help, Help I’m being repressed!’ for example. Another gives the lyrics of some merry little ditty, and the catalogue number of a compact disc — CD3708. Anyone got time to look it up?

Other names I can throw light upon include the companion of Kickaha, Speaker to Animals. This is the name of the chief character in the classic sf novel Ringworld; worth a read. Sgt. Pinback, who appears in IOTBS, is one of the crew of the ship Dark Star in the film of that name — also an sf classic and worth a watch. I can’t place the other mysterious folk — Dipso Dave, Czar Murdigog the Headless, Greatheart Silver, and many others. Contributions welcome! How about some clues Design Design, eh fellas?
Matthew Chattfield

?

The Design Design team are full of little jokey thingies, it comes from working at night and sleeping by day as well as the consumption of cast quantities of coke, sorry Coke (TM). I’ve misplaced the headless Czar myself, but Greatheart Silver is a character from the Thomas Covenant trilogy of books — well worth a read. Dipso Dave is (if I remember rightly) an unkind nickname for a programmer. As you are probably aware by now, the compact disc number was the clue to get the passwords for the SPECTACLE program included on the Dark Star tape. Come on Big Simon and Gwaham, give us some clues...
LM

THE ALIEN 8 CONTROVERSY...

The launch of Ultimate’s Alien 8 has brought a crop of letters onto my desk — some full of praise, others rather less chuffed about the new release. Here’s a taste of the mixed opinion, starting off with one who was less than thrilled....
LM

I would like to tell everyone that Alien 8 is just a copy of Knight Lore. The graphics are 100%, but to anyone with Knight Lore, it’s a waste of money. I thought that after the comments received after Sabre Wulf was released, Ultimate would not do such as thing again — redoing a game and selling it under a different title.

The Ultimate games, once the ultimate ones to buy, are no longer worth their price and title. A friend of mine used to collect every Ultimate release, but stopped after Sabre Wulf due to the lack of originality and high price. I feel very bitter about Alien 8, and it proves to me that Ultimate are getting greedy.
Li’l Bill

I am writing to warn you of the piles and piles of letters you will no doubt shortly be receiving, all of them identical. As you remember, when Sabre Wulf was launched by those wizards at Ultimate, you were flooded with letters saying that if you change the trees to walls you would have Atic Atac. This was idiotic, and I was glad when it was over.

Now here comes Alien 8 which I have played. I think it is brill, and though it looks similar to Knight Lore, the game is totally different and in my opinion, it is better.

I feel the similarity will go to people’s heads, and this letter writing craze will start again, so I just wrote to warn you.
Jim Marriot

After the Atic Atac, Sabre Wulf similarity, I was astounded that Ultimate had the nerve to bring out Alien 8. The only difference between KL and Alien 8 is that Alien 8 is set in space age surroundings. The gameplay is the same; the graphics are the same; the nasties are the same; the set out is the same; the colour is the same and the object of the game is the same.
Bryan Lade

After a couple of weeks spent fretting at home, waiting for Alien 8 to be released, it finally came out, I parted with my money and rushed home to load it.

I found it was an exact copy of an earlier game — yes, you you’ve guessed it — Knight Lore. It was still worth the money, though, just for the sheer brilliance of the graphics — but I still feel it was a bit of a rip-off.
Simon Lunt

Last week Alien 8 came out and a mate of mine bought it. He took it home and showed it to me. How boring. It’s merely a cheap (well, not so cheap) copy of Knight Lore. So come on Ultimate, bring out something different.
Chris Morgan

I would like to tell you that I bought Alien 8 on Friday 15th Feb. Without a doubt it should be a CRASH SMASH. It is an amazing game and although people are bound to say it is too much like Knight Lore, all I can say is that it’s software houses like Ultimate that are keeping the Speccie alive. Keep up the good work Ultimate, and you lot at CRASH!
Steven Routledge

Just like Sabre Wulf was Atic Atac with leaves, so Alien 8 is Knight Lore with different graphics and a funny magnetic effect that drags you onto triangles and eggshells. I have had, torn from my grasp, £14.95 (I bought Alien 8 and Knight Lore from a discount shop) for what is in effect one game. Most people would have paid £19.90 for the same games and would probably break down and cry into their pillows for months on end — as I will be doing.
Colin McDevitt

Having just bought Alien 8 and knowing that all Ultimate games are great, I would just like to say ‘three cheers’ for Ultimate for another great game.

Alien 8 has stunning graphics, and is in a way similar to Knight Lore, but this doesn’t change things — now you are a robot (Sabre Man must be a bit tired after three adventures, eh?)
Martin Cresswell

Can I just say that I think Ultimate are ripping us off, and they are making a lot of money over a slightly changed copy of Knight Lore? I like the game, but it would have been much better if there had been a variation.
Andrew Douglas

I have had Alien 8 for two weeks, and think it is brilliant, better than Knight Lore; both more playable and addictive. Please, please, don’t make any excuses and produce a brilliant map of Alien 8.
Michael Moon

I have just completed Alien 8 with a rating of ‘Adventurer’ and I would recommend this game to any Spectrum owner. I found it more enjoyable than Knight Lore because the rooms are easier to pass through.
Robbie Francis

The previous handful of letters are only a fraction I have received and as you can see for every complaint there is some praise. My own humble (and doubtlessly unwanted, but here it is anyway) opinion, is that Alien 8 is much better than Knight Lore. It never fails to amaze me how much time people will spend on games of a very similar character, and then when Ultimate produce two outstanding games which happen to use similar graphics and gameplay, that lots go berserk with acrimony. The real problem, surely, is that Ultimate’s graphics in these two games are so outstanding that the similarities in the two games stand out so much more than they would if the graphics were indifferent. I have spoke.
LM

SWEATSHIRTS FOR THE PEASANTS

Dear Lloyd,
After reading the March issue of your great magazine, I noticed a photo of some of the prizes for the Knight Lore and Underwurlde map competitions. Some of the prizes were Ultimate caps and sweatshirts, diaries etc - what I would like to know is whether the ordinary peasant in the street ie me, can buy any of the goodies shown? And if so, where from and how much will they cost?
Morgan the Magnificent

Well, Morgan the Magnificent, the goodies shown were, of course, supplied by Ultimate as prizes. I'm not sure about the diaries, but I suspect the caps and shirts can be purchased direct from Ultimate.
LM

COMPUTERS ARE SUBVERSIVE...!

Dear CRASH,
The first part of this letter concerns the missive from Dragen Stieglitz in your Christmas Special.

I live on a minute, remote island in the middle of an ocean. It is ruled by the dictatorship of fascist bully-boys who refuse to let people use computers in case they grow intelligent and overthrow their regime. Our government has a joint IQ of five and a half, so being more intelligent than them isn’t too hard.

Some smugglers brought a single Sinclair Spectrum into our country, which I obtained for unspeakably large sums of money. I am at a loss now as I am getting quite advanced, with my IQ up to the five mark already... one more point and I’ll be able to overthrow the government and become a national hero.

I need to expand my system as well as my mind to achieve this noble goal, and I need a microdrive and Interface One. But, owing to the fact that computers are illegal in my country and there is no postal service which means I can’t send money, my upgrade must be a gift. I would be eternally grateful if you could send me a microdrive and Interface One.

Because of the aforementioned lack of postal service in this part of the world, you’ll have to send the upgrade to the address mentioned at the foot of the letter — this is the address of my friend the smuggler.

In return, you can have my collection of rare sand granules collected from a beach near my house.

Well, sorry about that burst of manic sarcasm, it’s just that I feel you’re being done if you oblige any of these people. Any Tom, Dick or Harry (Wally or Wilma or even a herbert... Sorry LM) could write in with a hard luck story and scrounge some item of hard or software off you. So what if they live behind the Iron Curtain? That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Enough of this carping, now for the rest of my letter. I think it’s a brilliant idea of yours to introduce the Multiple Entry facility for competitions — no other magazine has been considerate enough to think of us poor competition freaks and our large stamp bills.

I’d also like to say that I’m disgusted with the software companies who refuse to pay you for their adverts and who expect good reviews in return for future adverts. This behaviour is both childish and unfair. For their information I read left hand pages as well as right hand pages, and if they don’t specify what they want, it’s their tough luck.
Robin Bilney

Gosh, Robin, you had me spellbound there for a moment. I must dash upstairs immediately and inform the mail order people to stop sending Red Cross hardware parcels to the folk behind the Iron Curtain! Thanks for the support regarding our fortunately very few problems with some advertisers. It’s nice to know that readers care about these usually behind-the-scenes affairs.
LM

SHOCKED!

Dear Lloyd,
I was shocked to see in your March issue a blatant advert for pirate tape-copiers. It was called a ‘tape back up device’ and stated that it could make backup copies of software with any kind of loader. This is obviously a blatant attempt to solve the problems caused by games with hyperload. I know that this advert will get around the ASA, but surely you don’t expect us to believe for an instant that this advert fooled you. For a magazine that is constantly criticising piracy, it seems pure hypocrisy that you should allow this advert in your magazine. Is your desire to make money so great that you are willing to print this virtually criminal advert?
Sean O’Flynn

The advert you are referring to has actually been within the pages of CRASH for some months now. While it is true that it is certainly an aid to piracy, if you like, it is also a fairly essential program for copying games to microdrive. There has been considerable argument in the computer press about where to draw the line on ‘copycat’ programs. At one time they were definitely aimed at the home copying market, but with the advent of microdrives, the lines become a bit more blurred. Are you really arguing that no one should be able to use the fast load/save routines of the microdrive to get games on and off their screens as fast as possible? Even with the price of m/d coming down, no one has seriously suggested that pirate copies on m/d are a realistic possibility.
LM

YES TO LIBRARIES

Dear Lloyd,
After reading Angela Simpson’s letter about software libraries last month I was sure to agree with her. I have been done, buying games like Booty which you CRASH SMASHED. Quite honestly I wouldn’t give it 30%. Buying games can lead to a lot of wasted money, so I think you should be able to hire a game first, before buying it.

As you are so rich at CRASH, why not start a software library yourself. You could lend out games which you have not sold through CRASH mail order... No? ... Oh well, I only asked.
James Driscoll

You’ve got to admit, James, that if everyone in the land could borrow games virtually for free, that they would hardly be likely to ever buy them, resulting in such a drastic loss of revenue that software houses would not bother to compete in the games market. As I think I’ve said before, if Public Lending Libraries could be party to a royalty per lend scheme, then this would alter the situation dramatically. If we did ever start a software library, would you come over to Ludlow to borrow games? Posting ‘borrowed’ software would make everything quite expensive and be unworkable. So until Lending Libraries get their act together, it is only going to be the lucky few with one near enough and enlightened enough who will be able to borrow software.
LM

SOFTAID COSTS

Dear Lloyd,
Following an article in the March issue of CRASH about the Soft Aid tape, I dashed out to buy it for £2.99, which was the price you printed in the News Input section.

On entering one of the larger computer stores in Liverpool, I found that the Softaid tape was selling for £4.99. I went straight to WH Smiths, who didn’t have it in stock, but told me that it would sell for £4.99. Is this correct? Was there a CRASH misprint, or is somebody creaming off £2.00?

I don’t mind paying £4.99 — it is a very good tape, and I would recommend it to anybody. I just hope that most of my cash will go to the Ethiopian Appeal, and would be grateful if you could confirm this.
Vina Kelly

No problems, Vina, it was the pratts at Quicksilva who released the price of £2.99 and we wrote the story in News Input using the information they sent us. Then surprise, surprise, they shoved the price up to £4.99 when they launched it at the LET Show. In last month’s issue I mentioned this fact, and by now you are probably aware of it! I hope and trust that most of your cash will go to the appeal fund — certainly none of it to my knowledge is going into the Lloyd Mangram Appeal Fund, more’s the pity.
LM

LOADING SCREEN

Dear Lloyd,
Please, please, please think about the suggestion I am about to make: why not include a comment on the loading screens of programs under the ‘Comments’ heading when you review them?

I am a fan of loading screens and always love the graphics that are produced during loading. I feel it would complete your comments section if you referred to the loading screens. All that is needed is a couple of words on what the loading screen is in terms of graphic content and novelty.

I don’t see why you shouldn’t take up my suggestion as you do almost everything else!
Toby Heiser

PS Who is this -Ed guy that keeps butting in on competitions and such like, he’s a rude little twerp isn’t he!

I’ll put this to the review team. In fact we used to mention particularly good looking loading screens in reviews, but lately this seems to have been a bit forgotten. I won’t hear a word against -Ed, he pays my meagre salary.
LM

CRASH STATISTICS

I’m always amazed by the extraordinary detail some of our readers will go into! The following letter is one such, and it provides some valuable insights (don’t know what though!) into games and players. I haven’t had the time (or the inclination!) to check these statistics compiled by Paul Stevenson out, but here goes:
LM

Dear CRASH,
I present you a CRASH MICRO Statistics chart. I have been doing it since the magazine started in 1984. I hope you will find these interesting and print them in a future issue. First, Best Companies, ie those with the highest averages as reviewed. The three columns show position and company, average Overall rating and finally the number of games reviewed.

  1. Ultimate 94.60 5
  2. Durell 90.00 2
  3. Myzar 90.00 1
  4. Poppysoft 90.00 1
  5. Interstella 89.00 1
  6. Digital Integration 88.50 2
  7. Realtime 88.00 2
  8. Mr Micro 88.00 1
  9. Gargoyle Games 88.00 2
  10. Micromega 85.56 8
  11. Elite 85.00 4
  12. Level 9 Computing 85.00 2
  13. Vortex 83.33 3
  14. Applications 83.00 1
  15. Software Projects 82.75 8
  16. Bug-Byte 82.50 8
  17. Macsen 82 1
  18. Timescape 82.00 1
  19. Ocean 81.00 14
  20. Gremlin Graphics 81.00 2
  21. Hewson Consultants 80.50 8
  22. Ram Jam Corporation 80.00 1
  23. Fantasy 79.60 5
  24. Microsphere 79.50 4
  25. A & F Software 79.00 2
  26. Eurobyte 79.00 1
  27. US Gold 79.00 1
  28. Micromania 78.88 4
  29. Melbourne House 78.25 4
  30. Falcon 78.00 1
  31. Abbex 77.502
  32. Procom 77.50 1
  33. Database 77.00 1
  34. Electric 77.00 1
  35. Thorn EMI/Creative Sparks 76.92 12
  36. Silversoft 76.88 11
  37. Compusound 76.00 1
  38. Heinemann 76.001
  39. PSS 75.60 5
  40. Beyond 75.60 5
  41. New Generation 75.33 3
  42. Adventure International 75.00 2
  43. Dorcas 75.00 2
  44. Eclipse 75.00 1
  45. Express 75.00 1
  46. SCR Adventures 75.00 1
  47. Firebird 74.67 3
  48. Incentive 74.36 7
  49. Hill MacGibbon 74.00 2
  50. Starzone 74.00 1

(There is much more, in fact Paul goes up to position 168! He also gives the Sutton Centre Community School Top 10 games...)

  1. MATCH DAY Ocean
  2. TECHNICIAN TED Hewson Consultants
  3. MONTY MOLE Gremlin Graphics
  4. HUNCHBACK II Ocean
  5. SKOOLDAZE Microsphere
  6. PYJAMARAMA Mikro-Gen
  7. DT’s DECATHLON Ocean
  8. AVALON Hewson Consultants
  9. MONTY IS INNOCENT Gremlin Graphics
  10. DOOMDARK’S REVENGE Beyond

Thank you Paul. The trouble with this sort of thing is that it’s out of date as soon as you produce the figures! But keep going...
LM

BLOCK BUSTED

Dear CRASH,
What are Compusound playing at? After being told to withdraw Blockbuster because it wasn’t officially licensed, I was shocked to see an advertisement for the same company depicting their new game Wenderbender.

This is an exact copy of Blockbuster in my opinion, with a different name, different shaped screen and a new price (up £2.00). I think this is disgraceful and I can’t wait for Compusound to go bust.
Jochen Tree

I think your judgement is a little harsh, since you don’t seem to be taking into account whether or not the actual game is any good. I thought the original and unlicensed Blockbuster was pretty good. I must admit to not yet having seen Wenderbender, so I can’t comment on the similarities beyond the fact that Compusound insist it is quite different.
LM

FIRST AT THE LAIR?

Dear Lloyd
I thought I’d write to you since as they’ve given you a bigger desk you’ll need more fan mail to cover it with.

I’m sure you’ll be impressed to hear that I’m the FIRST person to have completed Wizard’s Lair! (Never, you’re all saying, but it’s true!) Surely I deserve just a little blot of ink on your page with my score: 218,140, 100%, 22 mins 43 secs, 220 objects collected.

Also I’d just like to thank you for my T-shirt. I’m the sister of the bloke who asked (ie grovelled to) Roger Kean for a t-shirt at the LET show and got sent one FREE!! See, old Roger is a nice guy after all!
Cathy R Ash

PS Can my friend Olly Octopus have a T-shirt with eight armholes please?

Your hi score should have gone into the Hall of Slime, but I just couldn’t stop you in time, Cathy! I think our T-shirt suppliers would have a fit if we ordered eight-arm clothing from them.
LM

HYPER GREED

Dear Lloyd,
I have just read, much to my dismay, an article which informs me that a new software protection device is being considered for use which incorporates software to check whether a tape is original by checking a signal on the special ‘Safeload’ program tape.

Software companies are blinded by greed it seems, and I think they are systematically aiming for the destruction of themselves, the computer industry and the whole concept of computing as a hobby.

All the money they lose from games being returned due to speed load/protection faults is going to mount up and exceed the profits they make on the average game. At this point, they put the prices up, and it is this that is destroying the industry. It is all becoming too technical, far too organised and the software houses’ attitudes are ruining the fun element of computing.

Nobody, especially a teenager, wants to spend more than the value of their micro on games, and who will buy a Spectrum if they can only afford one game a month?

This said, if you’ve got the patience, two months after the release of a game, Fred the hacker from ‘round the corner’ will have broken into it and given copies to all his friends, so software companies — is it worth overcharging for your games? Why don’t you stick with what you’ve got and be grateful that people are still buying your games — there’s a limit to how far the software bandwagon can be trundled.
Richard Harrison

I think there’s a lot to be said for your arguments Fred — sorry, Richard — but you ought to remember that inventors of hyperload, protection devices et al are also entitled to earn a living by convincing software houses that this is the thing that will save them millions in lost revenue through piracy. You wouldn’t want to add to unemployment now, would you? Seriously though, there is obviously a lot of disagreement over attitudes to piracy within the industry anyway with some software houses taking the stance that it should be stamped out, and others being more stoic. It is more the organised piracy of games that is the real killer.

The next writer also has something to say about hyper/turbo loaders....
LM

TURBO TROUBLE

Dear Lloyd,
I am writing to try to help other CRASH readers who find they have a lot of trouble loading turbo or hyper loaders. First, I must say that from experience Ocean produce the worst copies of turbo loaders which refuse to load on just about every new, up to data tape recorder.

If you’re having trouble loading turbos, the first step to take is to clean the heads of your recorder. The head cleaning tapes available aren’t much use I’ve found unless they’re the type which you have to put fluid on. In my opinion the Alsopp 3 is the best head cleaner on the market which costs about £6.00 — but is it really worth spending this money just to make sure that your tape recorder can pick up the higher pitched tones of speed load tapes?

If cleaning your tape heads doesn’t work, you can always try adjusting the heads on the recorder — this is done with a little screw, and the best way is to try loading a difficult tape and fiddle with the head adjustment until it loads.

Alternatively, you can buy a good quality audio tape and copy the turbo game onto it — I’ve found that the copies generally load more easily than the originals, but this approach is getting dangerously close to piracy isn’t it?
Kevin Long

In fact about three or four issues back (I can’t lay my hands on the ‘collected CRASHes’ at the moment) I had a long piece about problems with turbo loaders, much of which was concerned with head cleaning and azimuth adjustment. It’s worth noting that with Ocean games, the level of recording seems to be very high and requires an untraditionally low level adjustment on the volume of the recorder when loading. Doing this we have had little or no trouble with loading their recent games.

The next writer claims he has solved the entire problem....
LM

SAFE TURBOS

Dear Lloyd,
In reply to Dave Bancroft in the March edition of CRASH, and for the benefit of any other Spectrum users frustrated by hyperload, I will pass on the perfect solution to the problem of loading troublesome hyperload programs.

After buying a copy of that superb Ultimate game, Knight Lore, I tried to load it with my trusty Sharp — never fails to load. I met with failure. It then ocurred to me that instead of loading it through the Spectrum’s EAR socket, I might as well try loading the program through the MIC socket. It loaded first time!

Now all my hyperload programs load first time, when I use this method, but I would point out that you have to adjust the volume level until you find a setting that loads — and it will be a bit higher than for a standard load through the EAR socket.
Ian Howell

I haven’t had the time to test this one out, although I keep meaning to, but if Ian is right then perhaps it will solve a lot of people’s problems (which still doesn’t mean you can get away with not cleaning your tape heads regularly)! Anyway, enough of hyper/turbo/expialidocious problems for this month, some readers have REALLY serious topics to discuss....
LM

FROM THE DESK OF NEIL HOOPER

Dear Lloyd,
Thought you were somewhat harsh on A Day in the Life, but as an ex-journalist I would be the first to defend a reviewer’s right to say what he feels — integrity depends on this approach.

I’d also defend the right of reply principle and there are a couple of points I wish to make.

The review claimed 13 screens — in fact there are over twice as many, it’s just that the autodemo doesn’t give everything away.

There is a simple trick to control of the Clive character. He does have to be accurately positioned to go up an available passage, but all you have to do is approach the turning using a diagonal movement on the stick or keys. Clive will run happily along a wall, or whatever, until he reaches the opening and then go through the gap as smooth as you please — same thing for staircases etc. Try it — the playability gripe will become a thing of the past. John Minson will confirm that at our press launch my brother Steve got through five screens in front of a live audience without loss and carried on to get a new personal best fifteen minutes later (by which time the rest of us were playing the other machines and covering the keyboards with wine and mayonnaise).

On a more general note, I wonder whether we do ourselves any favours by issuing the press with versions which offer infinite lives, or, in the above case, which allow free progress from one screen to the next at any time? While it gives your hard-pressed reviewers the chance to see (and hopefully be impressed by) the whole game, the challenge is far less and this may be reflected in the rating. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Watch this space... we’re going to give you all something to make your TV cry for mercy (no it’s not The Price Is Right...)!
Neil Hooper, General Manager, Micromega

It’s funny how upset a bunch of reviewers can be when they end up being less than enthusiastic about a game released by a software house who has previously provided thrill after thrill in a seemingly unending stream — in a way it seems ‘disloyal’; but the truth is that for the reasons given (probably more felt than actually stated) in the review, everyone was a bit disappointed in the game.

I take all the points about where the review was unfair in handling of Clive and the number of (I thought) rather entertaining screens, and it is certainly true that a pre-production copy which allows reviewers to live forever or access most or all of the game’s screens must have an effect on those reviewers — as you say, the challenge is often missing even if you are aware of that fact academically. On the other hand there are more people to consider than just the reviewers — the poor devils who have to take screen photographs are not always arcade champs, so a doctored copy is essential there if a game is to have reasonable screen pictures to go with the review (not to mention the sheer time it can take to photograph twenty to thirty games when all of them demand dexterity)! So perhaps the sensible answer is to provide two types of copy — one doctored so that it is possible to get a quick glimpse of the whole and make the photographers happy, and one as near the production copies as possible for the reviewers to get to grips with. (The modern software house answer of, ‘Oh we’ll provide you with printed screen dumps,’ does not satisfy CRASH — they can be useful, but a photograph taken of the actual game on screen is more alive and satisfying than those rather ‘dead’-looking screen dumps).

I don’t think for a minute that anyone at CRASH doubts Micromega’s abilities to make us jump with excitement at a new game, or make our TVs cry for mercy!
LM

INDEX WARNING

Dear CRASH
I am a keen Spectrum owner and like reading the reviews on the latest software and the older software which I missed so I jumped for joy when I saw the advertisement for the CRASH review index: ‘everything you wanted to know in CRASH but couldn’t find...’, which to look at indicates a magazine full of reviews.

So off went my money to CRASH Mail Order, and five days later a parcel popped through the letter box. When I opened it the first shock hit me — it was a tape. I loaded the program, expecting it to be a load of text reviews and then came shock No 2: it was a list of names of programs with page and magazine numbers, but the disappointment was that the only review was the percentage rating on each program.

So could you please WARN other Spectrum owners, that unless they have all the CRASH magazine back issues, then the CRASH index is useless.
K Pridmore

I’m afraid quite a lot of confusion has arisen over this Index program. Actually, the basic idea behind it is quite sound, although, as you say, it’s not much use unless you have all the back issues of CRASH, and of course this Index is NOT the one that goes automatically with the binders. Unfortunately, I don’t think the very rushed half page advertisement for it three issues ago was very well thought out.
LM

A BETTER TIP FOR DALEY

Dear CRASH,
In issue 14 I noticed a tip for playing Daley Thompson’s Decathlon, concerning the rolling of a golf ball over the keys. This is fine if you like smashing in the keyboard, but here is an invention to revolutionise Decathlon playing — THE JOG STICK (see enclosed plan).

The Universal Jog Stick

You can now beat the world records just by running up and down on the spot. It also keeps you fit while staying in the comfort of your own home. Just plug it into your joystick interface and away you go!
Bernie Beeston

Amazing, Bernie, truly amazing. You should grab the patent as fast as you can! (Although the Ministry of Defence may have something to say about it).

NOT IMPRESSED

Sirs,
Please note that I am not impressed at all by Angus Ryall’s Frontline reviews. His March issue review is his biggest farce so far. If he knew anything about wargaming, he would have spotted that Lothlorien’s Panzer Attack is just a copy of Battle of Britain, with a different scenario. This is just one example of his bungling, bigoted and unreliable performance as a ‘Frontline’ correspondent! He takes the cookie as far as excuses for missing his deadlines goes.
An Ardent Wargamer

As far as I ever learnt in history, most wars are the same game with a different scenario. It’s all very well feeling disgruntled, but how about some constructive criticism for Angus, that might then benefit other ardent wargamers? As luck would have it, Angus happens to be in the office today, right here to answer directly, so over to you Angus Ryall...

Dear Ardent, I have never tried to pass myself off as a wargamer freak — my view is that most of the readers of CRASH are not wargamers, and therefore do not want to read reviews full of the kind of detail that you obviously expect. But if my approach gets any readers to try playing slightly more sophisticated games than they have been, I’ll sleep in my bed (despite the drips).
Angus Ryall

HELPING THE PIRATES

Dear Lloyd,
You seem to be hitting hard on the idea of pirating software, but have you ever thought that your magazine is helping the pirate to find out how the software works and what the aim is, as well as all the keys? Don’t get me wrong though, I like the magazine, but was this the aim?

Another little thought on pirating software: I know it is against the law to copy originals, but is it against the law to copy pirates?
M Aldridge

Hmmmm... Many months back, when the piracy thing sort of became a BIG Thing, I received letters suggesting that we were obviously trying to help pirates in the manner you suggest. NO the idea was not to do so. LITTLE THOUGHTS INDEED, Aldridge... to pirate a program you need a copy of the original; and to have a copy of the original you can hardly avoid having a copy of the original instructions can you? Unless you are talking about very dim pirates.

And PC Plod would be very impressed to learn that your home-made £10 note was in fact a copy of someone else’s counterfeit note and not a copy of one from the treasury wouldn’t he?
LM

30th DAY OF FEB

Dear CRASH,
I realise I am probably the millionth person to point out the mistake in your ‘CRASH on TV Again’ report. How could you print such a good calendar with the Christmas Special and then say there are thirty days in February? I also noticed that you didn’t risk writing ‘February’ in full, presumably in case you made another mistake!
Jonathan Shaw

I’ve never had any trouble writing the word Feberary — saying it is the problem, and haven’t you heard of a Leap Year? (Okay so a Leap Year has 29 days, but what’s a day or so between friends)? And sending twenty yards of ZX Printout with the word ‘grovel’ four times on each line won’t help at all, Jonathon, although I’ve been told the hall does need re-wallpapering.
LM

MORE POSTERS

Dear Lloyd,
I reckon an improvement to your already fab magazine would be to use the centre pages for a poster. A good start would be the poster of Airwolf on pages 4 and 5 of issue 13.
Nathan Wools

You reckon, huh? The problem with something like Airwolf is that it is of course an advertisement. But other ideas are possible from time to time.
LM

WHAT’S GOING ON?

Dear Lloyd,
I feel I should write as quite a few people, I think, have been conned. Of course, I’m referring to Pyjamarama. I saw a letter in the Christmas Issue referring to a man who bought the game for £7.95. I’ve been hunting around and have found these prices:

and finally, I bought my copy for £3.00 in Leamington Spa.
Simon Atkinson

I’m confused! The people selling the game for £1.99 and £3.00 have either decided to ‘remainder’ it (as far as I’m aware, Mikro-Gen have not officially lowered its price, so they most be doing it to clear stock), or I can only conclude that they have had access to stocks which are less than official.
LM

Bug Box

Okay folks, that’s it for this month. I have received quite a bit of mail containing cartoons and Oli-style bugs over the months, so I’ve decided in future to devote a small corner of the Forum to displaying some of this artistic talent. If you feel like sending in some of your weirder ideas, it would be a valuable aid if they could be in a separate envelope marked — let me think — how about BUG BOX? See you next month.