There I was, just thinking spring had arrived (well, almost) and it damned well goes and snows again — and that for an issue marked ‘April’. Ludicrous business, this magazine thing — I know full well my calendar tells me (as I write) that it’s really only just started being March. Perhaps that accounts for the snow.

But for April’s FORUM I’ve received some very varied letters indeed. It’s infrequently that there’s a clear-cut winner for Letter Of The Month status, but the one I chose I liked a great deal. What’s more, I have to tell you, its writer is getting a pay rise, because as from this issue, the Powers That Be have generously, graciously and philanthropically allowed me to up the prize from £20 to £30 worth of software! (It’s the equivalent of two subscriptions to CRASH, or, looked at another way, about the same as my weekly take home pay.)

Anyway, on to this month’s best letter...

APOCALYPSE SEGA

Lloyd,
According to all the news and reports that I’ve read lately, the Day of the Game Console is fast approaching. Their arrival now seems inevitable, so I thought I would voice my opinion as to what is likely to happen.

At first sight, dedicated games consoles seem to have much to offer the player: the graphics and sound effects will far surpass those achievable on our home computers, which were never really designed as games machines. But is this in itself enough? To answer this I think we must go back to the age-old problem of what makes a game a good one.

In any game, there are two major factors: there’s the concept behind the game, and then there’s the presentation (which includes graphics, sound, packaging and licence titles). If both these ingredients are right, then you should have a playable and addictive game which grabs the eye and sells well — the type we all like to see. If the concept is good but the presentation is not up to standard then the game may still be enjoyable to play and worthy of success, but will probably be a commercial failure. The worst type of game has neat presentation masking a poor concept — licensed games often (not always) fall into this category. These games can often be fun for several hours before the unplayability comes through, and even the CRASH reviewers have, on occasion, give a Smash to a game which is no more than a good implementation of a bad idea.

Now if I can return from my tangent; I think that if consoles become popular then all we’ll see will be old ideas in new clothes. What the majority of the games-playing public want is a game that’s fun to play as well as to look at — and that means coming up with fresh ideas and original concepts. And we know who produce those — small companies with ambition and imagination who know their games must be good if they are to survive — not great corporations who can safely churn out superbly presented, but ultimately uninteresting products (and the infamous licensed games rear their ugly heads again here), because they know that the name and the ads and the screen shots will sell the game without having to bother about trivia such as how much fun the game is to play.

Programming teams and a few brave companies are keeping the Spectrum software market vaguely innovative. But if the consoles take over all we can hope to see is a never-ending line of run-of-the-mill products which quickly lose their appeal. Will we see ideas which are new and original as Lords of Midnight, Shadowfire, Pyjamarama, Knight Lore and Fat Worm Blows A Sparky? Even today I played a completely fresh and original game, Feud. The consoles would, for the most part I fear, spell the end of innovation.

But console manufacturers know they can be commercially successful since the games-playing public will have no choice. Well I would advise them to think again because if we have to pay £20 for a game with a life of only a few days, and which cannot be pirated and swapped (a fact which encourages people to buy since they know that they can obtain more for their money this way), then we may decide not to buy games at all. And that would be a sad end to the most lively entertainment industry of our day.

The future of software lies not with dedicated consoles, but with machines such as the Amiga and Atari ST, which have memory, sound and graphics but are still easily programmable and leave room for innovation. But until their prices fall to a more acceptable level, I’ll stick with my Spectrum, and continue to play games which are interesting , original, and fun to play.

PS I’ve just read details of the first Sega cartridges. They are three shoot ’em ups. two racing games and a helicopter-rescue. I rest my case...
A Bailey

Thank you for a most interesting letter Mr Bailey. I tend to take a more optimistic view of technological advance (garnished with what I fondly hope is healthy cynicism). I know it has to be seen in context with his political thinking. but in 1948 George Orwell saw terrible things happening to society because of television. Terrible things have happened of course, like East Enders, but the horrors he foresaw hadn’t come to pass by 1984. I can see games consoles being marvellous devices for creative home entertainment — one day. But then they will be interactive, worked by computers. incorporating digitised video, sound recording, perhaps even the new DAT sound systems, NOT dedicated machines. After all, we’ve been through games machines already. They had their day, and were superseded by home micros which offered far more value and fun.

The new generation of games consoles obviously offer more than their predecessors in the way of graphic and aural quality, but, as you point out so rightly, they’re not likely to offer better concepts or games designs. We’ll see.

In the meantime I think I agree with you. Stick to your Spectrum. And for your letter I most graciously award you the first ever £30 worth of software.
LM

IN DIRE DREDD

Dear Lloyd,
After reading the March Issue of CRASH I felt I had to put pen to paper, and discuss some of the things that come to mind after reading it.

Mel Croucher’s Tamara Knight is certainly not ‘incredibly convoluted’ and complex. Instead I feel that the article is (to put it into Mr Croucher’s own words) derogatory to the rest of the magazine. The plot is non-existent and the humour is pathetic. Come on Lloyd! Admit it — you made up Stephen Graham’s letter just for the hell of it! Or perhaps there really is someone out there who could be such a creep I doubt it!

Melbourne House’s Judge Dredd. How DARE they produce such a NAFF ‘game’ out of one of the greatest characters ever invented in comic history! I shall certainly think twice before buying another Melbourne House game, and I feel that they’ve certainly tarnished their previously good name. Be warned, Melbourne House, for you are on the ‘Angel’ Gang’s death list!

Reviewers’ names and revised rating system, Brilliant! Well done CRASH! At last we have a foolproof (?) guide to buying software. It is this kind of thing which puts CRASH a cut above the other computer mags. Well done!
Judge Mortis

I certainly DID NOT make up Stephen Graham’s letter. As to whether that makes him a creep or not, I couldn’t tell you — perhaps he could...

Trying it out on the Ludlow Mafia (Junior Operatives Branch), the consensus seems to be split pretty much down the middle on Tamara Knight. And something that appeals to 50 percent can’t be all bad...

Can it?
LM

CHEAP LAMB

Dear Lloyd,
After purchasing the March edition of CRASH I felt I had to write in praise of budget software. Jeremy Connor’s letter states that all budget games are ‘mutton dressed up as lamb’, and he also says that only games which have formerly been released at full price contain the slightest hint of playability and addictiveness.

In my opinion he should think about what he’s preaching. Most budget software houses have ‘wised up’ enough, to realise that if they place any old rubbish on the market they’ll hardly experience a booming trade. And so they’ve improved the quality of their games accordingly.

I have only to glance through CRASH to prove my point. Look at Feud (£1.99) 91 percent, Lap Of The Gods (£1.99) 80 percent, Universal Hero (£1.99) 83 percent, Olli And Lissa (£1.99) 78 percent, Thrust (£1.99) 76 percent.

Now, no-one I think can still say in truth that budget software is garbage. Admittedly these are select cases, but looking through some of the full price games in the March Issue, these have doubled their ratings.

Software houses should become aware of the surge of budget games today which will soon consume the majority of the software market.
Peter Walker

I wouldn’t argue about the quality of some budget software, although the record shows that it has its poor quality games, just as much as the full-priced end of the market. However, it’s also worth considering the position of Mastertronic who, in taking over one or two other software houses over the past two years, has always left those entities free to continue developing more expensive games. The truth remains — it’s nearly impossible to develop a really complex, exciting and original game unless the full price is returned upon it.
LM

APPRECIATE THE ONE-TWO-EIGHT

Dear CRASH,
I’ve owned a 48K Spectrum for about a year and have recently bought a 128+2. Like most 128 owners I’m disappointed in the lack of software that uses the 128 to its full potential. No doubt software houses have 128 games in the pipeline, but they’re a long time coming!

One idea I’ve had is for that for the time being (as a stop-gap) maybe software houses could release previous games in enhanced versions. I mean, they don’t hesitate in re-releasing games in the form of compilations, so I could see they would benefit from 128 owners who already have the 48K version but would appreciate an enhanced 128K version.

Just imagine Highway Encounter, Zoids, Quazatron etc with extra levels, problems, improved sound and sold at a budget price say £2.99 to £3.00. 128 owners get the benefit and it’s another way for software houses to get the last bit of profit out of an old game — so everyone’s happy. Look at the 48K version of Starglider and the 128K. I know which I prefer.
Ian Charlesworth

Yes, but you’re overlooking a slight problem, Ian, when you compare re-releasing games in enhanced form and as compilations. With a compilation, the originating software house doesn’t have to do anything, except hand over a master to the compiling licensee — no cost, nothing; just a small royalty to come back when it sells. But before re-releasing a 128 enhanced version of an older game, someone’s got to do quite a bit of programming work first, and that costs money. Actually, I don’t know how much it would cost (probably depends a lot on the game and its coding) for software houses to put your idea into operation, but I rather doubt it would be possible at a budget price, Can someone tell me, please?
LM

IMPOSSIBLE MISSION

Dear Lloyd,
Prepare yourself for a Speccy-tale of the 128K variety.

Deep in the dark realms of the past, I think it was March 86, a man came to a news conference and hailed the coming of a new Messiah, the man was the late great Sir Clive Sinclair and the Messiah was the Spectrum 128K MK1. At the price of £179.00 it was a bit steep, but I managed to save up and buy it.

But software was the problem, and as I owned both Elite and Tomahawk I got off to a bad start. Then behold, a Saviour came to the rescue in the shape of a weekly magazine, PCW, which in an interview with a spokesman for Firebird told all owners of the non-compatible Elite return it to them for a 128K version.

So I wrapped up my Elite carefully, with all its manuals, and placed it in a secure package and sent it through the post by Recorded Delivery (Regn 229952 on 18 March 1986), Now having been an avid reader of CRASH since Issue One, I didn’t expect anything to happen for at least six to ten weeks — and I wasn’t surprised. But as the fourth and the filth months passed I got worried, and so sent a letter off to Firebird asking them what had happened.

I got no reply, but decided to wait. By now Your Sinclair and Sinclair User were printing articles about the 128K Elite: while YS told us of a super Elite 128K, SU told us of a straight conversion with added sound effects; but meanwhile you at CRASH kept silent.

After eight months I wrote again, and still no answer, even though both letters contained an SAE. So as the first anniversary approaches. I decided to write to you to tell of my plight and to ask other CRASH readers whether they ever received an upgraded version of Elite from Firebird.

Although 128K software is now more available. I have just bought Starglider and it’s brilliant. I think it’s a shame the first 128K compilation tape by Ocean contains two games that were originally given away free with the 128K Mk1. But never mind that grumble.

I would just like to say thank you for over three years of reviewing Spectrum software.
David Clarkson

A heart-rending story, David, and a slightly surprising one too. Has anyone else failed to receive their upgraded version of Elite from Firebird? Perhaps someone there would like to check out the recorded delivery number for David?
LM

DISENGOODWINED

Dear Lloyd,
I’ve been reading CRASH for a year now, and have no complaints. Is this possible, you ask yourself?!

Well, not entirely. I own a 128 and think it is a good computer despite a few problems. One of these is the RS232 port, which I use for my printer. Now back in Issue 33 (August 86) we were told in the Plus 2 Laid bare section of News, that, quote; ‘Printer control codes are ignored unless you use a couple of POKEs — details in next month’s Tech Tips’: unquote. I own a printer and so waited eagerly for the POKES, which failed to appear. Is Simon Goodwin suffering from amnesia? If so, can you jog his memory, please?

Onto another subject. Where, oh where, has the arty feature On The Screen disappeared to? It was run for three issues, missed for another and then came back for the last time, never to be seen again. Has Rainbird pulled out, or have you just chucked it out to make more space?

I thought I would just stick my oar into the POKEs debate to say that POKEs are great.

Yours bashSimonGoodwinly (!)
Mark Otway

Okay, I’ll give Simon a bash for you, and see if I can’t shake out a POKE or two from those voluminous pockets. As to On The Screen, I think I’m allowed to say that one or two minor problems we’ve experienced over the last couple of issues (nothing to do with Rainbird however) have made it difficult to run. Can’t say anymore than that, except that Roger Kean says he will be looking into it.
LM

IN SEARCH OF PERFECTION

Dear Lloyd
What is a good Software House? What a strange question. I hear you cry. But actually, it isn’t. Surely to all purposes a good software house is one that you can rely on to turn out good games each time. And if you think about it, there isn’t one!

The only software house that has ever been ‘solid as a rock’ in this respect is Ultimate. However there is no excuse for Pentagram — a boring and unplayable game (ever tried playing it with a joystick?) and this, along with Nightshade, is where the company falls down.

Other software houses have released some amazing games only to put out others of exceptionally poor quality. Look, for example, at Ocean — what it added to its reputation with the release of Cobra and The Great Escape it lost with Mailstrom, Knight Rider and It’s A Knockout. And even Elite and Gremlin aren’t perfect, Gremlin’s Footballer Of The Year and Future Knight left a lot to be desired, and Elite lovers need only take one look at Space Harrier and Ghosts ’n’ Goblins — two examples of great arcade games mauled in conversion to the Speccy.

The race to be top dog is on, now that Ultimate has stepped down from the throne. And I believe that Hewsons will soon climb to number one — the only blemish so far being City Slicker. Steve Crow’s Starquake is still the best Speccy game ever released, and with him in their stable, Hewsons can’t go far wrong!
M Macdonald

It would be very surprising to me if one software house actually managed to be at the top by only releasing excellent games. With the best will in the world there are going to be failures — or at the very least, games which do not appeal to everyone, and are therefore perceived as being failures by those people. Ultimate certainly has enjoyed an enviable reputation for Spectrum games for a long while (not so bright on the Commodore however). And I’m sure most other companies strive to achieve the same ambitious reputation with everything they do.
LM

BELATEDLY DOWN UNDER

Dear Lloyd,
I apologise if this letter seems a bit out of date but having just received the December 86 edition (in February 87) its a bit hard to keep up. This also means that the competitions, which you seem to be so proud of, have run out by about a month. So how about having a competition with extended entry dates every now and then for us CRASH readers Down Under, who can’t afford approximately £4.00 per issue to have CRASH sent airmail.

On the ‘Chicken and Egg’ angle; ideally the computer and the software should come Out together, which means that a portion of the responsibility for software should lie with the company that develops the hardware. After all, it can only help their sales if there’s a supply of software to keep the public happy until the independents move into fill the vacant software slot.

Now a bit about your great (this is not a grovel, it’s solid fact) magazine. Are you no longer proud of Oli’s BRILLIANT covers? If you are, then why has his stylish signature disappeared from the bottom left of the past few covers? And while raving on about artists, how about a follow up to On The Cover and an article on John Richardson, author of the hilarious Jetman?

A while ago you said, in reply to some letters, that reviewers’ initials should be put after their comments. So why haven’t we seen any action on this simple move to improve?

Bug-Box is fine in moderation. Three or four per issue are great but when it gets so that Bug-Box has more space than the letters then the situation is a bit ridiculous.

A one line gripe — what has the PBM section got to do with Spectrum gaming?

Back in Issue 27 there was an interview with Mel Croucher. In it he said that the industry had stagnated because 15-year-old programmers can’t be original. Maybe they can’t, but there are plenty of other mature-age programmers out there who don’t seem to be helping move the industry in the direction that Mr Croucher seems to want it to go in (ie away from mindless destruction games). I’m also sure that his sliced breadline has some cosmic relevancy, but as a mere mortal I find it a bit beyond me.
John Hind

I do appreciate the problem for you with the competitions, but it’s exceedingly hard to arrange any over an extended period to suit readers in Australia or New Zealand. I don’t want you to feel like some sort of second class reader, but there are two problems. First; if we delayed the closing dates, then British readers would have to wait months for results, and if we ran competitions literally for you in Australia, it would only be for a handful of readers (well a few thousand, but not tens of thousands), which as you, in turn, may appreciate, doesn’t excite British software houses. Or does it? Any takers?

Some of the covers you mention, were not actually painted by Oli, but by another artist called Ian Craig, which may explain why you’ve missed his signature. This cover is by Oli, and they will be from now on.

As you’ll know by now (gosh, it’s like talking to someone living light years away!), we did cover John Richardson a few issues back. And you’ll also know that the reviewers’ names appear after their comments. As for PBM, not only is it a popular subject with computer owners, but many players do use their computers to aid in making moves. Okay, it isn’t Spectrum-specific, but CRASH would quickly become boring if we stuck only to Spectrum-related subjects.

Hope you get to read this before Christmas, John!
LM

A MOANER MOANS ABOUT MOANING

Dear Lloyd,
What’s going on in the world today? Well I’ll tell you what — people are changing, changing into moaners, people who just winge or complain all the time, people who never seem to stop complaining about the price of this, and what a lot of money that was.

People moan at the price of software, but they must know that piracy is the reason prices are sky high.

People also moan about buying games that are either pathetic, too difficult, or too easy to complete, so why the hell do they buy these games in the first place task myself? Anyway, about pathetic games; soon the time will come when software houses who constantly produce pathetic games that are very much over-hyped will vanish and the software market will be a much safer place in which to shop.

Another favourite moan is, ‘I can’t do this game, it’s much too difficult’. Well, being as there’s over five million Spectrum owners with differing game playing abilities, I can’t see a solution to this problem.

But it’s not just the games players that moan, it’s also the software houses; they’re going on about a slump in sales but this is nothing new as it is effecting the record industry as well.

Finally the biggest moaners of the lot seem to be the parents. It’s always, ‘turn that bloody thing off, it’s warping your mind’ or, ‘I hope you’re going to pay half of the electric bill the amount you’ve used playing on that computer’.

So it seems all people do is moan, oh well, I suppose that’s life.
Matthew Haynes

From the moment we’re out of the womb thrown,
Life appears as one great long moan.
But if all we can do about it is groan,
Then we never do deserve to be shown
The excitements it offers, and our joys will have flown
LM (1987)

BUT I’M NOT MOANING

Dear Lloyd,
Before we start I would just like to point out that this letter is not a moaning one. I am quite satisfied with arcade conversions, girlie tipsters, budget software, hacking (I’m a hacker) pokes, reviews, reviewers, rating systems, Hunter S Minson (believe it or not) and other such trivial matters.

Back In the good old days (not so good, not so old) when the colour scheme on the contents page used to make eyes twist and eyebrows combine, I saw your magazine perched on a shelf in W H Smith (CRASH, I thought at the time, was a WEIRD name for a computer magazine (innocent days). I then looked around and saw all the other computer mags which were on offer.

Being young and foolish (not so young but totally tapped in the head) I decided not to spend my (not-so hard-earned) cash on your mag. That decision I regret, and it was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made (the other two are unmentionable, besides, this is a family magazine).

Now I subscribe to CRASH, and it’s great. When I first got your magazine, I rushed out and bought the first CRASH Smash I saw when I breezed through your pages.

‘Didn’t you read the reviews first?’ comes a cry from the depths of CRASH Towers.

‘No I didn’t’ comes the reply. And it’s the best policy I’ve adopted in years. I’d recommend it to anyone. With this policy I’ve doubled my games, and I’ve become a respected figure with my mates.

‘How?’ comes another strangled cry. Well I’ll let you into a little secret (ooh!). Every time I see a CRASH Smash I pop down to my local high street and purchase the whopper.

Gobs fly open the next day as my mates (who will remain nameless except for Gaz, Shaz, Daz, Baz and Laz) find that old snidey-pants here is the first one they know who has the truly mega-brill game they saw in CRASH. re all at my feet the next moment, saying they’d give their hearts for that game (although some people prefer hearts, I would much rather have games in return). For one original I usually get around ten — dare I say it — pirated copies (shock, horror).

I now have over 60 games including only five originals!!

I save up for a game, and one game only, and that and the ‘copies’ I get do me very well, thank you.

Yes, thanks CRASH, your Smash trademark has earned me ‘tons’ of games.
The Kid

This sounds like a very tall tale to me. ’S’far as I know, CRASH has given rather more than five Smashes in its time, if that’s all the originals you’ve bought. And what about all the Smashes that don’t make it into the shops for a week or so after an issue has gone on sale? Don’t ever kid a kidder, Kid.
LM

THE BIG TIE-IN

Dear Lloyd,
I’m writing to comment on arcade conversions. Recently, Imagine/Ocean have been concentrating on arcade and film tie-ins. I’m not complaining, as some of these games have been good, like The Great Escape, but Ocean in particular seems to have had a few bad games behind it. I agree with many letters which state that the name of the game supersedes the quality of the product. One minute Ocean turns out a first class product, next a failure. Don’t they care what they sell?

Now, they’ve started to ruin Imagine’s name by turning out rubbish like Yie Ar Kung Fu 2. People will buy a bad game from a company, and then automatically assume all the other games by that company are awful. Now, I’m not stupid, I subscribe to CRASH but what about the people who don’t? A lot of my Speccy owning friends don’t even know what CRASH is.

After your December issue came through my letter box. I rushed out to buy Cobra and The Great Escape. Both were, as you said, excellent quality products (from Ocean). In your Christmas issue, you gave Starglider a Smash. Of course, I bought it, and must say I was slightly disappointed. For £14.95, I reckon it lacked just a teensy weensy bit of playability. Still, on the bright side, I like your new reviewing system. At last you print the reviewers’ names next to the review. It makes it a lot easier for us. as now we know who to nag.

Why don’t you give away free booklets? (LM was cool). Lastly, a few questions:

1. What the hell is LMLWD?

2. Why don’t you put more adverts in black and white and more reviews in colour?

3. I noticed in the February issue that you can only order back issues from no 24 onwards (page 77). Does this mean all the others are sold out?

4. Purely out of interest, can you tell me how much CRASH would cost if it were weekly?
Graeme Mason

I’m horrified to think that you have Spectrum-owning friends who don’t know what CRASH is’ Perhaps they’d better go out and buy it, that way, like you, they would know that Ocean, like any prolific software house, has lots of good product and some poorer games occasionally.

The answers:

1. Lloyd Mangram’s Long Word Dictionary — an invaluable source of obscure, unpronounceable and hard-to-spell words (sadly, only available bound in Moroccan leather with hand-tooled 24 carat gold detail for around £375 per copy).

2. We have no control over the adverts and whether they’re colour or black and white. That’s up to the advertisers who pay for their pages so you can afford to buy CRASH at a sensible price.

3. Yes it does.

4. Lord knows! But rather a bit more than 25p. Most fortnightlies, for instance, average about £1.30 per month for only a few pages more than your average CRASH.
LM

A BOLT IS SHOT

Dear Lloyd,
Many moons ago, while watching television I strayed onto BBC1 and Newsround. John Craven was doing an article on arcades and addiction to fruit/arcade machines.

I think he mentioned court cases and definitely talked about stealing to pursue this hobby. When CRASH (February Issue) came through the letter box I flicked through the Forum and to my surprise found a letter from Tom Evans which raised these very points. An entirely original letter? I think not.

Glad to see you take notice of readers’ opinions such as Stephen Click and (surprisingly) S Valente. He suggested shortening (or abolishing) reviews of bog-standard games. You have adopted this with budget games but strangely Harvey Headbanger (80 percent) got the same amount of reviewing space as Pro Golf (26 percent) and three-quarters of the space of It’s A Knockout (39 percent).

Last and least my name is David Shotbolt not Shotbott as the Comps Minion thinks. He got it right in the Strike Force Cobra competition.

Another point: Andrew Onions of Realtime Software said that Starstrike II was lacking in game play yet CRASH gave it 96 percent. Strange.
David Shotbolt

Well I did ask for readers’ opinions on Tom Evans’ letter, and there haven’t been many. I assume this means most CRASH readers think his sentiments regarding the insidious dangers of arcades are misplaced or irrelevant. Bit odd to accuse him of being unoriginal though. After all, there’s just been the case of the 23-year-old who committed suicide because he was hundreds of pounds in debt through gambling on fruit machines. But cases like that are extreme and isolated; not that I’m saying people don’t over-spend in the arcades, just that the majority can keep their interest at a reasonable level and not become dangerously addicted.

Tom’s letter also suggested that it was wrong for CRASH to discuss or even mention arcade machines and games, because the average age of our readers is 14 to 15, and it’s illegal for anyone under 16 to enter an arcade. I repeat, as I have so many times before, that while many CRASH readers may be aged 14 to 15, the AVERAGE AGE as supplied by the last questionnaire, was over 17 years.

I can’t comment on the space different games get, because it’s not up to me how much the reviewers think it’s worth saying about them; but as to Andrew Onions and his comment — haven’t you ever heard the aphorism which says that artists are the worst liars when it comes to their own work...?
LM

NEW POKES FOR OLD

Dear Lloyd.
I think your mag is brilliant, but why can’t your Holy Eminence devote a few more pages to your inexperienced games players (me and my mates).

What I am suggesting is that you devote a few pages to pokes for beginners, pokes for old games like Lunar Jetman, Jet Set Willy etc. I’m sure that many readers would appreciate it.

Leisure Genius ought to be ashamed of themselves: What I’m referring to is the game Scalextric. I load it up only to find a game similar to Psion’s Chequered Flag with the exception of a track designer!

Congratulations to Mirrorsoft who’ve made it to the top of my charts with Dynamite Dan II. Here are my charts:-

  1. Dynamite Dan II
  2. Cauldron II
  3. Jet Set Willy II
  4. Manic Miner
  5. Underwurlde
  6. Spellbound
  7. Bombjack
  8. Sweevo’s World
  9. Monty on the Run
  10. The Great Escape

Paul Harrison

Old pokes, huh? There was a time when the very name Jet Set Willy could set my teeth on edge. Shortly after the game was released, I was inundated with cheats, tips and pokes. In fact it was the first game (Manic Miner was just the tip of the iceberg) to really receive the royal hacking treatment. I got so much stuff relating to it that it was almost a pleasure to hand the tips section (wot I’ve just got back from Hannah) over to young Candy-snapper.
LM

NOT OUTDATED

LM,
I have a series of complaints to make.

While reading another mag called SU, I noticed some tips for The Great Escape. I just noticed the tipster’s name at the bottom. He was called Charlie Morgan; good tips I thought. But when I read Hannah’s tips on TGE, I noticed who sent them in. By coincidence it just happened to be Charlie. This, in my book, is serious disloyalty towards CRASH. So, advice to you Charlie, take your useless tips and maps and keep them to yourself. I’m sure other readers won’t want to use second-hand ripped-off tips!

Why does everything — and everybody want to write off Americana and Ole Toro. I agree, it’s a terrible sport, but so is killing everything in sight, like Cobra. If everybody criticised blood-and-guts games the software houses would go bankrupt. What’s the big deal?

Why is everybody saying that the Speccy has reached its limits? Just as class games like Strike Force Harrier have been made — out comes a mega-fantastic brill game called The Great Escape. How did Ocean do it? It’s total rubbish saying the Spectrum is getting out of date. So Ocean keep it up!
David Edge

It’s a bit naughty of Charlie to send his tips to more than one magazine, I agree David, but if they were his and they were printed by both publications, then he was hardly ripping them off!
LM

FANZINE FACTS

Dear Lloyd,
We are going to start a magazine following the fanzine feature in the March Issue (No 38). However, as we don’t exactly have much experience in writing, editing and producing magazines, we would like some advice.

Firstly can we have list of most of the software companies so we can write to them and begin the long and difficult task of convincing them we are genuine?

Secondly should we send the games back after reviewing them, so they don’t think we are getting free games? And lastly, Hannah Smith said in the article that a good way to convince software houses that you are real, is to send them a copy of your magazine. How are we supposed to send in a copy of a magazine that doesn’t exist? Or are we supposed to fill the first issue with loads of boring technical features and stories. Anyway. please can you give us advice on all these points.
Hopeful Editors Of A Magazine, Neil Packham, Lloyd Thomas

With a name like Lloyd between you, how can you fail? A list of all the software houses and their addresses would eat up too much space here. I’ll see what we can do about that next month, but in the meantime, surely a little ingenuity is what you want. If you’re about to embark on a fanzine, then surely you must have access to a fair number of existing games already? Yes, then check the inlays out for company addresses — most put them on.

You must overcome the third problem — convincing companies you’re genuine — before worrying about the second. If they believe you, they’re unlikely to want you to return the review copies. But you must appreciate their point — Hannah was right, they are concerned about giving freebies to anyone who simply writes in and says, ‘we’re a fanzine’. All magazines before they launch have to go through the same stage — believe me LM had to — of producing what’s called a ‘dummy issue’ to make people see it’s real. Use those older games of yours to produce a few pages as a trial. Not only will it help you to sort out some of the writing, editing and design problems, but it will also provide you with something to send along to software houses, and help convince them that you are genuine.

And the best of luck to your venture. Don’t forget to send some copies to CRASH for the Fanzine File.
LM

RATED FOR EFFICIENCY

Dear Mr Mangram,
I recently wrote letters to different Software Houses requesting general information on their products, to see just how good they would be in replying.

I thought I’d write and tell you that:

Elite replies after ten days, six posters and up to date price list.

Gremlin Graphics replies after 11 days, three posters and up to date price list.

Domark replies 11 days, very old price list

Firebird replies 11 days, fact sheet, price list.

Hewsons reply seven days, two posters and fact sheet.

Quicksilva/Argus Press replies six days, seven posters, fact sheet and price sheets and two Bug Byte cardboard cut-outs.

Ocean nothing as yet.

US Gold nothing as yet.

Gargoyle/FTL replies 13 days, three posters and price list.

The Edge nothing as yet.

Here are my ratings on each company out of five.

Elite*****
Ocean-
US Gold-
Gargoyle****
Quicksilva*****
Gremlin****
Domark**
Firebird***
Hewsons****

So there you have it — Argus Press Software/Quicksilva come out on top.

Shame Ocean/US Gold etc couldn’t be bothered to reply, but that’s the world we live in.
Julian P Whiting

I think that’s a pretty interesting piece of research Julian. Perhaps you would like to come and work on collating the results of the next (and imminent) CRASHTIONNAIRE!

Congratulations to APS and Quicksilva, and everyone else who graciously took part in the research...
LM

Okay Spectrum computer freaks everywhere, this is your Main Man-gram, the wizard of the epistles, the spinner of webs and the weaver of words, signing off for another month (working with all those hip-trendies on LM is beginning to get to me). I’m here to open your letters, file them, read them, enter them into my Hermes, edit them, shuffle them round the keys and answer them. See you in May (when it’ll really still be April and probably still snowing).