News

WRANGLER

POOR OLD Dave Baxter at Rainbow Arts in Birmingham has been having a bad old time of it recently. Remember The Great Giana Sisters, which we gave a CRASH Smash in Issue 55? Well, if you’ve been scouring the streets for it, stop! It seems that Rainbow Arts are having a bit of trouble with Nintendo (producers of Super Mario Bros): ‘Nintendo are getting heavy’, says Mr Baxter. And chances of a Spectrum release are ‘a little bit bleak, to say the least!’. Pity, just as GO! were starting to get back on the right track again (with Capcom’s Bionic Commando, Street Fighter and RA’s TGGS) some big-headed company puts the heavies on them.

And it doesn’t finish there! Rainbow Arts’ next scheduled release, Katakis, has also had the brakes put on it and will never see the light of day. Activision reckon it looks a bit too much like R-Type, and they want all the R-Type buyers to themselves (greedy sorts). In fact Activision are so worried that somebody might copy the ‘look and feel’ of R-Type that they’ve threatened anyone who thinks about a clone with legal action. So what does ‘look and feel’ mean guys? Anyway, it’s just not cricket, is it?

So what scandal is Dave Baxter coming up with for Capcom’s Christmas release LED Storm? ‘Programmers in eight-year-old virgin shock!’?

SUM YOU WIN

New budget house Summit is currently offering a ‘collector’s prize’ of a complete set of old mint-condition coins for the winner of a free-to-enter competition. The reason for this strange prize? Well, Summit boss Roger Hulley’s father was the inventor of a popular 1930s card game after which the company was named. This old game was based on the pre-decimalisation currency system of pounds, shilling and pence (those were the days — Ed). What the entrants must try and figure out is how much £2.99 (the price of Summit games) equates to in ‘old’ money.

AGAIN, AGAIN

IT’S TIME FOR yet another new label from Pontefract-based Alternative Software. This month heralds the start of Again, Again — their first full-price label. The lead release will be The Munsters, based on the C4 American TV series (which, fact fiends, has been running for almost nigh on two decades). Should be out for the end of November.

Hermann Munster

LICENSED TO SELL

Mediagenic have recently signed a deal with Sega, giving them exclusive conversion rights to five of the arcade giant’s latest coin-ops. These are Galaxy Force (a fast 3-D space shoot-em-up in the mould of Afterburner), Altered Beast (take a look at it in this month’s arcade feature), Sonic Boom (in which the player pilots a fighter plane), Hot Rod (surprise, surprise.., yet another driving game) and Ace Attacker (a volleyball simulation — dig that!). The five lucrative titles will be divided between Mediagenic’s two labels, Electric Dreams and Activision, and will all be released during 1989.

Also scheduled for release next year is Mediagenic’s license of the film Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis as a New York cop trying to rescue a group of hostages. Meanwhile, Mediagenic are taking the unusual step of using a national TV campaign to promote their Autumn releases, Afterburner, SDI and R-Type.

PLAY IT AGAIN, SIM

DIGITAL INTEGRATION have got a new game coming out. And guess what? It’s a simulator, a flight simulator! Well, with both the directors of DI originally coming from the Ministry of Defence what more did you expect? It’s called F-16 Combat Pilot and is very complicated. So now you know!

FAST SINK PIRATES

FAST, THE DILIGENT anti-piracy organisation recently took part in a raid that seized the largest value of pirated goods to date. Over 3000 counterfeit ST, Amiga and PC software disks worth over £100,000 were netted when the Glasgow CID conducted the massive raid. Electronic Arts, US Gold, Elite, Microprose and Ocean were all on hand to help. The enquiries leading to the seizure took over a year to complete, emphasising the determined attitude of the whole software industry in stamping out piracy.

THE NAME’S BOND

IN A SURPRISE move, Domark and Elite are jointly releasing the latest Bond game, Live And Let Die. The reason for this unusual link-up is due to Domark’s disappointment with their own in-house version of the licence. After hearing about a speedboat game being developed by Elite (originally titled Aquablast), they inquired about the possibility of using this game for the licence. Elite were happy to let Domark market their game under the lucrative, licensed title and will receive equal billing on the packaging.

Although both software houses have stressed that this is purely a one-off deal, Mark Strachan of Domark hinted that there could be future collaboration between the two firms if this project is exceptionally successful.

BATTLE OF THE JOYSTICKS

BOTH KONIX AND Compumart have announced the arrival of brand-new joysticks. South Wales-based Konix, the makers of the popular Speed King, revealed two new desktop joysticks at the recent PC Show. The Predator, which is likely to retail at just under £13, is slightly larger than its ‘little brother’ The Megablaster, which should cost under £8. Although the two sticks appear fairly similar, the main difference between them is internal. The Predator uses micro-switches while the Megablaster is operated by ‘a more traditional mechanism’. Both sticks are compatible with all Spectrums, including the +2s and 3s.

Meanwhile Compumart have the exclusive rights to distribute the Replay Micro Blaster in the UK. The red and black stick is operated by eight micro-switches and features a rapid fire option and a steel shaft. Compumart claim that the Micro Blaster came joint first in an independent survey of 15 leading joysticks. The stick costs £12.95 and is guaranteed for 12 months.

Photos of joysticks

The Replay Micro Blaster from Compumart is ominously flanked by Konix’s Predator (left) and Megablaster (right)

POWER HOUSE SHUTDOWN

ASPIRING BUDGET software firm The Power House have mysteriously gone bust, owing massive debts to their associates. Relations had already soured between them and their German distributors Ariolasoft after legal problems.

The Power House label was sold only this February by CRL (who must be pleased that they got out just in time) to ambitious entrepreneur, Ashley Hildebrandt and partners. The new owners had hoped to clean up the lacklustre image of the budget house.

Ironically, only recently Hildebrandt boasted of over quarter of a million sales since the takeover — the sinking of the firm seems to have tightened his tongue as he declined to comment on the reasons for the surprising shutdown. Meanwhile The Power House’s creditors (including Solution PR and duplicator, Precision Data) are unsurprisingly fuming about the substantial amounts of money owed to them.

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM

EXCLUSIVELY REVEALED by CRASH in Issue 50 (all those moons ago), the long-awaited SAM Spectrum ‘superclone’ is almost ready for release. (I’ll believe it when I see it! — Ed.) Miles Gordon Technology are set to launch the new computer at the ZX Microfair in December. Although MGT are based in South Wales, the SAM will be built in Japan and cost from £100 to £150.

Unfortunately, the Spectrum-compatible machine is unlikely to be available in high street shops for a while yet but should be available direct by mail order as soon as February (just like the old Sinclair days — Ed) — it will be made available first to the members of MGT’s user groups.

The SAM has been designed by Disciple and Plus D creator Bruce Gordon, and will come with 256K built-in RAM expandable to 512K. It will also feature a higher (8 times) colour resolution for its display than the normal Spectrum, allowing the use of more colour with less attribute clash.

The development of SAM has been financed by the profits from the successful Plus 0 disk drive interface, and the new machine’s disk system is based on the Plus 0 but will use quad-density 3.5" drives which work twice as fast. Other built-in ports allow direct connection with MIDI instruments, light pens and RGB monitors. Also, a built-in networking system (like the old Interface One) allows SAMs to be connected together for multi-player, multi-computer games!

Whether this promising ‘clone’ will be able to compete with the marketing might of Amstrad only time will tell. But for innovation’s sake, let’s hope that it’s a success.

MGT Photo

MGT dealing with more enquiries from anxious readers, who want to know more about the Spectrum ‘superclone’, SAM

OCEAN IN A SPIN

SCOTTISH TELEVISION, makers of the much-hyped game show Wheel Of Fortune, recently commissioned Ocean to build a special version of the coin-op Typhoon to fit into a small suitcase. There was just one minor problem; Angela Ekaette, the hostess with the mostest who had to demonstrate the game on the highly intellectual (shurely shome mishtake? — Ed) TV show, had never played any arcade game before. So young Kane Valentine of Ocean jumped at the chance to teach Angela how to operate a joystick! To find out whether Angela can hit the high scores, tune in on Tuesday September 27, when she will demonstrate the prize worth over £1000 (well I suppose it’s one reason to watch... yawn).

Wheel of Fortune

Would you buy a used joystick from these three?

SOMETHING BEGINNING WITH E

NO IT’S NOT Ed’s car numberplate — that’s an ‘F’ (as he keeps reminding everyone) — it’s Espionage the devious board game which Grandslam are converting for all the major formats including the +3.

The intriguing board game (devised in 1984 but recently rereleased) involves controlling 12 agents around the board, searching for four microfilms, which contain the plans for the ‘ultimate weapon’. It’s do or die as spies attack each other — losing a spy results in a forfeit of your government funds. A great deal of strategy is involved in using the three different types of agent to best effect; each type moves in a unique manner.

If the computer version is as fascinating as the excellent board game, we should be in for a treat.