Letters

No time in December, no rhyme in January.... finally, grandma can’t come up with a saying for this month! However, that hasn’t stopped you having your say, and though the great sexism debate has died down (was it really much of a debate anyway? most people seemed to be on the same side) the letters continue to fall onto my desk like autumn leaves.

Murderous micros, PC Show tedium, the good the bad and the original, golfing technique... these are the topics of this month’s Forum. Now, who can help grandma and send in the best rhyming saying for February and March?

BELOW PAR

Dear Lloyd
I’m disgusted! No sooner has all the latest furore about CRASH covers and certain ads bored everyone into submission, but your own Oli Frey deliberately and premeditatingly stirs up the hornets’ nest.

No doubt you’ve had or will have hundreds of letters complaining about the same thing... Issue 57, the cover!

Issue 57 cover

It surely most be the most provocative cover EVER! I mean, the golfer’s grip is simply either totally original, or terrible. As any golfer will tell you, the little finger of the right hand should overlap the left forefinger, or interlock with it.

The illustrated grip has no overlap, encouraging excessive use of the right arm and hence causing a severe push or slice, or both, causing the player to suffer a ridiculously high handicap.

Secondly, the angle of the arms suggests a very upright swing and stance which would give a tendency for the club’s toe to catch the ground first and twist the face open, once more producing a slice-cum-push to the right.

And lastly the wrists have been ‘broken’ far too early on the follow-through, causing a lack of control and accuracy, especially with the long irons and woods.

If, heaven forbid, any poor specimen was the model for this debacle, I urge them to arrange lessons with their local teaching professional immediately, before their swing and social life is damaged beyond repair, not to mention the inevitable expense in lost balls!

I hope I have put Mr Frey right on this crucial blunder, and expect an official apology and assurance that nothing of this sort occurs again, or you can be sure you will lose many disgusted readers, myself included.
John Hay

I gave up golf years ago so I’m not the best one to judge this grave oversight. However, I have passed your letter on to the Sporting Techniques Accuracy Subcommittee of the Oli Frey Intermagazine Artistic Management Group, and I am sure you will be hearing from them soon.

Please accept my humblest apologies for this inconvenience.
LM

NOT SO GREAT

Dear Lloyd
Referring to CRASH’s ‘All-Time Greats’ guide, how can you miss out Manic Miner? It was one of the classic games like Jetpac. The first platform game ever written deserves to be in your guide at least.

Great Games cover

If you continue to look through the pullout, you will see Robin Of The Wood. It is one of the most boring games ever, running around a huge maze looking for the bishop to get his cash. This isn’t an all-time great, so what is it doing in the magazine?

My top ten games ever are: Dynamite Dan II, Monty On The Run, Pyjamarama, Technician Ted, Marsport, Exolon, Skool Daze, Manic Miner, Jetpac and The Sentinel.

Skool Daze was better than Back to Skool because there was was more variation in the ways you could blame other people.

What a great game Pyjamarama was — shame it was a bit too easy. Technician Ted was a very hard game, but what an original idea. Marsport was not that big, but the three stages took a long time to complete.

All the games deserve to be acknowledged, don’t they, LLoyd?
C Stone

Yes and no. Taste is a personal thing (which is why everyone thinks everyone else is wrong!) and even I didn’t agree with all the entries in the All-Time Greats guide. It’s the ones they left out rather than the ones they included that cause the problems!

I suppose it would be fairly easy to pick out 60-odd games that made history — genres, graphics techniques etc that hadn’t been done before.

But trying to pick put the best games is much more subjective — after all, there have been at least 1,500 Spectrum games released since CRASH and I started!

What happened was that Ed Dom and the reviewers set down together with five years’ worth of CRASH, stole bits of Nick’s pizza and decided what to put in. They only had 16 pages, after all, so they couldn’t include everything...
LM

HE’S MAD, HE’S BAD, HE’S SENSITIVE AND CARING

Dear Lloyd
Now what’s with the BIG PRINT in the letters pages and huge screenshots of any game which is mentioned — they are hardly necessary are they? So why don’t you get rid of them giving more room to print letters?

And on the subject of letters, why not print something instead of the boring arguing about sexism in games? It’s so repetitive — the argument has not progressed anywhere since the outcry over the Dun Darach cover ages ago.

Well, here’s a new view on it for you...

I must write to complain about the portrayal of men as big strong muscle men armed to the teeth and ready to kill anyone, for example Vindicator, Barbarian and Savage.

It is degrading to man to be shown like this, we are not all big hunks with no brains. I am a sensitive caring person and was offended by the naked muscles shown in Savage. I have burned my copy of CRASH in protest. Please make sure these disgusting pictures are never printed again.

Not a very convincing argument is it, I certainly don’t agree with it, but really it is no different to letters saying pictures of women displaying their sexuality are degrading, which just proves what a useless argument it is. Well enough of that and onto something else... the PC Show. Didn’t you think it was rubbish compared to last year’s? There were hardly any independent traders selling cheap games which I think is the only thing which makes it worth going, and the lack of a balcony meant you where unable to get a good overall view of the stands and such.
Nell Stone

WHO ARE YOU ACCUSING OF BIG PRINT, YOUNG MAN?
LM

COMPUTERS — CAN’T LIVE WITH ’EM, CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ’EM

Dear Lloyd
Being a slight bookworm I enjoyed Mel Croucher’s Monitor. He had presented a well-written argument supported with interesting, convincing and well-researched facts. So I eagerly waited for his next contribution to the sacred pages of CRASH.

On purchasing Issue 56 I ran home and retired to my bedroom for some peace and quiet. I opened and scanned the contents page.

‘YAHEY! Monitor’s in this month’s ish!’, I thought happily. So I skipped past all the reviews, competitions and advertisements to page 82 and started reading Monitor.

Shock! Horror! Disappointment! How could Mr Croucher accuse a robot of murder? Any blame for Mr Kenji Urada’s death was on himself for not using the provided safety gate. Also, Psychopathic Software proved to be an ill-chosen heading and subject.

Surely Mr Croucher must understand that a computer follows its programme without deviations. Therefore any mistakes or accidents that occur are due to the programmer’s omission of something. Ideally the program should be written to cope with all possible events which have an effect on the running of a program, as a computer can only make the correct decision if it has all the necessary information.

Also, referring to the shooting down of Korean Airlines flight 007, the passenger jet: this event occurred five years ago, not three. I would like to point out also that it was shot down by a Major Vassily Kasmin in a Sukhoi SU-21 Flagon-F jet fighter, and that the Russians’ software was indeed not hopelessly slow in response and murderously stupid. If you do not believe me get Issue 3 of Take Off magazine.

However, due to the wit contained in the story of the angry unemployed man in his quest of revenge against a second-generation industrial robot, and in the quotation by Malcolm X, 1965, I know I will be unable to stop myself buying the next issue of CRASH, especially since I hope to find my letter in it!

What more can I say except... the new reviews look great, the competition prizes are amazing and I can’t wait to get the next issue of CRASH.
Sean Barry

PS: I’d better say HI! to everyone who knows me or my life will not be worth living.

It probably isn’t after ticking off Mel Croucher anyway.

I agree with you that it’s really programmers and not computers which are to blame for ‘computer disasters’ — but sometimes, mind you, it isn’t even the programmers themselves. It’s the people who give them the specification of what the software should do.

You can’t expect an expert programmer to also be an expert in military strategy; he has to be told about that by the soldiers.

As for the case of Kenji Urada, if there’s any blame it should surely rest with management who may not have adequately taught their employees how to deal with the robots.

That incident reminded me of the film Westworld, which you may have seen — where a Disneyland-like entertainment park is ‘manned’ by robots which go berserk. And yes, Mel was definitely wrong about the date of the Korean shootdown.
LM

ORIGINAL SINS

Dear Lloyd
I’m writing mainly to criticise a few points raised by Andrew Chapman in his article Seen It All, Done It All in Issue 57. He seems to be blindly in favour of originality (although he does remark that some original games aren’t too hot) with a few exceptions.

One of these quoted was Uridium, as he said that it was the best plan-view shoot’-em-up around. By this, I take the implication that Mr Chapman is saying ‘Uridium is the best, so why bother with any others?’

Uridium was certainly not the first plan-view shooter, so if someone had said the same about earlier games then it might not have come along.

I read somewhere (can’t remember where, exactly) that there are only seven ideas for a game. I don’t think there is such a thing as total originality: even Driller and Dark Side are, essentially, collect-’em-ups in 3-D.

The look of an idea may change, giving it an original appearance, but this is purely aesthetic and should not sway anyone’s judgement. Head Over Heels wasn’t all that different from Knight Lore, Alien 8 and a load of other isometric games in appearance (although the graphics were better), but it is sufficiently varied and playable to be great fun.

I think there’s no point in criticising software companies for producing the same types of games over and over again. They’re in the business to make money, not to make people happy, and they obviously wouldn’t still churn out shooter after shooter if the public weren’t interested.

Finally, I thought the PC Show was a bit flat: everyone’s showing videos and what-have-you for their Christmas blockbusters, but there seem to be very few games actually finished. I think the Show should be moved to the end of November, as the Christmas rush will be well under way and the public will be able to see the stuff coming out, rather than just gawp at the arcade machine/film etc.
Ewan Dalton

Are Ewanew staff writer or do you just like sending letters?

‘Originality’ is a much-misused word. Of course the idea of a shoot-’em-up isn’t original, but the way it’s implemented can be original.

And just as you say, Driller and Dark Side don’t have original plots — they just present an old game form in a very new way.

If originality was the only basis on which we judged things, we would have thrown out Shakespeare’s plays long ago (no doubt pleasing to anyone studying English)! They were all based on old, familiar plots even 400 years ago, but Shakespeare managed to present — write — them in a much better way.

To go a bit further ahead in history, this obsession with originality is a pretty recent disease. Until the 19th century, old-fashioned was regarded as good while people turned their noses up at new, different things — in music, writing and so on, at least. And the same would have been true of Spectrum games if they’d had them.

Let’s hope for a cure soon!

As for the PC Show, I have to say I agreed with you (and the others who wrote on this subject) ... partly. The big releases are getting later and later every year, which means there aren’t so many available at the Show.

But on balance I preferred the new Earls Court hall to the old Olympia site, and there were certainly some beautiful stands this year. Did you notice the Psion one just inside the main entrance?
LM

Whew — all that erudition makes me tired. Time for a cup of cocoa and a quick scan of the Daily Telegraph before grandma steals the TV page. I seem to have spent most my time lately cycling between the cottage and the Towers, but as winter draws on in my remote part of the Welsh border hills that will have to stop.

Ed is trying to persuade me to buy a car, but I don’t have any patience with the things. They’re almost as bad as word processors.

Why is everyone so mad about state-of-the-art technology these days? All I really need is a bicycle, a Spectrum, and the old Hermes, for answering letters on.

See you next month (or maybe at the ZX Microfair).