As another Editor said first editorials are difficult, especially when you’re slumped in front of your computer after — hopefully — finishing most of the magazine. I hope you like the ‘Crucial CRASH Tape’, it wasn’t easy getting a free Smash game and such a great demo. Thanks to the companies involved there and of course Richard Eddy for arranging it all.
The quality of The Real Ghostbusters demo, thanks to Mr Micro, is indicative of the high standard we’ve come to expect and receive from the Spectrum. For the moment, at least, the Spectrum is not only the cheapest machine around, it’s also the one with most of the best software. Of course the ST and Amiga have some dazzling games graphically, but programmers have got a long way to go before they know the 68000 chip as well as the Z80 — and it shows. Even coin-op conversions are often better on the Speccy, retaining playability while intricate 16-bit graphics ruin things with sluggish responses — step forward Afterburner and Operation Wolf.
But if the quality of licensed games and coin-op conversions has never been higher on the Spectrum, then at the same time the number of high quality, original material written specifically for it has never been lower. Apart from budget practically every game is written to be released on all formats, meaning that very few make best use of the Spectrum. Games in the old days, like Sabre Wulf, Lords Of Midnight and Full Throttle, combined imaginative presentation with gameplay designed for the machine. And not only were the games fun, they also had lots of lastability.
Yet, as always, there are exceptions to the rule — and some conversions make absolutely spectacular use of the Spectrum with similarly superb gameplay. The obvious example is Carrier Command, programmed over two years by Andy Onions. Simply putting the game on the Spectrum was something of a miracle, and the dramatic improvements in gameplay are amazing. The only other example I can think of showing similar thoughtfulness in conversion is Starglider, also converted by Realtime Software.
For the most part, though, such talent and dedication is sadly lacking. And if one software house were to launch a range of mid-price games, designed with the attention to detail in playability and machine capability as Ultimate, Micromega and Beyond once did, then I think Spectrum gamesplayers would have a lot more Smashes to choose from than in this issue.
In the meantime all I can say is look out for Carrier Command — it’s even better than that other classic mega-challenge; Elite!