What do you think of the new look? I’m afraid I can’t comment because I haven’t really seen much of it so far, as I write nothing seems quite settled. In my own hallowed pages one thing I know for certain is that Nick’s been drafted in to take over a page. Partly it’s my own fault, making merry at the Computer Arena and a long Easter holiday didn’t leave me much time to do the Forum, but Nick’s welcome to take some of the ‘less serious’ letters with Spring — and lots of gardening — coming up. Nothings permanent though, and if you want more pages for LM’s two-thirds of the Forum, send in more letters!
For next month’s Forum I should think there’ll be plenty to talk about, what with the new look, the elimination of the Essentials from the reviews and the Computer Arena awards to discuss. One topic I hope won’t be too hotly debated is the subject of the Letter Of The Month below. After scolding Mr Lascelles last month about his 16-bit bashing, I have to admit I felt a bit of pleasant nostalgia reading Ian Smith’s letter.
I get the feeling that I, and couple of friends, are the only people left in the country who don’t think the C64 is the bees’ knees compared to the Speccy. I’m not going to argue sound — the SID chip is very good, although the 128’s AY has dramatically improved things for Speccy owners. My main annoyance is the way it is now assumed that the C64 has better graphics than the Speccy.
The argument is one of compromises. Intricate detail and shading or slick, but vague blocks of colour — needless to say I go for the latter. Sprites on the Commodore may have several colours but faces, etc. rarely have any form of detail on them. The C64’s larger, slightly rectangular pixels combine with colour combination restrictions within character blocks to produce blocky pictures with familiar combinations of colours. The Spectrum can produce subtle shading and surprising levels of detail with a choice of the same number of shades (16), and the Speccy’s BIG problem of low res colour allocation can (and has for the last 18 months) be overcome with planning and thought. The overall effect is one I find much more satisfying than that on the C64 with rare exceptions such as Last Ninja, where the Speccy was matched for detail, and obviously could not come up with as much colour.
Incidentally the answer to those fools who sneer, ‘... well, why do they usually show C64 screen shots on adverts then?’ is that small pictures don’t show up lack of detail, and will emphasize lack of colour. Your ‘rivals’ Sinclair User have shown their acceptance of superior C64 graphics.
And another point is that of memory; the C64’s name is very misleading — it has under 40K of usable memory and while a disk drive can partially solve this problem, Commodore drives make my +3 seem very fast indeed. In addition 128K is now the memory of most Spectrums, and all of this is usable RAM. With the complete flop of the Commodore 128 the Spectrum seems uncontested in the memory stakes, with a superior disk drive as well!
All this make it even more annoying that software houses like American Cinemaware don’t bother to make full use of these capabilities. The classic example is Defender Of The Crown. This game was big. Hence it required lots of memory and a disk-drive. As mentioned before, the Speccy wins out here. The only time when a C64 game is faster than on a Spectrum is when it requires good scrolling routines — the C64 has such routines hardware operated allowing for extra speed. Defender Of The Crown made little demand of such features — the graphics were often highly detailed statics where attribute clash is very easily avoided. This game was ideal for the Spectrum, but the only 8-bit version was on the C64.
This attitude of software houses was in my opinion started off by similar
foolish views in magazines. I remember you airing similar opinions to mine of
your own in an early issue of CRASH, and I hope you haven’t been
converted. Please Lloyd, spread the word, and keep the Speccy flag flying.
I’m sure many of the good 8-bit programmers will agree with me, so help
me convince the software companies, especially from abroad, before this idea of
16-bit and C64 versions only spreads.
To be honest Ian I don’t think you need worry too much
about the C64, or even the 16-bit machines. The Spectrum still sells far more
games than any other machine, around twice as many as the C64 and eight times
as many as the Atari ST. As for the relative technical merits of the Spectrum
versus the C64, I think you’ve been as fair as the owner of one of those
two machines can be. The Commodore obviously doesn’t suffer attribute
problems, but the Spectrum has evolved a different, more detailed style of
graphics to compensate. Sometimes the graphics are extremely colourful as well
as being detailed, as with The Real Ghostbusters. Myself I like both
machines, each has games which are excellent and wouldn’t work half as
well on the other machine. As for the other point you make, about the
Spectrum’s 128K of RAM and good disk drive, I think it’s a pity
there are so few games which make use of the extra memory for anything other
than tunes and sound effects. Ocean at least make multiloads that all fit in
128K quite often, but games designed for the 128 are rare. Of course the reason
software houses don’t write for the +2 and +3’s full capabilities
is that not everyone has one of these machines. Hopefully one result of your
replies to the CRASHTIONNAIRE will be some idea of how many 48K machines are
Firstly, I would like to congratulate CRASH for producing such a high quality magazine. I’m happy to say that I have just started a subscription to CRASH. Also I’d like to thank you for CRASH’s last mail order service. Are Olibugs available separately, by the way?
Secondly, I’d like to ask you if CRASH is going to do more 3-D features in the future. I know it’s over a year since the last one so it’s about time for another one.
Thirdly, another question. After every year, you do a CRASH Directory Update, so I though that it would be a good idea that there should be a CRASH History Update for people who admire Oli Frey’s artwork.
Finally, the reviewing team who work for CRASH (or ZZAP! or TGM for that matter). Is it possible for people of 15 years old to write the odd review or feature for any of the magazines? I’m thinking of a career in computer journalism and I’d like to have a try now to see what it’s like.
A few questions there Lloyd, I hope you have some answers.
Starting at the top I’m afraid that, despite all your kind words, Olibugs are not available separately, or in any form at all as they’ve sold out! Mail Order supremo Franco is currently considering another special offer, any ideas (apart from a free +3 with every game bought) are welcome.
As for another 3-D feature, maybe that’s something for the summer months, what do other readers think? The CRASH History Update’s another good idea, although I wonder if enough ‘history’ has happened since the last one to justify it as yet.
And to answer your final question, I’m afraid all the CRASH reviews
are written either by the permanent editorial staff — Stuart, Phil and
Mark or local freelancers like Nick and Mike. On the features side of things
Stuart is always interested in new features, and as it says on the masthead
you’re welcome to send stuff into us which, if used, we’ll pay the
current rate for. To avoid wasted effort, however, it might be advisable to
check with Stuart first whether he’s likely to print the feature you want
to write. Needless to say proper academic qualifications are always extremely
useful, whatever career you choose to follow.
I have been so impressed with the games produced by Ocean and Imagine since 1987 that I thought I’d do a top 15 of their programmers:-
Have fun Lloyd!
Thank you, Richard. With Ocean pretty much sweeping the board at
the Computer Arena your list is a timely reminder of the work of the
programmers, graphic artists and musician(s?) who wrote the games for Ocean.
However much money a software company puts into a game the ultimate
responsibility for a game’s presentation and playability must largely lie
with the programming team involved. That said your rankings caused a bit of
controversy in the office, Phil King for one couldn’t understand how Jon
Ritman wasn’t in the top slot!
That’s all for this month, as for next month — that’s up to you. Hopefully there’ll be enough letters to fill the entire magazine, (including one or two for Nick, I suppose). And if you need any more incentive than instant fame, then there’s fortune as well in the shape of £30 worth of software. The address, as always, is LLOYD MANGRAM’S FORUM, CRASH.
Polish up your tickling stick because this is the all-new alternative section to Lloyd’s Borum... err, Forum. What I print is up to you: you can send in jokes, cartoons, chocolate eclairs (mmm..), absolutely anything that takes your fancy (‘oo-er’ as they say). You wouldn’t believe the amount of letters we get in the office that are total rubbish — they make pretty hilarious reading, though. In fact when Mark first set his eyes on them he split his sides laughing — he had to have twenty stitches and the mess on Mike’s desk and the surrounding walls was terrible. Now, the last thing we want to do is offend someone, so I’d just like to say it’s all in fun, no hard feelings. So don’t fret, get set, are you ready? Oh shut up, Bruce ...
I have zilch amount of pirate software simply because I’M NOT THICK. I may not be Mastermind but I can work out that unless Bluebeard, Blackbeard and whoever else pirates software stops (very doubtful) we shall be living off games from Alternative and Mastertronic for the rest of our lives because no-one with any sense copies these games in the first place. I don’t blame the pirates totally though, they normally copy games for the cost right! So why don’t software houses reduce the cost if it really is a dud game. The public are going to find out when they read a review in a mag. Surely it didn’t cost US Gold £9.95 a copy to produce Echelon. My sister could have done better blindfolded and with her hands tied behind her back. Hope this letter is printed and read by hundreds of pirates to get on their nerves.
Well, fellow Nickster, it looks like you’ll be living off
Alternative games for the rest of your life! And it serves you right if all
you do is tie your sister up and make her write Echelon clones!
We have sent this letter to you because we would like to know if you are interested in having a hints and tips page in your CRASH. We would send you hints, tips and codes. For instance, Freddy Harvests code for Part 2 is 897653.
If you are interested please write back giving your answer.
Stephen Southam and John Hanson
Yes, that’s it! The one thing that’s been missing
from CRASH for years. We’ve all been racking our brains for something to
put in the mag along just those lines. Err, um, actually have you seen page 33
lately, Stephen and John? There’s a handsome guy on it with just what you
might be looking for.
Dear Sir (I like this one already!)
I am just writing to advise you of a new force in the software and home entertainment industry. That is, myself and my partner have just set up a new company called Technik Programming. As you can see by this letter, we are still very young in production (ie, no headed paper) but we aim to revolutionise the software industry, as well as other forms of home entertainment. We want to bring back the old style software house, aiming to produce quality products but retaining the friendliness between us and our customers. We’ve got plans for the industry and I can guarantee you that within 12 months we will be one of Britain’s top entertainment companies and within three years one of the world’s top five.
Kevin Kennard on behalf of Technik Programming
Hmm, Technik Programming, eh? Sounds a bit like something you
do to Mark Caswell first thing in the morning... Right, thanks for the advice,
now how about some samples of all your fantastic products, ta.
I’ve just written to say this (a chain saw starts up): broom, broom (a smell of petrol) broom, broom, vroom. Zzzzzz. Blood flies all over the room. People next door hear a faint scream, zzzz. Well that goes to show that they don’t make Bros fans like they used to... Also likes Bros? A machine gun goes off. Ratterrr, ratterrr, well that’s solved that problem.
PS Wherever there’s a Bros fan there will be a chain saw after him/her in fourth gear.
PPS I would like to tell you that I don’t like Bros.
PPPS I hope you don’t, or I’ll be paying a visit with my friend — THE CHAIN SAW!
Cor, what a twonker! I just hope the Art Department aint reading
this letter because their wall is covered in Bros posters, it’s a pity
people like that can’t be helped! No, Neil, I’m more of a Pet Shop
Boys, Erasure, Depeche Mode man myself. I just hope you haven’t got
anything against any of them.
I am scribbling to congratulate CRASH on being the best space ship ever. It’s even hotter than Sam Fox’s underwear.
Sammy? She’s a bit old hat. How about Maria Whittaker — now that’s what a call a wheelbarrowful of evening’s entertainment. However, I can’t argue with you (what a shame), although I haven’t really had first ‘hand’ experience of Miss Fox’s unmentionables.