Live Circuit

For the last time in the 1980s here’s Live Circuit. And with the Christmas hols on it may encourage YOU to put pen to paper to write a letter on all things Speccy. Remember, this is your forum to have your say. And there’s a £40 software prize for worthy letters!

Letter of the Month

SAM HOPE!

Dear Lloyd,
At last, the SAM Coupe has arrived, and not without a lot of excitement and debate. I’ve read stories of people selling their Amigas to move to the Coupe, and some complaints about the price of the new machine.

Several people are moaning that the Coupe is too expensive when compared to the likes of the Atari ST, and it’s true that 512K Coupe with disk drive costs about the same as the 520 STFM. What many people seem to forget is that owning a computer is comparable to owning a car — it’s not really the initial cost of the machine which is expensive, but the petrol and insurance and in the case of computers, the cost of software. At present the cost of 16-bit software is in the £20–£30 range, while 8-bit games are in the £8–£15 region (for full-price). It’s a big difference.

Secondly, a plea to software houses to support the Coupe. Now, I know most of the major 8-bit software houses (Ocean, US Gold, Activision etc) are likely to release several SAM titles, mostly along with the conversions on the Speccy and C64. But what about those software houses which predominantly cater for 16-bitters? Will they bother with the new machine? In short, will the games released for the SAM Coupe be simply flashy versions of 8-bit games with pretty graphics and nice sound, or will we see more advanced games?

If the Coupe is to succeed it is vital that its advanced features are used properly by the software houses. They must not use the machine’s Speccy compatibility as an excuse for not bothering to do anything more adventurous for the machine. Of course, more advanced games may have to be that bit more expensive than the run-of-the-mill stuff, but the extra would be money well spent.

MGT have got everything right it seems, and the machine certainly deserves to succeed. I hope the software houses are imaginative enough to treat the Coupe with the respect it deserves, and not as ‘just another 8-bit machine’. Will we see Damocles on the Coupe? (Please Novagen!).
David Clark

Already some software houses, including US Gold, have promised SAM Coupe games, and MGT are confident that it’s very simple to convert a Spectrum game into a special SAM format making use of the sound and graphic capabilities. Actually, your question about SAM Coupe games being ‘just’ souped up with flashy graphics and sound is quite amusing, because that’s what a lot of Atari ST and Amiga games are!! Whether predominantly 16-bit software houses, or even the majority of 8-bit producers, will release games for the Coupe, we can’t say as yet; at the moment it’s a situation of ‘wait and see’ how large the sales of the Coupe will be. Anyway, here’s hoping that software houses take note of your comments and apply them to any SAM Coupe games being planned. And if they do, you’ll be able to spend your £40 software voucher on SAM Coupe games because you’ve won Letter of the Month!
LM

Have you got your Sam Coupe yet? If you have, write in and give us your thoughts on the machine — we’re waiting to hear from you! Letters to: LLOYD MANGRAM’S FORUM (SAM), LIVE CIRCUIT, CRASH.

SAME OLD 0890

Dear Lloyd
As I was reading issue 69 I turned to the budget games section. There before me was the perfect game to buy, Operation Gunship. I went to my local computer stockist, but unfortunately they didn’t have it. A month later in issue 70 I turned to the last page, there was the perfect chance to win Operation Gunship. All you had to do was ring a number and answer three questions, easy. I asked my parents very politely if I could use the phone, I then rang the number and waited for the questions. All I got was someone talking about their visit to Ocean software, THIS WAS LAST MONTH’S. I was utterly appalled, do you trick your readers into ringing bogus numbers?
John Harris

This is all a bit strong isn’t it? The only problem was that the recording of the new script for the phone-in quiz was a little late (script reader gone on holiday, I’m told). But, hopefully that shouldn’t happen again.
LM

LOST OUTRUN

Dear Lloyd
I am writing this to ask you first of all what has happened to Outrun Europa from US Gold. There was a preview in the May issue, but the game still hasn’t appeared in your review section. Usually the game is reviewed the next issue, indeed the preview stated that the game was due for release in June. but the game seems to have vanished. Has it been released, if so why didn’t you review it, or is it still in production and due on the streets in the near future. I hope you can help me as from the preview it looked like a very good game, and as I have Outrun I would like to get the sequel.

And a long time ago there used to be a cartoon adventure called Terminal Man which added to the variety of CRASH and made a good read. I’m not asking for the same cartoon back, but it would be a good idea to come up with something similar, but perhaps this time a bit more serious. Final question, can you suggest where I can get my hands on a good machine code editor and assembler for the +3.
D A Alcock

As far as we know Out Run Europa has been cancelled following the announcement of Turbo Out Run a couple of months back, and by all accounts Turbo should be a hell of a lot better. Terminal Man may make a return one day, when Oli hasn’t got to do five jobs at once. And as for a +3 Assembler, try asking at your local independent software shop, they’ll be able to check with distributors.
LM

SUPERMUM

Dear Lloyd
As a new starter (at 25 years old) with my second hand 48K Speccy I thought myself quite clever as I completed Arkanoid I and II. That was until my mother got Speccy hooked. I’d been playing Zybex for about a week and was nowhere near the end, then she came along and on her second attempt went straight through to the end. Needless to say I haven’t played Zybex since.
Terry Young

That’s nothing. My cat can play Renegade better than I can.
LM

RSPCFT!!!

Dear Lloyd,
I’m writing this letter for the sake of those little black fluffy things wandering round CRASH every month. I think you ought to be more careful about their safety. Last month (p.29) one fluffy thing was being chased by another with a chainsaw! And on page 73 another was being clobbered with a snowball (poor devil). I’m sure they don’t appreciate this, so if you don’t do anything about it I’ll report you to the RSPCFT (Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Fluffy Things)!
Robert Western

How do you know fluffy things don’t enjoy bashing each other about? Anyway, they’re Olibugs — after their original creator, our (grovel) esteemed Ed.
LM

Do you have any world-shattering opinions for 1990? Don’t keep them to yourselves: bore everyone else with ’em! Write to Lloyd Mangram, Live Circuit, CRASH, and hope the snow has not cut us off from the rest of the universe.

PIRACY IS THEFT

...as you all should very well know. And just to remind you ELSPA (European Leisure Software Publishers Association) have launched a new campaign. Pages are being donated free of charge by loads of mags, including CRASH, for ELSPA to print the Piracy Is Theft advertisements. The message is now incredibly important, especially for Spectrum owners, as software houses are beginning to cut down on the amount of Speccy games released. This is due to the fact that sales of Speccy games are getting so low, because of the amount of piracy, software houses cannot pay the programmer a fair wage. (Sob!) What would the 90s be without Speccy game thrills?!

CRASH says don’t copy a game because not only are you now breaking the law, but if you copy a £10 game, you are depriving the following people: You are depriving your local store keeper of about £3.00 (the cost of a doctor’s prescription); depriving the distributors of £2.00 (about the cost of employing someone for 30 minutes); depriving the software house of £3.50, (the cost of 10 A1 colour posters which you’ll be only be too happy to grab off their stand at the PC Show for free), and the programmers of £1.50 (the cost of a loaf of bread, and a pat of butter). Put in those terms it does sound criminal doesn’t it? More information on the subject can be obtained from FAST (Federation Against Software Theft).

DIE NASTY?

‘Blake! Blake, my darling!’ What is it Crystal? ‘Is it true? Oh! (sob, sob) Tell me it’s not!’ What is it, my darling? What has upset you so? ‘Oh! (Sob, sniffle) That you fathered Alexis’ new game Dynasty Wars?’ Crystal — I just didn’t know how to break it to you. (Enter Alexis) ‘So!!’ Alexis! ‘Crystal!’, ‘Alexis!’, ‘Blake!’, ALEXIS!! ‘Ha! Ha! It’s not your game Blake!!’ Alexis!! ‘Oh, Blake!’ (Crystal faints) ‘No! I love another!! You were just cheap money Blake!!’ Alexis!! ‘US Gold fathered my game!’ What! (Enter US Gold) ‘It’s not your game, Alexis!!’ ‘Whaaaat!!’ ‘No! It’s mine and it’s an Oriental slash-’em-up on a grand scale, converted from the coin-op by Tiertex and it’s due to be born in mid-1990! ‘You traitor!’. ‘Ha ha!!’. Blimey!

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?

It’s a magazine, innit? Ah, yes! But not any magazine. No, this is the Complete Computer Entertainment Guide! A handy mag for anyone who’s new to computing! Lots of great stuff to get you started on graphics, joysticks, music, communications, education, service, books and, naturally, games!! Out now it costs £1.95 and makes an ideal Chrissy gifty for anyone you know who’s getting a Speccy in their stocking!!!

We’ve banned him reading My Little Pony monthly, but there’s plenty of other ‘gerrooovy’ comix, as Mark Caswell discovers

COMIX

Fantastic Four
Marvel, 70p Monthly

These guys swap their line up around almost as much as The Avengers. Reed ‘Mr Fantastic’ Richards, Sue ‘Invisible Girl’ Richards, Johnny ‘Human Torch’ Storm and Ben The Thing’ Grimm make up the super hero team who’ve been thrilling kids for years.

True believers among you will already know that the FF gained their powers whilst manning an experimental spaceship: cosmic rays penetrated their bodies and changed ’em for good. Reed Richards gained the ability to stretch his body, Sue Richards can turn invisible, Johnny Storm bursts into flames and bashful blue eyed Benjamin Grimm means what he says when he shouts ‘it’s clobbering time’ — he turns into an orange rock pile! Many baddies have attacked them and their HQ over the years (it used to be the Baxter Building, but that was destroyed), but Truth, Justice and the American way have prevailed. Action-packed and well drawn in the traditional US style, this colour comic is well worth a look.

The Sleeze Brothers
Epic Comics, 65p Monthly

El’Ape and Deadbeat are the Sleeze Brothers, two ex-cons turned private eye. The Big Apple is a city floating in the intergalactic void where the minority of rich inhabitants live in the ‘civilised’ sector, whilst the other 99% live in conditions that would probably shock the most flea bitten rat. It is here that the Sleezes make their living, and not all the jobs they take on are above board. Sergeant Pigheadski, a two headed minion of the law is out to catch them, although in the best traditions of a certain bungling French detective, his plans don’t always go right. The Sleeze Bros bear more than a passing resemblance to the Blues Brothers, right down to the pork pie hats and cool dude shades. The misadventures of these lovable rogues with their strange humour and detailed and funny drawings make for compulsive reading — once you get into the style.

More strip stuff next month!

THE CORK REPORT

Mark ‘Corky’ Caswell, ever pushing the limits of journalism and our patience, pops down the road to use the phone and finds out what software treats are in store for next year...

Eee, come on team, I know it, I know it. Yes, the squeaky-voiced footy fanatic is back thanks (we think) to Audiogenic: Emlyn Hughes’ Arcade Quiz is almost here. Can you answer such trivial questions as ‘Who was the world’s tallest man?’, and ‘What was Judy Garland’s real name?’. If you’re a clever clogs maybe you can. Find out early in the new decade when the game appears, and no peeking at the answer cards.

Also on the way from Audiogenic and scheduled for an early 90 release is Wreckers, the story of a galactic lighthouse attendant’s fight for survival against nasty little alien creatures. Quite why they’ve chosen your lighthouse to attack isn’t made clear, but expect a preview of both games next month.

Back To The Future II starring Michael J Fox is pulling the crowds at the movies, and by next summer the antics of Marty McFly in both Back To The Future II and III will be pixelated by Mirrorsoft and whisked onto your computer. The game will cost less than a brand new DeLorean we are assured, so keep your eyes peeled for more info soon.

After Vendetta System 3 are to go cutesy with Flimbo’s Quest. Flimbo’s girlie has been kidnapped by a horrid Professor, and is being held in a seven load platform world filled with nasty mutated creatures and lots of danger.

Shadow Warrior is one of the next arcade projects underway from Ocean and all about a Ninja tired of kicking his fellow countrymen. Pastrami, hot dogs and the Statue of Liberty (in that order) beckon — end result: punch-ups with all manner of scum in the streets of New York. Serves him right, he should have stayed at home.

Talking of punch-ups: System 3 have just announced the Easter release of Last Ninja II — The Special Remix (sounds a bit like Thalamus and Sanxion: the Spectrum remix). Apparently the game has been given better graphics, sonics and heaps more playability.

After last month’s news of Virgin’s Dan Dare III, we note that a second Judge ‘Old Stoney Face’ Dredd game is under development, along with the Saga Of The Silver Surfer. Both games are due for release early next year and whilst we all know about Dredd, The Silver Surfer may not be too familiar to most of you. He’s an alien named Norin Radd, who after being exiled from his home planet became herald to Galactus... blah, blah — comic waffle... blah... (Snip! — Ed)

The sequel to Carrier Command is almost here, called Battle Command. Programmed, like the original, by Realtime, Ocean are releasing it early 90 on 16-bit: Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long as its predecessor to appear on the Speccy! Also from Ocean will be Nightbreed, based on the Clive Barker movie that made Ocean’s Software Manager, Gary Bracey, a star (or rather didn’t — Ed). The movie which ‘contains more monsters than any other film before’ will appear on the big screen at Easter and so should the game.