Roll up, folks, for the marvellous, magnificent

INTER-MAGAZINE CHALLENGE

CRASH Vs ZZAP! Vs SEGA FORCE
Introducing DJ Nicko for CRASH, Phil King for ZZAP! and newcomer Paul Mellerick for SEGA FORCE!

There's been loadsa scrapping in the Europress Impact offices of late. The lads from each stupendous mag - CRASH, ZZAP! and SEGA FORCE - have been claiming superiority on the game playing front and we decided something had to be done before it all ended in tears. So after forcibly dragging Nick off the SEGA FORCE star, Paul, wrenching the knife out of his throat, persuading him his mummy wasn't bigger than Paul's mummy and assuring him that kicking someone's ****ing head in wasn't nice, we agreed to hold an InterMagazine Challenge.

Problem solved, you may think. Not a hope in hell! The fighting then got even worse trying to decide which games to use. Nick wanted to play Dizzy on each format - Mega Drive, Spectrum and Commodore 64. we explained you can't get Dizzy on the Mega Drive but he said that was no flippin' excuse and went into a major sulk. Paul's a major beat-'em-up fan so after beating up poor Phil (a former CRASHeteer) he decided on Pit Fighter for the Mega Drive.

The race is on...

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The phantom strangler of Clee Hill is at it again. Makes a change, it's normally sheep that get it. Know what I mean?

MEGA DRIVE

Although in CRASH we gave Speccy Pit Fighter a crappy mark (27%), it's a spiffy Mega Drive game where survival's the game and winning's the only aim - with absolutely no holds barred.

You're matched against some of the toughest pit-fighters in the business where your task is simply to wipe out any contenders. Whether it's by kicks, punches crates or knife is up to you.

SEXY PYJAMAS

First up was the ZZAP! Ed, Phil 'Fatty' King, who nervously took the hotseat. Watches synchronised, we were off - well, we were supposed to be, then another fight started between Nick and Paul so it was a case of 'Stop Phil, reset it, oh, and someone call an ambulance.'

Phil fought as a well 'ard specimen called Ty, an ex-kick boxer. We've no idea if he's the best option but Phil insisted on him 'cos he wears sexy red pyjamas (Ty, not Phil... probably). Young Phil got off to a cracking start with a record knock-out time in the first round.

When he fought the awesome Angel - she of the huge stilettoes and bulging biceps - Phil showed his real colours: 'I'll get you, you bitch' was the mildest among a string of expletives. Throughout the game he persisted with the well scary war cry of 'Ow! Ow! Get in there, boy. Oh no, not the crate of bananas!' before finishing at the five-minute time limit with a rather poxy score of 58,290.

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You put your left leg in!

ASS WHUPPING

Then it was Nicko's turn. After whinging for half an hour about not having a decent joystick, he finally selected Ty, got into gear and also managed a record knock-out time.

His war cry was almost as compelling as Phil's, courageous stuff like: 'Run away! Get off me' and even 'Oh no, the b******'s got a knife!' His attitude was one of quiet concentration - he was gonna whup Paul's ass if it killed him!

Paul's face was a picture as Nick progressed through five opponents - going from sneery confidence, to disparaging remarks, to lip-biting silence, to white-faced worry by the time Nick finished on a not-as-crap-as-Phil score of 58,560.

FINAL FIGHT

With grim determination, Paul began. After all the bragging he'd done in the office, he had to win! He got off to a fairly slow start and never really caught up but at least he got rid of a lot of aggression as he picked up every crate in sight and flung them at his opponents.

When he came to scrap with the leather-clad Angel he really got going and his howls of 'BITCH!' could be heard for miles. He even started picking up women from out of the crowd and flinging them around. But despite his homicidal behaviour he finished on the even-more-crap-than- Phil score of 56,300. HA!

PIT FIGHTER PLACINGS

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Grr! Give me back my joystick or I will go green and my clothes will fall off! (Lots of girlies swoon all over the country!)

COMMODORE 64

Phil's five choice for the Inter-Magazine Challenge was Insects In Space, a Defender clone distinguished by a naked woman shooting lasers from her, erm, eyes. Fortunately, after a quick tumble in the disk boxes, Phil's marvellous filing system failed completely. Call in the game with the biggest, awkwardest title in the world, Ivan 'Iron Man' Stewart's Super Off-Road Racer.

Obviously fancying himself as a bit of an Iron Man, Phil bunged this nifty Graftgold conversion into the disk drive and we all sat around and yawned while the drive groaned and grinded. FInally, hurrah, it loaded! A bevy of top-heavy babes appeared to introduce the game and a selection of cars.

The Iron Man's a variation on Super Sprint - ie, lots of really tiny sprites whizzing around a twisty bit of track. It improves things with a tilted overhead view and up to three human-controlled cars out of a total of four.

Phil picked the red car, coz it's like his Metro 0.1, Paul picked the blue because he supports Leicester City (as does Phil, funnily enough - although nothing's quite so hilarious as the team!), while Nick got stuck with the yellow car. Having had the misfortune of being passengers with all three drivers in real life, this is a spectacle we couldn't miss.

For the ignorant, Nick drives like Nigel Mansell after he's been disqualified from a race, Phil drives like Mother Hubbard (always forgetting glasses, seat belt, headlights, car) and Paul simply drives into wells, cars and streetlamps (two cars totalled so far!). Living up to his reputation, Paul gets lumbered with keyboard control and in practice races comes a dismal last time after time.

AND THEY'RE OFF

Nick puts pedal to metal and his yellow car zooms way out into the lead. He's absolutely unstoppable until the first bend when he forgets about the brakes, splatters across a well, tumbles around a few dozen times and finally gets moving in the right direction five minutes after the others have finished a couple of laps!

Paul's somehow fluked into the lead, with Phil breathing hard down his neck (strange boy!). After some patient explanation, ie, a strong slap across the head accompanied by the words 'Brake, you idiot, brake', Nick gets back in the race and briefly tussles with Phil for second place before hitting another wall.

Race one: Paul first, Phil second, Nick third (somehow).

The lusty lovelies return to offer a selection of upgrade hardware. Paul and Nick go for Nitros, while Phil covers the screen to make a sneaky secret selection.

A Nitro boost gets Paul off to a good start with Phil following close behind. Nick's in last place assisted by Lucy, who taps his shoulder every time he should brake - unfortunately this knocks Nick off his chair...

Paul and Phil are way out front, Nick's on the floor, and that's the way it finishes with Nick being eliminated by the computer car.

In the third race the computer racer's even tougher, whizzing ahead of everyone else. It's a tight tussle between Phil and Paul until waggish publisher Roger Kean has a few words with Phil, most of which seem to involve the word 'deadline', repeated with ever-increasing intensity! Novice Editor Fatty Phil goes pale, mumbles a bit and comes last!

So otherwise-useless Paul won the race. The SEGA FORCE team celebrate, ZZAP! give Phil a stiff whisky and Lucy asks if the blue car was a computer player, too.

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It's that man with the stick again. Squeezing Phil's head off!

SPECCY

Finally, it was Nick's turn to choose a Speccy game to play. And what did the peckish 'Pieman' go for? Fast Food, KwikSnax, Chubby Gristle? No, after his humiliating defeat on Super Off-Road he seemed to have lost his senses completely and went for Code Masters' Panic Dizzy.

It certainly seemed a puzzling choice at first, but then again Nick's had loads of practice at home, fitting shapes into the holes in his Fisher Price playset, so this would surely be right up his street.

If you don't remember it, this compulsive Code Masters game involves moving a conveyor belt with shaped slots in to catch shapes falling from four dispensers.

Nick was eager to play first and show off, catching three shapes simultaneously to make the dispensers rise and getting loads of fours to earn bonus toys - as if he hasn't got enough already!

With an air of supreme confidence, Nicko managed to get through seven levels before the dispensers reached the conveyor belt to stop his game with a massive score of 69,030.

WATCH IT FATSO!

Surely the moronic Phil couldn't match that? Well, the tubby twit isn't (quite) as stupid as he looks. He'd been carefully studying Nick's tactics and quickly picked up the technique to score loads of threes and fours.

The slothful slob showed surprisingly fast reactions, zipping the conveyor left and right to catch everything in sight. Completely entranced by the action, he seemed to be playing for an age before finally succumbing to the falling dispensers with an overweight score of 103,490 and cries of sheer disbelief from Nick and Paul.

Now surely that had to be the final shock of the day, there was no way plonker Paul could master such an obviously intellectual game? Nope, he couldn't, and even after several practice runs he only managed 63,160, ruining his chances of winning the Challenge.

So DJ Nicko let the side down, conquered by a mere ZZAP!per. Disgusting - string him up! Since Phil won on the Spectrum, Nick on the Mega Driver and Paul on the Commodore 64, the only possible conclusion we can reach from this challenge is all three of them are in the wrong job! It's a funny old world, innit?