HE OTHER WEEK I was looking around town for a piece of software to buy as a present for a young friend. I dug out past issues of CRASH and checked all the smashes, and one or two not-so-smashing just to be on the safe side. Having spotted a small number which particularly interested me, I trekked off around the over-heated megastores and the smaller computer shops and, I know I’ve said this before, it was a shock to find out how difficult it was to buy the software I wanted. In the past I’ve kept an eye on adventure stocks in the shops — it was a surprise indeed to find arcade games, supposedly much more commercial, similarly afflicted by the mysterious discrepancy between what the public wants now and what’s on offer. On my travels I wondered just how many CRASH readers had trekked dispirited round these stores with little or no sign of the entertainment they were after. It is true that CRASH reviews some games so quickly that time must pass before they reach the shelves, but I did notice one or two very average new games which had somehow dodged the inherent delay in the buying system only to clog up the shelves reserved for the best. In the end the only ones I could spot were the cheaper games from British Telecom traded under the name of Firebird, and I used the change from my purchase to help pay for an evening eating out.