The autumn is with us and winter draws on. Having just finished writing up a few of the earlier months of the year for the Christmas Special Lookback article, I’m reminded that the ‘summer software slump’ seemed late this year, and that it should have ended with the PCW Show. However, the quantity and quality of games received for review this issue seems to have been dire, with few notable exceptions. Honestly, one does expect something to brighten up the encroaching gloaming, and fires of fallen leaves cleared from around the winter vegetables isn’t quite what I mean. Still, enough of my moans, I’m sure you’ve got plenty of your own! I’ll kick off with the Letter Of The Month which has something to say about responsibility...


Dear Lloyd
Please do not dismiss this as another fanatical complaint: at least, not until you have considered it seriously.

Firstly, violence: I am not about to claim that Satan is possessing Oliver Frey, or that CRASH corrupts small children, I am merely offering some advice.

I’m not shocked by the artwork in CRASH, and neither, it seems, are most readers. But some people are. These people are mostly outsiders to the world of computers; parents who happen to see CRASH once in a while, or concerned Christians who see it on newsstands. It’s all very well to make fun of these people, but their opinions count. The attitude of the general public towards computers, computer games and computer magazines is primarily one of either scorn — thinking the whole business to be infantile — disgust or outright hostility.

As I said, these people are outsiders, whose opinions are often misguided, but their views are becoming widespread. Recently an article in The Guardian condemned computer games for the same reasons as the writers of the letters in Issue 43 gave. Alongside the article was Oliver Frey’s Barbarian illustration. I found the whole thing laughable, but at the same time I realised that many people would read and believe it. Mocking the people who complain is just escaping the problem: the computer world is getting a very bad reputation, and CRASH is just enforcing it.

Your CRASH History was a very timely reminder of what Oliver’s artwork used to be like: can anyone honestly say they prefer the Barbarian cover to Issue 5. Even if you ignore the question of subject matter, the artwork is immeasurably better. It is cleaner and much more detailed, and in my opinion has never been equalled. What’s wrong with a return to the old style? The early covers were dynamic, excellently drawn and above all, original.

If nothing else, this return would make CRASH more popular with parents and the general public.

Secondly, sexism: Of course, there’s nothing dangerous or obscene about CRASH, but the attitude towards women you, the software houses and some readers seem to hold, is infantile, annoying and, to my mind, offensive.

The arrival of Hannah Smith was like the appearance of a girl in an all-boys comprehensive. Remarks about ‘girlies’, ‘girlie perfume’, ‘girlie lipstick’ and so on popped up everywhere. Obviously this was meant as a joke, but it just shows your team’s immature attitude. There have been other instances since, but Issue 45 was particularly bad. The Athena review included phrases like ‘voluptuous Athena, goddess of wisdom — worra woman’, ‘tired of cleaning her heavenly home’, ‘our bikini beauty’, ‘our dynamic damsel’ and ‘the curvaceous fighter’.

Okay, so reviews are supposed to be lively and punchy, but this smacks of Page Three. I don’t know who wrote it, but whoever did should be advised that to be a hip jive (they all evidently want to keep up their reputations) you don’t have to resort to schoolboy humour.

A small, but telling point, is the letter about the typical Game Over advert: ‘the artwork was cunningly done over the... um... naughty parts’. Your reply mentions ‘the offending part’. Is the word ‘nipple’ really so embarrassing? Oliver Frey’s artwork worsens the situation: his illustration on pages 98–99 of Issue 44 was typical of his brand of pseudoporn. Just because Palace do it, do you have to follow?

All these points seem minor, but they paint a sorry picture of the computer world — populated by immature males who either lust for, or giggle at women.

I think I’ve backed up my points reasonably. CRASH is the leading computer magazine in the UK, can’t you set an example to others?
Will Broker

As so much has already been said about the Barbarian cover artwork, and indeed many other Oli Frey illustrations, I won’t dwell on the subject, other than to say that your reasons for your unease do you credit Will.

The Athena review was obviously poking affectionate fun at the whole hyperbole of gods, goddesses, superheroes, ultraspeed arcade action etc, which in truth most CRASH review intros do. It’s true that nearly all games have male heroes — the ‘sexism in software’ which was the subject of recent correspondence in the Computer Trade Weekly paper — but CRASH is only reviewing other people’s product. The problem may manifest itself in these pages but it doesn’t start with us. And if we said ‘nipple’ in CRASH — used in its most obvious context as a part of female anatomy — I’ve no doubt we would receive dozens of complaints far less rational than yours!

Incidentally, the illustration referred to from Issue 44, was originally painted by Oliver as a background to a CRASH MICRO GAMES ACTION mail order advertisement placed in other magazines before CRASH magazine even started, so I’m not so sure whether your reference to a cleaner age for Oli really holds water!

Still Will, for being a rational Forum correspondent, and for raising some interesting points, I’m giving you the £30 software prize for Letter Of The Month. Let us know what you would like to receive.


Dear Lloyd
As a busy father of three children, I don’t get much time to play computer games, but one which has had me riveted over the last six months or so has been a game called Football Director. I was therefore amazed to see it reviewed in October’s CRASH and given only 13%!

As a football strategy game, it easily surpasses all others and is far superior to the much-praised but out-of-date Football Manager. It is by far the most realistic and challenging game of its type.

My son Stephen (aged 12) agrees with me and has spent many, many hours playing the game. It certainly requires patience, thought, and the ability to suffer setbacks calmly, and it’s not easy, but that Is all part of its appeal!
Mike Gibbard

As is usually the case, personal taste dictates preferences, but before I give my answer, I had another outraged letter on the same subject...

Dear Lloyd
Upon reading through my latest CRASH I came across a review for Football Director. Ah! This will get a good review, I thought. But when I glanced across the page I noticed the rating of 13%. A printing error, I thought, but when I checked with the comments I realised this was no error. Have you gone mad?

I own well over 20 football games and I can tell you this is by far the best. Just because it has no graphics or sound doesn’t make it rubbish. The colour is well used despite what your reviewer said. and it has five times as many features as Football Manager, although your reviewer was obviously too stupid to spot them (eg European Cups, £1,000,000 players to name only two).

And whoever reviewed this game must have a minimum knowledge of football due to the naming of the team — (ie ‘Truckers’), and you even got the price wrong. I can strongly recommend this game to any football fan, and it’s worth every penny.
Michael Sharkey (ex-CRASH reader)

You’re probably right that naming the team ‘Truckers’ on our screen shot left us wide open to attack, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that was a reviewer, for the screen shots are not the reviewers’ department. On the other hand, I think you are picking on a rather unimportant point there.

Whilst I went along with Derek Brewster’s oft-stated argument of some three years ago that just because adventures were written largely in BASIC, or because they used the unredefined Spectrum character set, that it didn’t mean they couldn’t do an adequate job — presentation isn’t everything if the game underneath is great in itself. However, I fail to see why ‘football manager’ fans shouldn’t get properly presented programs, and, as the review pointed out, on many important respects Football Director is lacking. The response is slow, due to the BASIC programming, although in fairness, there is a lot more detail packed in than ever there was in Football Manager.

And an argument, which may well be put up, that the reviewers in question were all unsympathetic to this type of game, avoids the point that had they considered the program to be much better than they did, it would have received a far higher rating, EVEN IF this still didn’t satisfy your view! Oh, and we DID get the price correct, although you can also buy it direct from D&H Games for £7.50.


Dear Lloyd
Having read CRASH since Issue 15, I’ve witnessed many changes in the reviews. Amongst them are the additions of the reviewers’ names and marks, and the use of full-colour throughout the reviews. The introduction of a Presentation rating was long overdue as was the withdrawal of Use of computer and Getting started.

However the removal of the subheadings Keyboard control, Skill levels etc, leaves the comments box looking very obscure.

ZZAP! 64’s comments section is brilliant since they explain why a game got 95% for graphics or 12% for lastability for example. Why can’t (or doesn’t) CRASH do the same. I have written my own example.

Zynaps — Hewson £7.95
Keys (definable)/Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Presentation 90%
Attractive title screen, 2-player, pause, quit and redefinable keys options
Graphics 93%
Fantastic detail, smooth scrolling and super use of colour
Sound 90%
Great tune, range of atmospheric effects
Playability 92%
Easy to use control method and icons make for instant fun
Addictive Qualities 91%
12 fast and furious levels of arcade action, enough to keep even Ben Stone going for months
Overall 91%
A classic shoot-’em-up, knocks Nemesis for six

This still incorporates all the comments box features and makes the ratings stand out more as well as making them more informative. So come on Lloyd let’s improve the comments box so it matches the high ZZAP! standard.
Ian Kerr

The Frontline comments and ratings are combined in this way... it’s really a lot to do with tradition. AMTIX! also had a system like ZZAP!, but they both came after CRASH and so could be seen as an improvement... I suppose, though I’m not convinced of that. I know from my duties on ZZAP! that those little comments, so easy to deal with for a great game, become a tyranny to the reviewers and have always been regarded with very mixed feelings.

Then you must consider the original aim of CRASH reviews (in the dark days when a magazine review was traditionally 50 words long and three months after the event), that the actual written criticisms, followed by the comments box, should provide all the relevant notes to explain the reasons for the ratings. This was because Roger Kean deeply wanted the criticisms rather than the ratings to suggest the value of any game.

I started by saying the reviews are a tradition, but as you say, we have altered their structure from time to time, and it may be that this still isn’t perfect but I feel strongly that to add further weight to the ratings by providing comments explaining them is really only doubling up, and runs the risk of undoing CRASH’s original stance.

What do other readers think?


Dear Lloyd
Through all the years I’ve been a CRASH reader, people have never stopped sending you letters slagging off our Oli. Well I’m really sick of it, so a short time ago, in the hours of darkness, hidden away from the eyes of the law, a secret organisation was formed, called the Oliver Frey Protection Society.

If we see anyone in any way saying the slightest niggle of a complaint about our Oli, then our members who live in the victim’s district go on a little visit to the unlucky person for a weeny chat!

This should soon bring an end to the problem. Enclosed with this letter is your very own membership card. You can start a branch of the club in Ludlow. Remember readers, we’re out there watching you...

Watch this space for the Oliver Frey Fan Club coming soon.
Da Boss Man

I’m already a fan; and here in Ludlow, if you’re not a card-carrying club member, they can haul you up before the Un-Newsfield Activities Commission. That’s bad.


Dear Lloyd
I buy your mag for the previews and reviews, because I like to know what is coming on to the market, and if I’m to buy a game I find it very useful to know basically what I’m going to get for my cash. Also, I appreciate knowing that if a game has been REviewed rather than PREviewed, I can go out and buy it without a six-month delay waiting for the game to be written to match the advertising.

Therefore, having seen the preview of Tai-Pan (and all the reviews in other magazines) I thought could this be another Elite, the game to end all games — again? When can I buy this wondrous advance in computer software technology? Why, when CRASH gives it a review. This happened in August and off I went in search of my new alter ego. I looked in Swindon, Bath, Exeter, Birmingham, Barnstable, Reading, and even went to Basingstoke (and to actually go there I must have been desperate), but no Tai-Pan. I was starting to think that maybe it only existed in Ludlow, but no-one knows where that is, so I couldn’t find out.

So what do you think you are doing? Why join the ranks of other magazines by reviewing nonexistent games?? How do I end this letter without becoming offensive? How do I say that if you do this again I shall find Ludlow and come and stick your magazine up your nostril? Why so many questions? I don’t know, so I’ll just say;

Yours sincerely, (or am I)
Kevin Whittle

Well now and again, Kevin, we do review games in CRASH which still don’t appear for sale till after the magazine has gone on sale. Firebird’s Gyron, one I can recall, was reviewed some three months before it appeared (though I think we did say it would be a while). That was, and often is, because we get a reviewable copy and we think our job is to inform you as soon as we can. Then of course, there are those instance, like Tai-Pan where, with the best of intentions, the software house has problems. Tai-Pan ran into unforeseen programming compression difficulties, especially for the 48K Spectrum. Compared to other magazines, we did look a bit late in reviewing it, though the very first finished 128 version arrived only days before going to press, so arguably CRASH was the first with a finished copy review. It was then two weeks after CRASH came out before Tai-Pan’s on sale date happened.

Sorry if you feel we let you down, but Ludlow’s ever so hard to find...


Dear Lloyd,
You wanted more computer deejay’s with charts to write in, so here I am with my Top 10 on a 48K.

  1. Quazatron
  2. Stainless Steel
  3. Ping Pong
  4. Ghost Hunters
  5. Zynaps
  6. Uridium
  7. Ranarama
  8. Mikie
  9. Starquake
  10. Firebird

On a different note, CRASH is now an all colour mag. Great, so why were there a good half dozen screen shots in MONO? This carelessness totally ruined the look of Xecutor.

Apart from that, CRASH has improved tenfold since I started to buy it. All the extra features... it’s just unbelievable. The arcade reviews are especially good (even if you are a little late with some of them. I spent a pretty penny on R-Type and Double Dragon in early July).

I must also congratulate Newsfield on the release of their new baby — THE GAMES MACHINE. It is absolutely brilliant! It was amazing how many features were crammed into so few pages (132 pages — few?)

May you have a long and prosperous future.
Richard Davy

Sometimes you can’t win! The monochrome screen shots of Xecutor, Sun Star, and Solomon’s Key happened for the simple reason that the games arrived too late to be in colour. Would you rather we had left them out till the following month? You see, about four days before CRASH goes to press is the last possible moment anything can be in full colour, after that it’s black-and-white or nothing. Thanks for the other kind comment though!


Dear Lloyd,
I was disgusted when I picked up CRASH 44 and saw the front cover. How dare you print such rubbish with the full knowledge that 20-year-olds read this mag. Don’t you realize what the sight of a navel can do to adults of this age?

If Oli Frey is so obsessed with navels, may I suggest he joins the BBC (belly-button club) instead of inflicting this perverted trash on innocent adults.

I put up with the picture gruesomely depicting a red carnation on Fred Astaire’s lapel, but now you have gone too far. I am cancelling my 30-year-old son’s subscription as I feel you obviously cannot be trusted to print decent and nonpornographic pictures on the front cover of your magazine.

May I suggest on future you take more care and do not print such bloodthirsty pictures, as well as acting more responsibly towards 20-year-old youngsters.
Ben Wood (age 193 2/3)

Historically speaking, red carnations were not a bloodthirsty symbol, but more a romantic notion that the wearer was about to burst into song and dance. However, as they were usually only seen by other people in black-and-white (probably because they arrived too late to be reviewed in colour, or perhaps because they hadn’t yet invented colour film stock), no-one was upset by them. Sorry we upset your tender-aged son.


Dear Lloyd
In recent Forums, there seems to have been a discrepancy in what The Bug thinks the role of fanzines is, and what almost everyone else thinks. As the editor of a truly unbiased fanzine, Reflex, I think I should put forward my opinions on the matter.

Contrary to what Jeffrey Davy believes, fanzines are not, never were and never will be the biggest force in the software industry. However, the rising number of fanzines seems to suggest that a large market is out there for them. If I may draw a comparison, I see fanzines as equivalent to budget software: generally poorer quality but selling in sufficient quantities for the software industry to sit up and listen. As stated by Barnaby Page in the article, The Budget Boom (CRASH 45), ‘... and when you’re blowing a £10 note anyway, you don’t miss another couple of quid’.

The same is true for fanzines. If you spend £1.25 on CRASH, you won’t bother about another 30p for an eye-catching, straight-to-the-point fanzine. Mastertronic don’t whinge and moan about companies like Players, Code Masters and The Power House coming onto the market and stealing some of their revenue, when they’re all budget houses. So why do The Bug get upset when more fanzines get published? What are they afraid of...?

What is attractive about fanzines is that their views are generally fresh, sometimes controversial and they give their readers what they want — 100% computer entertainment from people of around their own age. The above reasons would appear to be the very reasons why I feel The Bug has failed. They see themselves on an equal footing with CRASH, Your Sinclair, Sinclair User etc, and it leads to their ‘editorial team’ writing stale and arrogant dogma in their magazine. It can also blind them to the reality of writing a fanzine and lead to silly fantasies which are surely above 16-year-old boys (eight telephone lines indeed!)?

The Bug’s views are at least laughable, at most dangerous. What place has ‘loony left’ propaganda in magazines about computer games? The Bug is bought by readers presumably because of its discerning reviews, not because people want to find out what the lads have to say about the latest ‘sexist, racist or heterosexist’ games (I don’t think I care to find out what qualifies as ‘heterosexist’).

I find The Bug’s attitude to be one of rank hypocrisy, which is borne out by Jeffrey Davy’s remarks on Your Sinclair’s Fanzine Of The Year awards. Although he found the competition distasteful and unfair, it did not stop him entering The Bug and accepting a £50 prize! I’m sure this £50 could have gone to a more gracious (and probably more deserving) fanzine.

If CRASH readers are sick of hearing about The Bug and their political editors (and I don’t blame them!) then they should contact Reflex — a totally unpolitical games fanzine, with 30p for the latest issue. I would also highly recommend EPROM from Tony Worrell. Both of the above are unashamedly dedicated to Spectrum games, not the Labour Party.
Phil Graham

I can see some point in your comparison between fanzines and mags like ours (or those others you mentioned that I’m not allowed to) and budget and full-price software, although it fails in the sense that newsagents don’t actually sell fanzines on the counter alongside their regularly distributed magazines. Roger Kean told me he met Jeffrey Davy on the first day of The PCW Show at the opening press conference (where, incidentally, the revered and much-bracketed one made a speech of some sort), and he told Roger he was pleased, at least, with the recent publicity they had received in CRASH.

On page 150 of this issue, there’s another Fanzine File for you to peruse, but in the meantime, does ANYONE have anything good to say about The Bug — surely someone must! And I don’t mean you Jeffrey, either!


Dear Lloyd
A few points:

1. The CRASH Sampler was great. The loading screens from Mean Streak and Athena were fab, the graphics from Driller were brilliant and the music from Trantor was amazing. I for one will definitely buy Trantor, Driller and Ikari Warriors as soon as they come out.

2. In the October issue you printed a letter from John Hay, who said CRASH was boring, with no sparkle or humour. CRASH is the most exciting and original computer mag in the country. Things like 3-D pages, free demos, CRASH History, great competitions, video reviews and more pages than any other mag prove my point.

CRASH sparkles from cover to cover and has just the right level of humour in it. Humour in other mags such as Your Sinclair and Sinclair User is far too childish, they have nothing serious in them at all.

I first bought CRASH Issue 10 and I didn’t even have a Spectrum! I owned a Vic 20, and didn’t realise CRASH was a Spectrum-only magazine. After reading it I parted company with my Vic and bought a Speccy! I’ve been reading CRASH ever since, and it’s improved with every issue. All in all, CRASH is the real thing.

Now that we must pay an extra 25p surely we deserve to see a photo of your good self?
Norm Burns

No you don’t, the 25p’s got nothing to do with it! Besides (and here comes the truth, at long last), for so long I existed in CRASH without a photo — as did Roger Kean for that matter — that it became a sort of lucky charm not to appear. Now it’s what some people would call a phobia.

I don’t think CRASH has lost any of its humour and certainly none of its sparkle. Okay, it has lost some of those amusing little speeling errors we used to have (because Barnaby can spell and Roger used to have what he called a creative freedom from the conventional restraints of language), but have you noticed how some of those other mags you mention (but which I’m not allowed to) have adopted the funny little ways CRASH used to have with spelling and grammar?


Dear Lloyd
I’ve never written to a magazine before, but felt I had to after reading John Hay’s letter in the October issue.

I felt his comments were correct, if somewhat misdirected. Before I get lynched, let me explain!

He says that CRASH is boring, lost its sparkle, etc. What he should have said was that the computer industry in general is boring and lacks excitement.

I started learning about computers in 1982. In those days, a 5K Vic-20 cost me £200. Then. along came a new breed of computers — smaller, larger memories and better graphics. Then, hardly a week went by without some innovative new computer or peripheral appearing. New computer companies sprang up overnight, seeking livings from their garden sheds.

That was what kept the industry alive and buzzing with excitement — new and interesting computers, peripherals and innovative software — didn’t you sit, mouth open, stunned, after playing The Hobbit for the first time? I know I did!

Nowadays, there are no new computers — the only ‘new’ machines are really old ones with a few extra bits bolted on: the Spectrum +2/+3 are to all intents and purposes Spectrum 48s with a few extra chips and data storage. Likewise the Commodore 128 has very little new over the C64.

We don’t even have the prospect of new and innovative software to look forward to. Well over 99% of all new releases are arcade machine conversions, or poor-quality licensed games.

Original games are few and far between, unfortunately. What’s needed is a change. If the hardware has been pushed to its limits, then maybe it’s time for some totally new hardware.

If this can’t be done, at a price the man in the street can afford, then I seriously fear for the future of the computer industry.

As for CRASH being boring, all I can say is, ‘Rubbish!’

I have bought CRASH from issue one, and have found that it has matured considerably over the years. It has adapted well — giving people exactly what they want — done largely by the annual CRASHtionnaire.

If my letter has a vaguely nostalgic air, I can assure you, I am a very enthusiastic 19-year-old at the end of October (and extremely spritely for my age!)
John Pariata

I can always lend you my walking frame, John, when it all gets too much. I think you’re being a bit hard, though, on this poor, bruised industry. Over 99% for arcade/licences is a touch exaggerated, and sometimes they’re very good too. It is true that hardware development has slowed of late, but on the other hand, you can’t really have a healthy peripherals and software market if the machines are changing every year. It was the very stability of Spectrum and CBM 64 sales for three or more years that has led to the quantity of software we enjoy. And there is a choice of other machines now, if you want to spend the money. Acorn’s Archimedes (boring name) is a bit beyond my means (and most people’s I suspect), but it’s a great machine — ’course, there’s only one game for it (written in BASIC too), so for a bit yet, I’d stick to the Spectrum and practise with that walking frame!


Dear Lloyd
I was interested to read Maria Lyne’s letter in the October Issue, asking about the eyestrain and headaches caused by using computers and VDUs. I too work with computers, though not to the extent of eight hours, maybe just two to three, but we in the Civil Service have been blessed with lots of various reports, research, bumph, and general silliness, and as a result the trade unions and management have reached various agreements and made certain rules.

As a rule, staff are advised that they are only to input, etc, on VDUs for four hours a day and only one hour at a time with a 15–20 minute break away from the VDU.

Various other things have come about too, like the siting of VDUs in the office. Apparently they should not be up against walls, etc, as you have no depth of vision beyond the terminal. And, when you are inputting, look up now and then to readjust your eyes to focusing longer distances and then get back on with it!

There are also more technical things like how to sit at the terminal, a recommended distance that your eyes and arms should be from the VDU/keyboard, (this to prevent tenosynovilis, a condition where the cartilages in hands and fingers swell up and deform (or something like that!) as long time typists/computer programmers may well be painfully aware.

And so on and so forth, and although this may be very boring stuff to a lot of micro users, I suppose it’s of interest to some who work with them all day every day. It’s also interesting to note that some doctors advise that pregnant women should not use VDUs.

But as you stated in your reply to Maria, there’s a lot of controversy about this, and when ‘experts’ disagree with ‘experts’, well, things start to get rather boringly confusing!
Andy White

If this keeps up, we’ll have everyone in CRASH Towers getting up for 15 minutes every hour, and only working half days! The notion of not siting a computer screen up against a wall is quite sensible, I would say (although the one I use is), or at least near a window you can look out of, but in truth, anyone whose work forces them to work closely to it, should expand their vision frequently, otherwise the eyes do grow tired, and you feel dizzy when you stand up and have to refocus.

I wonder whether the increase in reading (after all, before the turn of the century hardly anyone read anything) has led to worse eyesight in general? I suspect not significantly. But more people wear glasses now, you might say. True, but again, before the turn of the century, who could afford glasses? And how many opticians were there to provide them in the first place? Perhaps one day the much-publicised horrors of the VDU will also become nothing more than an interesting historical footnote.


Dear Lloyd
I’m writing to you in defence of T Worrall’s letter about fanzines.

My name is Phil Palmer. I am 16 years old. One of my friends and I decided to write a Spectrum fanzine for local enthusiasts. We spent ages planning and typesetting articles for the magazine. Eventually we had an original.

The magazine was called Z80. We had thought of ways of increasing circulation, so we sent a copy to Your Sinclair and also to CRASH.

It just happened that CRASH was running a Fanzine roundup or so we thought.

When CRASH appeared in our local newsagents I bought a copy. I turned to the Fanzine page where I didn’t find a roundup, more a slag-up of the Fanzines that people had spend so much time to write.

Thanks to your magazine we lost a lot (well for us anyway), about £10, and our old circulation. Nobody bought even the first issue because you stated that if a fanzine had only just started then it probably wouldn’t be worth the money.

Before that month’s CRASH had been released, we had a circulation of about 30 people. Not much, but a damn sight better than none at all.

We also had spent money photocopying the 20 pages of the magazine and then still tried to make a slight profit for the mag to be released at only 30p.

Thanks CRASH. You’ve been a great help...
Phil Palmer

You seem to ascribe a great power to CRASH and its Fanzine File articles. I’m sure they must have some effect on readers, but people aren’t fools, and they make up their own minds as to what they wish to buy and read. I find it hard to believe that 30 individuals would all, at the same moment, decide not to buy your fanzine because of something they may have read in CRASH.

Besides which, Fanzine File isn’t there just to praise and promote all fanzines. It’s constructive criticism. The warning given — perfectly clearly, I think — was not that first issues are bad, it was that people shouldn’t subscribe to a fanzine when it’s new because many do cease publication quite soon. We have to protect the fanzines’ readers interests as well as their editors’.


Dear Lloyd
You wanna top ten music, you gotta top ten music. Well, sort of. I’ve divided it into 2 top 5 charts, one for 48 and one for 128.

Speccy 48K

  1. Agent X (doop ba bop!)
  2. Nodes Of Yesod
  3. Gyroscope (when you win)
  4. Trap Door (don’t you open that trap door!)
  5. Sweevo’s World (why not?)

Speccy 128

  1. Never Ending Story
  2. Starglider
  3. Glider Rider (hate the game!)
  4. Daley Thompson’s Supertest
  5. Stormbringer

If you think your Hermes is bad then you should see the effort I’m typing this on. Olivetti 1776 or summut!
Super Sid, (alias Andy Haslam)

Who says I think my Hermes is bad?


To the super cool person who wears a sack over his head. Or in other words,

Dear Lloyd
I just had to write, (well not strictly true), about the playing tips in your mag. They’re brill. However I feel that the hackers are taken for granted. So, with no expense spared, I have composed the Hacking Song to show that we appreciate the hard work they do for all the mortals who can’t be bothered to learn to hack — such as me!

‘Oh sugar!’ I moan,
‘I’ve been blown to bits’,
With these wacky new games,
You really need your wits
Out of time in Enduro,
Kicked where it hurts in Fist,
And my AGAV in Starglider,
Received too many hits!

So I pray for the guys,
Who really know their stuff.
Who make Stallone in Cobra,
That extra bit tough.
Whether it’s immortality or timelessness,
Which you seek and you need,
They’ll certainly make your Willy, (as in Jet Set),
Anything but a weed.

To me they are heroes,
I’m sure you’ll agree.
Jon North is a wiz,
So too the Hackers from Haxby.
And all the other hackers,
Too many to name.
Who beat that old programmer,
At his own game.

No speed lock’s a match,
Although flashy and quick,
It may take them a while,
But soon they can lick.
Every complex system,
Ever dreamt up to load,
That garbage of waffle,
They call machine code.

Why do they do it?
It can’t be for free.
Or are they the worst,
A games player can be?
But I do know without them,
Lives would be lost.
In those toughie new games,
Some not cheap at the cost!

It’s a rough old world,
In which to be alive,
But at least with our heroes
We’ll continue to survive!

To conclude, how about letting us see a mug shot of the hacking bunch, after all they must be about as clever as the actual programmers themselves.
Martin Harrison

Hackers from Hax,
Send us a fax,
Include your pix,
That we may fix
Upon you six.
Or are there five of you...?

(Thank you Martin).


Dear Lloyd
When I received the CRASH Sampler tape (October cover mount), I thought great idea. When I loaded it, I wasn’t so sure. Surely how the game plays, the addictiveness and playability is important. On Mean Streak, Driller, Trantor and Sláine, how do you test these features as all you see is the computer controlling the action?

My biggest quibble is ovaer Sláine, it shows virtually nothing, except words flashing across the screen, and some fairly impressive pictures. What is the use of viewing a new system if you can’t understand what is happening? It would not have been too difficult to allow you to move around in the game a little, would it not? And it would have given the reader more of an insight upon the game.

Of the games which you can actually control, I found both Ikari Warriors and Athena good, and I’m thinking of purchasing both. I’m sure that if the player had more control of the character in the other demos, they might be more impressed, leading to more sales.

On a different tack, I would like to express my views upon the poster I received in my copy of CRASH, that is the one from the Power House. I could stand the other drawings in CRASH, even Barbarian etc, but this poster is totally over the top. It is truly disgusting. As soon as my mother saw it, she tore it up, such was her disgust. Please, no more posters (or drawings) like that, thank you!
Michael J Brown

We had hoped all the demos would be playable, and no doubt so did the responsible software houses. However, there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, and several (after all, the tape was mastered long before the issue was finished) were unable to supply playable demos of the games intended for the Sampler. But I absolutely agree with your sentiments.

The poster — I agree with you as well! The poster (for those who are not subscribers — we sometimes let software houses include posters with subscribers’ copies) was for the game Soft And Cuddly from the Power House. I suggest you read Mel Croucher’s piece on violence in computer games in the next issue of THE GAMES MACHINE, on sale from 19 November, which has quite a bit to say about both the game and the poster.

Thank you to everyone who wrote to the CRASH Forum this month, especially the many kind letters regarding Newsfield’s new publication, THE GAMES MACHINE. Sorry I couldn’t fit you all in, but keep trying! But thanks also to Karl Cowdale whose arm muscles have become enormous over the past two years from hauling all those mail sacks up from the post office and sorting out the letters for me. If you have anything you want to commit to paper, send your missives to LLOYD MANGRAM, CRASH FORUM, and Karl will make sure I get it safely!