Unfortunately, this month’s FORUM has had to be squeezed somewhat to make room for the unusually large amount of features and specials. Still, rather than take up any more space with my ramblings, on with the show...


Dear Lloyd
I’m writing in defence of the 16-bits, first in reply to Nigel Palmer’s drivel which took up half a page of CRASH, issue 51. He obviously cannot see that technology has moved on leaving him behind; not only does he compare 16-bit computers with 8-bit ones where 8-bits have no chance, but also suggests that you keep your Spectrum so you can play bug-ridden games like Match Day with poor sound and graphics. Don’t worry Nigel, your padded cell will be nice and cosy for you when you come back in your jacket with those men in white coats.

And as for you Lloyd, ‘Most 16- bit games play like a brick’ (I’ve never seen a brick play, maybe I saw one playing darts with Nigel in his padded cell once).

First, let’s look at the 16-bit software industry compared with 8-bit. The 16-bit industry is in the same state as the 8-bit was, two to three years ago (and accordingly, look how much older the Spectrum is now). As the user base grows so will the style of the games, progressively improving all the time (things like graphics, sound and PLAYABILITY). So just wait two to three years and compare the industries then. I think I know which will be the better.

I’m afraid the Spectrum has come to the end of its life. It’s rather like a car: after so long it gets worn out and becomes knackered, so you get rid of it and buy a new one. So throw away the 8-bits and get a 16-bit. I’ll be glad to see the back of my Spectrum.

I know I won’t get the last word, as you will attack my letter at the end with your biased comments making it sound like the sun shines out of the Spectrum’s speaker. Face it — 16-bit NOW RULES.
Matthew Wakley

When speaking of 16-bit games ‘playing like a brick’, I did not mean to be taken so literally. If you wish me to use plain English then I can only state that of the many 16-bit games have played, the best of the bunch is still only comparable in playability with the best of the current 8-bit games.

I do agree with you about future events, although I have no reservations in restating my opinions that, at the present moment, the decision to upgrade to a 16-bit machine, simply discarding your old 8-bit, should not be taken lightly: frequently, the purchase of a new car is an economical necessity, but you wouldn’t throw a working vintage car away just because it was old. Besides which, our sister mag, THE GAMES MACHINE (Issue 7), carries an article firmly suggesting the Spectrum’s days are hardly numbered yet.


Dear Lloyd
Firstly, before I start whingeing, I’d like to commend software companies such as Ocean, Gremlin Graphics, US Gold, Cascade and, to a lesser extent, Telecomsoft, Elite, Digital Integration, Incentive and Hewson on taking the initiative in the +3 games market.

But, having had a +3 since Christmas, I still haven’t bought a game on disk. Why? Because of the price of disk software! Most disk games for the +3 retail at around £14.95 whilst the tape equivalent costs around £8. This is the reason why I’m still buying tape games.

I don’t wholly blame the software firms for the exorbitant disk prices — Amstrad called the leading leisure software publishers to a special conference, believing that disk software could be reduced to under £10, thus increasing the sales of the +3. Many software houses have made a cautious approach to Spectrum disk software as there isn’t yet a large enough user base. So surely Amstrad itself should take the first step in increasing +3 sales by reducing the price of the machine. Then, with a larger market, software companies could bring down software prices (perhaps to the magical figure of £9.95?). I reckon that disk software could come down to £12 or £13 now, since Mr Alexander of Virgin Games said of the price of software ‘The additional manufacturing cost is £1.58. If we fell in line with what Amstrad is suggesting then we’d make 80 pence per unit less. The price point is difficult until disk prices come down’.

At the present moment though, how can a £1.58 increase warrant a £7 retail increase? I rest my case.

Please could CRASH include a monthly +3 round-up which tells us of recently released disk games, forthcoming releases and the enhancements the disk has over the tape games.
Philip Wynn

I must agree that the differences in production and retail costs of +3 disks does seem to smack of greed on the part of software wholesalers. I am informed that the disk duplication costs are higher than for tape-based games, but even so, the additional retail prices do appear unjustified.

At a recent conference, Alan Sugar called for all the major software houses to lower the retail prices of their disk software. Worried that their profit margins would be drastically reduced, their response was to ask Amstrad to lower the price of blank disks; neither side acquiesced and a stalemate is in force. I’m afraid that until one party makes a solid move, it would appear that the only people who are losing out on the situation are the customers.


Dear Lloyd
I feel that as both an adventure author and player I must put quill to parchment and write a note to your FORUM which usually deals with arcade fans.

I must point out it is not my intent to offend or to sound over-cynical but I must speak as I feel and indeed in your reply to the letter in the April CRASH you offended me — a humble adventure author. In the said reply you made homegrown software houses sound like a bad risk, when we care for our customers and write for love not money. The fact that you said you would have to refund a customer if he had a complaint against a reviewed game is, I feel, rubbish. I mean, if you look at the reasons you gave then that means you would also have to refund customers of Romantic Robot, Spectrum +3 and a host of arcade games. I know the above is going a little too far but if you maintain this new policy of not reviewing homegrown adventures (the majority of the market) then you will lose yet another reader.

And now for something completely different: since good old Derek Brewster left (a man who knew his adventures), your adventure content has diminished and even Sinclair User’s adventure page is superior to yours. The April issue was no exception, it now looks like the once-inferior helpline in ZZAP!64.

Come on, we adventurers are not such a small minority that you can afford to ignore us. I know it may take a while to settle down after Derek’s departure which will be missed, so I’m going to give another three issues before I cancel CRASH.

You will be missed.
GM Dobbs

As stated in the reply to Simon McGregor’s letter in Issue 51, the legalities involved in reviewing homegrown adventures are correct. But never fear: since the arrival of Samara, the number of homegrown adventure reviews is once again on the increase. Indeed this issue’s ADVENTURE TRAIL is back up to four pages in length, and further changes, both in size and content, are in the pipeline.


Dear Lloyd
So you have now reached issue 50, and I’m sure that since you have been into computers since 1984 you all think that you’re computer veterans and know it all. You may be surprised to hear that I have been a keen computer person since 1980. I learned to program on the ZX81 (yes, people did actually program their computers in those days rather than just bashing their keyboards to death) and have since had not inconsiderable experience in the programming and use of various computers, computer controlled scientific equipment and computer languages. ‘So what?’ I hear you exclaim, ‘This is only a magazine for hobbyists’. Fine, fair enough. It’s just that after reading YOUR self-glamorisingly cynical reply to Peter Hoar’s truthful and well-written letter, I assumed that you must be a ‘bloomin’ arrogant scientist like myself, butt suspect that this is probably not the case. would like to know however, what gives you the right to talk back to your correspondents as you did to Mr Hoar in Issue 50. The points he made are perfectly valid. For example:

1) CRASH, whether you like it or not, is a catalogue. How can you describe a magazine which gives information on new software as anything else, after all, at least 75% of CRASH is devoted to reviews.

2) £1.95 was a rip-off for the Christmas edition. To say that it is bigger to read over the holidays’ is pathetic! Who wants to read numerous covers of past editions of CRASH? (Oh, yes I forgot, it’s teaching people about the old days!)

3)A sizeable number of CRASH Smashed software has proven to be rubbish. Matchday II is almost identical to Matchday I, and as for Driller, well I don’t know about brilliant new graphics techniques, I remember very similar ones being used in a Psion program called Vu-3D in 1983 (the old days again).

A very large proportion of the software being released at present (and during the past year or two) has been garbage. Admittedly your reviews declare virtually every release a classic, but even your reviews are not terribly informative for example ‘The graphics are mostly colourful and detailed’ as one of your Platoon reviewers said. What the hell is ‘mostly colourful’ supposed to mean? Come on lads, try to use the old CSE English (Sorry, I mean GCSE. I’m thinking of the old days!).

So all in all I don’t think you are perfect by any means, just like the rest of us. So when a member of your vast readership writes in as Mr Hoar did in issue 50 you don’t really have any right to sneer and snipe as you did. I remind you that your readers effectively pay your wages, and incidentally, the customer should always be right. (Blimey! what an old fashioned attitude!) Old fashioned yes. Wrong no.
S Moore

It would seem that both Mr Hoar’s letter and its reply has sparked off yet another controversy, judging by many of this month’s letters. The responses to the points raised by that letter still hold true and although somewhat terse, were written in fairer tone than the damning letter itself.

The comparison of Driller’s moving, filled-in 3-D graphics to a single, static, filled in 3-D graphic in Vu-3D is like comparing the Lascaux cave paintings to the work of Disney. And as to the disagreement with reviewers’ views, I can only repeat (yet again) that they are personal opinions and not meant to be taken as gospel. The short comments in evidence a few issues ago have now been considerably altered, as can be seen by this and last months’ offerings.

Further, attempting to prove a point by using inaccurate information (CRASH certainly does not devote 75% of its pages to reviews) only undermines all your arguments.


Dear Lloyd
I am writing concerning the distribution of the Newsfield magazines, and how long it takes certain shops to get copies, especially of CRASH. I have CRASH ordered from my local village newsagent and find that sometimes it is in the shop almost one week later than the date shown in the previous issue of CRASH. Take this month for instance (the April issue). This was due in the shops on March 31. On Saturday March 26, I went to Brighton and visited the Virgin Megastore. In the computer games department I noticed about 20 copies of the CRASH April, but I did not have enough money to buy it. This was a whole five days before that issue was due to hit the shops. On March 31, I went to the local newsagent to get my copy of CRASH only to find that it was not there. I tried again on Friday April 1, then Saturday and even Bank Holiday Monday, but it was the same story. Also on these days, the big High Street stores such as WH Smith and Martins did not have it in. As I write, it is Monday April 11 and I still have not got my CRASH. if I get it on Tuesday then it will be five days late — as many days as it was early at Virgin.

What I want to know is why is it that big chainstores such as Virgin are given priority of delivery over a small independent newsagent? Of course the answer is relatively obvious: Virgin gets its CRASHes before time because they sell more copies and you get a larger revenue than the small Independent shops that do not sell as many magazines.

Please do not see this letter as being critical of CRASH, but more of a criticism of Comag who distribute your mags.
Robert Lunn

Not one single outlet is given priority over any other, Robert: all copies of an issue are delivered from the printer to the wholesalers on the same day throughout the country. Virgin deal direct from the same warehouse. It is a question, then, of the efficiency of local wholesalers in delivering their stock to their retailers, who include your small independent newsagent. As we know, not all wholesalers are as efficient as others. You should certainly complain to your newsagent, even his wholesaler, if he will tell you who that is. Finally, I can pass on your letter to Comag, who will be as concerned as you about the lateness of CRASH in your local shop. A simpler answer might be to take out a subscription to CRASH, which is both more economical and also more reliable; many subscribers get their copies of CRASH the day after it’s printed!


Dear Lloyd
What has happened to CRASH? I started buying it regularly at the beginning of 1986, and watched each month as it grew into a world power, shrugging aside the feeble opposition to reach the pinnacle of excellence.

Yes, that mouthful does contain a touch of nostalgia. Suddenly we’re now paying £1.25 for a 100-page magazine. Half of this is advertisements, leaving very little reading material indeed. Where are the six-page FORUMS, eight-page ADVENTURE TRAILS and, come to that, what happened to PBM and FRONTLINE in Issue 52?

Certainly colour and general polish has improved but surely an interesting feature-filled magazine is more important than this. CRASH can be compared to the 16-bit market: a glossy, attractive veneer hiding an unstimulating product.

I can sympathise with money problems, because I now have one — which magazine to buy. CRASH is not offering value for money any more; I can have a better read elsewhere.

Actually I am still buying CRASH because no other magazine offers such an excellent review system (it HAS improved!) — or Jetman! Also I enjoyed the CRASH history, which was well written (and drawn) and interesting.

Here’s hoping that Jetman doesn’t follow PBM and FRONTLINE.
Michael Batt

Now for a start, Michael, there has never been a CRASH where 50% of the pages are adverts — never! The usual ration Is more like 25% ads, 75% editorial. Go on, check back and count up, please!

In fact, if it is one of those months where there is less-than-usual advertisements, and to a degree, a diminished number of games arriving for review, CRASH does diminish in size. However, I think you’ll agree that this month’s offering — 116 pages plus a FREE 16-page full colour arcade booklet — does offer quite substantial value for money.

Issue 52’s POSTMARK and FRONTLINE features were not included because of differing reasons: Philippa has had a deficit of games to review of late (a situation that we hope is only temporary) and rather than include some personal philosophising or general overview of this pastime, the editor felt that the space could be more usefully used on a different feature. Brendan Kavanagh was in the process of moving home and being of no-fixed-abode, was unable to write his column! PBM is featured this month but, and again for the same reasons, FRONTLINE has had to bow out in favour of other features which were queueing up at CRASH’s door! In fact, this issue includes one feature, one new regular and the CRASH COURSE together with seven regular columns plus news of the PC Art Show, and a taste of FEAR...

That’s all from this month’s slightly smaller FORUM. Next month it should be back up to full size, bulging with rantings, ravings and general items of discourse and discord. If you have anything you want to get off your chest, write to LLOYD MANGRAM, CRASH FORUM. You could find yourself the lucky recipient of a £30 software voucher!