ADVANCED DUNGEONS and Dragons are leaping the commercial chasm into computer games. Under license from TSR, Strategic Simulations Inc. are to release several games based on AD&D game modules. Drawing on the Dragonlance and the even newer Forgotten Realms fantasy settings, the games will combine the traditional TSR role-playing rules with arcade action. There’s even the possibility that SSI may be able to design a completely new module for the as yet relatively undeveloped Forgotten Realms world.

The only official computerised version of AD&D

The demands of this sort of complexity are high and some of the games, including a Dungeon Master Assist program, won’t be available for the Spectrum. Heroes Of The Lance, however, will. Derived from the first Dragonlance module, Dragons of Despair, the episode charges you with the task of recovering the precious Disks of Mishakal which are hidden deep within the treacherous ruins of the temple Xak Tsaroth and guarded by the ancient black dragon, Khisanth. You control eight companions, whose different attributes and skills must be exploited to counter the powerful magic that defends the temple, defeat gigantic spiders and parry with the skeletal undead.

Possible cross-promotions may include discount offers on the glossy TSR books which accompany the modules. The first SSI AD&D releases should be available by the end of this year.


THE BIG APPLE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY has announced its arrival in a blur of all-American hype and razzamatazz. Set up with the backing of Prestwich Holdings, the company plans to release at least four full price titles and twenty budget titles (on two separate labels) before the end of this year. First on the menu is Oops!, a ‘deceptively simple’ strategy game which has you scooting around the space-time continuum collecting vital gravity pods. Shortly to be followed by Delphian and Neutron, it should be available for the Spectrum soon.

Not that The Big Apple are going to confine their activities to publishing software: they’ve also organised a frequent-buyers club, christened, in appropriately streetwise fashion, The Bronx Club. Leader of this trendy gang is cool dude Bronx Billy who greets all participants with the cheery catch phrase ‘Have a nice play’. Members will be able to collect apple tokens on their special leaflets. Once you’ve collected enough, you’ll be able to exchange them for a wide range of gifts including records, tapes and T-shirts. Games buyers who send a stamped addressed envelope to Big Apple will receive a free membership pack including membership card and a collecting leaflet.


BACK IN CHRISTMAS 1987 PowerPlay launched the terribly successful Cruiser Original — complete with red ergonomic shaft, blue casing and white buttons. (In fact we’ve had a few in the CRASH office for ages, and none them have conked out!) But now, for the trendier games player, there’s two new sticks. Both of them still feature the innovative sensitivity setting (just lift the shaft and turn for sensitive, normal or firm play — saves many a sore wrist). Cruiser Black has a flat top shaft, as opposed to the rounded Original, and a set of ultra tough microswitches that should last ages. It, like the tough Original, is priced at a very competitive £9.99.

And if those two still don’t suit your needs, there’s also a Clear version so you can see exactly what’s going on inside the robust plastic casing. The Cruiser Clear also has a special bit of wizzo hi-tech gadgety which autofires when either of the two buttons are held down. The Cruiser Clear is worth an extra three pounds, at £12.99. Nick Roberts tells us, it’s improved his street-cred no end! All three Cruisers are available from PowerPlay.


DESTINY’S IMMINENT release, a shoot-’em-up entitled Diamond, comes complete with an unusual freebie: an audio cassette featuring a single by the newly emerging group called The Company She Keeps. The cassette features two tracks — What A Girl Wants and Express Interest. In future certain singles released by the newly formed Destiny Records, are to be packaged along with the company’s games in a similar way. Francis Lee of Destiny commented that ‘this will give the less well-known groups their big breaks.’ Any pop groups interested in appearing on the B-side of a Destiny’s game should contact Francis at Destiny.

Hip to the beat when you buy Destiny’s Diamond


STREETWISE budget software producers Code Masters seem to be in a slight bit of trouble over using the picture of Jesse Owens on the front of The Race Against Time (79%, Issue 54) packaging. And, as a result of a misunderstanding, all future packs will be adorned with the glorious picture of athlete Carl Lewis. Why anyone should object to this non-profit-making game is beyond us! After all, every penny of profit goes to Sport Aid 88, a very worthy charity.


Alan Sugar: watching the rest to produce the best

AFTER MONTHS of speculation and rumour, CRASH can safely say that Amstrad are producing a 16-bit computer, although not a Spectrum. The new machine, at the moment called the Sinclair Professional is expected to be launched at the PC Show in mid-September as a £299 package. It is expected to be a direct rival to Commodore’s Amiga and Atari’s ST.

At £299 it would seem very unlikely that Amstrad are to include a monitor but would, like Atari, allow a great room for expansion. Amstrad have already commissioned software for bundling with the release — GO! are duplicating 100000 copies of a four game compilation, consisting of Bedlam, Wizard Warz, Trantor — The Last Stormtrooper and Pitstop II. This suggests Amstrad are aiming directly at the entertainment sector. News that the Sinclair Professional PC will have a 3½" disk drive (apparently the contract is for 10000 drives a month) fuels speculation that the machine could easily be moved into the business sector at a later stage — although Amstrad rarely produce two model ranges for one niche; the PC1512s and PC1640s already fill the mid-range (business AND entertainment) area of computing.

As the name suggests the new machine will be at least partly PC-compatible, thus also competing with the recently price-cut Commodore PCI. The tougher 3½" drive seems to be the way forward for Amstrad, after their go-it-alone policy with the 3" disk proved too expensive for software producers. The Spectrum+ and all, bar the PC-compatible, Amstrads use the 3" standard. However, their last release, the portable PPC640, used the 3½ disk for the first time.

To get rid of old 3" disk stock it seems like Amstrad will be putting together a large (50–100 games) compilation to bundle with the + at Christmas.

As with all of their releases Amstrad are silently optimistic. We can but wait and see.


The National Computer Games Championship is sponsored by US Gold in association with the National Association of Boys Clubs and the Personal Computer Show and organised by Newsfield Limited, publishers of CRASH, ZZAP! 64 and THE GAMES MACHINE. We gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance of British Rail, the British Airports Authority, Dixons for supplying the Spectrum +3s and monitors, Commodore (UK) for supplying the Commodore 128s and monitors, and Konix for the joysticks. And thanks to the staff and members of the local Boys Clubs for all their help and patience!

As 15 Spectrum qualifiers, from Scotland, Wales/South West and The Midlands heats, already held, sit back and relax their wrists, ready to renew battle on August 15 and 18 more contestants bash away on their favourite games in anticipation of the London/South East and The North heats. In the meantime we take a look at the action and results of the heats already held.

First, then, we travel to that silvery-grey city, often referred to as ‘the Athens of the North’, in the company of Mark ‘da Vinci’ Caswell.

Saturday June 11

The start of the National Computer Games Championship began in earnest at the first venue, Fet Lore Boys Club in Edinburgh.

Each of the contestants was given ten minutes practice to improve on their finely-honed skills, before the competition began. The game at this Scottish qualifying heat was US Gold’s 720°, the rules of battle were simple: one game only with ten minutes in which to play. No second chance.

Spectrum gamesters began, skateboards moving at breathtaking speeds and some truly incredible, near fatal, stunts were performed to get those vital points.

The pace hotted up as Stephen Smithwhite took up the challenge and promptly set the score to beat of over 138000. Could it be beaten? The answer looked like ‘yes’ as Stuart Campbell and Brian Wardlaw took up the challenge, the battle raging on between both players as they passed the 100000 mark with moderate ease. But sadly for them both, Stephen’s score proved too high to reach, the last few grains of sand in the digital hourglass ran out, leaving Stuart on just under 110000 and Brian close behind with over 103000. Formidable scores nevertheless.

We congratulated the winners and other semi-finalists, and commiserated with the losers. In the end, though, all went away with prizes for their valiant service.

Spectrum qualifiers for the semi-finals to be held in Manchester

Stephen Smithwhite (winner)138660
Stuart Campbell109310
Brian Wardlaw103250
Mark Smithwhite84270
William Bann53500

Saturday June 18

A week later, and the action moved south (Nailsworth Boys Club in Gloucestershire, to be exact), the adjudication this time in the competent hands of Dominic Handy.

All the way from Swansea came Michael Deer, a timid fellow in construction, who placed his gifted frame in front of the Spectrum +3. Others had six or seven practice games, but he needed only one (which he didn’t even finish). As the ten-minute battle commenced, the two contestants aside young Deer fell by the wayside but Michael continued to the end, clocking up a magnificent 2324130 points, compared to the 30000 of his fellow contestants.

It was not over, though. Up stepped a very confident looking Mark Sevill from Newent, scoring 230740; not bad fora virgin fighter. You either had the knack or you didn’t, these two guys certainly did — no others came close.

Spectrum qualifiers for the semi-finals to be held in London

Michael Deer (winner) 232480
Mark Sevill 230740
Philip White 168410
Justin Pearson 157210
Paul Burridge 152300

Saturday July 2

Just a fortnight on, at the Highgate Sport & Leisure complex in Birmingham, the third set of qualifying heats got underway. This time it was Nick Roberts’s chance to show how you can adjudicate with a stopwatch in one hand and a pizza in the other...

Yet again, they came from far and wide, with Leicester providing a mound of talent. This time, to the delight of the competitors, the US Gold entourage unveiled the recently Smashed game Bionic Commando. They all seemed to like the practise games, and confidence was running high. But the real thing is a completely different matter.

As expected the scores were close, but no one was prepared for the nail-biting contest which developed. Up stepped Simon Hadlington from Stourbridge who proceeded to shoot and swing his way to a very credible 34300. Pretty good, but Gavin Cavendish from Groby in Leicester gave Simon the fright of his life with a score of 34280.

Just as everyone thought the contest was over a very smug (he’d just come second in the Commodore section) Paul Mellerick from Leicester stepped up. With Konix joystick in one hand and bionic arm in the other he notched up an amazing 35990! Phew, enough to make Nick drop his pizza!

Spectrum qualifiers for the semi-finals to be held in London

Paul Mellenck (winner) 35990
Simon Hadlington 34300
Gavin Cavendish 34280
Adrian Grubb 27240
Trevor Mullen 12010