TIME TO DRAW a soulful, satisfying sigh of relief. Following a short breather, Grandslam’s budget label, Bug Byte, is back (what do you mean you didn’t know it had gone?). Not being the sort of people to ignore general market trends, marketing and promotional plans (yawn), they’ve given their insectoid label a bit of a face-lift. You’ll now be able to get your hands on such back titles as Xeno (86%, Issue 35), Glider Rider (80%, Issue 34) and Elevator Action (72%, Issue 37) for a paltry £1.99 instead of a mammoth £2.99. Not only that — they’ve also managed to get the rights over Domark’s back catalogue, so by the end of the year titles like A View To A Kill (76%, Issue 18), Split Personalities (90%, Issue 30) and Kat Trap (84%, Issue 36) will be gracing the software shelves. Can you wait?


MICHAEL J FOX braves savage dogs to get it. Tina Turner dances round it and Michael Jackson sings about it. What do you mean what? Pepsi Cola, of course. Now Pepsi, the taste of America, has joined forces with US Gold. Together at last, they invite you to take part in a computerised version of the Pepsi Challenge. Buy one of the Pepsi Challenge range of computer games (the first being Mad Mix), and you’ll find a voucher giving a preset score inside. Beat the score and you qualify to take part in a fabulous free prize draw and win one of hundreds of US Gold goodies. Now for the really crucial question — is this enough to stop Nick Roberts drinking Cherry Coke?

US Gold and Pepsi attending a ‘lovely function’ in London, for the signing of a historic agreement between software and soft drinks producers. Looks like that one at the back (on the right) has had a bit too much to drink! (Burp!)


STAND TO ATTENTION, pin back your lugholes and get ready for an announcement from Mirrorsoft.

They’d like it to be generally known that they’ve launched a new entertainment software brand called Imageworks. This rather posh, designer-sounding label is all set to ‘stretch the popular 8-bit and 16-bit machines to their very limits’. It’s already broken into the coin-op market with an exclusive licence to convert Atari GamesBlasteroids.

Right, now you can go back to sleep.


TERRY ASHTON, the man at the top of The Big Apple used to hide his cassettes in cigarette packets to stop them being stolen if his car got broken into. Now he’s packaging his software in cigarette packets to stop it getting broken (how sweet). The Big Apple (which has yet to release its first Spectrum game) is set to shock the market with its innovative fliptop lid game-pack design. Made from a single sheet of strengthened laminated board (whatever that is), the revolutionary boxes ‘allow six faces of printed material and withstand over 300 openings and closings’. All very useful. Whether the games are going be worth all this opening and closing remains to be seen.


APPARENTLY (although it’s probably some stupid promotional thing that someone at Ocean thought was a bit funny), when sporting superstar Daley Thompson took his first look at Ocean’s Daley Thompson’s Olympic Challenge (originally titled DT’s Decathlon 88) he grilled the appointed demonstrator on the apects of computer graphic. (So would I, if they’d given me the wrong skin colour in the prequel! — Ed) Gary Bracey, Ocean’s Software Manager, was heard saying: ‘He really put me through my paces, and eventually defaced the loading screen by putting a large pair of spectacles on himself. But they won’t appear in the finished version of the game’! Chortle, chortle... And in the true summer trend Ocean have promised to give royalties of the game to the British Amateur Athletic Association. Now there’s a good thing.


ER... YOU MAY not know this but Telecomsoft and Hewson have been having a bit of an argument. Something about a ‘much-publicised wrangle’ over the two Graftgold games, Morpheus and Magnetron. If this piece of info has you gnashing your teeth, tearing your hair out and wading with grief, STOP IT RIGHT NOW...

...because they’d like everyone to know they’ve made it up. Phew! That’s all right then.


THOSE CLEVER GUYS (and gals) at US Gold have put on their thinking caps (very fetching bobble-cap variety) and come up with a very selective budget venture. Known as Kixx (not sure why) the new label is to cover about 12 titles in the first year. Top of the list are Gauntlet (92%, Issue 37), Metrocross (77%, Issue 42), World Games (71%, Issue 40), Ace Of Aces (62%, Issue 38) and Tenth Frame (55%, Issue 38). The games retail at £2.99 and should be ready to burn a hole in your pocket some time in the middle of August.


QUESTION: what do you do with a blockbusting best-seller that’s already sold millions of copies? Answer: give it to MicroProse. They’ll turn it into a bestselling game and sell even more.

This piece of helpful advice comes from Tom Clancy, author of Red Storm Rising, a story which deals with the tactical operations of an American nuclear attack submarine some time in the middle of World War III. According to Sid Meier, co-founder of MicroProse (and he ought to know), Red Storm Rising is going to show technical improvements that far surpass their previous submarine simulation Silent Service. In other words it’s going to be equipped with lots more thingies on the control panel as well as a few intelligent(?) kamikaze torpedoes which home in on their targets all by themselves. So if you must play with torpedoes, wait for the best. Red Storm Rising should be available later this year.


FIRST THERE WERE Green Shield Stamps. Then came petrol tokens (‘collect 5000 Supergas stamps and you too could be the proud owner of a pair of self-folding, bright red spaghetti tongs’), and now?

Now we have self-adhesive software tokens. Like The Big Apple’s Bronx Club, The Great Microdealer Cover Up involves sticking lots of little tokens on a piece of cardboard, waiting till you’ve collected enough, and then exchanging them for an absolutely free, no-strings-attached present picked from the glossy Microdealer catalogue (although it could be any old game, if you know what I mean). One token is awarded for every five pounds spent and all entries go forward into the Microdealer Grand Cover Up competition later this year. So get sticking!

The future of the software industry lies in these three children’s hands. No game gets out of the Code Masters’ stable in Warwickshire unless it is given the thumbs up from eight-year-old William Darling (centre). John (left) and Annie Darling (right ), who are both aged four, help Willy with PR. (And they seem to be loving it! — Ed)


The final qualifying round for the National Computer Games Championship, sponsored by US Gold and the National Association Of Boys Clubs and organised by Newsfield Publications, hit Leeds in mid-July and featured yet more eager games players battling for the 1988 title...

Saturday July 16

Whether it was due to the weather (just for a change, the sun was shining) or to the Northern temperament (whatever that is), Hunslett Boys Club was graced by one of the largest groups of competitors we’d seen this year. They were already trickling in an hour before the contest was due to start and kept on coming as the morning progressed.

All together now. The Leeds qualifiers say cheese

Although 1943 on the Spectrum hadn’t been released, it turned out to be more than manageable for most of the competitors.

Playing 1943, Philip Sadler notched up a massive score of 55030 within the first few minutes and would have kept on playing long after his bout of ten minutes was up. No-one even came near to achieving a similar feat until the morning was almost over. Just when it seemed that Philip’s lead was safe, Paul Roberts sauntered up and coolly amassed a mammoth 58380 points and was duly awarded the winner’s goodie bag, and a place on the plane to Seoul... er, sorry, that’s the car to Gateshead. As the results were compared, it turned out that Philip and Paul had outscored their three closest rivals by over 20000 points. Watch out for them in the semifinals.

Spectrum qualifiers from Leeds
Paul Roberts (winner) 58380
Philip Sadler 53030
Damian Collier 29200
Paul Walton 27700
Faron Collier 25770

Watching the competitors to see how it’s done


The semi-finals should be over by the time you read this, after which it’s time for the real testing as 12 candidates compete for the title of 1988 Computer Games Champion. The finals take place at this year’s Personal Computer Show at Earl’s Court and everyone’s welcome to come along and join in the fun. Even if you don’t get a ringside seat you won’t miss out as all the action is being shown on a 100 square foot video wall sponsored by Pepsi Cola. Overall winners from the Commodore and Spectrum group both receive £1000 worth of hardware/software courtesy of US Gold. The two winners then go forward to the ultimate test: playing a new game on an Atari ST in the Pepsi Cola Challenge. Stay tuned for next month’s announcement of the final placings.

Nick watches over the frenetic action in Birmingham

The National Computer Games Championships 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!