This month’s pick of the paperback’s
is Tim Powers’ epic seafaring
fantasy On Stranger Tides
out now from Grafton books.
It’s violent, fast-moving and
‘... the sand rippled and jumped... white bones began poking up out of
it and rolling and cartwheeling together into the pile; the pile heaved and
shifted and shook, then steadied, and Shandy realised it was now a human
skeleton in a crouching posture... Blackbeard spoke, and the skeleton lowered
itself and knelt on one boney knee.’
And it gets better! After writing one fantasy classic, The Anubis
Gates, Powers has certainly done it again. Set in 1718 the story follows
the high seas adventures of John Chandagnac and his confrontation with the
notorious pirate Blackbeard. Complete with dramatic naval battles, zombies, a
mummified two-headed dog and a beautiful damsel in distress this is essential
LICENCES TO THRILL?
AFTER LOSING Bob Monkhouse (like we wish BBC1 would!),
Domark are back on the licence trail with 007’s latest epic,
Licence To Kill. Once again Timothy Dalton is Bond, and this
time his opponent is the evil drug baron Sanchez. Whilst defeating Sanchez
(oops! I spoilt the ending!) Bond will go on a stomach-churning helicopter
chase, descend into watery depths to take on sharks and thugs, then chase after
Sanchez’s drug smuggling convoy of petrol tankers in a stolen crop duster
plane. All these highly meaningful scenes will be duplicated by the Domark game
which should be out in June.
Rather further in the future, and considerably more bloody, is
Ocean’s latest film fie-in deal: Nightbreed. This
movie is scheduled for an Autumn release and is based on Clive
Barker’s latest bestseller, Cabal. The finished
product should have some of the best and most terrifying monsters ever seen
— so it’s unlikely to get a ‘U’ Rating. But then
RoboCop’s ‘18’ rating didn’t do the computer
games sales any harm did it?
The game Nick’s most looking forward to seeing, though, should be
ready for a very special kind of release right now. This is Total
Eclipse: The Sphinx Jinx, a remixed version of the original with
completely different puzzles. You’ve got to rebuild the mighty sphinx by
collecting 12 pieces in just one hour. Incentive’s incentive for
you to make a really high score this time is a £2,000 holiday in Hawaii,
where you can see a total eclipse for real. Unfortunately the game’s
only going to be available from the Home Computer Club as part of a
special double pack costing £11.20. Bwah!
Requiring yet more brain work will be Level 9’s latest
adventure, Scapeghost. The idea is that you’re this hero
detective killed while investigating drugs smuggling (obviously no James Bond,
huh!). Now you’re dead ugly rumours have begun that you were involved
with the smuggling. Determined to put a stop to this, track down the drug
smugglers and free a hostage, you come back from the dead. One advantage of
being a ghost is that you can walk through doors (without opening them!) but on
the other hand you can’t very easily move things or communicate with
people. As has become common practise with Level 9 the game will come in three
loads, and cost either £14.95 or £19.95 depending on whether you want
tapes or a disk.
And last, but most definitely not least, we have CDS’s
announcement that they’ve got the licence to the TV Quiz Show
Sporting Triangles. Quoth CDS, ‘Yes, there have been a
number of quiz show conversions... (but) Sporting Triangles is deemed
to go down in history as the best ever’. While cynics may note that
wouldn’t be too difficult, ‘the best ever’ should be out now
for £7.99 on tape and £14.99 on disk.
Wot? Not another mistake? — ’Fraid so. In CRASH 62 we went on about ACG owning
RARE and Ultimate: Play The Game when in fact they don’t.
ACG used to own Ultimate, but then sold it to US Gold when the games writing
side of ACG left to concentrate on RARE (which mainly did Nintendo games).
It’s RARE, not ACG, which have bought back Ultimate and are writing
Speccy games again.
As part of RARE’s expansion they’ve hired Alan Ward as
General Manager. Alan used to be a senior officer with Marconi (one of the
UK’s biggest and most high tech companies). As his title suggests
he’ll be responsible for a wide range of things, including PR —
fans of the Ultimate mystique need not worry though, as so far he’s
firmly sticking to the company policy of, ‘I’m afraid we
can’t say anything yet’. Spectrum games are being written is all we
know so far. As for Alan’s interests, apart from RARE games of course,
he’s an avid motor racing enthusiast and is a senior official with the
British Motor Racing Marshals association. Expect Trans-Am 2
COMPUTER ARENA 89
The weekend the software business spent in cloudy Majorca. ‘And didn’t we have a luvverly time?’ pipes CRASH’s Richard Eddy
Should you have wanted to contact any of the big bods in the
software industry between March 17–20 you would have found it pretty
difficult — they were raving it up in Palma, Majorca, at Computer Arena
89, the software industry’s annual conference.
Friday: Hullooooo Majorca! A few ‘delegates’ are ready to discuss
the fate of the industry. L-R: Richard Eddy (CRASH), Steve Merrett
(ST Action), Lesley Mansford (Electronic Arts) and Oli Frey (CRASH).
Saturday: Bob Hay of FAST delivers his super speech on piracy
Monday: off to the beach for the holiday day. Erstwhile CRASH
Ed Roger Kean practises his clothed surfing in the freezing gale!
120 ‘delegates’ (drinking partners?) turned up from software
houses, magazines, distributors and publicity companies, all in good spirits...
especially after a few jars of San Miguel, the local brew.
The main conference took place on the Saturday, an early start at 9:30am.
Weil, tell the truth it started slightly later due to the fact that Ocean boss
David Ward, the conference’s first speaker, wasn’t awake.
There were eight speakers covering a wide range of topics, with some very
strong views being expressed.
Paula Byrne, General Manager for Telecom Soft (currently up for sale
— Telecom Soft that is, not Paula), made a strong and enthusiastic speech
on ‘Licensed or Original Games?’, with the main argument being that
no matter whether a game is licensed or original it should be well-programmed
Nick Alexander, boss of Virgin/Mastertronic/Sega et al, took the
stand for the Console Challenge. Obviously, as Nick heads the UK arm of Sega,
he is convinced the Sega Master System and Mega Drive are set to dominate the
computer entertainment world.
But then, seven years ago Nick was saying that the old Atari consoles were
dead — long live the computer! No doubt in a few years time Nick will be
back telling us that Sega are bringing out a keyboard machine — consoles
The most productive element of the conference was an excellent speech by
Bob Hay of the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST). Bob made it
very clear that commercial piracy is at an all-time high, costing the software
industry incredible sums of money which would otherwise be used to produce more
and better games. In fact, if the piracy problem increases any further games
may well go up to £12.99 on cassette and £17.99 on disk. A worrying
To provide support for FAST, CRASH, along with the rest of the computer
magazines will be advertising the problems caused from illegal duplication. A
FAST slogan will soon be appearing on advertisements and packaging —
similar to the health warning on cigarettes.
Many important points were raised throughout the piracy discussion, the most
relevant being: every time you pirate a game you are depriving a software
house, and therefore the programmer (and one game can be around a year’s
work for a programmer) of £3 or £4, that’s the software
houses’ cut of what a game costs you in the shops. Without that bit of
money coming in software houses won’t be able to afford to write computer
games any more. But, we’ll save our moral preachings for another
After the heated discussions which continued in the hotel bar (hic!) after
the conference closed at 6:00pm everyone donned their dicky-bow and dinner
jacket and prepared for the Gala Dinner. With entertainment provided by Mel
Croucher and his Spanish-speaking dummy of Activision boss Rod
Cousens (who never turns up for anything, cancelling at the last moment);
the twits from Domark, Dominic Wheatly and Mark Strachan (a
side-splitting rendition of the Two Ronnies proving to be masters of the
in-joke) and the industry’s first alternative comedian Roger
Bennett — CRASH’s Advertisement Director. With his cracking
one-liners ('Tomorrow is Sunday!') (obviously everyone was totally
inebriated at this stage — Ed) and his unprintable stories of his mate
Denziel from Devon and that laugh... Well, it was superb. We’re
hoping for a repeat showing at this year’s PC Show!
And then Sunday finally arrived and the industry took to jeeps and small
Spanish cars and headed off into the mountains and onto the coasts desperately
trying to turn a working expedition into a holiday despite the force ten gales,
the rain, the clouds and all that traditionally goes with a March holiday.
And, should we forget the Domark twits before leaving Majorca, they provided
us with a brief entertainment slot on the concorse of Palma airport wearing
plastic sombreros and chucking Bryn Gilmore’s (of Mastertronic)
passport between them. It’s enough to give the industry a bad
But enough of this wandering gossip and down to the main
business of the awards, which were given out on Saturday
night, as voted by CRASH. ZZAP!, TGM, Your Sinclair and ST
Action readers. They were:
- Game of the Year: Operation Wolf (Ocean)
Runners-up: RoboCop (Ocean), Last Ninja II (System 3)
- Best Software House: Ocean
Runners-up: Thalamus, US Gold
- Best Arcade Game: Operation Wolf (Ocean)
Runners-up: Afterburner (Activision), RoboCop (Ocean)
- Best Adventure: Bard’s Tale (Electronic Arts)
Runners-up: Lancelot (Mandarin), Guild Of Thieves (Rainbird)
- Best Strategy Game: RISK (Virgin)
Runners-up: Carrier Command (Rainbird), Platoon (Ocean)
- Best Music: Cybernoid (Hewson)
Runners-up: Out Run (US Gold), RoboCop (Ocean)
- Best Graphics: R-Type (Electric Dreams)
Runners-up: Operation Wolf (Ocean), Cybernoid (Hewson)