Live Circuit

It’s all been go this month! The CRASH team seem completely frazzled. Either they’re doing too much out of work, or it’s true that so much has been going on in the software scene! But then they all complain about overwork all the time anyway... As for me, well I have finally got a (silly) Letter of the Month, so read on. Any comments are welcome: Send them to LIVE CIRCUIT, CRASH.

Letter of the Month


Dear Lloyd,
Help! I am in despair! I am a confused little Speccy and I don’t know where to turn; I am a 48K board living inside a 48+ keyboard. It’s just not fair, I’ve been broken twice and I’m always getting ‘Manic Miner’ played on me. I’m always getting battered, especially when the master of the house gets beaten, he takes it all out on me! It’s not really my fault is it?

I know I’m a computer, and that I can do a lot of things but I can’t swim can I? So I don’t know why I’m always getting drowned with juice or tea by the little ones in the house. How many lives have us wee Speccies got? If I’ve only got one life left, I think I’ll waste it, I’ll jump off the desk or blow up or something. I’ve had enough. When they are loading something on me they don’t realise that I’m screaming at them, they turn the volume down!!!

Please print this letter as there might be some other poor desperate Speocy out there just like me.

How many lives do we have???
Teresa Scott

No-one said it was going to be easy, but surely, you can’t give up when you’re faced with the prospect of having Batman running through your chips, can you? And that might well happen very soon, as I’ve rewarded your owner with £40 of Software! Incidentally, you have very neat handwriting for a Speccy!


In reply to Miss Laura Powey: I have just what you need, kiddo. I have in my possession an Original Copy of, wait for it, My Secret File by Mosaic.

Quote: ‘Are you embarrassed by your secret ambition and driven batty by your eccentric family?’ you can choose your own secret code so that NO ONE ELSE can read your secret file.

So Miss Laura, if you would like to take it off my hands then you can have it, plus its own book of instruction, FREE! Yes FREE. Please write to me at my address. I do not need it anymore because I am now married, so now I do not have any secrets, Ha, Ha, from my wife.

Write soon if this is helpful.
Andy Dalli

Help is at hand then, Laura — I would have posted this on to you personally, but the Crash office being the pig-sty that it is, your letter was lost.


Dear Lloyd
Here is a response to the letter from Laura Powey (in the September issue of CRASH).

A lady’s diary should always be secret!

1. Type in your diary as a ‘REM’ statement or statements.

2. When you have finished, type: POKE 23755, 255 (with no line number) and press enter, TWICE. The screen is now blank. Then save the program. When the program is reloaded, the screen is blank. You can only see the listing by typing: POKE 23755,0 and ENTER.

This will make the diary safe providing your brothers do not know the ‘trick’.

This method was picked up from a book called ‘Trade Secret’ by G.A. Bobker. I hope this helps.
Mark Longhorn

Right Laura, there’s two solutions for you. And I specially printed this for any other secret diary users!


Dear Lloyd
In reply to the letter by Adrian Hunt (issue 68) about the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act, it’s got to be a joke hasn’t it? I recently bought a +3 Speccy for file handling, memory capability and speed of software loading (No more waiting for tapes). Having left the computer scene for at least 6 months, I was happy to see Romantic Robot’s Multiface 3, because some of my friends own other Spectrums (+2’s etc) and also because I had a few games stored in the back of my wardrobe from my last Spectrum. Saving from tape to disc seemed to be the best move. Sadly the Multiface 3 is no longer available. Do you think this may in any way put the Spectrum back a step or two. (What would you rather have, a +3 and still have to wait for taped software to load or the same software but on disc).
Thomas O’Dwyer

It is a pain now that the Multiface 3 is no longer available, but I’m sure it makes software houses happier to know that their disk software sales should rise. However, as I said last month, I wouldn’t think you’ll end up in the slammer for backing up legitimately bought tape software using your Multiface 3.


Dear Lloyd
I am writing about the pathetic new law on the Multiface. The law claims to prevent ‘pirating’ but in fact it only makes multiface-users suffer because pirates will still be able to pirate software by using a twin tape deck. There’s only one way to prevent pirating and that is to lower the price of software. This way people wouldn’t have to pirate their own games or buy them off pirates cheaply as their money would stretch further. Continue to fight the pirates but bring back the Multiface.
Grant Smith

The law isn’t really ‘on the Multiface’ only — it applies to all areas of copying, including tape to tape. You bring up the subject of lower price to kill off piracy — and many software houses have tried using a £4.99 price point instead of a £9.99 point. Sadly, these attempts have never succeeded, either with the distributors or customers, so for now it looks that we’re firmly stuck with a budget price of £2.99 or a standard full price of £9.99.


Dear Gang
I’ve just stumbled across an issue of CRASH mag in my local newsagents. It’s the first issue I’ve ever seen, and it prompted me to unpack my Spectrum.

Perhaps you could help me with a few questions. I have a Spectrum 48K, and would like to know if there is somewhere, whether in Australia or England, that I can buy a joystick and interface. I’m presently using a Stone Chip programmable interface, but I find this unacceptable.

Also what would you recommend as the best games in the following categories, and where are they available? Combat Flight Simulator, both aircraft and helicopter. Adventure games, fantasy, sci/fi, strategic games.

I realise that this stuff will probably need to be mail ordered, but I hope you can help me.
Shaun Tiernan

Welcome aboard Shaun. To help you out here’s some answers:

The best way to find an interface is either through your nearest retailer or in the classified sections of mags (like CRASH). For games, why not try writing to MicroProse as they specialise in the kind of games you’re after.


Dear Sir,
Having spent a considerable amount of time and money developing Treble Champions, we were utterly appalled to read the totally unprofessional ‘review’ of the game in your September issue. We appreciate that in writing this letter we leave ourselves open to the charge that our complaints are nothing more than sour grapes, but we can assure you that this is NOT the case. Indeed, it is worth mentioning here that Treble Champions has already received two very favourable reviews from Sinclair User (77% Overall) and Your Commodore (88% Overall). In contrast to these reviews, it would appear that your reviewers have made no attempt to carry out a serious and professional evaluation of the game. To add insult to injury, you have even managed to get the price of the game wrong. The Press Release that accompanied your review copy clearly stated that the price was £9.95.

Can you imagine the effect your error will have on those readers who, despite your ‘review’, decide they would like to buy a copy of the game and then find that the retail price is £9.95 and not £7.95 as you have stated.

The fact that so much time and effort has gone into developing Treble Champions does not mean that we are entitled to a good review, but Treble Champions certainly deserves better than to be dismissed out of hand by your reviewers simply because they have decided that there are already enough football strategy games on the market: ‘...those kind people at Challenge Software seem to think you need a new football managing program...’, and, ‘Despite all this, with endless football management games on the Spectrum market, I don’t see why Challenge Software thought we needed another’.

This last comment alone is a clear indication that your reviewers have made no attempt to approach the review with anythiing like an open mind.

By his own admission, Mike does not care for football strategy games, ‘I have to admit to a bit of addictivity about football management games, or at least, six or seven years ago’, but if he is quite incapable of putting his own personal likes and dislikes to one side when carrying out a professional assessment of a game, then perhaps he should allow someone else to do the review. It would appear that in addition to having to review ‘another’ football strategy game, Mike was also a bit peeved that the program was multi load. Are your reviewers reviewing games or loading procedures? Does it really matter if the game is multi load? How does this affect the quality of the game?

We don’t know how much time your reviewers spent on Treble Champions, but if they had got as far as saving and loading a saved game (or even reading the instructions) they would have discovered that a saved game is NOT multi load. Bearing in mind that Treble Champions has 5 divisions, we think that even your reviewers will acknowledge that anyone playing the game will load a saved game far more frequently than the master tape. So, just how much of a problem is multi load? Mike also says that once the main program has loaded ‘you wait for hours for it to get on with the rest’. Compare this comment with our note in the instructions where we explain that after loading the main program there will be a delay of approx. THREE AND A HALF MINUTES while the game initializes. Remember, this is a ‘professional’ review.

We now come to the most disgraceful comment in the ‘review’ where Mike says ‘There are no special features to recommend it’. Any football enthusiast will have great difficulty in reconciling this remark with the list of features in Treble Champions that will not be found in other football management games.

It may come as a surprise to your reviewers, but there are thousands of people (including many of your readers and the thousands that have already purchased a copy of Treble Champions) that do not share their view that there are already enough football strategy games on the market and, by dismissing Treble Champions so lightly, they have let these people down, and they discredit the reputation of your magazine for serious professional reviews. As previously stated, this is not a case of sour grapes, but a very genuine complaint which we hope will be treated with far more consideration than was given to the review of Treble Champions.

Incidentally, you may be interested to know that as a measure of our confidence in the quality of Treble Champions, we offered a money back guarantee to our mail order customers as part of a special promotion when we first released the game earlier this year. Our offer stated that if they did not agree that Treble Champions was now the ‘No 1 Football League Simulation’ they could return it within seven days and obtain a full refund of their money.

Mike and Nick will, no doubt, be astounded to learn that only 4% applied for a refund. A massive 96% were happy to keep the game This was a remarkable endorsement of our game, particularly when you consider that Treble Champions includes a saved game and that our customers had a full seven days to evaluate the game. So you see, we know that Treble Champions is a far better game than your reviewers would have your readers believe.

We have not written this letter in the hope or expectation that you will publish it, but if you wish to do so we have no objection, provided that you publish the complete letter. Having been associated with your magazine for over three years, we had expected a professional review of Treble Champions, and we shall be interested to hear your views on the very genuine concerns expressed in this letter.

Yours faithfully,
R. Clayton, E & J Software

Well, what can we say? Nick and Mike admit to having played many games like this before, which may have coloured their view (just check out our budget section this month). Management games have been around a long time, and their feeling was that the implementation of this one was not staggeringly innovative. A point to consider is that given two days to review a game, simulations of this type can suffer from not being checked out in every detail. In the end CRASH must rely on the views of its reviewers. They’re human, and complete objectivity is impossible. I’d be interested to hear from readers on this one: write in!


Pow, Biff, Zap, Kapow, holy licences, Batman (whoops sorry, they’re DC Comics aren’t they, silly me) — Covent Garden based software house The Edge have just announced the signing up of two of Marvel Comics’ biggest licences. The first will be The Punisher, and will follow the story of one man’s vigilante fight against organised crime after his family is murdered by the Mafia. Released initially on the 16-Bit computers to tie in with the movie now in production and starring muscleman Dolph Lundgren, the Punisher should see the light of day on the Spectrum in late December.

This will be followed shortly afterwards by The Uncanny X-Men. The Edge’s boss Tim Langdell commented: ‘We are very excited indeed about this new addition to our growing line-up of excellent ‘classic’ characters’, although the X-Men games (three are planned) will be based on the American cartoon series soon to be shown in Britain, rather than a film tie-in. But until She-Hulk signs up to play the Jolly Green Giant, make mine Marvel — ’Nuff said.


He’s back — back! Mark ‘Corky’ Caswell has returned to CRASH after a six issue break where he was stationed on the good ship TGM. But, like anyone with a bit of sense, he realised that the Atari ST and Amiga is no match whatsoever for the Speccy! Hurrah! But on a sadder note we’ve said tatty-bye to Mike ‘The Mouse That Squeaked’ Dunn. He’s gone off to be a Systems Analyst for the Midlands Electricity Board. So next time you reckon your electricty bill is a bit high you know who to write to...


Know then, oh Prince, that between the years when the seas drank Atlantis, and Newsfield set up this wonderful computer magazine, much swearing and gnashing of teeth was heard. Why, because many of Britain’s adventurers were well and truly stuck on their favourite adventure games. But verily, help was at hand from a friendly bunch of Trolls and Hob Goblins calling themselves the Guiding Light helpline.

It was created four years ago by a fair maiden named Jaqueline Wright who started on a small basis, but found her help was so invaluable to desperate adventurers, that six months ago she decided to rope her husband and their cat named Zork (!) into the fun. The line is open from 12 noon to 8pm and they boast that they can help with over 300 adventures, but remember to ask before you use the phone. If you don’t, you may just find your parents will hire the services of a very unfriendly Orc to deal with you.


Whoooops! Hideous mistake last issue, folks. You remember the Wordsquare From Atlantis compo? Yes? Well, due to Compo Minion being a complete ninny, he left out two words Aqua and Heart and then to prove his utter stupidy even further spelt Cerius wrongly as Ceris. Bah!

So to make it fair to all we’re holding the compo open for another month and now you don’t need to find either Aqua or Head but do search out Ceris. The draw for the 30 packs of Atlantis software now takes place on October 19, so entries by then please.

Thank you.


“F’NAR! Snurkle! Hello, viewers, Finbar Saunders (I’ve Double Entendres) here. I’m coming on your Speccy soon!!! Gurckle! Snerrnt! In a new VIZ COMIC game from (flurple! Glurerk!) Virgin (G’nuk!), Anyone got a good POKE? (Snigger, phlurp! quack!!)”


Who is this young chap tinkling away at the ivories, is he a famous pop star, is he a ‘roadie’ — trendy speak for long suffering chap who shifts tons of musical equipment for terribly important pop stars. (No you fool it’s Speccy music maestro David Whittaker, he who composed such musical masterpieces as Platoon, Licence To Kill and Tetris).

Now MGT have contracted Mr Whittaker to produce music and sound effect software for the SAM Coupe computer. His SAM software will consist of machine code ‘drivers’ that use the SAA 1099 six channel synthesiser, converting data streams into sounds (no we don’t know what that means either). Expect to hear lots more about this package when the SAM Coupe appears soon.


Again in an adventurous vein, US Gold are preparing to unleash their latest SSI product onto the computers of all you square-jawed hero types (and stop trying to hide behind the sofa). Dragons Of Flame is the latest instalment in the DragonLance saga. As usual there will be lots of nasty dragons, Orcs, Trolls etc to kill, as well as Elves to befriend, as the Draconians attempt to sweep across the land of Qualinesti (or so it says here). So watch out for a review when the game appears towards the end of November priced £9.99 cass, £14.99 disk. And remember, brave adventurers hit first and ask questions later, because all in the land of Qualinesti may not be as friendly as CRASH readers.


Imagine the scene, you are a space hero standing on the bridge of a space shuttle supervising the docking process of your craft with a huge bomb disguised as a ship. This bomb was sent to Earth by aliens intent on cleaning up the galaxy (a rather terminal way to do it), and it is even now deciding whether Earth deserves to survive (help mummy). The only thing that will help the human race to avoid going BOOM is if a hero type undergoes a series of challenges set by the aliens.

Sounds like a good plot for a computer game, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. It is in fact the plot for a new TV series being planned by Broadsword Television Productions, the people who brought you the brilliant Knightmare. It wil be transmitted on the new BSB channel next year, but Broadsword are looking for contestants now. Teams of three people will be chosen, but candidates must be between the ages of 11 and 16 on the 1st January 1990. Think you can save the human race with your exteme cleverness? Write now for an application form to Broadsword Television Productions, Anglia TV.


Fed up with your old data recorder crashing half way through loading your fave game? Well, stop gibbering in the corner and go buy the new ‘Load It’ Data Recorder from Mills Associates Ltd when it appears soon.

With an adjustable dohicky (ie. an adjustable alignment screw — Ed) to ensure correct tape head alignment and flashing LED lights, this little gadget should reduce the amount of suicide attempts made by peeved Spectrum users. Prices we are assured will be very reasonable.


Remember the Knobbly Knees compo of issue 67? Ugh! What a sight that was. Out of the many entries that flooded the office, this pair are undoubtedly the very, very worst (they’re not even at the same height!).

These legs belong to Brian Hughes, who also has the country’s worst taste in shorts. Luckily he was abroad in the south of France when he bared all. A goody bag on its way Brian (and the name of a good plastic surgeon).


Ever fancied yourself as a graphic artist? Well, two full time jobs are up for grabs at CodeMasters. The lucky applicants will be working on ST graphic development using digital video equipment (sounds fun). If you would like to apply, please write to Mark Baldock or Tim Miller at CodeMasters Software Co Ltd. And still on the subject of Codemasters: they will soon be launching a new label called Cartoon Capers. The first two releases will be Wizard Willy and Dizzy II.