With the lack of software for the SAM Coupé, users are crying out for disks and tapes to load into their new machine. To fill the gap along came magazines on a disk and public domain libraries. We’ll take a closer look at SAM PD next month but here NICK ROBERTS rounds up of some of the better disk magazines which have landed on the CRASH doorstep.
The Fred disk magazine is one of the most professional I’ve seen. High quality presentation coupled with an easy to use menu system and informative writing makes it really enjoyable. Currently on issue five, there has been a marked improvement from disk to disk. Colin MacDonald, the Freditor along with the various artists and demo writers has changed Fred from having just a basic text menu on issue one to full colour menu screens and excellent drawings on the latest disk.
Each of the Fred disks includes demos, screens, hints and tips on the latest games and letters from users. The best of the disks is Fred 3. This includes an hilarious ‘Pythonesque’ demo from Zenith Graphics where a head grows feet and jumps off a conveyor belt to have various adventures. Brilliant. The regular review section on the disk is easy to use and even includes screen shots of some of the games. You can wizz through the menus looking for the piece you want with the simple forward screen, back screen controls.
Fred is a non-profit making disk magazine and it’s out in the first week of every month from Colin MacDonald for only £1.
The first thing to hit you when you load up SAM Disk is the excellent presentation. Each of the menu screens has a really good headline drawn by Steven ‘Picasso’ Pick, the editor. It’s just a pity the loading system isn’t as enjoyable: each time it loads up the main menu section it asks for the drive number to be inputed, this gets annoying.
Issue one of SAM Disk isn’t exactly packed full of material, most of the sections are just pleas for people to send in stuff for inclusion on a future disk — understandable enough. The Flash! pictures on the disk include mock up loading screens for Midnight Resistance, Rainbow Islands and Head Over Heels, they’re all pretty good. Other features of SAM Disk 1 are lists of SAM compatible Spectrum games, an adventure game and basic demos.
The main problem with SAM Disk is that most of the text is printed far too small. It’s readable if you use a high resolution monitor but with a television screen you’ll soon end up with crossed eyes trying to work out what it says. Available from Sam Disk, for £1.50 and a blank disk.
SAM Supplement includes some great screens and utilities, they’re just presented in a boring way. All the text pages are just plain old black on white with tiny writing that’s hell to read. Another annoyance is the animated curtain opening segtence that greets you when you load up. It’s just about bearable the first time but when you’ve to re-load over and over again, you’d better have somehing hard to bite!
At the heart of the disk are some excellent utilities and sreenshots. Issue one includes a disk utility.
It copies, hides and erases files. The programs on the disk would be a great help to budding programmers too, they include such things as a program variable lister and sound effects for use in your own games.
SAM Supplement is aimed at the programmer more than the general SAM user. Don’t expect fun presentation and jolly tunes because you just won’t find them. It’s available from SAM Supplement for £1.50 per bi-monthly issue or six issues for £8.00. Members of the Spectrum Discovery club can get it free if they send a disk.
Next month, the low down on SAM Coupé public domain software, that’s if my memory expansion arrives in time! Send all your letters, disks and tapes to this address... Newsfield, SAM Page, CRASH.