Live Circuit

Good grief! February already! Well, it is in real time. But, in Lloyd Mangram time, it’s a freezing cold morning in December and I can’t concentrate because there are a load of workmen digging up the road just outside with pneumatic hammers (dugga-dugga-dugga — ‘Time for a tea break, eh lads?’ — dugga-dugga-dugga)!! Bit of a smaller mail sack this month, you were probably all too busy writing to Santa or filling in last issue’s Crashtionnaire. Thanks to all ten billion of you who sent in replies, you’ve made the girls in administration very happy (’hem, ’hem)! On with the show. This month’s letter of the month, and £40’s worth of software, winner is Andy Longbottom...


Dear Lloyd
Over the last couple of months more and more people have been complaning about the price of Spectrum games. I am sick of the whole subject. Why don’t these people sit down and think what they’re getting when they pay £9.99 for a game?

The finished game results from a lot of hard work. Not just by one person. There are all the jobs of coding, game design, graphics, music and fx, design and artwork and production.

Take £9.99 in 10ps and see how long it lasts on an arcade game — the only thing you’re left with after playing a coin-op is a stiff arm and no more game.

Then there’s the pleasure of waiting three to five or more minutes for a game to load — why can’t they make it less boring?

If people want to winge about prices why don’t you winge at the retailers like WH Smith, Woolworth and other computer shops? Well, now I’ve got that off my chest there’s only one other thing to say — best wishes to all at CRASH for 1991!
Andy Longbottom

Another good way of judging whether a game is worth its dosh is reckoning that £1 an hour is a fair price for entertainment. So, if you buy a £9.99 game and you enjoy it for ten hours you’ve had your money’s worth! In fact, after ten hours you’ll have made 1p profit!! Hey! Just think: if a game is absolutely superb and you play it for weeks you’re, effectively, making a fortune!! And you’ve won Letter of the Month for having a bit of sense!


Dear Lloyd
I’m waiting this letter because I’m bored! Bored of playing the latest software. It’s not worth buying full-price games when you can get more entertamment from a £2.99 game.

Look at Target: Renegade (now rereleased on budget) and compare its graphics to Dragon Breed (£9.99): you’ll see that TR’s graphics turn out tops. So, if you have smaller sprites the game will be better and actually worth its price.

My buddy has a rubber keyboard Speccy and listening to music on it is almost as bad as an hour of Des O’Connor records (almost!). Sometimes you do get some good sounds out of the 48K, such as Chronos and Agent X but this is getting rarer. Maybe the 48K does not have enough memory to perform good music but it’s not that bad, is it?

Another thing that really gets me peeved is the colour. We do have attribute problems but I don’t mind. However, one person in my class says ‘The Spectrum’s only got three colours: yellow, blue and white... oh, and black.’ I’m sure someone shares my views and gets similar hassles from school, so could we have more colour in games?
D Adams

Your theory about any game with smaller sprites is better than one with big sprites is a bit heavy! Look at Navy SEALS, reviewed last month, that had huge sprites but they were superbly animated and moved very well — and it was a CRASH Smash! The same for RoboCop 2: the detailed graphics made the game a winner! However, your comment on 48K music is quite right — very very few programs bother with a decent 48K tune these days, programmers prefering to concentrate on the more powerful 128K side. For a really good blast of 48K music check out Trantor, it’s excellent!


Dear Lloyd
My mother is dying of a tropical unknown disease caught from an infected packet of Tropical Opal Fruits and it is her last request before she dies to go behind the scenes of CRASH and receive a measly $100 of software.
Robert and Chris

P.S. Because of this illness she not only has a split personality but she is a split person too — she is now two boys called Robert and Chris.

P.P.S. She, or rather they, will be ready for the tour at any time.

P.P.P.S. Got to get the straight jackets — they’re coming to take us back to our cells!

Ha! What a useless attempt at scrounging software. Be off with you! Any decent attempts are far more welcome...


Dear Lloyd
I’ve discovered that you can use a joystick on the game Liberator: Mango Jones 2, from CRASH Issue 82. Select the redefine option and you can select left by pushing the joystick left and you can do right, up, down and fire in the same way. I tried this and it worked successfully! Honest truthful injun.
Louise (Smurf) Dunthome

Smarty! Yep, it’s a useful tip for anyone who doesn’t already know it, and this method works on most games with a define keys option.


Dear Lloyd
In the Bug Box cartoons every month the jokes are always taking the mickey out of DJ Nicko. Why does everyone keep picking on him? I think you should stop or else he may be offended. Doesn’t he get upset?
James Westerly

The poor chap does come in for a lot of stick in the Bug Box cartoons, but he takes it like a man (ie: he goes off and blubs in the loo!!). No, seriously, he thinks they’re quite funny — it’s when we start punching him that he gets upset!


Dear Lloyd
I think there should be more educational games for children, to help with school work. It would help us if they were at a budget price so anyone can buy them when they have £2.99 to spare. I think these sort of games would really help education.
Gerard Fullerton

Well, Gerard, don’t miss this month’s Back 2 Skool feature which reviews some of the best educational games around at the moment. However, they’re all pretty pricey so you’ll just have to keep saving your dosh — or maybe your school or club would consider purchasing one for people to use? Why not have a go and ask?


Dear Lloyd
I’ve just bought the Tengen TNT compilation. Although I don’t understand what is meant when it says ‘For 48K owners reset cassette recorder to 000 and read on screen prompts then rewind tape to 000 when it finishes loading’ on APB. Please could you give me a simplified explanation of what I’m supposed to do.
Andrew Hickey

You’re obviously new to this computer game lark! The instructions on APB refer to the tape counter on your tape deck — maybe you don’t have one? Because APB is a multi-load it’s useful to keep a record of the position on the tape where each level’s loading sequence begins (like the start of the tape is 000, but the beginning of level two’s loading sequence may be at 203). Keep a detailed record of each load’s position and you can save time by just forwarding or rewinding the tape to the right position. Okay?

Right that’s it for this issue! Keep your letters coming to me at NEWSFIELD, LM’S FORUM, CRASH. Remember there could be £40 in it for you!


Need some help!? Or can you offer some help!? This is the spot to sort your problems out. This month there’s a plea for help! from Matthew Cundill. What’s up, Matt? ‘I’ve purchased a Prism VTX 5000 modem but I have not got the manual. At first I wasn’t bothered. But now I don’t know how to work the modes and the built-in program so I cannot log onto Prestel or any bulletin boards. Please help me!’ Okay — does anyone have a spare Prism VTX 5000 manual? If you have send it to CRASH and we’ll pass it onto Matthew.


In a bid to see off the Japanese and American console giants, long-time British peripheral suppliers Cheetah have launched their own hand-held console called the Gamate. Developed in the Far East by the Bit Corporation, the Gamate faces stiff opposition from Atari’s colour Lynx and head-to-head competition with the mighty Nintendo’s GameBoy. The Gamate’s advantage is its retail price of £59.99. This makes it a tenner cheaper than the GameBoy and £70 cheaper than the Lynx.

Like the GameBoy, which has already established a following since its October launch, the Gamate is a very compact machine and features a green screen (52mm x 50mm) which displays LCD graphics in four shades of grey. Cheetah have also launched a series of seven games cartridges which rely on classic styles of gameplay and retail at £14.99 a piece. Witty Apee, the cartridge supplied in the Gamate pack, is a variation on the Digger games of old. Other games available include: Galaxy Invaders (a reasonable Galaxians clone), Money Maze (a horizontally-scrolling Pacman game) and Mini Golf (crazy golf viewed from overhead).

The Gamate itself features a fourway directional rocker switch, two action buttons, a start button, a select button, an adjustable contrast dial, an adjustable volume dial (yes, it actually plays music!), a networking cable socket (so you can link a couple of Gametes together), an earphone socket (a pair of stereo earphones are supplied) and a six volt socket (so you can run Gamate off the mains, through a transformer). Four AA size batteries sit in the back and should provide 15 hours of gameplay.

Though the hardware is good, it’s a pity the initial range of software doesn’t offer anything new. The games are of average quality and reminded everyone who played them of the Speccy games of 1984. Though there has been a frantic battle for the high-score on Galaxy Invaders in the office! Cheetah promise that the second batch of games, a further 12 titles should be available soon, will offer more originality and quality. If the Gamate makes it into your high-street shops have a go — it’s well worth trying out!


Last year’s top-selling adventure board game Hero Quest is being brought to life on the Speccy at Easter by Gremlin Graphics. Hero Quest is an absorbing fantasy adventure game where elves, wizards, barbarians and dwarves do battle with dark forces in search of hidden treasure. Doesn’t it sound exciting? Gremlin sent CRASH a copy of the board game to play with and it looks like a lot of fun — when it’s been set up! Y’see, the big box contains about three billion playing pieces (all the characters, the scenery and objects) which you have to assemble and place on the board before play. We built a set-up, which took about an hour, and then decided not to actually play the game because the set-up looked too good.


Ooooo dear! Where are we to put ’em all?! Yet another person has been dragged from sanity and brought into the CRASH office. Justine Pritchard from over Birmingham way (I’m not a Brummy. I’m a Yam Yam! — Justine) joins the ad dept this month to help out last month’s new boy Kevin Gallagher (whose photo got missed out from the news last issue). Should you brave, manly Speccy gamesplayers be putting pen to paper and dashing out a couple of love sonnets? Check out Justine’s personal file and find out!!

At weekends, CRASH parties permitting, Justine transforms into the hostess with the mostess when she works in a Birmingham pub! She’s now known as the Bet Lynch of CRASH due to the immense size of her... erm, dangly earrings!!

Justine’s doing her bit for perestroika and helping the Russian economy. If you search deep enough in her handbag there’s a bottle of vodka lurking somewhere!! (Lies, lies, lies!!! — Justine)

Justine’s a bit of a beach baby and would love to live, during the winter months, on the sun-soaked shores of Gran Canaria. Sadly, she keeps getting sent back by the authorities because she thinks the parasols on the table are to decorate her rather large drink!!

Rumour has it that Justine drives an XR2. However, latest reports indicate that she’s is to driving what cows are to synchronised swimming.