Live Circuit

Before I have a good rummage through your missives this month, first a message of thanks to everyone who has written in (yes, both of you) with helpful ‘How to care for a mouse’ hints. However, John Reynolds of Blackpool’s tips read as follows: You can spot a mouse because it has a tail and eats cheese. Brilliant, John. Strangely enough, Enor (the office rodent) not only likes cheese but also indulges in left over ham sarnies, biscuit crumbs, back issues of CRASH and live electrical cables. Anyway, the little furry fellow (or fellowess, how do you sex a mouse?) is still very much alive and well... but for how long? His life is on a counter thanks (?!) to Andy Longbottom, who sent in a rather vicious mousetrap (not a nice thing to find at the bottom of the mail sack). More on Enor next month. Onwards, onwards. Your letters are a right old mixed bag this month with praise, criticism and a few questions. If you fancy winning the monthly prize of a £40 software voucher, get your views to; NEWSFIELD, LLOYD’S FORUM, CRASH.


Dear Lloyd
I’m writing to you to express my concerns over the Speccy Is Dead controversy. Although many Speccy owners (and others) have said that Spectrum is dead, my opinion is that it won’t die for ages. Look at the amount of Speccys in Britain — hundreds of thousands, even a million of them here. Many owners can’t be bothered to get a new computer, mainly because the Speccy has so much hardware and software support. People like Datel wouldn’t bother marketing these products if there was no demand. And, because of the vast ownership of the Spectrum, it is not likely to fade out for years yet.

I personally think it will last until 1993/4 which, although many people will argue, is also the life expectancy of the Commodore 64. It may have further to go than the Speccy, who knows? And there are still far too many people owning the Speccy for software houses and the like to ignore. The Spectrum still has a vast share in the home computer industry and support will go on for as long as there is demand. If you Speccy owners are still worried then buy more Speccy games to convince the software houses that the Spectrum still has a future.
Steve Warner

Good stuff, Steve. It’ll be interesting to see if your views are the same as the industry’s — look out for a huge survey from Britain’s top software houses to discover exactly what they think of the Speccy. Where do they think it’s going? How much longer are they going to continue supporting it? And will Enor be around for much longer? Those questions and more will be answered in the next issue by which time you should have a £40 software voucher for being Letter of the Month!


Dear Lloyd
Regarding the Code Masters CD, I wondered if there are any more coming out, as I bought the first CD Games Pack and thought it was such a good buy. There was talk that there were more to come. Please let me know as I would like to purchase more.
SW Weir

Being as clear as mud as usual, Code Masters’ Mike Clarke said: ‘It’s a definite maybe. Last time dealer confidence wasn’t high because a CD pack from another company didn’t perform well. However, we have all the technology but there are no plans at the moment — but who knows...’ Revealing, huh?


Dear Lloyd
I have recently purchased a Spectrum 128K. Now I’m considering attaching a disk drive to the back of it, but I’m unsure what types are compatible. Also, what are Multifaces and what are they used for? I am so confused, can you please help?
Gordon Crickshank

Datel are currently producing the well known Plus D disk drive which is compatible with 128K Speccys. It costs £129.99 and comes with an interface and all the instructions you need. The Plus D uses 3.5 inch disks (like the ST or Amiga) which are not the same disks as the +3 Spectrum uses so don’t expect to be able to buy games on 3.5 inch disks. Romantic Robot’s Multifaces are useful hardware utilities which have the ability to freeze any program at any time and allow you to back it up, transfer between disk to tape or tape to disk, PEEK, POKE, study and modify. If you want to know more call RR. Remember that you must not infringe any copyright laws when using the Multiface.


Dear Lloyd
I’m thinking of purchasing a 128K Spectrum computer but I don’t know if you can plug it into a black and white television and still play the top games available for it. I haven’t had a computer for 14 years and my friend owns one. I started reading CRASH, which is brilliant, and tested the games on my friend’s 128K computer. Another mate of mine has a Commodore 64 and has tried plugging it into a black and white TV and it worked. Would this suit a 128K Spectrum or do need a colour TV or monitor?
Robert Pearce

No worries, Robert! You can plug any Speccy into a black and white TV; the only problem you may encounter is that some games’ graphics may be difficult to see (like if there are magenta graphics on a black background)!


Dear Lloyd
I wish to praise Code Masters. If 1991 is as successful for them as 1990, ’89, and ’88 were they’ll be more than the greatest software house. I hope to see more of that crazy game show host, Reggie Loud (star of Wacky Darts).

However, I’ve not been impressed with £9.99 software. NARC is probably the best of 1990. Nobody ever gives Kixx any credit and they produce excellent games like Monty on the Run and Jack the Nipper 2.

What I’d really like to say is that the Spectrum is not dead when there’s a magazine like CRASH to emphasise that there are loving owners. Good luck to all at CRASH and all at Code Masters and have a fab time in 1991!
Danny Fox

Good news, Danny! Reggie Loud, a firm fave here at CRASH and down at Code Masters, has been signed up for more starring roles. There’s definitely a Reggie Loud quiz game on the way and Code Masters were tinkering with the idea of a Reggie Loud chat show game but then decided not to bother because it’d probably end up a bit crap.


Dear Lloyd
After building up my Spectrum games collection with compilation sets and some budget games I’ve been told by a sales assistant in a computer shop... ‘Oh yeah, they’re not the same as the original games.’ Is this so? If so, why? Have I been silly in thinking differently? Or have I been trying to spread my hard-earned dosh under false pretences. The point that I’m trying to make is this: if compilation pack games are shortened or less than the original, shouldn’t it be made obvious to the purchaser? I hope I haven’t gained a collection of games which aren’t what I expected. Please shed some light.
Phil Wain

Next time you meet that shop assistant you can give him a good clip round the ear and say (in a very loud voice) ‘You really are a clot! You really don’t know what you’re wibbling about, do you?!’ because he (or she) is completely and utterly wrong! Games that appear on compilation are exactly the same programs as if you bought the games when they were originally released. So stop panicking!

ST?!? PIH!

Dear Lloyd
I am only 13 and have purchased an Atari ST, putting my Speccy temporarily out of business. Admittedly the ST’s graphics and sound are good but at £25 a game that’s just too much. I saved for ages to buy one game and when I got it it wasn’t brilliant. I have decided to sell my Atari and my 48K Spectrum and buy a 128K Speccy so that can I buy some of the more affordable and brilliant 128K games.
Simon Almond

PS Does Nick really hate Mark?

Good for you. Who needs 16-bit power if most of the games are of an inferior quality compared to the Speccy’s smash hits? And no, Nick doesn’t really hate Mark. I do.


Dear Lloyd
I’ve been reading your fab magazine for a year now and I think it’s great. However, there are a few things that are in it quite a lot and I don’t know what they mean. One of the things is what sprites are. From the way they have been used I can make out that they are some kind of graphic on screen, but I’m not sure what. I also don’t know what sound FX is. Is it short for sound effects or is it something totally different?

I have just read Issue 86 and I have seen all the letters about 128K-only games. I don’t know what a multi-load is, but if it is a game where you if have a 48K computer it will load a 48K version in and if you have a 128K it loads that version in, I don’t see what’s so bad about that.

Also in Issue 86 there was a letter about you being able to program on the Speccy but not a games machine. I have three friends who have Spectrums and none of them know how to start programming, while my brother’s friends who have owned Spectrums know how to program simple programs. I have tried programming in BASIC and I am quite good at it but find it too slow and so I am trying to learn machine code. However, I can’t find any books that tell me how to do it, whereas when my brother learnt to program in machine code, about five or six years ago, there were piles of books about.
Dave Garratt

Okay, let’s tackle this lot: A sprite is a graphic (so full marks, Dave) which is moved around the screen, like the Arnie sprite in Total Recall, or his gun’s bullets. What next? Yeah, sound FX are sound effects, it’s just the way we’ve always written it (SFX are special effects). A multi-load game is where the main game code is loaded in first with maybe the first few levels and when they’ve been played through more code is loaded in for further levels. Finally, books. There haven’t been any Speccy programming books published for a while so your best bet is to pop off down your local library and see what they have available. Alternatively ask your local computer shop if they can order any material from their distributors. All straight, now? Good.


Scetlander, the education software company, has added to its range of Speccy learning aids with a new package for the young to develop pre-reading skills. The pack’s called Mix and Match with Maggie and stars Maggie the Loch Ness monster as the host. She helps the very young, or anyone with learning difficulties, recognise, discriminate and remember pictures, shapes, letters and numbers. There are three major games to play, each with an adjustable difficulty level: Two of a Kind, Odd One Out and Forget-me-not. The package, which comes complete with game, excellent manuals, and a Maggie badge, retails for £11.99 on cassette and £14.99 on +3 disk.