Lloyd Mangram’s Forum

Where are we? Ah, yes — October (in CRASH time — August in real time). I’m not going to chunter on about golden leaves falling from the trees (because they aren’t, in fact some of my prize blooms have yet to burst forth and flower for the remainder of the summer!). Things were a bit chaotic around the office when I popped in this month. For a start, my nice new (well, not so new desk now) shiny desk has been pinched by Lucy, the new Assistant Ed, but I’m a Gentleman so I musn’t be seen to moan — I’ll just stick to making the odd nasty comment. And Enor seems to be taking more of a liking to her too (Mice? No loyalty, I can tell you). Anyway, onward: Thanks ever so for the month’s mail bag. Keep them coming. The address, as always, is: Newsfield, LLOYD MANGRAM’S FORUM. And don’t forget the £40 software prize for the Letter of the Month!


Dear Lloyd
In Issue 91 there was a letter from Edward Reed about recording yourself playing games. I found out you could do that two years ago, and I was so happy that I made a video of all the demos I could find. By the time I finished, the rest of my family wanted to play on the computer. So I told them to watch my tape and choose a game. By the time the video finished it had put them off the computer for life.
Barry Stokes

Sort of a video library of Speccy games, eh? Dull? I should think so — show your family some action and get them into playing a game!


Dear Lloyd
In response to E Reed’s letter in Issue 91 about videoing yourself playing Speccy games. My mate worked out that you can also connect a tape deck to the video, using the ear socket on the cassette recorder to the audio socket on the video, so you can get music on the video as well. I hope this will make it less boring.
Andrew Cook

Debatable, I’d say. It’s like looking at Granny’s holiday snaps and having her rambling on about the old days. A bit too much for some.


Dear Lloyd
In Issue 91 the Letter of the Month stated that spoilt brats who own Nintendos show off. My friend Chris (nicknamed ‘Kissyfur’) really shows off, but he forgets the cheapest Nintendo games cost around £20, but cheap Speccy games only cost between £1.99 and £14.99. The Speccy also has more games of great quality. They’re brill! Speccys will survive for a long time.
Mark Hall

Right on, Sherlock. Tell Kissyfur (is he happy about that nickname?) to stick that in his Nintendo and smoke it!


Dear Lloyd
I was wondering who Lee Grant was. Yes ’tis I! The person whose name you spelt wrongly. My name is actually Lee ‘Micro-Chip’ Gent, as in ‘Gents’ Loos’. Don’t worry, everyone does it. Why, I’ve had Bent, Dent, Gant and countless other things. Apart from the staff not being able to read, (no offence meant, honest), CRASH has greatly improved. Your cover tapes are fab, the reviews are cool, and everything else is supercalafragilistic. I’ve dreamed up some nicknames for your staff:

Knickers Nick (He’s soooo sexy, all the girls will send him underpants, probably), Letters Lloyd (He gets sent all the letters), Recall Richard (One of his fave games is Total Recall), NARC Mark (One of his fave games is NARC), Artie Markie (He is the Art Ed), Wizball Warren (One of his fave games is Wizball — bleeeerg).

Oh dear. I’ve puked at the mention of the ‘other’ computer. Who needs a flashy comp with about three-million GigaByte memory? Certainly not me. I’m quite happy with my 128K +2A. I think the cost of full price games is outrageous. Yes, I too think that piracy should be stopped to slash the price off most games.
Lee Gent

As you point out none of us can obviously read, so I filed your letter in the bin. Fortunately for you, Enor came to the rescue and dictated this reply... SQUEAK! (Which roughly translated means ‘Blockhead’). Incidentally, I wish the girls would stop sending Nick their knickers — he looks very silly in them.


Dear Lloyd
A full-price game today costs about £12. Bearing in mind that it’s going to take a decent games player only around 12 hours to complete it, it’s bloomin’ expensive!

Admittedly, £1 for an hour’s gameplay is much cheaper than playing any arcade game for an hour but, let’s face it, arcade machines are more impressive both visually and sonically than the Spectrum.

A much more suitable price for Spectrum full-price games would be around £6 to £7. Few people are prepared to fork out £12 for a game. But, if they were cheaper more copies would be sold, giving the software houses a much bigger total profit in the end. If software houses have read my idea, but are not totally convinced, how about they try it out with just one game and see what the result is? Food for thought, software houses!
A Jackson

Yes, indeed. This really would be a great idea — if it could be done. Unfortunately, at the moment, there are too many restraints for set prices put on publishers by the retail trade for an idea like yours to happen. You never know, perhaps some brave software house will give it a go. (Is that a pig I see flying past?).


Dear Lloyd
Here is a sympathy case. One day a very talented young man was given a small keyboard for his birthday and he finds he is extremely good at it.

So, he decides to save up for a Boogie Box, Electric Guitar and a full-sized keyboard with a stand costing £366.85.

But, just after he starts saving, he gets CRASH and finds that some games have just come out that he really wants. But he can’t get them because, for example Turrican 2 is full price and there’s not enough spare even for a budget game like Stack Up or Ghostbusters II.

He is not the sort to say ‘Oh stuff the savings and my ambitions and dreams, get the games!’ He will stick to his guns and weep for those excellent games he can’t get (Boo, hoo! Sob, sob).
David A Gilson

Ah Shame! What a pity, never mind. Well, my advice is get off your butt and get a job down ’pit. Failing that, suck up to your friends and borrow their games. Simple really!


Dear Lloyd
It was my fourteenth birthday recently, and I received (surprise, surprise — who mentioned Cilla?) a computer game. The brilliant Total Recall.

I found the preview of it in CRASH Issue 81 and it didn’t look as good. The screenshot was probably from a 48K/128K Total Recall in development, and the finished 128K-only game shows what a bit more memory can do. So, all you 48k owners, don’t complain that you can’t get the new Total Recall, because if you were able to get it, it probably wouldn’t be as brilliant.

Moving on now. I really like the new look CRASH, but I have a criticism to make. Why did CRASH give Klax for the Spectrum a Smash in Issue 77, and yet only gave it 84% in Issue 89 (SAM Coupé)? And again in Issue 78, you gave EFTPOTRM a Smash, but didn’t do so for the Coupé version in issue 89, where you gave it 86%. Was it because you were bored with that idea? If so, I think you may have misled Coupé owners into thinking it was a better idea to buy the Spectrum version, even though the graphics are better and more colourful.
Geoffrey Dallimore

This letter is verging on smug, Geoffrey, berating the lowly 48K owners like that — not everyone can swap to a Coupé. However, I agree that Total Recall may not be so fab if it was squeezed into 48K. As to the differences in our games ratings, the Coupé and the Speccy have different capabilities, and while the games you mentioned make the most of the Speccy, their Coupé counterparts could have been even better.


Dear Lloyd (The Legend That Is)
Allow me to commence with a warning. This ‘letter’ is more of a ramble! What follows is a trip down memory-lane, and as a consequence, I hope you’re as nostalgic as I am. Your current readership would probably regard me as an old wrinkly; I purchased my first issue of CRASH in 1984 (Issue 8), and it contained reviews of Matchpoint and Questprobe.

I am now a 3rd year Law student, at the advanced age of 20, who just happened to buy a copy of CRASH yesterday — mainly due to the inclusion of Dragontorc on the Powertape — a long sought after sequel to a magnificent classic.

I was wildly surprised, and pleased to see that you’re still at CRASH. My era featured Robin Candy and yourself constantly squabbling, Roger Kean, Derek Brewster and probably the greatest hacker of them all — Chris ‘Jetman’ Tucker.

My heroes of the day included the Stampers of Ultimate, Matthew Smith, Costa Pananyi (what happened to them? Did they grow up and get ‘proper’ jobs?) Fave games were Lunar Jetman (and I still haven’t found the trailer! Does it exist?), Wheelie, Skool Daze, Jet Set Willy...

Looking at the latest issue of CRASH, it seems the creativity has left the games industry, no more games programmed entirely by one person in a back-room, eh? (At least your cover tapes encourage such programmers). The eccentric characters such as Matthew Smith and Simon Brattel (remember Spectacle supplied with Dark Star?) have gone. The magic of those pioneering days with Penetrator and The Hobbit (when hi-res graphics were the latest thing!) can’t ever be captured again.

I suppose I simply want to say a big thank you to the Speccy and you guys at CRASH for a wonderful childhood! Who would have thought the ‘ZX82’ would have still been around in 1991? Back in the mid 80s, some of your readers were claiming the Speccy had had its day. You replied with an analogy with books and novels, stating that the format may remain the same, but the content can carry it through. How prophetic! The statement’s validity is proven by the fact that you’re reading this letter today!

The incredible influence of the Speccy on the micro-computer games industry can’t be quantified, but it must be enormous. Perhaps some houses could produce some games specially tailored for the Speccy? Since I’ve got some spare time on my hands, perhaps I’ll dust off the old Speccy 128K. Are there any outstanding games you recommend from the last few years or so?
Andrew Woo

PS Do you still wear a paper-bag over over your head?

PPS Do you still possess a copy of the L Mangram Long Word Dictionary?

Ah, the old days — I could go on for hours (but I won’t). Nice to hear from one of the old school again — should we start issuing Old Boys ties? To catch up with the times take a look at Turrican 2 from Rainbow Arts — that’ll show you what the Speccy’s capable of in 1991! The paper-bag’s still in place (especially whenever there’s a camera in sight), and the LMLWD is currently propping up the leg of my table at home. And seeing as you’ve stuck with the Speccy for so long, have this month’s Letter of the Month award (there’s a £40 software voucher on the way!).


Dear Lloyd
A few years ago, it would have been ridiculous to boast that your software collection consisted only of budget games. In those pre-cover tape days, there were probably about a dozen good games at £1.99.

Now original budget software has vanished, replaced by re-releases. Some of these are of extraordinary quality: Fairlight, R Type, Head over Heels — even Driller! Cover-mounted tapes have very often been mere gimmickry, but there have been some gems there too: Micronaut One, Split Personalities, Marsport, Tai-Pan and so on.

Of the software I have bought in the last couple of years, only two items were purchased at full-price at the time when they were released: the rest have been re-releases. The software houses are surely shooting themselves in the foot; Op Wolf and Turrican are both excellent games, but with the difference in price, I know which one I’d buy. Are we going to see the Ultimate games appear as re-releases, or is there a collection already available?
Matthew Wilson

Original budget games haven’t vanished, Matt — there’s still a wealth of titles around and it’s one of the most popular areas of the software market at the moment. CodeMasters, Zeppelin and Hi-tec are doing a wonderful job (so a big ‘hurrah!’ for that). There are no plans for the Ultimate games to be re-released, though US Gold did publish an Ultimate compilation a few years back.


Dear Enor
How are you my little furry friend? I hope Lloyd and the gang are looking after you properly. Are you being fed well? Just to make sure, I’ve enclosed a large bit of cheese for you. Do you play on Lloyd’s computer? If so, what is your favourite game?

I’ve enclosed a picture for you and Lloyd. I hope you like it.

Are you any relation to Danger Mouse or Mickey Mouse, also do you have a girlfriend?

Enor is having a nap after scoffing all that cheese (for future reference, he prefers Stilton) so I’m answering for him. He doesn’t play on the computer (he’s only a mouse, y’know). But once he got in my typewriter and, erm, well let’s just say it needed a lot of cleaning out afterwards, His favourite game (to watch as he can’t play) is Basil the Great Mouse Detective, although, he reckons, he could solve a crime far quicker than that lesser rodent. No, he’s not related to Mickey or Danger Mouse, he comes from a far classier family than either of them, and since he’s such a cool dude he has stacks of ‘female acquaintances’ whom he frolicks with by the river outside the office.


Dear Lloyd
I think that full price games cost too much, mainly because I only get £1.20 a week pocket money! So it takes me ages to save up the dosh. Plus, I want to save up for a +3 as I only have a (very) old 48K, which is a bit out of date. It also means that I can only get the crap games.
Christopher Thomson

Think yourself lucky, young fellow-me-lad. As I always say: ‘Better to have crap games than none at all.’ (Well, I don’t always say it, but I’m saying it now). When I were a nipper we had to race snails for entertainment, and the only money we came across was sniffing the ha’penny dad brought home as wages from the bread factory every week. No, sorry, it can be hard saving up but there are plenty of ace budget games around (that’s why we’re covering them in-depth now!).


Dear Lloyd
Just writing to see how you are with all these changes going on. I wrote a little ditty when it was raining:

Every month
to the newsagent I dash,
To get my copy of CRASH,
Through hail or snow,
You don’t know,
The trouble I go through,
To get my copy of you.

Well I hope you enjoy this jingle,
Even though it’s not a hit single.

Pretty cool, huh?! MC Hammer here I come!
Antony Smith

I suppose I’m as well as can be expected, considering I’m surrounded by lesser mortals. Thank you for your concern. I liked your little jingle and with a bit more practice I’m sure you’ll make it to the big time. (well, maybe).


Dear Lloyd
I have a Spectrum +3, my friend has a Spectrum +2. The manual says data can be sent via the RS232 port to other computers. ‘A-ha!’, says I, ‘let’s write a program for two players using two machines.’ Easier said than done. I wrote a very simple BASIC program to do this, trouble is it only only works one way. What happens is this: a string is inputted on the +3 and is sent to the +2 which prints it, but the +3 hangs while the +2 returns OK, so I have to tell the +2 to read another character which clears the +3 but then the +2 hangs until a character is read by the +3 which clears the +2 but the +3 hangs... Aarrrgh!!!

That’s on a good day. Can you, or anyone, give ma a simple BASIC or assembly language program to send data from one machine to the other and then continue with another part of the program?
Iain Mulholland

Sorry, Iain, haven’t a clue. Does anyone out there have any idea?


Dear Lloyd
I’m writing to say how much I enjoy the new-look CRASH. I especially like the new review style where each review has a page to itself, compared to the old style of putting as many as four game reviews on one page!

I think that £11.99 for a full price game is absurd because, compared with two years or so ago, the quality of games hasn’t increased (on average) but the price has rocketed, I mean, inflation hasn’t been as high as 33% to turn £8.99 into £11.99 or £12.99, has it? Better value for money comes from budget houses’ releases.

The Speccy chart only goes to prove this. The Top 10 (which has budget and full price), has only one full-price game, Hero Quest, whereas the rest of the chart were all budget games! I must say, I feel sorry for Amiga and ST owners a bit, having to fork out £25 for a new game! Ha! Ha! (Well I thought it was funny!)
Thomas O’Shea

Too right, Thomas, couldn’t have put it better myself (well actually I could have). And, as for Amiga and ST owners: Ya, boo, sucks to them.


Dear LM
Just a quick word to congratulate CRASH on the new look, which improves the mag no end. Brill! The reviews look awful, though; I prefer the old style, which looked far more organised. (Where’s the 84 or so pages we were promised? And will binders be available again, now that CRASH is back to the good old A4 size? And doesn’t Terminator 2 look brilliant? (And did you know that it’s incorrect English to start a sentence with the word ‘And’?) Why so many questions?
DJ SM (work that one out!)

Reviews look awful? What do you know about interior decorating? Have you no taste? I bet all your walls are painted magnolia, aren’t they? As to your questions: they’re coming, looking into it, yes; of course, and go and have a word with yourself and come back in the morning.

That’s your lot for this month. Here’s a topic to think about: If the Speccy scene suddenly packed up one day, what would you do? Chuck your computing hobby in totally? Get a 16-bit machine or play on the consoles? Let me know what you’d do (be honest!). See you next issue.