After Dan Dare and the original Hulton Eagle comic, the greatest inspiration to the younger Oliver Frey had been the films of James Bond (he has them all, except the subject of this cover, on video). So it was no hardship for Oliver to do a Bond illustration for Domark’s The Living Daylights. It was good timing, too, because this issue hit the streets several days before the film opened in London, making CRASH one of the first magazines of any type to carry the image.
Synchronicity is a bit like déjà vu in reverse: if you hear or read a strange word you have never heard before, and then, over the next few days, several times you happen to see or hear that word used, that is synchronicity. Early in the month of June, Roger Kean attended a software fling on a Thames boat given by MicroProse. Mingling with the massed computer journalists, he was bemused to be confronted by someone from Computer & Video Games who informed him that they knew Newsfield was planning to break with its machine-specific tradition and publish a multicomputer magazine rather like C&VG. It was certainly news to Roger, though, he said, he kept a ‘poker face’.
Two days later Newsfield’s advertising department offered up a plan for a multicomputer entertainment magazine to cover all popular 8-bit and 16-bit computers, not to outdo CRASH or ZZAP! but to complement them. A few hours later, when no-one outside Newsfield’s management had been told of the proposal, someone rang up from a software house to ask how long it would be before the new magazine would happen. It seemed like an omen!
A few days later THE GAMES MACHINE was born, in concept at least, aimed to publish its first issue in time for The PCW Show in late September. A fortnight later we first heard that Future Publishing intended launching Ace — now that’s synchronicity!
Meanwhile CRASH was settling in nicely. Three more reviewers joined the stable: Robin Candy, now doing comments, Mark Rothwell, a friend of the brothers Rignall, and then Nick Roberts. Nick lived in Ludlow, had read CRASH for three years and felt he could take the Tips off my shoulders. To try him out, Roger asked him to do review comments, and so he too started coming in after school hours. His quiet, no-nonsense attitude quickly earned him everyone’s respect, and it was clear that it would not be long before my temporary Playing Tips stint ended.
And in fact there was a fourth reviewer. Dominic Handy had been a regular visitor to the Towers over three years, usually to buy games from the mail-order department — though his views on some games occasionally found their way into print via one or other of the reviewers — but also to undertake the odd writing job. As a film buff he was a natural for the new video section, and he started coming in more and more often.
The scope of CRASH continued to expand, with features on special effects in The Living Daylights and on the Nintendo console adding more reading matter to the magazine’s Spectrum core.
And an unusual aspect of this CRASH was the OINK! Supplement. This had been arranged two months earlier in conjunction with the anarchic comic’s publishers, IPC, and CRL, who were producing a game based on its piggy antics. To my knowledge, this was the first time anything like this had been tried in a computer magazine, and we were interested to see the reaction. Predictably, it was mixed! Many thought it insulting to have a young children’s comic in CRASH, yet newsagents had been moving it out of reach, considering OINK!’s contents to be of a nature more adult than was suitable for youngsters.
We saw an early version of the game on the Commodore, were given a rather useless Spectrum screenshot (the background only), and to date, that’s been that...
At the very moment when it seemed the year’s earlier troubles had become a memory, an earthquake shock hit us. Without warning Gary Penn, ZZAP! Editor, resigned, saying he was worn out. As he had some holiday owed, he left at the end of the week, and everyone held their breaths to see what would happen...