Issue Review: CF 11 (August 1991)

cf11_Aug1991

The games industry was on its summer hols, so for the first time CF bigged up the number of previews on its cover. The Autumn was looking amazing!

The British summer of 1991 was full of the kind of warm, hazy days you tend to remember all of your formative summers by: Heathrow reached 27.9c towards the end of August, and it was one of the driest school holidays on record. Even Scotland managed its best temperatures since 1984, with 147% of its expected sunshine.

The infamous hosepipe bans followed, and there was the traditional drought in the games market too (oh, smooth segue – Ed). The shortage of new software was nothing to panic about, though: it’s just that software houses tended to think that kids were outside playing in the summer and saved the biggies for the cold weather. It was those forthcoming attractions which CF focused on for its eleventh issue, flagging up for the first time the number of previews on its cover. We’ll talk about coverstar Terminator 2, as well as Rod-LandOutrun Europa and Amiga conversion Speedball II – the only 8-bit micro version of the game – in future installments of this series as their reviews appear. Suffice to say, the volume and quality of games on the horizon showed how viable developers still considered the Commodore 64 to be.

SILLY SEASON

As for the games you could go into a shop and buy this month, it’s fair to say a crop of ’em were held back for the quiet period in order to stand any sort of chance at all: two of this month’s turkeys, Betrayal and England Championship Special, feature in Commodore Format‘s all-time worst rated games. Read about them both in our extended feature here. There was a low-key Corker though: Empire’s Volfied was an update of the old Taito arcade Qix. In it, you navigate your ship across a series of single screens attempting to ringfence as much of the landscape as you can. When you clear 80%, it’s onto the next stage. Your ship’s pretty unprotected and vulenerable to all sorts of nasties, though, which make it a really engaging challenge. The game looks unique, too, with the landscape of each screen being revealed as you progress towards your 80% target.

Elsewhere, top-down racer F1 GP Circuits appears harshly scored at first, clocking in at  just 68%. When you first play, it’s excellent: the number of options, classy pit-stops and slick presentation make for a sort of arcadey feel that’s easy to pick up – but perhaps too easy to complete. A brutal multiload sucks out the fun for tape users, too.

A COMMODORE 64 LEGEND

Martin Walker (Citadel, Hunter’s Moon and amazing tunes like that Speedball II theme) was on hand this August to give readers an insight into the development process of a game. On finding an original idea, he mentions Vivid Image’s Time Machine – saying the concept came from the programmer’s wife during a conversation about how time travel could influence evolution.

Martin’s piece was notable for how different it was in a magazine now pretty much entirely dedicated to games – very different to the first issue of almost a year ago. Some older gamers who’d grown up with ZZAP! 64 began to mutter that CF was too “young”. In reality, the tone was spot on: the average reader age was around 13 and really not that interested in using their C64 for spreadsheets. The problem was not that Commodore Format was young; it was that the C64’s original fans from the early ’80s had grown up. That the machine was still around at all was impressive; for a magazine supporting it to be in growth was quite astounding. CF had been Future Publishing’s most successful launch to date, and September would bring some astonishing circulation news.

ON THE POWER PACK

Commodore_Format_PowerPack_11_1991-08Activision’s classic Pitfall 2 was the lead game, and though David Crane’s platformer looked old-hat in comparison to the C64 titles of 1991 it was still rammed full of great ideas and hugely playable. There were also demos of Gremlin’s moody slash ‘n’ platform Switchblade II and Line’s summertime beach volleyball sim’ Over The Net. Shooter LightForce rounded things off – but the mag was worth the price for Pitfall 2 alone. CF

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