ISSUE REVIEW: CF 20 (May 1992)

cf20_May1992

The top left character on this month’s cover was a deliberate likeness of Harrison Ford. We’ve no idea why! If you do know tell us on our social media.

“Rip into page 16!”, said Commodore Format 20’s cover. It was a subtle joke at the expense of this month’s free bedroom door hanger:  the Sellotape required to keep both it and the Power Pack stuck to the front made it virtually impossible to keep the mag in one piece.

The Indiana Jones branded “fabby door hanger” spoke more about the magazine than you might initially think: first, Future Publishing were still taking the Commodore 64 market seriously enough to tempt new readers with free gifts. And second, the audience was getting even younger. Clearly, such an item was for the bedroom door of pre or early teen boys (see it, and all the other cover freebies, over here – Ed): you wouldn’t get such a covermount on this month’s Amiga Format, for example.

BUT ENOUGH SERIOUS ANALYSIS

Demographic and market talk aside, there were other more obvious signs this month that the Commodore 64 was still kicking. Codemasters were trying to recruit new programmers to work specifically on Commie titles this month, and there was a new football game on the horizon to tie in with the upcoming European Championships. Gremlin’s 92%-er, Space Crusade, was another MB board game conversion and a loose follow up to 1991’s HeroQuest. Its 3D presentation and attention to detail was, again, a level above anything we’d seen on the machine in the 1980s and proof that new things could still be achieved on the ageing 8-bit micro.

Perhaps most unfairly overlooked this month, arriving too late to the office even to get a mention on the cover, is Bonanza Bros. US Gold’s unique, split screen arcader sees you playing both Mobo and Robo. They’re a pair of cat burgling robots, wandering around buildings 20 screens or so wide. Each building is there to be robbed, and switching between the two robots to solve the puzzles is – as James Leach says – both deeply satisfying and like playing two games at once.

G-LOC, meantime, was US Gold’s third release of the issue. The 3D flight sim’ never stood a chance on the C64, really. The programmers took one look at the arcade original and said the best idea was to base a new flight game loosely around it, but management were firm that a strict conversion was required: it was a hiding to nothing, really, and the 79% score is hugely generous. One to avoid.

FACEPALMS AND BLOOPERS

Dubious arcade convos aside, Roger Frames gave a glowing review to the re-release of Ocean’s shooter Midnight Resistance this issue – only for the review box to erroneously display a score of 43%. The Mighty Brain does a pretty unconvincing job of explaining away the drop in full priced game releases on page 46, and regardless of context was there any need for the giant Swastika here, eh? A few moments to forget.

All in all, though, it was a great issue – albeit not “the best to date” promised in this month’s editorial. CF glowed with positivity and optimism for the machine, so much so that Gremlin Graphics – who’d planned to abandon the C64 after this month’s Heroquestran a coupon in May’s magazine asking anyone interested in a Commodore version of Nigel Mansell’s F1 GP to get in touch. It was time for the computer’s many self proclaimed supporters to put their money where their mouth was. CF

Commodore_Format_PowerPack_20_1992-05ON THE POWER PACK

Two demos this month – last month’s rave review Catalypse was one, joined by Zeppelin’s tough but great looking platformer puzzler The Bod Squad. 21st Century Entertainment’s 1989 puzzler Maze Mania was there in full, joined by Grandslam’s ancient – but absorbing – isometric shooter Ant Attack. It was from 1984, and to younger CF readers probably looked even older! Get the full lowdown here.

THE END OF AN ERA

This was Commodore Format‘s original designer, Lam Tang’s, final issue. Lam was given top billing in the magazine’s credits, and as he left so did the final piece of the team which first made CF great. Cheers, Lam!

RIP JOHN “BONES” SIMPSON

This edition of Issue Review is dedicated to John Simpson, better known as “Bones”, who wrote a number of tech pieces (like this one this issue) for Commodore Format and was the man who introduced Jason Finch to the team. We were saddened to learn when researching this piece that he passed away some years ago.

 

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