Issue Review: CF 45 (June, 1994)

cf45_Jun1994Commodore Format 45 was essentially new editor Dave Golder getting down to business, with no time for hand wringing over the state of the machine but plenty for a rich range of features spanning new games, a C64 exclusive software developer, graphics creation and news. Yep, there was a lot of news. “Sudddenly, there seems to be a lot happening on the C64 scene”, says Dave. “What the C64 needs now and, it seems, is getting, are games written by people who really want to write for the C64.” 

TELL A GOOD STORY

We spoke last time about how important narrative was, even if it didn’t quite match up with reality. But there was some truth to the emergence of enthusiastic new developers picking up where the established commercial producers had left off. One was the Electric Boys, given the centre pages in CF45. Led by Russ Michaels, who’d started out running his own PD group writing demos and utilities, there were grand plans for a Commodore 64 version of 16-bit classic Flashback and even a Captain America game. More ambitiously, Russ wanted to try and get all C64 users in the UK onto disk drive so they could begin to create more diverse games. Ultimately, though, the good intentions of Electric Boys arrived just too late in the game to make enough impact. We’ll be hearing lots more from them over the coming months, though, and we’ve written about C64 Flashback (and its fate! – Ed) in our look at issue 38 here.

ebes feature

Games wise, CF was all about looking forwards again. Germ Alert was a sort of Bubble Bobble clone with some lovely looking sprites and fun platform-based levels; Defensive, meantime, was the first offering of substance from the Electric Boys. Essentially it was a Defender remake with knobs on, and not atypical of a lot of stuff we’d see over the coming year. Case in point? Over the page from the preview of Defensive came news of a totally separate but almost identical came called DeadlineAs readers would begin to note in the Mighty Brain section, there was no doubting the technical ability of these homebrew games; where they often fell down was in originality and depth.  

GRIT UNDER YOUR NAILS

The rest of June 1994’s issue is heavily devoted, again, to creating games of your own. The Mean Machine Code feature really gets your hands dirty with the ultimate coding tricks, and there’s a machine code assembler on the Power Pack enabling you to get started straight away. A few pages later, Jon Wells returns with more tips on making cool stuff in the Shoot ‘Em Up Construction Kit, and the Apex (Mayhem) boys appear at the back of the mag taking care of aesthetics. Famed for producing some of the best graphics on the C64, they were the logical choice for a tutorial in making your games look as pretty as could be. The latter is a meaty, four-page affair that also showcases editor Dave Golder’s superlative attention to detail. The boxouts and walkthroughs are aplenty, but Dave’s CF‘s also take advantage of the new DTP technology Future invested in during 1993 and 1994. In layman’s terms, CF had been able to use new colours and other tricks thanks to its thicker paper and modern ink for about a year, but it was Dave who really ran with the fact. In short, his issues look kick ass.

Ultimately, though, it’s the sense of calm that pervades through this particular edition of Commodore Format. It wasn’t a big deal that the machine no longer had new games on high street shelves; quickly, the mag had moved on to a new normality. Reading CF was still fun, informative and – above all – essential for any C64 fan. CF   

ON THE POWER PACK

Commodore_Format_PowerPack_45_1994-06For the second time in a year, a utility lead the tape: Speech does what it says, allowing your C64 to “talk” and to  include the results in your own games. The 6510+ assembler allowed you to do some “proper” C64 coding and tied into a feature in the mag we’ve spoken about up there in the main feature, and the second part of the Mayhem Megamix was here too, allowing you to fiddle with yet more music from Apex’ Creatures 2 and more. There was just one game to play this time around, the Marmite-ish Repton 3. It’s a sort of Boulderdash thing with its roots on the BBC. You can read about it, and the rest of the 45th tape, here. 

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