Simon Forrester: Mayhem At 20

In Autumn 2013, Mayhem In Monsterland was 20 years old. It’s the game that – thanks to the 100% review score – was also responsible for Commodore Format’s only real bit of controversy. To coincide with the anniversary, we asked staff writer – and one of the game’s original reviewers – Simon Forrester to remember that month two decades ago.

The Mayhem cover- CF 38.

In the original CF review, editor Andy Hutchinson suggested it “wasn’t perfect…but probably the best game to appear on the C64 in this decade and the next. With the 90’s and 00’s gone, he was probably proven right on that one.

Working on CF was amazing, but from a commercial point of view the thing was on its way out: the dwindling user-base was making producing a magazine on the subject increasingly untenable for a commercial publisher, the games industry had long-since abandoned the platform to produce games for PC and consoles – time was basically marching on.

It’s important to remember that our audience at the time was made up of a lot of kids that were on the C64 because they couldn’t afford to upgrade. The consoles they couldn’t afford, and the games that ran on them, just felt different – they had a weighting to the physics and a frenetic energy that you just didn’t see in 8-bit games – a Japanese design sensibility. They were more fun.

There. I set a scene.

Look: if you spend your days summing up other people’s work as percentage scores, the range has to be fair. If you decide that nothing can ever score over 98%, then that’s your top end, and you shouldn’t put a percentage sign at the end, because you’re not scoring out of 100, you’re scoring out of 98.

When Mayhem in Monsterland landed in our laps, we were blown away – it was utterly amazing – it hit every mark in feeling like a modern console game, and had an energy to it that we hadn’t seen before on the platform. It was, quite simply, the best C64 game we’d seen so far.

Then there’s that whole ‘march of time’ thing – the C64, commercially, was moments away from a well-meaning relative holding a pillow over its face and shushing it ’til it stopped twitching. Mayhem was a bit of a sad moment, because as well as being the best so far, we were certain that nothing was going to come even close to it afterwards, either. It was a high water mark. As Coccotti said in True Romance, “that’s as good as it’s gonna get. And it won’t ever get that good again.”

So really: why the fuck not? CF

  •  Simon Forrester joined CF as a staff writer in 1993. He became the magazine’s editor in 1995. Read his interview about life on the magazine here. Mayhem In Monsterland is still available to buy on tape or disk via psytronik.net. Read the original review at http://issuu.com/zaxth/docs/cf38 

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