Commodore Format was only published on April 1st once in its five year run – but boy oh boy did they go for it. Midnight Residence’ bargain release on budget was set to be one of the Commodore 64 events of the year…
Commodore Format 31 – April 1993 – happened to be published on the first of the month. Ripe, then, for an April fool’s joke.
The first mention of an exciting new game is on page 14. At the bottom left of the Early Warning! scanner, you’ll find reference to something called Midnight Residence from AFS Software. “It hits the streets on budget very soon”, says CF. “Be sure to reserve your copy of the toughest game of the year before stocks sell out. They’re bound to.”
Later on in the mag, Roger Frames reviews the game – a “platform pick ’em up shoot ’em up”. There are “530 levels”, “more colours on screen than ever before” and “perfect collision detection”. A screen shot shows level 3, where you find a machine that “takes you back to the early years of gaming”.
“Trenton raved about it when it was first released”, says Roger. But the budget skinflint awarded it just 22% this time around, saying it was too hard.
Just as CF said, the game appeared to be very hard to track down. Computer game shops contacted Future Publishing to try and find out who AFS Software were so they could stock copies of the game kids were asking for, and parents called the CF office with enquiries. It was just impossible to find.
Which isn’t surprising, because it didn’t exist.
The title was a play on the Ocean game Midnight Resistance, of course. And the screen shot was a mock up by art editor Ollie Alderton. The “rave review” given by Trenton earlier in the year didn’t happen, and was an inside joke – referring to the magazine’s tendency to be overly-generous to mediocre games, before letting Roger Frames kick the shit out of them on re-release.
If you turn back to page 14, the artwork to accompany the game is a giant number “1”, and at the bottom of the page are the words “common fool”. Beneath the review itself, they’ve even put the date.
It’s likely that the idea for Midnight Residence came from this letter to The Mighty Brain the previous summer.
What happened really serves as a reminder of how powerful computer magazines could be 20 years ago – as late as the 1990s, shop buyers were still using the likes of CF as a guide of what to stock. And even today, you still see a bit of confusion about the mysterious Midnight Residence game online. It crops up in many an online database of C64 titles (though perhaps they’ll be deleted after today).
Oh – and the publisher, “AFS”?
April First Software. CF
- With thanks to Trenton Webb. Did you try to find Midnight Residence? Did you call CF? What other games mag April fools can you remember? Chat about it over on our Facebook page.
MIDNIGHT RESIDENCE – THOSE CLIPPINGS IN FULL
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