My CF: The C64 newbie

Frank Gasking

Here’s Frank aged 10 with a copy of CF. Wonder if his bro can still get into those shorts…

Because it arrived so late onto the scene – and after many people had moved on to Amigas – many of Commodore Format’s readers were young and learning about the Commodore 64 for the first time. GTW64 website creator and Commodore Format superfan Frank Gasking was barely into double figures when he saw his first issue. 

This might sound like a bit of a cheat or even cheesy. But it’s true. My fondest memory of Commodore Format has to be the first time I ever saw it.

In 1991 I was 9. Everyone kept saying that the C64 was over, but loads of games were still coming out. Dizzy was my guilty pleasure. I was hooked on Fantasy World and Magicland.

I was still stuck on both games in the really hot late July of that year, and was spending the summer holidays hanging out with my next door neighbour’s daughters (who yes, I did fancy).  We were bored, so we were sent off to go and get ourselves some sweets from a local newsagent.

Frank's newsagent

It’s Frank’s actual newsagent! Blimey.

As the girls went off to be dazzled by the pick ‘n mix, something caught my attention on the magazine rack. And for a change, it wasn’t the porno mags. The white bold word COMMODORE stood out from a distance on a large red banner and drew me over.  It was issue 11 of Commodore Format, with Ocean’s big school holidays release Terminator 2 on the cover.

When I picked it up, the tape was what grabbed me. “Free” games! Every month! Pitfall 2 was on that month’s Power Pack. It looked amazing from the screenshots inside – you could explore a large jungle and even swim around!  Switchblade looked brilliant too.  Flipping further, I found the massive cheats section.  The trick for making Robocop fly sounded amazing, but what came next got me really excited.  Here was the complete map and solution to Fantasy World Dizzy, showing loads of rooms and puzzles which I had never seen before.  Doesn’t sound like much now, but back then seeing an entire game opened up like that in one go was pretty mind blowing.

I was no longer interested in sweets. Or those girls! I had to have this magazine.  Though there was a slight problem.  I was 20p short of the £2.20 price and there was only one copy left! I rushed the ladies back home in a gentlemanly fashion, ran home and begged for the extra funds.  Seeing my desperation, my parents dug me out and I sprinted back to the newsagent.  I even took a shortcut through our back yard – thinking that someone else was going to buy that last copy before I did.  But it was still on the shelf where I had last left it.  I grabbed it quickly – rushing back home again to play the amazing looking Pitfall 2. Later I tried to complete that bloody Dizzy game once and for all!

And so began my love affair with Commodore Format, and my monthly 7am runs to the newsagent to pick up every copy  – always excitedly wondering what was going to be on each Power Pack tape.  I was so taken with the magazine that I even had my picture holding both issue 11 and 12.  The Power Pack was the biggest excitement for me every month. I would day dream during my journey down to the newsagent about what delights were awaiting.  I could almost see the tape cover in my mind, and it would be the very first thing i’d look at when getting my copy.  But it was also the really funny content, reviews and tips pages that kept me going back every month, right until the end in 1995.

That excitement is something i’ve never really had since I was that age. Websites are all well and good, but it’s a shame the vibe around that monthly wait for a print magazine has gone forever. CF

 

Frank Gasking’s website tracks down unreleased and unfinished Commodore 64 games – you will lose hours and hours over at www.gtw64.co.uk ! 

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