Issue Review: CF 12 (September, 1991)

cf12_Sep1991

A brillliant cover and an excellent summer of games for the Commodore 64. Note the mistake in the “POWERTESTED” boxout on the left hand side. It says there’s a review of Escape From Colditz inside. There isn’t. In fact, the game was never released. Read more on that story in our review of issue 7 here.

Summer, 1991. Nirvana release their second album Nevermind. The Super Nintendo hits the streets of the US. Tim Berners-Lee announces the World Wide Web project and the first site, “www.info.cern.ch”, is created.

And Commodore Format? It’s now approaching a year old. If its launch in October 1990 was somewhat hungover from the 1980s, now the magazine had a confident, new-decade swagger: the pages were brighter, the copy tightened up and it was comfortably the biggest selling C64 title in the UK – shifting, on average, in excess of 50,000 copies a month. “We absolutely smashed ZZAP 64”, editor Steve Jarratt told us in 2013. “And from a standing start”.  (See the official announcement here – Ed)

Future’s gamble that the much-loved C64 would enjoy an Indian summer had paid off. This month there was another avalanche of software pushing the machine way beyond anything its designers could ever have imagined. CF12’s moody cover was devoted to Speedball II. It was a bloody and violent vision of sport in the year 2020. Hugely playable and with an utterly thumping soundtrack, it’s a prime example of the sort of game the C64 was getting long after the other 8-bit micros had been reduced to an afterthought. “Speedball on the C64 is the whole thing”, said Steve Jarratt. “Not some crippled version of the 16-bit game. It’s all there.”

Commodore_Format_PowerPack_12_1991-09

Power Pack 12 was proper good, especially if you didn’t normally get to play full priced games. There were cut down versions of four new releases, including lengthy trials of Rod-land and a Speedball 2 demo you could play over and over.

To prove a point, the 94% rated game had a trial version on the Power Pack – and it was joined by previews of cute platform bash ’em up Rod-land, an introduction to the 3D Construction Kit game creator and a cut down version of the arcade adventure PP Hammer. The full game was the classic isometric Spindizzy, and many CF readers got their first taste of public domain demos with the Commodore Format Show. It was a mammoth cassette that really hammered home that the C64 was still very much alive.

OutRun Europa arrived this month, which Andy Dyer described as “nothing complex – just slick”. Its stunning visuals of the white cliffs of Dover through to the Mediterranean grabbed it the title of “best looking car game on the Commodore” for a whole, er, month – TurboCharge topped it mere weeks later.

No chance of the 3D Construction Kit being bested in a hurry, though: it’s probably one of the most unique utilities on the machine. CF created a three-dimensional version of their office on page 66, and on paper it looks cool. But its gushing review somewhat unfortunately failed to mention what was blatantly obvious from the covertape demo: 3D on the ’64 is just…so….slow. One for the very patient! (If you use a Vice emulator on your PC or Mac you could run it faster and actually enjoy it without wanting to kill yourself – Ed).

3D Construction Kit was a fine achievement, but the huge box and flashy screenshots couldn't hide the fact this sort of thing gives the Commodore 64 a headache. It's rewarding if you have the patience, but even at the time it felt slow.

3D Construction Kit was a fine achievement, but the huge box and flashy screenshots couldn’t hide the fact this sort of thing gives the Commodore 64 a headache. It’s rewarding if you have the patience, but even at the time it felt slow.

What with it being summer, there were a flurry of sports sims to talk about, though none were exactly classics. Manchester United: Europe was Just Another Football ‘Sim, Graham Gooch World Class Cricket was about as exciting as the real thing and the beach volleyball of Over The Net was fine and all, but…it was beach volleyball. Somewhat limited in its appeal!

Roger Frames got carried away playing the re-release of The Untouchables and became an FBI agent for the month, giving Codemasters’ neat budget adventure Spike In Transylvania 81% along the way. The main character owes more than a nod to the Hagar The Horrible cartoon, and dashing around the village as the weather changes and the enemies become angrier is great fun. Loads of three quid games from around this time haven’t ever got the recognition they deserve – it’s deffo one to give a look.

UPSET BY ELSPA

Some people really did dob in their mates ‘cos of those naff adverts!

The Mighty Brain had his work cut out this issue – angry parents thought an anti piracy advert in Commodore Format was encouraging kids to dob in their mates in exchange for £1,000. The Federation Against Software Theft protested, but the ads were quietly and hastily dropped shortly afterwards. (Read our feature on this little incident here – Ed).

It’s the only sour point in an upbeat, positive issue of the magazine. Commodore Format is on top of the world and looking towards the computer’s future. This month there were first sightings of Smash TV, Creatures 2, Rod-land and a game based on the new Indiana Jones (the full preview section starts here). As the Spectrum and Amstrad CPC faltered, people still wanted to make games for the Bread Bin and even more still wanted to buy them. For now, the Commodore 64 was going nowhere. CF


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