By Lloyd Mangram

February 1986
Issue 25

Inspiration for a cover image was lacking, so everyone was pleased when Imagine's Mikie became a Smash since it gave Oliver a subject suitable for his particular talents - a figure seen in action within a dynamic composition. The character of Mikie is so energetic he's simply burst through the cover paper, scattering hearts in his wake - the cover and the game neatly tied in with Saint Valentine's Day. In a way it also acted as a symbol for the new year beginning; CRASH was crashing through again . . .

The cover's bounciness could also have been taken as a symbol for a new face on the CRASH team. For the first time the reviewing team figured in the masthead, and among the names was one Mike Dunn. As they had been wont to do since CRASH started, Ludlow lads with Spectrums dropped in after school hours to see what was happening, and some of them were dragooned into writing review comments. Mike was one such. Robin Candy told everyone that Mike's school nickname was Skippy because he skipped wherever he went, and this information was soon confirmed when Roger Kean reported that he had almost been knocked flying in the street as Mike skipped violently past him on the way down a Ludlow hill. Skippy is a now a respectable bespectacled college student with a far more sedate gait, but the nickname still sticks.

On a more serious note February marked the start of a run of cover paintings with which Oliver was less than satisfied, though in retrospect some of them are outstanding. It wasn't so much that they were poorly executed, more that he felt uninspired by the subject matter. An illustrator requires a brief for his work and previously he and Roger Kean had worked on the ideas themselves. Naturally, the chosen subject was therefore always one which Oliver enjoyed and the sort of thing he excelled at. Now, with three magazines going, he had to rely far more on the editors for their ideas and briefs, and in the case of CRASH Graeme Kidd seemed to prefer humorous subjects - Mikie was one and Jack The Nipper notoriously so.

Still, this is no reflection on Mikie the game, which got its Smash, the first of two that month for Imagine. The other, also a Konami conversion, was the onomatopoeiac Yie Ar Kung Fu, which received praise for its 'arcade style playability', one reviewer commenting that Imagine was fast becoming one of the best development houses in the country. As you can tell from the enthusiasm, these were still the heady days of coin-op conversions: a moment of freshness before the tedium of overkill which would all too soon set in.

Four other games merited Smashes. Martech's Zoids finally made it through; Electronic Pencil Co. had done a fine job, maintaining a high standard of graphics and providing an engrossing game. Their innovative approach made mincemeat of the notion that a licence from something as childish as a series of toy monsters means a thinly-disguised piece of marketing schlock. Zoids is Martech's monument for posterity. Ultimate looked back on form with Gunfright, an entertaining advance on their Nightshade, while Gargoyle Games proved they had more in them than complex graphic adventures of the Dun Darach type. Sweevo's World had something in common with Ultimate's Knight Lore and Alien 8 style of presentation, but took it further to provide a game both compelling to play and very funny. In fact it was to be the precursor of a genre which would reach fulfilment in Head Over Heels. Derek, meanwhile, was praising Activision's adventure Mindshadow while berating their lack of marketing for it - an omission the company was not usually noted for . . .

After its recent run of successes - Critical Mass and Saboteur - we featured Durell. Robert White's company had been with us since the earliest Spectrum days and had always strived to be both good and different. It seems sad, as I write this, to reflect that Durell no longer exists in its previous form, sold, as it was at the 1987 PCW Show, to Elite . . .

Issue 24