The Def Guide to Zzap!64

Julian Rignall
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Author:  LeeT [ Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Julian Rignall

Has anyone managed to contact him and ask him how he feels about the Newsfield period?

When I was doing my interview project, he was one of the few people who I couldnt get hold of.

I know he works for Wal-Mart these days - I always thought he would still be in gaming somehow, maybe head of a studio or similar?

Author:  Lloyd Mangram [ Thu Sep 18, 2003 8:56 pm ]
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Hi Leet,
about Jaz, have you read the Zzap article in Edge's Retro Special where he's being interviewed about his Newsfield period?

In case you didn't, download it here ( about 2 mb):

In case you already knew it: there's nothing more I know of, except for this 'old' interview (2000) that I 'leeched' one time. (the site doesn't excist anymore, so I'll paste the whole thing over 'ere:

Ta! Rob

Julian (Jazza) Rignall
Date of Birth: 6 March 1965
Height: 5'8''
Nickname: Jaz


Julian (or Jaz) was chosen as a reviewer for the first issue of ZZap! 64, having proven himself as an experienced games player. He was the Computer and Video Games arcade champion of 1983, and at the time ZZap! was launched, he was the UK top scorer on Defender. Jaz continued to show everyone he was the nation's meanest games player, as time after time he emerged the victor of the monthly ZZap! Challenge, where readers and other reviewers were pitched against each other at a chosen game.

Jaz was highly regarded as an accurate and fair reviewer of C64 software, and was voted the reviwever most readers agree with in the 1987 ZZap! readers questionnaire. His loyalty to ZZap! 64 was rewarded in December 1987 when he became editor of the magazine. He stayed editor until August 1988 (Issue 39) when he decided it was time to move on, and became freelance and mingled with ZZap! 64's publishers rivals, EMAP.

Rignall then settled at EMAP Images, England's second-largest comsumer publishing company, in editorial. While there, he was editor-in-chief of The Official Nintendo Magazine, The Official Sega Magazine, Mean Machine, Computer and Video Games, and MegaTech. Recently, he made a move into the business sector of gaming as vice president of design for Virgin Interactive Entertainment, where he was in charge of overseeing product development and was responsible for licensing acquisitions from other game developers and publishers. While at Virgin, he was responsible for such titles as Zone Raiders, Nanotech Warrior, Lion King, and The Jungle Book.

Jaz is now living in San Fransisco, USA, where is the Editorial Director of the Imagine Games Network (IGN) and back in the editorial business, which I think he loves best.

Recent Interview (April 2000)
I managed to contact Julian Rignall recently, and managed to ask him a few questions which he was glad to answer. Here they are...

Hey Mark, I'll happily answer your questions (it's a nice trip down memory lane). I've written the answers below:-

Q. Do you still hold the C64 in high regard?

Yes -- very much so. It's definitely a very historic machine. Because of both the C64 and Spectrum, gaming really exploded in the UK, hitting a bigger market than any previous gaming system. There are many reasons for this. Games were cheap and plentiful, it was relatively easy to program both machines and thanks to the huge rivalries between the users and programmers of each system, both computers were pushed to their absolute limits, resulting in stunning software for the time. Remember all those cool tricks that people developed, like sprites in the border and tricks to push more and more objects onto the screen? People just loved programming, trying out new tricks and pushing the machines to their limits (remember all those amazing hacker demos that used to be circulated around?). It was this kind of stuff that really helped software development, and amazing new games were created because of what hackers and programmers were doing. These days, people develop on systems like the PSX and Dreamcast using existing routines and libraries developed by the machine's manufacturer -- there just isn't the same emphasis on pushing the hardware to its limits, and certainly not the same feeling of exploration and programmer community that there once was.

The other thing to remember is many people who started programming on C64's and Spectrums have since become major developers or run large development companies -- people like Dave Perry (Shiny), Bob Stevenson and Richard Hare (Planet Moon), Hugh Binns (Eurocom) to name but a few. That's another set of reasons why the C64 (and the Spectrum of course) are very important milestones for the gaming industry that shouldn't be forgotten.

Q. What are your fave 3 C64 games?

Wow! Always a tough one. My all-time favorite top three C64 games has changed many times over the years. I'll have to say that Boulderdash is a classic that is still a truly fantastic game. If I could have just one C64 game, it'd definitely be that. The other two? Hmmmmm. Let me think. The Sentinel. Ah yes. That's another one that's just brilliant, with timeless gameplay that's still just as fresh now as it was when it was released nearly fifteen years ago. Ummmmmmm. Last one? Aaaagh! There's so much choice. I think it'd have to be Paradroid, since it's such a brilliant concept. Though I feel terrible about not having a Jeff Minter game in the top three (Ancipital was always my absolute fave...). Tough call, that. Can't we make it a Top Five, and then I can also include Toy Bizarre, which for some weird reason when I play it, really takes me back to the early days when I used to be at the ZZAP! offices virtually all night (after working all day), playing C64 games because I loved them so much. Damn. Now I've left out Dropzone and Pastfinder... You should have made it a Top Ten -- that would have been much easier to figure out!

Q. What games keep you hooked these days?

I still love gaming. Since I'm an absolute car and racing nut, the Gran Turismo series is a particular favorite of mine. Can't wait for GT2000! I also love first-person shooters, particularly Unreal Tournament. I play a lot of UT Online, and have been very pleasantly surprised to find out that even at my advancing years (I'm 35 now!) I'm still good enough to make the Top 30 Worldwide Ranking. Funny, really. I always thought that one day I'd just get bored of games, but I still love them... as long as they provide an original and entertaining challenge. That's why I love UT so much -- you play against real people, and that's the best kind of gaming of all. I've always loved competition -- which is why I used to enjoy doing the ZZAP! Challenge so much.

Q. Do you think todays games have the same playability, as C64 classics such as Impossible Mission and Toy Bizzarre?

Gaming is still exactly the same as it was 20 years ago: some games are great, providing excellent challenge and originality, and plenty of addictive gameplay, and some games are just cack. Obviously today's games are far more sophisticated than they were back in the day, but they still have to deliver the same thing -- fun, addictive gameplay. Some do, some don't. Same as it ever was, and always will be.

Q. Do you see anything of Gary Penn or the other ZZap lads?

I'm Editorial Director of, which is a part of the Snowball corporation. The owner of that company, as well as Future Publishing (UK) and Imagine Media (US) is none other than Chris Anderson, ZZAP!'s original launch editor who looked after the magazine for its first three issues. I see him occasionally when he drops by at the office. I also speak regularly to Paul Glancey, who's a lifelong friend. And of course I regularly talk to Glenys Rignall (we married in 1990 and sadly, but amicably split up in 1997). She's currently working with Jeff Bezos, the guy who owns She's doing really well and is living up in Seattle these days. I haven't seen the rest of the ZZAP! crew for some years now -- living in San Francisco makes it a little difficult to see old friends from the UK...

Interview Conducted: 15 April 2000

Julian Rignall's Impact on the Commodore 64 Scene

Jaz was a fantastic games reviewer, always accurate and fair. Back in the mid-eighties I was still at school, and although I had a paper-round, money was tight. I therefore had to be careful when buying games. I knew that I could rely on the ZZap reviewers, and Jaz in particular and I would base their opinion of a game on my decision to go out and buy it. Becasue of the huge success of ZZap! 64, and the fact that he stayed with the magazine for so long, Jaz became a famous figure of the C64 scene. I always made a point of looking out for the ZZap! stand at Commodore shows, and once he signed a copy of Issue 16 (the Green Beret cover) and wrote 'I'm Hard' over the teeth of the soldier on the cover.

Author:  LeeT [ Fri Sep 19, 2003 3:15 am ]
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Thanks for those links Rob - Though I have read them before. As I said in my original post, he now works for the supermarket giant, Wal-Mart (who now own Asda in the uk!)

Ican just imagine JR as a trolleycollector!! :lol: (I am joking!)

Author:  Paul Chapman [ Tue Oct 21, 2003 9:18 am ]
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Did a bit of Jazza-spotting last night. Was watching a repeat of that old favourite Gamesmaster on Challenge (UK quiz shows cable channel).

It was the very first show from the very first series (the church) and Julian was on co-commentating on a Super Mario 3 challenge. This was way back in 1992 when he was editor-in-chief at Mean Machines.

The show itself reminded me of how Dominik Diamond has changed since the programme first aired. He had Hugh Grant-style floppy hair - quite different from how he looks today!

Plenty of double-entendre joystick gags though - that part of him definitely hasn't changed unlike his big purple the very early Gamesmaster magazines. :)


Author:  duddyroar [ Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:15 pm ]
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Author:  Ace_McFly [ Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:46 pm ]
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I was gutted when I watched the last Gamemaster... such a cool show.

And I swear Dominik Diamond had a frog in his throat as he closed the program for the last time!! :cry:

Author:  Palmer Eldritch [ Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:57 pm ]
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Mr.Zzapback wrote:
The other two? Hmmmmm. Let me think. The Sentinel. Ah yes. That's another one that's just brilliant, with timeless gameplay that's still just as fresh now as it was when it was released nearly fifteen years ago.

Funny that he mentions Sentinel in his top three, since he was the one that really didnĀ“t feel it should have been a GM at the time.
Nice to see people evolve and get smarter as they grow older. 8)

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