Zzap! Editorials 1985

Issue 1 - May 1985

Issue 1 Cover

WELCOME to the first issue of Zzap!64, the magazine dedicated to entertainment on the world’s greatest home computer.

Without being too immodest, we happen to think the magazine you are holding is going to cause quite a stir. Until now Commodore 64 fun - lovers in search of a good read have had to choose between the general games magazines (and put up with boring stuff about Spectrums, etc) and the oh-so-serious Commodore magazines (and put up with pages of complex computer jargon written by unintelligible boffins).

Which is strange, because by far and away the most common use of a 64 is running the superb games and entertainment software available for it.

Zzap! 64 is dedicated purely and simply to helping you get the most out of these programs. It should help you decide which of them are worth buying, and it should help you get more pleasure out of those you already own. It’s a mag which we hope every 64 owner can understand, get to know and come to love.

We’ve had an amazing time putting this first issue together. Hope you have an amazing time reading it.

See you next month.
Happy zzapping

Chris Sig

Chris Anderson

Issue 2 - June 1985

Issue 2 Cover

We’ve been knocked for six this month by an astonishing number of excellent sports games. First came the amazing Pitstop 2, then World Series Baseball, a trio of Activision titles, Commodore’s Basketball (the FINISHED version), Brian Jack’s exhaustion test and Talladega.

What this means is that the REAL sports action this summer will be taking place not on the playing fields but on the joysticks of thousands of frenzied 64 owners up and down the land.

The great thing about many of these new titles is that they offer direct duels between TWO players, part of a clear trend toward turning the 64 into an ever more sociable institution.

Here’s hoping this issue of Zzap will help you decide which sports YOU want to spend time on this summer.

Enjoy the mag.
Chris Sig
Chris Anderson

Issue 3 - July 1985

Issue 3 Cover

Here we are again with Zzap number 3, which hopefully you'll agree is the best yet. Just to be perverse we've gone and chosen TWO gold medal games this time, both of which are quite unsurpassed in their respective genres. Between them they've accounted for a considerable number of very, VERY late nights, so if you notice the odd slurred comment or wonky piece of writing, you'll know why....

Some things which you may think are slurred comments, but are in fact quite deliberate are a few strange new words scattered round the mag, like 'shmup', 'aardvark' and 'wimp out'. You'll find a full explanation for all these on the last page
of the mag, so don't panic.

We're trying not to panic at the amount of mail now being jammed through our letter box. You people really do say the nicest things, mucho gracias. Pretty soon we'll be running a questionnaire to get some detailed feedback on the mag - but in the meantime, why not write to us with a page-by-page criticism, telling us the things you like and the things you don't, You'd be doing us a favour....

See you next time,
Chris Sig
Chris Anderson

Issue 4 - August 1985

Issue 4 Cover

Since the last issue there have been a few changes in ZZAP!, primarily a change in
editorship and a change in the location of the editorial offices. These have been moved from Yeovil, close to the home of Chris Anderson, up to Ludlow in Shropshire, the head offices of Newsfield Limited, the publishers Of ZZAP! 64 and CRASH Magazine. Unfortunately due to personal reasons, Chris Anderson felt unable to accompany the magazine to its new base. One of the prime reasons for the move is economy, as the Ludlow offices have plenty of space to house the ZZAP! editorial without the extra cost of a second office elsewhere.

For reasons similar to those of Chris, Bob Wade also preferred not to make the move.

This means that ZZAP! is now being written and edited at the same place it is designed and published which gives us a great deal more flexibility than in the past.

You will also notice some slight changes within the magazine itself, and these are
detailed below in the various panels. I hope that you wiil generally approve of those
alterations we have made, or at the worst at least accept that they have been made for very good reasons.
Roger Sig
Roger Kean

Issue 5 - September 1985

Issue 5 Cover

Here’s a good wheeze for making lots and lots of money. Set yourself up as a ‘Media Agency’ in the computer software area, get a few Clients fed up of answering phone calls from magazine advertisement managers, book lots of ads for your clients in different magazines, make the clients pay you an up-front retainer and the balance of their bills very quickly (on the threat that if they don‘t you can‘t pay the mags and they’ll suspend the ads), and then - this is the really clever bit - simply disappear (with the money of course ).

This little money-making wheeze isn‘t so fanciful as it may sound. Sadly the software business has attracted sharks from all over the place, including the advertising agency end. If you added up all the money both CRASH and ZZAP! magazines have lost in precisely this manner over 18 months you would be staggered.

What makes the situation worse is that the client software house loses out and so does the magazine because it inevitably causes friction, although in a sense it is neither side’s fault.

There are, of course, some excellent agencies around, but this market seems to attract more than its fair share of bad ones. The latter type are parasites operating an often unnecessary service, inadequately and with nothing more on their minds than personal greed at the expense of everyone. They are giving media agencies generally a bad name and making magazines wish that the whole lot would get lost.
Roger Sig
Roger Kean

Issue 6 - October 1985

Issue 6 Cover

Some ZZAPpers will probably be reading this issue having got hold of their copy from the Newsfield stand at the Personal Computer World Show. This trade and consumer exhibition run by the magazine Personal Computer World has established itself as certainly ranking as high as the influential American Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Since its inception it has been an important venue for business computing, very much in line with PCW's image, but three years ago, the world of games software began to make a real impression, and two years ago (at the Barbican), the games contingent was every bit as big as the business, in numbers at least, if not in the grandness of their stands. Last year (at Olympia) the same seemed to be true, and at the time of writing, I think this years's show will have a similar make up. But this is probably the last year like it, for as from next year it is being said, the PCW Show is returning to its roots in business only hardware and software. The ostensible reason for this is that PCW magazine's owners, VNU Business Press, have entirely pulled out of the games market with the loss of Personal Computer Games and their three other user-specific titles, as well as Personal Computer News, which did cover game releases.

It might seem to be a logical decision on the face of it, but it also seems to be a great shame for the world's computer showcase to be denying British software an exhibiting place at the obvious moment before Christmas. Let's hope that the 'decision' is not a firm one, and that PCW will continue to support the British entertainment software industry as ably as it has done in the past.
Roger Sig
Roger Kean

Issue 7 - November 1985


Issue 7 CoverIt’s okay for you lot - all you have to do is wear your feet out by walking round for one day. Just try being there for five full long, long days, all the while on your feet, a welcoming smile plastered over your face. Go on try it! Yes folks - it’s the Personal Computer World Show!

Actually,it's not all as bad as that, and being poked in the ribs to the accompanying stare of wonder to be told, ’Gosh you really are real,’ two hundred times a day for five days does help to prove yourself that you do actually exist. The French existentialist philosophers would have approved immensely of functions like the PCW Show! It’s not bad for sales either, and quite a lot of ZZAP! October issues vanished in those few days.

This year’s PCW was, to my mind, a far more successful event than last year’s in terms of the volumes of interested visitors to the show, although many of you must have gone away thinking that there was a lot to be seen, but not that much to play, since so many stands seemed to be previewing their forthcoming releases on video rather than cassette or disk! This year’s show was a little earlier than usual, so maybe that accounts for the lack of finished games.

The Newsfield stand was very busy, with people coming along to buy all sorts of things and so rapid was turnover on the Saturday and Sunday, that our stand resembled the local rubbish tip most of the time. Lots of visitors came to talk to Gary Penn and Julian Rignall, but they were as often as not, off doing the rounds of the other stands, so something of a traffic jam built up. And when it's all over, and everyone is worn out, there’s all the packing up to do, the long return journey to the Shropshire wilds to be undertaken, and all that unpacking and stacking away on the Monday morning. Shows are hell! But they’re fun as welL. . .


A couple of new faces are appearing for the first time in this issue of ZZAP! Sean joins the team to look after matters strategical in future, and brings with him he expenence from working for Games Workshop and writing for White Dwarf magazine and the sadly defunct Imagine magazine. Sean can write those insructable role playing games that list thousands of technical attributes for freaks of the genre. He’ll also be adding his little cartoon face to the main reviews where his strategical bent is useful.

Young Gary PennGary Liddon used to write for Big K (but we don’t hold that against him too much), and joins the tea after a spell at Domark. A wiz with the joystick, Gary admits to enjoying the odd utility or two, has written a ‘sprite sucker’ and is a genius at losing cassette inlay cards so no one can write anything about the games.

These two will be taking over some of Paul Sumner’s review work, as Paul is off to college now, and will have less time to get in and see things - he’s opted for being intelligent rather then simply clever. . . .


Piracy, especially of the disk type, has been somewhat on all our minds the past month and a half. It seems a number ot largely unidentified people from all over the country have been crediting their illegal copies of unreleased genes to members of the ZZAP! reviewing team. Several new games have been mentioned to me by the concerned software houses, all of which have been in our possession as pre-production versions either on cassette or on disk, but at the time of writing, none of the houses have managed to obtain said illegal copies. Naturally, we are as concerned as the software houses - the credibility and reputation not only of ZZAP! but also of all Newsfield Publications is at risk in this.

We reckon that our house is in good order - both ZZAP! and CRASH have suffered a previous bout of 'aiding piracy' allegations that all proved totally groundless to the satisfaction of the software house whose product was supposedly involved. One of the computer trade papers recently carried an article which, in thinly veiled terms, pointed a finger at a leading 64 software magazine, suggesting that a reviewer, or reviewers, were responsible for copying pre-production disks and leaking them into the 64 disk piracy network. The writer of this piece has said that he will place evidence before FAST to prove his point. Again, at the time of writing, nothing more has come of this.

It seems to me that rather a lot of professional egos are at work here, and much of these allegations come down to picking an obvious scapegoat in the battle to prove beyond doubt that the illegal copy possessed is as early a copy as possible. It’s a bit like the school playground desire to be the very first with everything. The argument goes; ‘if it came from a named person at ZZAP!, it must be the first.’ This is arrant nonsense of course, and if people in this industry are becoming so childish as to fling accusations around without any substantisting proof, then it’s a sad reflection on us all. We’ll keep you posted if anything further develops.

Roger Sig
Roger Kean


Issue 8 - December 1985

Issue 8 Cover


Here we are once again, on the eve of Christmas, traditionally a season of good will, feasting, contempIation and extraordinary spending. . .

It’s the big spend that most commercial organisations have their eyes on, the few weeks of the year when the software and hardware business makes or breaks for the forthcoming fiscal period. Last year, the predictions were that it would be a Commodore Christmas, and most companies spent the biggest slab of their budgets advertising games for the 64. The pundits were wrong - once again it was a Sinclair Christmas and it left software houses floundering with unshifted 64 stock and poor balance sheets from lack of Sinclair games to sell. This year the pundits seem to reckon on it being an Amstrad Christmas because that machine’s in a good, strong position, Sinclair isn’t, and Commodore don’t honestly seem to know what they’re doing. Software house reaction seems to back this up too, with only a conservative volume of Spectrum games planned, plenty of Amstrad, and a disappointing release schedule for the 64.

Rockford SnowmanNo one wants to be caught out again this Christmas with surplus 64 stock - well no one wants to be caught with ANY surplus stock really. But it will be a shame if there aren’t a reasonable selection of games available over the period because the industry is afraid of its own shadow and listens to to the pundits proclaiming. Marketing apart, any good product will do well. . It 's too easy to sit back and say, 'it wasn’t a Commodore Christmas,’ when a game does poorly, without first examining whether the game failed because of its own qualities. At ZZAP! we all feel that, quite simply, the software business shouId look to its own strengths and take its own counsel about what kind of Christmas to expect, and to recognise that good software is whet makes the difference, not quantity by itself.

Roger Sig
Roger Kean

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