Zzap! Editorials 1986

Issue 9 - January 1986


Issue 9 CoverHere at ZZAP! Towers in Shropshire’s deepest Ludlow (recently voted ‘Oddest place in the world for a computer mag’) we are slaving unselfishly away over the February issue whilst hoping very much that you all enjoy this Christmas Special Edition of ZZAP! 64. There’s quite a bit in it, as you will no doubt see, but some of it I take no responsibility for! I was asked to write the text for ‘Inside ZZAP! Towers’, for instance, and I did what I (modestly) thought was an interesting piece about how we put ZZAP! ‘to bed’ (at least, I thought it was), but The Team went rather over the top with the photographs and you’re not to trust them one bit (both team and pictures that is)!

At this time of year it is traditional to cast a jaundiced eye over the events that made it up and see whether they add up to anything. So we have asked Rockford (courtesy of Statesoft) to do the job. Naturally, you all know that Rockford can’t write (whatever he may say about the matter), so Gary Penn and I translated his ramblings into English (of sorts). Take a look at ‘Rockford’s Roundup’ and see if you agree with the assssment of 1985. My own feeling is that things look set for a great 1986 anyway, so there.
Rockford playing in the snow


I ought to take this opportunity to welcome new ZZAP! readers in the Far East. Under an exclusive licencing deal, an edition of ZZAP! 64 is being printed in the Far East and distrubted there and in Australia. It’s just about exactly the same as the European edition, but the good thing about it is that it should go on sale only a matter of days after the British version. Up to now, Malaysia and Australia have had to wait almost two months before getting their ZZAP! issues, which has left readers there a bit behind the times. It should also (hopefully) make it possible for competition entries to just about arrive in time for closing dates!

It also seems appropriate to say ‘thank you’ to some of the people and organisations who have been essential to us, good for us and an inspiration to producing the magazine and without whom life wouldn’t be as much fun (or pain)! We all sat down and compiled a list - - here it is.

Carol Kinsey (Aunt Aggie) - without whom Mail Order wouldn’t . . .
Carol (again) - for her constant ‘There’s a little lad on the phone’ type calls.
Poddy (AMTIX! Editor Jeremy Spencer’s little dog) - without whom the desk legs wouldn’t. . .
Denise Roberts - also known as ‘Denisle’ as in ‘Denise’ll do it’, without whom Subscriptions wouldn’t. . .
Commodore User - without whom - er well, just without whom. . .
Computer Trade Weekly - for telling the truth fearlessly and making Saturday mornings in the office bearable.
Sheila (upstairs in Admin) - for those regular little brown envelopes with cheques in them. . .
De Grays Cafe - for the breakfast bacon sarnies without which nothing could get written...
The Bull Inn - for supplying lunchtime ‘refreshment’ without which the afternoons couldn’t. . .
Curry’s, King Street - for supplying electric doobries all day long and repairing computers all day long.
The Midland Electricity Board - for Ludlow’s intermittent supply and all those ‘lost’ files on the Apricots...
Tony, Keith and Richard at Scan Studios - for producing all ZZAP’s editorial colour so well and at such short notice !
Ludlow Post Office - for climbing all our stairs every day with so few complaints. . .
CRASH’s Robin Candy - for eating all the biros. . .
Paul Sumner’s Mum - without whom he wouldn’t. . .
Wellconstruct - for making typing chairs strong enough even for Gary Liddon, and big enough for Rignall’s ego. . .
Commodore - for the 1541 Disk Drives that make our lives such a joy. . .
British Rail - for continually confusing Sean Masterson and keeping him from work. . .
Carol’s Mum - for sweeping under our feet. . .
The local girls - for sweeping Jaz off his feet - everyday. . .

and finally
Yourselves - without whom ZZAP! 64 just wouldn’t...

See you next year -Ta!

Issue 10 - February 1986

Issue 10 Cover


It’s a fine way to kick off the New Year, isn’t it? A letter complaining ( see RRAP!) that I said unfortunate things about Commodore software leading up to Christmas (when I'm sure I didn’t really, but I’ve replied in Rrap, so no more on that), and here we are with the most divisive issue of ZZAP! I think I can remember. By which I mean at one end there are some really excellent programs, and at the other end, some Of the worst we’ve seen in ZZAP! Towers. What’s happened to the reasonable middle? Review journalism should attempt to be constructive rather than merely clever at the expense of the product reviewed, but at times it’s hard to be so when faced with games that no one can quite see any point to. Well you’ll no doubt make up your own minds, but there’s quite a bit of fairly savage critism in the pages of this issue. However, there’s also some criticism of a different kind from a new face in the pages of ZZAP! Art critic Brigitte Van Reuben joins the ZZAP! Compunet watchers to look at some graphic wonders we’ve picked up off the net. This is the first UPLD from the net to the pages of ZZAP! but there’ll be lots more in future issues One of the more interesting pages in Compunet’s ZAP CLUB is ‘Shadowspiel’ - a new column that defies description - in fact it defies most things, but at least the Shadow (who sees all for he moves by night) tells the truth at least, HE says he does. If you’re not on the net yet, better get moving...

Issue 11 - March 1986

Issue 11 Cover


News that Commodore are shutting down their Corby factory and stopping manufacture of the 64 in Britain hardly comes as a surprise to anyone following the spate of official denials that any such thing was about to take place. We all know that the best way of informing the world of an impending action is to deny out of the blue that you intend acting.

But the closure probably has caused some alarm among Commodore 64 owners as well as people whose living depends to some extent on the machine. After all, Commodore’s fortunes have slipped internationally very badly during 1985 as well, resulting in all sorts of rumours and counter-rumours. The American company had hoped to scupper any gloomy predictions for 86 by launching the 128, Amiga and the new disk drive as well as by renewing support for the 64. However. when you look at the major market, the 64 market, the 128 and the Amiga have very little to do with it. On top of that, the C16 has to feature as one of the most puzzling developments in the entire business. It's doing well say pundits and sales charts - as well it might, bundled cheaply with loads of software, and doing the chain stores stirling business no doubt; but the trouble is that it’s a dead end. The quickest way to kill off someone’s enthusiasm for a machine is to give them one that they don’t really want at the end of the day.

Commodore have signally failed to notice that in the British market(and elsewhere) they have been outmanoeuvred and outpriced. Instead of delivering new and irrelevant machines at the lower end ofthe price range, they should have been prepared to lower the price of the 64 to wholesalers to bring it into line with Amstrad, Atari and Sinclair products. They should also have concerned themselves with a reliable and faster disk drive system a bit sooner.

So much for the failings of the past, what happens next? The good news is that the 64 isn’t dead - far from it . No doubt new machines will now be shipped in from Germany (and perhaps that also means they will be more reliable than the British assembled ones)! On the other hand, it’s hard to see how that will mean a lowering of the price, still the main barrier to better sales. It looks as though 64 owners will have to continue being loyal to a machine marketed by a company whose complacency in the past has endangered their immediate future.

Issue 12 - April 1986


Issue 12 CoverAfter approximately five years. the games software industry seems to have come of age. Whether this is seen as a Good Thing or a Bad Thing is a matter of opinion, and judging by ZZAP! Rrap letters, the opinions differ very wideIy. At The outset, games were usually written by lone programmers in back rooms, amateurishly promoted and the companies which emerged were under capitalised and often poorly run by people with little business sense and even less time to devote to things like ‘sales’ and ‘purchase’ ledgers. aged debtors lists and bank statements.

What we got, though. was tremendous enthusiasm, some very good ideas (aIbeit sometimes let down by lack of technical knowledge or ability) and a veritable flood of games to play. Smaller ‘software houses’ came and went with untiring regularity, fiercely independent, often hopeless.

It didn’t take too long, however, for the fledgeling industry to start moving towards conglomeration, apeing the much older recording businesses, where several labels belong to very few major companies. In recent months we have seen several well known and established software houses merge their interests with more powerful companies. The reasons are many fold and often hidden from public view, although insufficient funding for further expansion, under capitalisation resulting in inability to meet incurred debts, or the desire to remove the headaches of designing and paying for suitable promotional campaigns are probably the most obvious. Companies like US Gold have a high promotional profile, it’s easier for them to handle that side of things for a multitude of other, smaller software houses, freeing the games designers to get on with what they’re best atmaking games. US Gold have become the largest of collectors, having either a part (or substantial financial interest), or marketing/distribution agreements with several, including English Software, Oasis,Ultimate, Adventure International and Gremlin Graphics, as well as their American producers. An associated company, Ocean, took over the Imagine label end markets products on the 64 for Vortex. Activision have JUSt merged with adventurers Infocom, are marketing System 3’s product and Electric Dreams (though very much under Rod Cousens’ management) is effectively a subsidiary. Another apparently ever open set of arms is British Telecom, either as itself (or more strictly it New Information Services branch) or under the guise of Firebird, which comes under NIS anyway. Beyond was the first to be captured, and despite conversion deals for Ultimate’s Spectrum games. Firebird failed to secure the full marketing agreement with Ultimate that US Gold eventually acquired. Ex Firebird executive, Tony Rainbircl, has his own label,. Rainbird, another BT investment, and Only days ago Odin /Thor announced marketing deals with BT, probably through Firebird.

Responsibility for this merger fever should probably be placed at the feet of Argus Press (Software), who grabbed Quicksilva in the first of the big take-overs. Soon after they were involved with BugByte, eventually buying the company from the Receiver. Not so long ago, APS acquired a major interest in the wargamers Lothiorien.

On the credit side, all this conglomeration of smaller businesses into bigger units makes for a safer financial base, allowing programmers to develop more complex ideas and be provided with the time and equipment to realise them. On the debit side, it allows a more rigid pricing structure to be enforced, independent of a game’s quality. In the recent acquisition of arcade games. especially by Imagine, we have seen both great and awful games. This appears to have nothing to do with the quality of programming, which has been both innovative and exceptionally clever, but more to do with the original games ideas purchased, some of which are not worthy of conversion to a home computer. It highlights the pressure to find new material under which major software conglomerates today tend to find themselves, resulting, sadly, in an ‘almost anything will go as long as it’s marketed brightly’ attitude.

This sort of pressure is then placed on programmers and the result may well be to stifle real talent. Ocean, I hasten to add, can also point to their support of freelance programming teams like Denton Designs and (64 to Spectrum conversions) Platinum Productions, who between them have been very unstifled. There are pros and cons in every situation. It remains to be seen whether the move towards monopoly in the games industry provides us all with a better or worse service, but let’s hope that the merging of various interests will still leave the individual spirit of games programmers free to be creative.

Issue 13 - May 1986


Issue 13 CoverYou know that it isn’t like anyone at ZZAP! to boast (apart from JR of course) but go on let us just have one little boast for a change! The latest figures for magazine sales have just been published by ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations). These are the average monthly sales for the period July to December 85, and they show that ZZAP! 64 is now the leading magazine in the field, with a greater number of copies sold per month in Britain than any other comparable title

As its editor, I would just like to say ‘Thank You to all readers, because without you, you know, we wouldn’t sell a single copy. (Well, I expect Gary Penn’s mum might, so would GL’s mum, Julian’s, .yes, Sean’s Manchester cronies, Lloyd’s Sister... perhaps - anyway, we wouldn’t sell more than five copies without you).

I would also like to say 'thank you’ to Gary Penn, on whose shoulders the main burden for getting ZZAP! together every month, has fallen. From callow Berkhampstead joystick wiggler to assistant editor of the biggest Commodore mag in Britain in only one year - a real rags to riches story, and in the process he’s learnt that definite is spelled with an 'i',' separate’ and ‘desperate’ may sound the same but don’t look the same, and lots of other useful things.

Congratulations too, to our sister mag, CRASH. Its ABC figures show that not only has it outstripped rival Sinclair User to become the world’s leading Sinclair magazine, but its UK sales have even outstripped those of Computer & Video Games, to make , it Britain's top selling computer title of any kind.

However. Enough of the backslapping Back to software well SOME software. For another month running we can’t report happily on the general state of releasing. Loads in the ‘pipelines’, not a lot emerging. I hope this mental constipation isn’t going to result in the software ‘runs’, a frightening state caused by a flood of releases, followed by the usual symptoms of depression and fitful anger because none of the releases got the attention their owners thought they deserved. There are few things more upsetting than having a couple of months with little happening, and then two with everything that should have happened earlier all compressed up, so we have to skate over so much of it.

Something bad seems to have happened to releasing dates over the past few months, with more and more games ‘delayed’ or even disappearing altogether. Programming complexity is the popular excuse, but whatever the ‘complex’ of problems behind delays may be, it they don’t do the business much good. There ought to be a machine code laxative available to release programmers from their digestive problems!

So this month we only have two Sizzlers and one Gold Medal. One Sizzler, Thrust, is a budget release from Firebird, and the other, Super Bowl from Ocean slipped in breathlessly at the last second. The Gold Medal is Activision’s weird and wonderfull Alter Ego not so much a game, more a way of living. The three have absolutely nothing in common with each other except their cleverness and originality in play and presentation. Thus, at a time when I’m bemoaning the lack of software. I’m also feeling relieved that among what has come in is some excellent stuff. Stuff is what we all thrive on, so let’s have lots more stuff as soon as possible please!

Issue 14 - June 1986


Issue 14 CoverIn a recent edition of the trade paper Computer Trade Weekly (Week of April 21st) Commodore Computing International publisher Antony Jacobson launched a blistering attack on ZZAP! 64 and CRASH. In the introduction to his piece he says, ‘The issue I have to hand of Zzap 64 has 37 pages of reviews and 14 pages of competitions.... (not so much yawn as ‘yuk’).

Further on he adds, '... magazines of the style of Crash and Zzap etc have brought the general regard for the home computer to the elevated level of the hula hoop...' and then tells us that what he refers to as ‘comic mags’ are ‘little more than compendia of infantile level games reviews, frequently ridiculing any other aspects of computing. Mr Jacobson considers that ZZAP gets the readers it deserves, embracing the dictum that you never go broke underestimating the intelligence of an audience. ‘There is always an audience for simple-minded pap,’ he says, referring to ZZAP! readers, ‘but such magazines do not live in a vacuum; they harm everybody’s interests in anything but the short term.’

The vitnol throwing isn’t over yet.. . ‘The nasty trivialisation that the Crash-style stable offers, like a fluff covered lollipop, is, I regret to think, no doubt good for the bank balances of its publishers, but for the UK computer industry it is corrupting and dangerous.’ And... , , ‘Poor Commodore User, losing circulation in its gadarene rush to follow Zzap, is an exampIe of what can happen to anyone when the rot sets in.' Rebutting the possible argument that his remarks are sour grapes, envy that ZZAP! has done so well recently, Mr Jacobson says,’... . a certain kind of magazine should only be handled with rubber gloves and antiseptic fire tongs. No-one forces them to publish contagious rubbssh but magazines that do so are not simply to be described as boring, but debasing the values of their readership... . and polluting the social and commercial environment in which we live and work.’

It seems a pity that Antony Jacobson should have so much to say about the kind of people who read ZZAP! (and by implication, Commodore User) only in the trade press where it is extremely unlikely to be seen by the general pubIic. Why hasn’t he aired such views in his own consumer magazine, Commodore Computing International? Could it be something to do with not taking a lion by the tail in case it turns round and bites? But perhaps the real meat of Mr Jacobson’s submission comes near the end where he mentions that CCI's circulation has risen every month since last August, but in spite of this unproven fact, CCI has failed to return an Audit Bureau of Circulations figure since 1982! It colours his statements and somehow leaves a lingering taste of soured grapes. .

That CCI sees itself as a serious users’ magazine and not primarily one concerned with the ‘toy shop’, I don’t doubt; that it should fight for its place in the market on those grounds is also quite acceptable. What is hardly sensible is ranting about magazines and their readers who have opted for a vital part of the market that the long established CCI has largely avoided. It does, of course, carry games reviews (they tend to be good for the publishers’ bank balances because of the advertising), so there’s more than an element of hypocrisy in Mr Jacobson’s comments, and I suspect it is this, together with a desire to tell the trade that CCI is doing well in its sector, and a desire not to alienate any potential readers by describing them and their taste as ‘trivialised’ and ‘nasty’, that has led Mr Jacobson to promote his thoughts in the comparative secrecy of the trade press rather than in the open.

I see very little need to defend ZZAP! against Antony Jacobson’s arguments, in the main they are self-defeating, a voice in the wilderness trying to tell you that what you are doing is bad for you, but more importantly, bad for him. If Mr Jacobson is so convinced that there is a vital market for the more serious user magazine, then he presumably would be well content as things are - but that obviously isn’t the case, as he so eloquently shows...

Issue 15 - July 1986

BRITAIN'S BEST SELLING FLUFFY LOLLIPOP MAGAZINE - Anthony Jacobson, Commodore Computing International


Issue 15 CoverYep, the lollipop season is definitely here, the heat of the halls at the 7th Commodore Show had everybody sucking drinks on sticks, and back at base in Ludlow, June and the Carnival arrives with hot weather and hordes of lollipopsucking tourists. ZZAP! owes a deep debt of gratitude to the publisher of CCI for pointing out to us that there’s more money to be made from talking about lollipops (even fluffy ones) than from boring old computer games. Apart from an issue packed with helpful hints on how to suck the various flavours (starts page 202), corn parisons between the frozen and sticky - sweet varieties, things you can do with the sticks once sucking is complete and vital first aid tips for frozen lollies that come apart at the seams on the first bite - apart from all this, there are a few more reviews (of computer games) than usual.

Budget games have had an up and down history, although recent releases have had an encouragingly higher proportion of fine games among them. This month we have a Budget Section largely devoted to the first batch of Americans cheapies from US Gold, although there are a couple from Firebird and one from CRL. As you may expect, this section reveals that things are still much the same, such budget wonders and some budget horrors. Nevertheless, three of this month’s Sizzlers are in the Budget section!


Along with other members of the ZZAP! crew, I attended this year’s Commodore Show at the Novotel, London (last year I was stuck in Ludlow coping with the just com pleted move of the editorial team from Yeovil). The ZZAP! stand certainly proved popular, never more so than at those times when a programmer happened along touting a completed or part-com pleted game for appraisal. It was surprising how many there were, and the quality of ideas as well as competence on offer, much of it still looking for a publisher. Considering the dismal turn out of the software houses at the show, some of the hopefuls must have been annoyed at not being able to demonstrate direct to a possible publisher. But they were not the only angered ones, many ZZAP! readers complained that there was nothing see. Such a laissez faire attitude to what is, after all. The Commodore Show of the ye ar is not only annoying - it’s alarming. I know the cost of stands is high, and everyone is planning their constructions for the much bigger Personal Computer World Show in September, but ignoring the punter in this way is positively dangerous. Let’s hope the situation and the attitude improves, otherwise many a software company may end up with nothing left to do but suck fluffly lollipops.

Roger Sig
Roger Kean


Issue 16 - August 1986


Issue 16 CoverThis month sees an interesting developement and a move. The Good News is that Gary Liddon - no, sorry, that's the Bad News. Okay. Bad News first - the Bad News is that Gary Liddon is leaving ZZAP! He hasn't resigned and (surprise, surprise) he hasn't been sacked. The fact is he's been compromised by being appointed Technical Excutive of a new software house which means ZZAP! can no longer use his services in the game reviewing department.

The software house concerned is called THALAMUS, and the Good News is that Thalamus has been founded, and is backed by Newsfield. (In case you don't know, the thalamus is a little gland which sits at the base of the brain above the spinal cord and transmits/receives all the signals to and from the body - but enough of the grisly biological bits). Thalamus is independant of Newsfield and the magazines ZZAP! 64, CRASH and AMTIX and is situated in a tasteful corner of what the fashionable call Islington in North London, but what genuine Islington dwellers call 'Cannonbury'. The new company is headed up by Andrew Wright who joins the software house from Activision where he was Press Officer. Andrew has often appeared on the pages of ZZAP! in one guise or another and with his famous flathead (he was one of the first) and trendy dressing, is what the press like to call 'a well known software personality'. He's a welcome if rather racous addition to the Thalamus team.

Already, I'm told, several programs are in preparation for a September launch of software on both Commodore 64 and Spectrum, with games for the Amstrad to follow.

Gary asleepBut what of Liddon? Well he's written his own vsiste (Latin for Good Bye), which appears in Shadow Spiel, but of course this is terribly improper, and because he's such a modest fellow really, it falls to me to say the five hankie tear jerker bit. (gulp) So here goes. . .
Reference: Liddon, Gareth;age 19 (whatever Minter says) In the ten months he's been with ZZAP! Gary Liddon has proved a dilligent, innovative and careful worker. His integrity, truthfulness and loyalty to the company has been beyond reproach and I can highly recommend him to anyone who may wish to employ him in the capacity of Tea Boy. His one and only drawback is that his propenalty for unique twistings of the English language leads him into the fantasy that he is a writer. . .

Never mind, Andrew Wright is determined that the only keyboard he touches from now on will be that of a computer. We'll all miss him though, most especially the Comps Minion for whom Gary has provided so much raw material in the past, and we wish him luck as he returns to the life whence he came - London and the Lounge Lizard society.


Has the quality of music on 64 games improved recently? Is there more of it? Can there be more? Can it get any better? Has the limit of the SID chip been reached? If any of these seminal questions have been worrying you of late, then turn to page 40 and read through THE MUSICIANS' BALL. Following on from the social success of the Superstar Challenge, the ZZAP! team asked along several well known computer composers for a round table discussion (actually it was an oblong tabel because we don't have any round ones which occasioned the usual problem of etiquette that King Arthur's round table so cleverly avoided - who's ego gets to sit at the head)?

An edifying principle seemed to emerge from the discussion; it isn't the limitations imposed by the machine or the SID chip that count, what counts is the imagination and dexterity of the programmer. After all, since Guttenburg invented the printing machine, words on paper have been commonplace. Advances in print technology have made the production of books, paper, papers etc. faster, easier and more widely distributable, but none of these things has added one jot to the quality of writers' imaginations. We don't limit an author by virtue of his medimum - to look at, all writers are alike - little black words on white paper, we limit him by what he says and the way in which it is said. The same is true of computer games and also the music produced to accompany them. The computer games industry is growing up at last and now we can look forward to an era when what is done and the way it is done is vastly more important than how it is done. Let's hope Andrew Wright and Gary Liddon bear that in mind as they crack the champagne bottle over the prow of the good ship Thalamus!

Roger Sig
Roger Kean

Issue 17 - September 1986

Issue 17 Cover

Roger Kean waving goodbye , Rockford - He was such a nice editor


In last month's ZZAP! I announced the retirement of Gary Liddon from our reviewing team - he's now happily ensconced in the depths of North London helping get Thalamus, the new software house, underway. He's been partly replaced by 18 year-old newcomer Richard 'Dick' Eddy, a Cornwellian (or is it Cornishman?) who hails from Helston. Dick’s really an Amstrad man, but as a nifty joystick wielder and arcade player, he was pressganged by the gang and then seduced by the wonderful Commodore graphics - at least until AMTIX! needs him back.

Avid 'masthead' watchers (that's the narrow bit on the left of the contents page) might have noticed two new names, one with a familiar ring to it - Jonathan Rignall, and you would be right, for Jonathan is none other than ZZAP! Ego King Julian Rignall’s younger brother. But there’s little In common between them except blood - Jonathan is bright, technically clever, handsome, modest and (above all) intelligent! (It’s okay though, the Scorelord is trying to get Julian to go to evening charm school classes). He works upstairs in ‘Art’ In the repro department, the ones responsible for geting all the artwork onto final primers film.

The other new name is the rather exotic Massimo Valducci who comes from Stvewsbury (a small town near Rome). Mass is our sub editor - a technical term for one who corrects all Gary Penn’s spelling mistakes . . .

But there are bigger personnel changes afoot for ZZAP! because this is my last issue as Editor of the magazine. CRASH readers called me 'traitor Kean' for swapping allegience from the Spectrum to the Commodore, but ZZAP! readers need not have the same feelings for where I go next is not another machIne. At Christmas Newsfield Publications launch their fourth title. It's simply called L M, and yes, you're right - Lloyd Mangram has been persuaded to rent out his initials! I'm editing L M and Lloyd will be doing his infamous bit on the letters pages. What’s the new mag about, well you'll find when you get your Christmas Special edition of ZZAP! because a free first issue of L M will be included for you to have a look at. What I can say is that it's a new idea in youth magazine, aimed at people like you, with a lively interest in all sorts of things. You'll be hearing more . . .

So, as from issue 18, the new Editor of ZZAP! will be Gary Penn. In eighteen months, Gary has gone from a tyro who signed his name with an X to one of the most professional writers in computer journalism - quite a remarkable achievement! Apart from murdering the odd pet person, his record with ZZAP! has been exemplary, and certainly for the past six issues, he has been responsible for arranging all of the month’s contents. I feel I can leave ZZAP! very safety In his capable hands - maybe now he'll even smile occasionally. . .

For the time then. . .
Roger Sig
Roger Kean

Issue 18 - October 1986

Issue 18 Cover

'Expert: computer games promote violence 'The humble video game is rivalling video nasties for its adverse effects on children.'

Crazy, but true. The Media Studies Centre manager for the South Australian Education Department, Mr Paul Gathercoal, feels that computer games are promoting bank robberies, the killing of police officers, drug-taking and even masterbation! According to a newspiece in the Canberra Times, in which Mr Gathercoal condemns Ocean's Frankie Goes to Hollywood for encouraging pill-popping, the problem will worsen more in the next decade. What problem? Do computer games really induce people to commit felonies? I certainly don’t believe this is the case - unless individuals such as Mr Gathercoal continue to make these perverse connections between computer games and acts of violence, then what sounds ludicrous may well become reality. In a similar vein: For many years now Mary Whitehouse has been campaigning against violence on television and pornography as a whole. And yet, when asked on a late night television chat show if she had seen examples of pornography material to substantiate her beliefs Mrs Whitehouse admittedthat she hadn’t because she didn’t want to see such things. How can she condemn something she hasn’t seen? By means of over-the-garden-fence gossip? Admittedly, Mr Gather coal has seen what he is condemning. But he is condemning a product of his own fertile imagination. Perhaps people like Mr Gathercoal are attempting to satisfy their consciences by condemning perverse fantasies akin to their own? Popping pills in Frankie Goes To Hollywood? To be honest the thought had never crossed my mind, and I doubt such an idea even crossed the minds of those who bought the game.

Mr Gathercoal goes on to say that 'any kid, four or five years old, old enough to carry the money into a computer software shop, could buy Strip Poker and play it in the privacy of their own home, completely legally. If it were a film or a video tape, that would be an offence’. Ah, but if it were a film or video tape then it would be far more explicit and demand less imagination. Can you honestly imagine a five year old child sitting in front of his 64, playing with himself instead of his newly purchased Strip Poker? Can a child really be affected by an unrealistic arrangement of chunky pixels enough to actually commit a crime? I've never heard of such an incident. I will be very surprised if such an incident does occur in the future.

‘Johnny, why did you kill three policemen and rob a bank?’ ‘Well your honour, l’ve been playing this game called Cops ‘n’ Robbers. . . . It sounds like yet another storm in a tea-cup.

One other thing : if you fancy a free Split Personalities poster - an A3 version of the early Splitting Images advert - then send an SAE to Domark and they will gladly send you one, stocks permitting. There are only 500, so you’d better get a move on . . .


Issue 19 - November 1986

Issue 19 Cover


In only 19 issue ZZAP! has risen from cult obscurity to become the biggest selling Commodore magazine in the civilised World. Naturally, we're all very pleased - and I hope you are too, since it wouldn't have been possible without you, our readers. I would like to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you - and the best way I can do that is to keep up, and hopefully improve, the quality of the magazine.

Software Houses have realisied that we're the best and so they are supporting us with more advertising. This means that as our sales grow, so does the size of each issue. But the editorial content won't falter. We'll strive to ensure that.

As you may have noticed, this issue is a monster 148 pages thick and includes the usual host of goodies, with a bumper news section and a double D dose of tips - the cup is certainly running over!

And the best is yet to come! The next two months will see newsagents' shelves groaning under the strain of heavyweight 196 page issues, boasting even more reviews, previews, news, features and competitions than ever before!

We're still on the up and up. Stick with us and help us rise to the heights. . .

Gary Penns Signature

Issue 20 - December 1986

Issue 20 Cover

Picture of Sean

(. . .I aIso buy Zzap!, but I really hate reading it . . .)
Careful with that axe, Eugene. . .

(. . . I burnt it with the compost from the garden. . .)
Careful with that axe, Eugene. . .

(. . . Zzap always goes for gross covers. . .)


As you may have noticed (unless you always turn to this page first), this issue of ZZAP! has undergone minor cosmetic surgery. We thought it was time we made a few changes, so this 'new look’ will develop over the next month or two into a full face lift (no jokes about dimples or beards, please).

Rockford CryingThe biggest change of this month however, is the departure of Sean Masterson, who has hung up his well-worn helmet and is leaving to fight his battles on pastures new (in a corner of some foreign field that is forever England). Sean joined ZZAP! in August of last year and soon proved his worth on the Strategy front with his vast wargaming experience. Despite being constantly jibed about his diminutive size, he frequently contributed to various reviews and features - most notably the Infocom and Datasoft interviews. But now he’s gone (sniff). So, as of next month we won’t have a strateyy column - but don’t depair, we're working on the problem even as I write.

Hopefully these small changes won’t affect your enjoyment of this Liddonesque (that’s B-I-G for the uninitiated) December Issue, full of well-crucial competitions and exclusive reviews and previews of new software (I won’t bore you wtth trite details about how many as-yet-unreviewed games we’ve got in this issue). And next issue will be bigger and better still! (See page 71 for details). With that said, I shall depart. See you next month
Gary Penns Signature

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