ST/Amiga Format Issue 10

Issue 10 – Download

The World in March 1989
News for March 1989 is somewhat sparse. Time merged with Warner to become Time Warner, George H W Bush banned import of certain assault rifles, and the Exxon Valdes spilled 240000 barrels of oil into the sea. At the oscars, Rain Man won best picture, with Dustin Hoffman picking up best actor and for best actress Jodie Foster won for The Accused. The quality of the competition was poor. The 12 nations of the EC (as it was then) agreed to ban production of CFCs by the end of the century to solve the big environmental scare of the day, holes in the ozone layer.

In film we see Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dani De Vito as Twins holding top spot ahead of Rain Man and Dangerous Liasons, Terry Gilliam’s Adventures of Baron Munchausen pops in at #6 (a film I’ve never seen – I adored his other film Brazil though), and the rest of the chart is pretty uninteresting.

The album chart sees Gloria Estefan on top, deposing Simply Red from top spot, Texas arrive at #3 with Southside (from which the hit I Don’t Want A Lover is taken), Sam Brown holds on at #6 while we have greatest hits from Bananrama and the Style Council and Michael Jackson’s Bad spends its 81st week in the charts. Roy Orbison is not in the top 10. The singles chart too is mercifully free of Roy, with Jason Donovan taking a break from Neighbours to have a number 1 record, followed by Madonna’s magnificent Like A Prayer, a shit charity record at #3, a fantastic Donna Summer hit at 4, the brilliant Stop from Sam Brown at 5, the also fantastic Straight Up from Paula Abdul at 6, then absolute shit from 7 to 10, but overall it’s a good chart with some absolute bangers. Other notables include Guns and Roses with Paradise City entering at 21, We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It with International Rescue (seriously it’s a banger) at 23, and Marc Almond and Gene Pitney finaly heading out of the top 40 at 39 after 10 weeks.

On TV we had the 2nd Red Nose Day, a day on which comedians go on TV and yell at us to give money to charity. Mike and Angelo made its debut on ITV, as did Children’s Ward. March was quiet for new content however.

The Magazine
This month’s issue of ST/Amiga Format gives away a copy of Devpac 1 – an extraordinarily generous offer considering Devpac is the favoured tool of game developers on the 16-bit systems (where one had to program in Assembler to get any kind of speed – C was too slow and BASIC was waaaaaaay too slow). There’s a big feature on computer vision, a remarkable thing to cover considering it’s only in the last few years with the advent of neural networks and machine learning that such a thing has even been possible.

We have a discussion of whether adventure games are dead – of course we all know that adventure games died after the release of Escape From Monkey Island, their corpse occasionally resurrected by Telltale and Wadget Eye for the modern era. In a way the discussion of the dumbing down of games because people only buy flashy graphics is familiar to gamers today and all through history, but I thought it might be a nice read for some here.

This month’s previews include weird pinball-thingy Ballistix (not a wholly accurate description but I’m not sure what would be), a game of the cartoon of Ghostbusters, Blood Money (shooter from Psygnosis), Battletech (RPG), Airborne Ranger, Outrun Europa aiming to right the awful wrongs of Outrun in an ambitious game featuring motorbikes and boats in addition to the usual cars, Millenium 2.2 which honestly I have no fucking idea what it is and Vigilante (beat-em-up).

Missing the cut were yet another strip poker game thistime from Tomahawk, Codemasters with the excerable Advanced Ski Simulator, US Gold’s Human Killing Machine criticised for being too easy (game journalists calling a game too easy????), and Prison. Not an especially distinguished bunch. Controversially Barbarian 2 didn’t make the cut, though that might be becuase there’s a decent selection of games in this issue (albeit they seem to review such a tiny number of games [7 in this issue] – maybe they didn’t have enough reviewers at that time).

Games reviewed this month:
Ultima V (RPG – Microprose – £24.95 – 86% Format Gold)
Populous (God Sim – EA – £24.95 – 92% Format Gold)
Cybernoid II (Shooter – Hewson – £19.95 – 70%)
Denaris (Shooter – US Gold – £24.95 – 83%) – Amiga Only
Titan (Weird Breakout Thing – Titus – £19.99 on ST, £24.99 on Amiga – 79%)
Zak McKracken (Adventure – Lucasfilm – £24.99 – 71%)
Silkworm (Shooter – Sales Curve – £19.95 – 70%)

I’m certainly going to cover Populous, a game of tremendous importance as it invented the God game but also birthed Bullfrog as we know them today (until that point they’d done some mediocre arcadey games but after this they became known for their more strategic releases like Powermonger, Theme Park, Theme Hospital, etc). I’d like to cover Ultima V though I suspect my skills in that area may be lacking and I might not do it justice. I’m keen to try out Zak McKracken as while it’s not the first game to use the SCUMM system (that honour falls to Maniac Mansion) it’s still an important link in that particular chain. I’d quite like to have a look at Barbarian 2 which missed the cut, though I’m aware that 4 games for one magazine may slow output somewhat. Let me know your thoughts guys. These bigger posts take a couple of hours typically, the game reviews themselves are a mixed bag but for instance Populous would take a while to review properly if I wasn’t already familiar with it, Ultima will be a bit of a challenge, Zak should be ok as I’ve played a fair few Lucasarts games over the years and Barbarian should be ok being an arcade game.

Reviews This Month

Review: Ultima V

Ultima V ST Amiga Format Review My ReviewDownload manuals So, reviewing Ultima 5 is something that would ordinarily take a fuckload longer than I have spent on games so far, so this is going to be more an exploration. In a way many of these reviews have been an exploration of how I cope with…More

Review: Barbarian II

Barbarian 2 My ReviewSo I thought it would be worth giving Barbarian 2 a quick look. I would however contend that its best feature is the box in which the game comes, which at least has the advantage of tits. Everyone loves tits. After a bit of loading we arrive at the warrior choice screen,…More

Review: Zak McKracken

Zak McKracken ST Amiga Format Review My Review Zak is the second release from Lucasarts using the Scumm engine, as later found in the Monkey Island games, Sam and Max, Grim Fandango, Day Of The Tentacle, etc. Classics, every one, but this is that rare thing, a Scumm game I’ve never played before. For anyone…More

Review: Populous

Populous Check out that box art – it’s a cut above the standard of the time and really helps the game stand out on the shelf. EA had a budget and could really splash out on quality artwork and marketing. The ad looks pretty damn cool too. It’s all in keeping with the EA house…More

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