The World in September 1989
In the UK our ambulance crews went on strike. Meanwhile, the IRA were bombing and murdering as was their way. Nigel Lawson resigned as chancellor, paving the way for John Major to replace him (and of course he would eventually become PM). The recession gathered pace in the meantime, it was expected to be the worst in a decade.
In America George Bush (Sr) proposed to spend $7.9bn on the War On Drugs in his first televised speech – later in the month 21 tons of cocaine and $12m in cash was seized in Los Angeles. Former president Reagan had fluid removed from his brain. Hurrican Hugo hit South Carolina.
South Africa held the last election before leaving apartheid, confirming FW De Klerk’s leadership. In Asia Nintendo celebrated their 100th anniversary, and Vietnam pulled its last troops from Cambodia.
On TV Peter Sissons took over as presenter of Question Time, and there were a number of really important shows that made their debuts that month. We had Challenge Anneka which would run for 6 years and become something of an institution in the UK, while Bodger and Badger would become a kids TV classic, and finally, one of the greatest comedy series in the world would have its fourth series – Blackadder Goess Forth. It finished with something you wouldn’t expect of a comedy show, a proper tear-jerker, as characters we’ve come to know, love and despise, go over the top of the trenches to certain death.
The film charts see Lethal Weapon 2 on top, and a few decent films from the previous month remain in the charts, but there’s not much fresh quality there.
The album chart features Eurythmics at #1 with their last album for 10 years. While it did get to number one, the singles didn’t perform brilliantly suggesting perhaps it wasn’t a classic. The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith made up the rest of the top 3 while the rest of the charts offered little. Max fucking Bygraves at 12 – that tells you something about the British public’s taste.
The singles chart were led by Black Box with Ride On Time at #1, but we also had Richard Marx with the classic power ballad Right Here Waiting and Tears For Fears with the brilliant Sowing The Seeds Of Love. We also had Starlight with Numero Uno which was very much of it’s time but I guarantee it would fill a dance floor now (if we were allowed to go near them anymore). House Music could also be found at #11 with The Beatmasters and Betty Boo. There are some good songs coming up through the charts with the wonderful Pump Up The Jam from Technotronic, Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode, If Only I Could by Sydney Youngblood and Cherish from Madonna (back when she was awesome), while Aerosmith were steadily climbing with Love In An Elevator (songs took a bit longer to work their way up the charts back then).
Issue 3’s theme is violence. At the time the press was in a bit of a moral panic about violent video games, so ST format gave it a bit of coverage. The disk featured Xenon 2 in which you blew up a bunch of aliens so it’s likely they didn’t give any actual fucks about violence.
The news section discusses the new STs appearing at the PC show, with the STE featuring an upgraded 4096 colour palette (vs the STFM’s 512 – though still only 16 on screen at once), a stereo 8-bit DMA sound chip to improve on the STFM’s horrible chip warbles, horizontal and vertical hardware scrolling, a blitter chip and additional game controller ports (which would be on the side of the machine rather than under it – the underside placement meant that one had a hard time getting the plugs into and out of the ports while the idiotic decision to solder them directly to the motherboard meant they were prone to just not working after a while).
More exciting in some ways was the TT, which featured the super-powerful 68030 chip, clocked at 16MHz and packing 2MB of RAM and a 30MB hard drive. The TT had better graphics modes, able to display 256 colours at 320×480 vs the ST’s 16 colours at 320×200, or 640×480 at 16 colours, plus a 1280×960 monochrome option. The STE was intended to be the Amiga-buster while the TT was aimed at business users, but the STE didn’t really have fancy enough graphics modes to threaten the Amiga. The Lynx was expected to hit shops for Christmas.
Microtext offered ST users a gadget to store teletext pages on their Atari STs – surely the most retro thing I’ve said in this entire thread.
We have a review for GFA Raytrace – the ST had raytracing before it was fashionable, though I remember having to leave my machine on overnight to process a single 320×200 image (I recall using something that came with I think issue 8 as a freebie). We also have a review for the Hypercache accelerator board, allowing you to clock your ST to 16MHz by replacing your old 8MHz 68000 with a new fancy 16MHz one. This involves soldering. To be fair, £150 for that probably isn’t bad.
The violence article amusingly predicts the FPS, musing that Operation Wolf is the perfect violent game as “you can see your enemy as you blast him.. to make this type of game better, the display would have to simulate the view taken fromt he eyes of the hero. Then as the gun was drawn level to fire, you could get a full-screen view of the victim’s face. In a perfect world you’d see it crincle with pain and the eyes bulge with fear just before being treated to a liberal spurting of blood.” I’d say the author has some issues.
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Reviews This Month
Xenon 2 ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. This is from Automation Menu 133. The menu has some pretty decent music and a nice piece of art along with the traditional scrolly message. Damn this game makes an entrance. Absolute banger of a tune, not the…
The Games – Summer Edition ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. This is from Automation Menu 148 which consists of two disks (A and B). The menu has some fancy music, and a typical scrolling text which is weirdly polite and helpful. The game itself is…
Castle Warrior ST Format Review My ReviewSo for this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. This is from Automation Menu 124, which also features issue 2’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Castle Warrior opens with a well-drawn loading screen making effective use of the limited ST palette, overlaid with a fairly…