For me this is probably the least interesting CRASH cover, and certainly a disappointment from Ian Craig after the previous month's. The dynamics work well enough but the definition of both craft and explosion is poor; it is hard to see where you are or what is happening. The illustration, of course, relates to FTL's game Lightforce.
With the departure of Tony Flanagan there was another shuffle as Lee Paddon moved over from AMTIX! to CRASH. Lee had joined Newsfield some months earlier from the magazine Your Computer to act as the AMTIX! Software Editor - not that there was a lot of good software to be concerned about. We seemed to have moved into that strange post-PCW Show period when there ought to be lots of games released but software houses are still fighting to get their product completed.
Gargoyle Games's new FTL label kicked off well, however, with Lightforce, bemusing everyone with the fact that it was a hard and fast shoot-'em-up in the Xevious vein rather than a complex scrolling graphic adventure. 'A chance,' said the Smash review, for 'mainstream arcade entertainment,' unfortunately forgetting that that was exactly how Gargoyle Games had started out three years earlier, with the 3-D shoot-'em-up Ad Astra. And Lightforce's graphics strongly resembled Ad Astra.
Quicksilva's Glider Rider was an odd case; the 48K version of this 3-D forced-perspective road game got 80%, but the 128K version soared to 92%. The real difference seemed to be the sound. And sound was only one of the problems faced by Digital Integration's TT Racer. It lost favour for being too much of a simulation and being too difficult to play.
But there were two more Smashes. Napoleon At War from CCS excited Sean Masterson, and the game with the silliest name ever - Fat Worm Blows A Sparky - earned Durell some extravagant praise for the 'stunningly original' solid 3-D graphics and its wormy animation.
There were enough disappointments for several issues, mostly in the budget range, where there was hardly anything of Quality (apart from a few games on Mastertronic's M.A.D. label). Following on from the previous month's release of Knight Rider came another Ocean game 18 months late - Street Hawk. Again the difficulties of developing the game shone through, though it did slightly better with 68%. Another tie-in proved a letdown: Asterix And The Magic Cauldron from Melbourne House. Heavily pushed as their big Christmas game, it was so bug-ridden that playability was irrelevant. The big arcade conversion was Dragon's Lair, but Software Projects's problem in reproducing anything of the original's video-disk graphics - largely regarded as the only really interesting element of the arcade machine - let it down dismally on the Spectrum.
Gremlin Graphics fared far better with their Spectrum version of the Commodore 64 hit Trailblazer and it was a creditable and addictive game which just missed being a Smash at 88%.
We featured an interview with programmer Don Priestley, a man with possibly the longest Spectrum track record; but from a historical point of view it was the interviewer rather than the interviewee who was noteworthy. Bill Scolding had been the editor of Sinclair User and taken that magazine from a strong position to the leading place till CRASH overtook its sales. Bill never seemed to have borne CRASH any hard feelings over the previous year's verbal war - so when he resigned from Sinclair User earlier in 1986 he had come to Ludlow to help out for a few weeks with editorial, leading to his ex-colleagues ringing him at home with a cheery 'Morning Judas'. Sticks and stones etc...