Out of Print Archive logo

Back in Time : December 1990

'Back in Time' is a monthly feature where we look back at the classic video gaming magazines twenty years ago this month. This month it's December 1990 when Robocop 2 began patrolling the gaming streets, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles burst onto all formats, Creatures invaded the Commodore 64 magazines and Narc started shooting up a storm on the Spectrum...

C&VG were going Turtle crazy with issue 109. To coincide with “all versions revealed” inside, there was a pack of Turtles movie cards mounted to the cover, as well as the chance to win a turtles coin-op. The first of softco challenges began with a trip to Adleston and home of The Kremlin, Domark’s development team. The challengers included C&VG’s Richard Leadbetter, reader Dave Moore, reader Andrew Butters and John Cavanagh (head programmer at Krelmin). Game one, STUN Runner, proved to be a one man race as John Kavanagh raced to victory with 111,865 (his team converting the game may have helped). Game two, Badlands, was Richard’s game (having reviewed the game last month obviously helped). Escape From the Planet of the Robot Monsters was the third game which was narrowly won by Andrew with a
  CVG 109
score of 13,750.   Klax would determine the triumphant winner and, with two special Klax moves, Richard stormed through with a massive score of 531,120.

Best of the best games reviewed this month included Strider (Mega Drive) and Powermonger (Amiga), which both garnered mighty impressive ratings of 95%. Richard Leadbetter said “that Megadrive Strider is arcade Strider!... You’re pretty much getting three thousand quid’s worth of arcade machine for forty one notes...” On Powermonger, Richard stated that “Populous was ranked as one of the greatest strategy games of all time, but, believe it or not Powermonger simply blows it out of the water.”

Other ‘Hit!’ games this month included James Pond (Amiga, 90%), F1 Circus (PC Engine, 87%), Spiderman (Amiga, 87%), The Secret of Monkey Island (PC, 94%), Indy 3 (NES, 89%), Legendary Axe 2 (PC Engine, 91%), Wonderland (PC, 88%) and Hellfire (Mega Drive, 94%). In the update section (different versions of games already reviewed) included Kick Off 2 (Amiga 1MB update, 96%), Paradroid 90 (Atari ST, 93%), The Spy Who Loved Me (Atari ST, 90%) and Time Machine (C64 & Amstrad CPC both 90%). Arcade games gobbling up Jaz’s coins this month were Air Inferno (88%), GP Rider (90%) and Mega Twins (86%).

The Secret of Monkey Island


The One 27   The One’s coverdisk included a dual format Amiga/Atari ST playable demo of Cybercom III. With Empire’s official Spider-Man game nearing completion, Phil South took a look at the history of the famous super hero franchise. To accompany the Spider-Man article, ‘The One on One’ interview featured the comic book legend Stan Lee.

Sim Earth on the PC topped the games ratings with 95%, beating the nearest rival by a clear 5%. Those games sitting on 90% included Golden Axe (Amiga), Narc (Amiga) and Car-Vup (Amiga).


In ‘Palm Power’, ACE looked at the Game Gear and the three launch games: Columns, Super Monaco GP and Pengo. With no official UK release date announced, ACE predicted that “importers will be stocking up huge stocks of what must be the best value handheld console in the world.”

‘Welcome to Gamesworld’ feature predicted what gaming would be like in 1999 with issue 150 of ACE. In Silicon Strips, ACE investigated the latest batch of comic-inspired games releases.  ‘The Final Assault’ concluded Matthew Stibbe’s mini-series on the design and coding of Domark’s ‘Nam. Elsewhere, Rik Haynes talked to Maxis, the company that gave the world the SimCity...

  ACE 39
Screentest started off on a high with Savage Empire on the PC getting a rating of 955. “As a dedicated Ultima fan,” enthused Steve Cooke, “I have to admit that I’m pretty taken aback by Savage Empire. I’d imagined a rather pale imitation of the previous games but instead Origin have come up with a winner.” However, that rating was nothing compared to the 973 Alex Ruranski gave to Powermonger on the Amiga. Alex said that “Powermonger is in a class of its own. .. A sublime example of the art of computer gaming…” Other ‘ACE Rated’ titles included The Immortal (Atari ST, 910), Wing Commander (PC, 949) and Covert Action (PC, 902). 


Zero 14   The dual format Amiga/Atari ST coverdisk of Zero issue 14 included the full game of Rampage, as well as a playable demo of Simulcra. The main Under Warps article and cover feature was US Gold’s work-in-progress of the Amiga and Atari ST arcade conversions of Line of Fire. Tim Ponting visited US Gold’s headquarters in Birmingham to get the lowdown.

No ‘Zero Hero’ awards given out this month, but there were two ‘Console Classic’ games with Moonwalker on Mega Drive and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Gameboy, getting 91 and 92 respectively. “The game itself is a pretty tame rip-off of the classic coin-op Elevator Action,” the uncredited reviewer stated in the Moonwalker write up, “but there’s a certain something in there that keeps you coming back for more.”

Line of Fire


It was the third issue of Mean Machines and in the regular ‘Consoles We Once Loved’, the crew looked back at the classic Coleco system. With early eighties coin-op conversions like Burgertime, Centipede, Frogger, GORF, Mr Do, Q*Bert, Spy Hunter, HERO, Pitfall II, Miner 2049’er.

Leading the ‘Mega Game’ awards was John Madden Football on the Mega Drive, which scored a fine 95%. Julian Rignall praised the Electronic Arts game as being “the most stunning sports simulation I’ve ever seen!” And it “perfectly recreates all the thrills and spills of American football.” Matt Regan was equally impressed and wrote that it was “easily the most popular game we’ve ever had in the office, and deservedly so.” Other ‘Mega Game’ 
  Mean Machines 3
awards went to Solar Jetman (NES, 94%), Super Monaco GP (Mega Drive,93%), Pang (GX4000, 93%) and Hellfire (Mega Drive, 93%).


Sinclair User 106   Also going Turtles mad this month was Sinclair User with their 106th issue. Not only were the four mutant heroes bursting out from the front cover, but also the main headline proudly announced an exclusive playable demo and the first review. That wasn’t all, as there was a chance to win Turtle videos and T-Shirts as well as a free pull out poster. Cowabunga. Non-Turtles related covertape action included a 128K playable demo of Pang and fully playable games with the likes of Galvan, 10th Frame, Crystal Castles and Blackbeard.

That front cover promise of a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles review turned out to be a 94% rated ‘Sinclair User Classic’ game. Garth Sumpter couldn’t praise the game any higher as he mentioned that the “graphics are turtlely 
brilliant, with colour clash down to a bare minimum and a true depth of gameplay. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles is brilliant.” Also getting the ‘Sinclair User Classic’ treatment was Pang, which came away with an even more impressive 95% from Garth, who described the game as “the future of 128k games on the Spectrum.” And in the Coin-Ops section, John Cook racked up an Addict Factor of 94 for Cisco Heat.


Not to be outdone in the covertape wars, Crash themselves had a pretty impressive bundle of ‘Game Thrills’ bundled on the front cover. Saint Dragon led the way with a playable demo, followed by full games Technician Ted, Virus, Shuriken, but most impressive was Egghead 2, which was coded by one Jonathan Cauldwell. Yes, the very same man behind recent homebrew efforts on the Spectrum.

Shooting its way to the top of the game reviews this month was cover game Narc. The side scrolling arcade conversion from Ocean bagged a ‘Crash Smash’ award with 95%. Nick rounded off his comments by stating that “you can wave goodbye to the boring beat-‘em-up and say hello to the new craze in computer games – gratuitous violence simulator!
  Crash 83
At least it’s all in a good cause…”  ‘Crash Smash’ awards were also handed out to Shadow of the Beast (92%), Kwik Snax (92%) and Magicland Dizzy (93%), which was reviewed as part of the five game Dizzy compilation.


Your Sinclair 60   The Your Sinclair Four Pack covertape included three full games Sweevo's World, Shockway Rider and Krakout) and one playable demo (Shadow of the Beast). Front cover action included Robocop 2 in first review and poster exclusive. The review itself was a mighty fine 93 rating. Matt Bielby commented, “this is about as good as Speccy programming gets, with some very smooth scrolling, nice animation and so on.” Following close behind was Shadow of the Best (88°), Plotting (84°), St Dragon (80°) and Puzznic (86°).

Film and TV licences are everywhere in gaming and YS looked at the best of them. Coming top of the licence ratings was Batman The Movie (90).


With games coverage at a minimum and regular editorial fodder such as ‘Oozin’ Eugene’s Scum of the Earth’, ‘Post Apocalypse’ and various other hip features, YC was never one to take itself seriously and this attitude spilled out into the magazine’s content with reviews and features on comic strips, Quasar light gunning arenas...

The Yoinks-Comic section began this issue and featured stories such as ‘The Secret Origins of Post Apocalypse’ and ‘Oozin’ Eugene: The Beginning (probably)’. These were basically black and white hand drawn two page strips starring YC’s very own Post Apocalypse and Oozin’ Eugene in cartoon form. Games wise, Strider II was featured as the cover review, slicing and dicing out an 89% and a ‘YC Fun One’ award. Also strapped to the front cover was 
the covertape, which included Knightmare, Mobster, Software House and Limbo II. However, it was Last Ninja Remix that stealthily stole the show with a mighty fine 96%. Not bad for a remixed game, eh? Rik Henderson couldn’t hide his praise for the game: “graphics are STILL incredible, and the presentation has been vastly improved – the game’s intro is gorgeous… if you want something more than the average shoot-‘em-up you can’t go far wrong with Ninja Remix.” Also impressive looking were ‘YC Fun One’ games Creatures and Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, with ratings of 91% and 92% respectively.

In “Fists Out For The Lads’, Sean Kelly looked at the greatest beat-‘em-ups on the Commodore 64… Way of the Exploding Fist, Bushido: The Way of the Warrior, IK+, Kung Fu Master and The Way of the Tiger. Rik Henderson took time out from editing the magazine to visit development team of System 3, arguably better known for their work on the C64. As well as getting the low-down on upcoming releases, Rik revisited their back catalogue, including the Last Ninja trilogy, Myth and International Karate+.


Zzap 68
  Front cover exclusive time again, this time Zzap!64 announcing the first review of the cartridge version of Chase H.Q. 2 – Special Criminal Investigation. Also adorning the front cover was the Xmas Megatape, with Tunnel Vision, Rollin’, Hacker II and Connect 4.

Robin Hogg continued to talk to Cyberdyne’s Dan Phillips in ‘Cybertalk: part two’, with discussion on Deadlock being in limbo and Last Ninja III emerging. Other exciting exclusives included the first pics of Turrican II on the Amiga and C64... Frohliche Weihnachten! In ‘Wrath of the Demon’, the programmers of Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace unveiled an amazing new original game. Warren Lapworth went to software house ReadySoft to get info on this impressive looking C64 cartridge game. With 
Creatures finally released, it was the final instalment of Creature Feature – the Creatures development diary.

Receiving the highly coveted ‘Gold Medal’, with an astonishing 96% overall rating, was the highly anticipated Creatures from Thalamus and development team of the Rowland brothers. Robin Hogg praised the game, stating that the “hilarious torture screens rival most cartoons for action, originality and brilliant black humour.” Stuart Wynne wrote that “Creatures is the best original game since Turrican,” while Phil King added that the game was “superbly thought out and slickly executed...”  Games that ‘sizzled’ this month included Chase H.Q. 2: Special Criminal Investigation (C64, 93% & Amiga, 91%), Midnight Resistance (C64, 90%), Puzznic (C64, 90%) and F-19 Stealth Fighter (Amiga, 90%). The Think Tank ‘Sizzler’ was Legend of Faerghail (Amiga, 90%).



On the flash new packaged Commodore Format PowerPack covertape was Split Personalities (complete game from Domark), Spiderman (demo), Badlands (demo), Gutz (complete game), Vidcom 64 (video art package) and Midnight Resistance (demo). The Gauntlet, CF’s gaming challenge competition, was back, and so was Chris Jordan, the reigning champion. New challenger Richard Reynolds took on Chris in a whacky head to head on Monty Python's Flying Circus, but narrowly lost out.

Highlight of the month was Buck Rogers. The Sci-Fi RPG  from SSI/US Gold impressed Sean Masterson, who gave it a rating of 95%, a well-deserved ‘It’s a Corker’ accolade and wrote: “It’s a massive game and it has a massive price tag [24.95 disk]. But it’s very playable and contains 
  Commodore Format 3
enough adventure to last for many months… Guaranteed to give you bags under the eyes.”

Last Ninja Remix from System 3, which is basically The Last Ninja 2, erm, re-mixed, also impressed Steve Jarratt, who gave the game 92% and ‘Corker’ award. Atomic Robo-Kid also garnered a ‘Corker’ award with a 90% rating. Elsewhere, Andy Dyer was going compilation crazy in ‘Bundles of Joy’, reviewing four new packages. TNT from Domark (Xybots, Toobin', Dragon Spirit, Hard Drivin', A.P.B. – 62%), Accolade in Action from Accolade (Blue Angels, Grand Prix Circuits, 4th and Inches, Fast Break – 92%), All Time Classics from Accolade (Serve and Volley, TKO, Rack 'em, Steel Thunder – 70%) and Platinum from US Gold (Strider, LED Storm, Black Tiger, Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Forgotten Worlds – 78%).

Buck Rogers


ACU 73   Amstrad Computer User sported a new look this month, kind of. The logo had been changed and now sported the snappier initials ACU. In Space Froggin, ACU looked at Space Froggy a game designed from the Sprites Alive software package. Both the game and software package were programmed by Glen Cook.

The centre page spread and ‘Amstrad Computer User Gold Award’ went to Subbuteo, Electronic Zoo’s computer game version of the classic tabletop football game. John Taylor gave the game a “Rabbit out of the hat” verdict. Other positive verdicts were given to Deliverance (Thumbs up), Hostages (Pot of gold) and Tie Break (Hot curry).


In issue 63 of Amstrad Action, Rod Lawton spoke to Gremlin's technical chief James North-Hearn about the company's approach to Amstrad graphics and the new console... ‘50 Best Games of the Year’ began with part 1 as Rod Lawton picked out the 50 best games of the year. Standout games from January to June included Ghostbusters II (94%, AA52), The Untouchables (90%, AA53), Chase H.Q. (90%, AA54), Myth (94%, AA55), Castle Master (91%, AA56), E-Motion (92%, AA57) and Turrican (90%, AA57).

Shadow of the Beast dominated the front cover, featured in the interview with Gremlin’s technical chief James North-Hearn and earned an ‘AA Rave’ with 84% in the reviews pages. “Shadow of the Beast is a game we thought we’d
  Amstrad Action 63
never see on the Amstrad,” stated Rod Lawton. “A game with a reputation of being all graphics and no game-play. Well Gremlin has retained its excellent graphics, by Amstrad standards, and tweaked the gameplay to the point where it really is a very good game in its own right.” Meanwhile, other technically impressive 16-bit games, Kick Off 2 and Sim City, made their way to the humble CPC, with ratings of 86% and 82% respectively.


Amiga Action 15   Following last month’s Speedball 2 frenzy, it was Amiga Action’s turn to get some of the, erm, action. The futuristic sports brawler came away with an impressive rating, certainly by Amiga Action standards, of 87%. Steve Merrett wrote “Out of all sports games around at the moment, Speedball 2 has to be the best I have ever seen and there should be no hesitation when purchasing it.” Alex Simmons agreed, stating that “everything about the second version is bigger and better, and I’d even say that Speedball II is by far the best game to appear on the Amiga for a long time.” Only one other game came close, with James Pond getting 88%.


Not much in the way of gaming action in Amiga Format issue 17, either on the coverdisk or in features, but there was two ‘Amiga Format Gold Award’ games: The Killing Game Show and Indianapolis 500. Maff Evans gave the Killing Game Show 92%, stating that “the action is frantic, the puzzles are difficult and it has a hook which could wind in a killer shark. Watch the superb intro, then play the game and be blown away!” Neil Jackson was equally impressed with Indianapolis 500, giving it an equal rating of 92%. “Without doubt, Indy 500 is the best race game money can buy,” wrote Neil. “A realistic, totally believable example of an old idea given new life, it comes as a breath of fresh air in what was a stagnant genre.”   Amiga Format 17


CUAmiga 10   “Robocop 2 exclusive – on disk, on screen and on trial” ran the Robocop special front cover. CU Amiga were going Robocop gaga with a playable demo, plus reviews of the Ocean game, the blockbuster movie, as well as a special behind-the-scenes feature on the making of the movie. Accompanying the Robocop 2 Game demo on the coverdisk were demos of E-SWAT and Lemmings. With a number of comic book licences about to be released, CU Amiga looked at the likes of Ranx Xerox, Spider-Man, Buck Rogers and Rogue Trooper.

The Robocop 2 game itself was considered “a mish-mash of game styles” by Dan Slingsby, but he admitted the game was “addictive and there’s certainly a lot going on.” A final rating of 83% seemed to be a fair rating. ‘CU 
Screen Star’ of the month was Z-Out. The Rainbow Arts shoot-‘em-up hit the mark with a fine 89%. In the Arcades, John Cooke was playing Cisco Heat and rated it 93%.


On ST Action’s coverdisk this month were four playable demos, Defender II, Toyota Celica GT Rally, Flimbo’s Quest and Z-Out. As usual, there was a making of feature for each demo. To coincide with the reviews of three car racing games, ST Action looked back at some of the better ST games in the genre, including Test Drive, OutRun, Lombard RAC Rally, Power Drift, Hard Drivin’ and Chase H.Q.

There was eight A1 rated games in the reviews pages this month. Leading the pack was Speedball 2 with 92%, followed by two racing games Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge and Toyota Celica GT Rally, getting 90% and 86% respectively. The other high rated gamers included 9 Lives (88%), Voodoo Nightmare (85%), M1 Tank Platoon (85%), Atomic Robokid (84%) and The Spy Who Loved Me (84%).
  ST Action issue 32


Sega Power 13   With issue 13, S the Sega mag was no more. The Sega dedicated magazine had now morphed into Sega Power. Although Fire & Forget II adorned the front cover of the revitalised publication, the game wasn’t the highlight of the reviews pages. Beating Fire & Forget’s 82% rating were Populous and Columns on the Master System with 93% each. Populous on the Mega Drive was described as “A wonderfully original and thoroughly enjoyable game to play. You're bound to enjoy playing Populous for a long, long time.”

• Sinclair User, CU Amiga, Computer & Video Games, The One For 16-bit Games, ACE and Mean Machines were published byEMAP.
   Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Crash, Zzap!64 and Raze were published by Newsfield Publication .
   Scans were kindly provided by Mort at The Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Your Sinclair and Commodore Format was published byFuture Publishing.
   Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• YC was published by Alphavite Publications . Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Amstrad Action was published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by mipeha.
• Amstrad Computer User was published by Avralite Publications Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by mipeha.
• Amiga Action was published by Interactive Publishing Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by Galaxy atMagazines From the Past.
• ST Action was published by Interactive Publishing Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• Zero was published byDennis Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.

This is an Out-of-Print Archive feature presented by Nreive ofRetroaction magazinefame.   Special thanks to Andynick atMagazines From the Pastfor providing info and cover scans for several magazines this month.


All the intellectual property rights related to the works presented on this site belong to their respective owners.
This site is strictly created for the purpose of preservation and education.

Follow us on Twitter to get the latest updates as they go live:
Follow us on Twitter