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Back in Time : October 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 November 1990 when Rick Dangerous 2 racked up the ratings and cleaned up all accolades going, Ivan Iron Man Stewart’s Super Off Road Racer continued to outrun the competition, while Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge raced through to take numerous trophies...

With Mean Machines launched as a separate magazine, the console coverage in C&VG issue 107 was merged with the regular computer content. The C&VG crew of Julian Rignall (team leader), Richard Leadbetter, Robert Swan and Simon Hadlington represented the UK as they took on the might of Italy and USA in the International Computer Games Championship. Following bouts of Columns, Test Drive II and E-Motion, the UK team were crowned champions with 15 points, beating nearest rivals Italy by one point. Dragon Breed was first amongst the C&VG Hits this month. The Activision shoot-‘em-up fared well on the Amiga, Atari ST and Spectrum, with ratings of 90%, 90% and 89% respectively. However, the C64 version didn’t fare as well, coming scraping away from the review frenzy with 79%. Klax made it to the PC Engine with a massive 95% rating. Richard Leadbetter described the arcade puzzler as “a pixel perfect

CVG 108
copy of the arcade original…” with “everything that made the coin-op look and feel like an absolute dream.” Other C&VG Hits included Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge (Amiga, 94%), Anarchy (Amiga, 92%), Badlands (Amiga & Atari ST, 92%), The Immortal (Amiga, 93%), Indianapolis 500 (Amiga, 90%), Magic Sword (Arcade, 87%), Mean Streets (Atari ST, 85%/Amiga, 83%), Moonwalker (Mega Drive, 88%), Spindizzy 2 (Atari ST, 93%), The Spy Who Loved Me (Amiga, 91%), UN Squadron (Atari ST, 85%/ Spectrum, 84%), Vaxine (Atari ST & Amiga, 90%), Voodoo Nightmare (Amiga & Atari ST, 87%).


The One 26
In issue 26 of The One, Laurence Scotford visited Renegade Software and its partners-in-crime The Bitmap Brothers to catch up on their latest developments. In ‘Flick Off’ Gorfon Houghton looked at the home computer version of Subutteo, the classic tabletop football game. In ‘Applied Physics’, Gary Whitta visited Image Animation, the country’s top Special Effects company. On the dual format Amiga/Atari ST coverdisk this month was a six-level demo of Car-Vup.

The aforementioned Bitmap Brothers dominated the games review pages with the sequel to their futuristic sports game Speedball. Speedball 2 was bigger, bloodier and brutal. Gary Whitta gave the Atari ST game a multitude of plaudits in his 94% rated write up. Other worthy games were M1 Tank Platoon (Amiga, 90%), 
Nightshift (PC, 90%) and The Secret of Monkey Island (PC, 90%).

Speedball 2


ACE issue 38 and in ‘Brain Burn!’ the team looked at Biofeedback machines as a means of an interface with the computer. Rik Haynes took to the skies to test the latest military simulation called the Evans & Sutherland ESIG-4000. ‘High Noon’ featured the development team of Millenium as Rik Haynes visited them in North London.

Wonderland was still dominating reviews pages across the country with ACE getting their hands on the PC version. Tony Dillon gave the game a rating of 910, stating “as with any adventure, it takes a short while to get your bearings and start making some headway, though Wonderland starts with a bang and once you begin to find your way, nothing can stop you.”

Similarly highly rated was Populous on the Mega Drive. “To

ACE 38
begin with,” wrote Tony Dillon, “it’s all a bit confusing, but it’s an enjoyable learning experience and interest soon sky-rockets. A highly impressive product.” Rounding off the high rated games was Welltris, which made its way to the PC with a rating of 911.


Zero 13

There was a new face in issue 13 of Zero, as Jane Goldman joined Critic’s Corner, knocking editor, Tim Ponting, off the top spot in the team intro’s page, who stepped down voluntarily, of course. ‘Renegade’, software house of the moment, also played host to the Zero crew.

Powermonger on the Atari ST and Amiga was first up in the reviews pages, coming away with a ‘Zero Hero’ 93% rating. Duncan MacDonald described the game as “a must for anyone into sheep, strategy and little Populous men, not necessarily in that order…” Equally impressive ratings went out to Devil Crash and Midwinter for the PC Engine and PC respectively. Indianapolis 500 finished on the Amiga podium with a fine 92%. Trailing not far behind in the points were Saint Dragon (Amiga, 91%), Super Monaco Grand Prix (Mega Drive, 91%), SWIV (Amiga, 91%), 4-D Sports 
Boxing (PC, 90%) and Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge (Amiga, 90%).



Following October’s issue 1, Raze followed that with issue 2, cover dated December 1990. Quite why November was skipped is a mystery. As usual, Raze featured its regular US and Japan coverage of gaming as well as the latest developments in CD gaming.

Screeching onto the reviews pages was the Amiga version of Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge. With the graphics setting “a new precedent in race games, […] sampled speeches,” and excellent playability, Julian Boardman awarded the game a ‘Rave’ rating of 94%. Julian was equally impressed with Loopz, which was also rated 94% for the Amiga and PC versions, with the Atari ST version getting 92%. Similar praiseworthy games included 9 Lives (Atari ST, 93% & Amiga 90%), Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (Game Boy, 93% & NES 87%) and Robocop 2 (Amiga, 91%).

Raze 2


Mean Machines 2  

It was also issue two for Mean Machines and in their second part of ‘Consoles We Once Loved’, the Vectrex is fondly looked at, with classic games such as Rio Off, Armour Attack and Star Trek. The Mega Drive dominated the ‘Mega Game’ awards this month, with three games achieving the Mean Machines coveted accolade. First up was Capcom’s 92% rated arcade conversion of Strider. “You could hear the sound of jaws dropping” recalled Julian Rignall, “an absolutely amazing, truly arcade perfect conversion.” Populous even topped that with a final rating of 93%. “The control system works sursprisingly well on the Megadrive,” noted Matt Regan, “and the game retains all the quality and addictiveness of other versions.” Rounding off the Mega Drive ‘Mega Games’ was Rainbow Islands, receiving an overall rating of 92%. 


Sinclair User Issue 105’s ‘Six of the Best’ covertape included Battle Command (demo), Rygar, Solonon’s Key, Titanic, Colloseum, Tai Pan and Silent Shadow. In ‘Conin ops’, John Cook hunted down the local pleasure domes to find out the latest arcade hits, including Pig Out, Air Inferno, Out Zone and Hammerin’ Harry.

Ivan ‘Iron Man’ Stewart’s Off Road Racer was still receiving the plaudits, this time gaining a award with an overall rating 92%. “The best over-head racing game about,” commented Garth Sumpter, “and a must for all racing fans.” Also gaining ‘Sinclair User Classic’ status was New York Warriors with 90% and despite gaining 92% each, Rick Dangerous 2 and Emlyn Hughes Arcade Quiz did not get any awards.

Sinclair User 105


Crash 82

In issue 82 of Crash, ‘Joystick Juggling’ featured the best joysticks to buy this Christmas. A trio of ‘Crash Smash’ games featured in the reviews section this month. Rick Dangerous II was given 90%. “Graphically Rick Dangerous II is very impressive,” commented Mark, “even though some of the hazards are difficult to see. It’s really very similar to the original — but that’s no bad thing, as it’s one of the most playable platform games around! Ivan Iron Man Stewart’s Super Off Road Racer finished its review race with 90%. Nick noted that “all the coin-op’s addictive gameplay has certainly been transferred to the Speccy conversions, and as always the best way to play is against a friend.” Saint Dragon was given 92% with Nick noting that “As a truly magnificent conversion of the Jaleco arcade machine Saint Dragon is a well deserved Crash Smash.”


Your Sinclair issue 59’s ‘Four pack’ covertape featured Empire, Pool, Rugby and Oink. In ‘The Complete YS Guide to Driving Games’ Jonathan Davies play tested the good and bad Speccy racing games. Reaching the finish line were Super Hang-On (91) and Chase H.Q. (93).

Ivan 'Iron Man' Stewart's Super Off-Road Racer made it three Speccy accolades in a row with a ‘Your Sinclair Megagame’ and 91 rating. “I love Ironman,” enthused David Wilson. “For my money this is one of the most fun games of the year, and the best Supersprint-type game I've ever played (much better than the original was on our rubber.keyed chum, that's for sure). The business, and no mistake.”

Rick Dangerous II matched Iron Man’s feat with its own  

Your Sinclair 59
accolade rating of 90. “I hated the first one. Loathed it. It was just too flipping difficult for me,” admitted Jonathan Davies. “However (and that’s a heavily-emphasised ‘however’), Rick II had me absolutely hooked - I couldn't tear myself away. And what brought about this astounding turnaround? Well, it’s still hard, but I reckon just a teeny bit easier than the first game. Not much, but just enough to keep you coming back for more rather than switching it off in frustration.”


YC 73
On the covertape in YC  issue 73 were a mixed bag of games, including Cribbage Master, Oristal, Scorpion, Fortress, Wabbit, 4 in a Row, Surround and Jetrace 2000. In ‘A Bunch of Old Prose’, Andy Banner went down to Microprose to “dig some real dirt on the company with more labels than releases (probably).”

In the reviews, YC went ‘Fun One’ crazy with no less than seven awards dished out. Topping the accolades was Greg Norman’s Ultimate Golf with a skore box rating of 96. “The graphics are truly gorgeous,” remarked Rik Henderson, “and it is so like the Amiga version in every aspect that you would be mistaken for confusing it.” Similar high ratings went to Summer Camp and Midnight Resistance, both getting 95. Other ‘Fun One’ games included Atomic Robokid (85), Night Breed (87), St Dragon (91), Plotting (92), Puzznic (85) and Rick Dangerous II (91).

Midnight Resistance
Midnight Resistance


In issue 67 of Zzap!64, ‘The Magnificent Megatape’ featured three full games (Zork, Rimrunner and Thunderforce – no, not that one) and 1 playable demo (SWIV). Robin Hogg visited Cyberdyne, the mysterious team behind Armalyte. It was the penultimate instalment of ‘Creature Feature’, the development diary of Creatures. Golden Axe on the C64 stood out amongst the games offerings with a Gold Medal rating of 96%. “Golden Axe was surprisingly successful in the arcades,” remarked Robin Hogg, “and the resulting conversion is slick enough to stand up to even the Megadrive version.” Phil King wrote: “After Turbo [Outrun], Mark Kelly and Steve Crow have done another superlative conversion.” While Stuart Wynne concurred with the praise as he commented that the game “is an audio-visual treat for your C64 and can’t be missed!” Within the adventure confines of The Think Tank, Lords of Chaos dominated with a ‘Sizzler’ rating of 91%.
Zzap!64 issue 67


Commodore Format 2
Commodore Format issue 2’s Power Pack tape included Pig Tales, Lords of Chaos: Escape From Zol (expansion scenario), Empire (a strategy shoot-‘em-up) and The Blob (maze chase game). In ‘Shifty Business’, the forthcoming Night Shift game from Lucasfilm was looked at, accompanied by an interview with Doug Glen of Lucasfilm. The Gauntlet (CF Games challenge) returned, along with reigning champion Kevin Sibley. Challenger Chris Jordan won out in the end, following a head to head on Rainbow Islands.

Rick Dangerous II
featured on the front cover and was given a fittingly impressive review with a ‘Corker’ rating of 94%. Gordon Houghton simply stating that “Rick Dangerous II is polished and it’s playable – but above all else, it’s dangerous.”


In Amstrad Computer User, November 1990's ‘Combat Zone’, John Cook looked at the latest games from the arcade scene, including Racing Hero, Raiden, Dark Seal and Mega Twins. Taking Centre page coverage this issue was Grand Prix Circuit. The racing game from Accolade was given a ‘Pot of gold’ final verdict. “Some of the scenery in this excellent simulator are breathtaking,” wrote Chris Knight in his write up, “although you’ll need to control the cars at first to make the most of the smooth scrolling.” Gaining similarly positive final verdicts were Iron Lord (‘TNT Dynamite’), Twin World (‘Shiny smile’) Skate Wars (‘Hot curry’) and Multi Player Soccer Manager (‘Thumbs up’). 

ACU 72


Amstrad Action 62
For issue 62, Amstrad Action looked at ‘The Magic of the Movies’ and in particular, the Movie licence games that have featured on the Amstrad CPC. Movie games highlighted in the ratings list include Batman – The Movie (90%), Aliens (90%) and Ghostbusters II (94%). A new section, ‘On the Grapevine…’ looked at upcoming games on the Amstrad range of machines, including Switchblade, Fire & Forget II and Pro Tennis Tour. A show report on the Computer Entertainment Show featured upcoming news on games from the top software publishers, including Activision, Accolade, Domark, Empire, Gremlin, Ocean, US Gold, Mirrosoft and Mircoprose.

In ‘Action Test’, Rick Dangerous 2 made Amstrad Action history by achieving the highest rating of all time (at that time and only equaled once since). Coming away with a
massive 97% and a ‘Master Game’ accolade, Adam Waring described the game as “a very polished product indeed,” and wrote that “a tremendous amount of work has gone into the game design, graphics and sound. In essence, it’s a simple platform game, but the way it’s been presented makes it far, far more than that.” Elsewhere, Puzznic, Time Machine and Twin World all received ‘AA Rave’ awards for ratings of 84%, 81% and 86% respectively.

Midnight Resistance
Rick Dangerous 2


Amiga Action issue 14 proved once again that the review crew are hard to please with no games getting over 90%. Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge was the leader of the pack with 88%. “The two player mode already adds to the game’s already high lasting appeal,” Steve commented, “rounding off the best driving game the Amiga has seen for a long, long time.” Alex Simmons added “Lotus Esprit Challenge is certainly one of Gremlin’s finest games, combining stupendous graphics with immense playability.” Doug Johns wrote: “The gameplay is simply amazing and from the second you pick up the joystick you’ll be playing non-stop.” Other games that weren’t too far behind included Cadaver (84%), Rick Dangerous 2 (80%), Supremacy (82%) and Voodoo Nightmare (82%)
Amiga Action 14


Amiga Format 16
On the coveridsk of Amiga Fornat issue 15 was a demo of Captive and various software programs and utilities. Inside the issue, no fewer than four ‘Amiga Gold’ awards were dished out. Distant Armies led the way with an overall rating of 92%. Tim Smith described the game as “a gem of a package. Not only will Distant Armies reawaken tired chess players, it should also create a stir amongst strategy gamers.” Rick Dangerous 2 gained yet another accolade as Maff Evans gave the game an ‘Amiga Format Gold’ with an overall rating of 92%. Maff stated that “even if you haven’t played the original game Rick Dangerous II is well worth a generous slab of any game-player’s time.” Captive and F-19 Stealth Fighter also achieved ‘Amiga Format Gold’ status with overall ratings of 91%.


Following many problems, CU Amiga couldn’t secure the demo of Globulous, but what was there was just fine: demos of Pang, Iron Man Off Road Racer and Crusaders. “Total Recall: Total exclusive!” ran the front cover headline as CU Amiga reportedly had the first Amiga review of the new Arnie game. Despite the hyped coverage, the game received a slightly under whelming 77%. In the arcades section, John Cook rated the best of the coin guzzlers, with Hammerin' Harry getting 93% and Mega Twins receiving 91%.

Powermonger was the main game this month, with a ‘CU Super Star’ rating of 95%. There was a plethora of ‘CU Screen Star’ games including Atomic Robokid (86%), Cadaver (90%), Globulus (85), The Immortal (91%), Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge (87%), Night Shift (86% ), Rick Dangerous 2 (89%), Shockwave (86%) and Voodoo Nightmare (85%).

CU Amiga 9


ST Action 31

ST Action issue 31 coverdisk featured four playable demos of Spellbound, Saint Dragon, Nine Lives and Turrican. Each of the games also had a Making of… article inside the magazine. There was seven A1 rated games this month for overall ratings of 80% and above. The Immortal was immortalised with an 85%, Legend of Faerghail received 82%, Mean Streets managed a mean rating of 89%, Saint Dragon was given an 81%, Falcon Mission Disk II: Operation Firefight was awarded an accomplished 81% and Turrican shot up a rating of 83%.


Issue 15 of ST Format had the usual balance of techie and leisure content. An example of this was shown on the coverdisk, with a playable demo of Atomic Robokid and other programs and utilities. Captive, the classic adventure game from Mindscape, escaped the reviews section with the only ‘ST Format Gold’ award going this month with an overall rating of 93%. Games that came very close included International 3D Tennis (88%), The Immortal (87%) and BSS Jane Seymour Federation Quest 1 (87%).
ST Format 16


S 12
S The Sega mag had reached 12 issues after being launched back in October 1989. The Impossible Mission cover used a clever cinema style credits to highlight the issue’s contents. With its front cover status, it was obvious that Impossible Mission on the Master System was the main highlight here, and with 92%, it was indeed the best game of the month. The review summed up the 8-bit game as “very playable, very addictive, very thought provoking stuff that makes a good change from blasting things. You get a real sense of achievement when you clear out a room and you've only got yourself to blame when you come a cropper.” Truxton on the Mega Drive came closest in the ratings with 88%, while Gauntlet on the Master System managed 87% and Super Hang-On on the Mega Drive got 85%.

• Sinclair User, CU Amiga, Computer & Video Games, The One, ACE and Mean Machines were published byEMAP.
   Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Crash, Zzap!64 Amiga 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 were published byFuture Publishing.
   Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• YC was published by Argus Specialist 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 atAmiga Magazine Rack.
• ST Action was published by Interactive Publishing Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• ST Format was published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Richard Davey atLittle Green Desktop.
• Zero was published byDennis Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• S The Sega mag was published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.

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.

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