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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 October 1990 when three brand new magazine launched, two new games consoles launched, Ivan 'Iron Man' Stewart's Super Off Road raced all over the major gaming formats and Wonderland proved a wonderful hit.

A fresh-faced young Richard Leadbetter joined the C&VG crew for issue 107. One of his first duties was to review six different versions of Ivan 'Iron Man' Stewart's Super Off Road by Virgin, including the Amiga, Atari ST, PC, C64, Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum conversions. Amazingly, every version was rated 94% and given a ‘C+VG Hit!’. However, that wasn’t the highest rating that month as that honour went to Ocean’s Pang on the Amiga. Robert Swan gave the arcade conversion 96%, stating that “both the graphics and sound match the arcade machine pixel for pixel… sound effects are spot on too… These combine with the horribly addictive gameplay to make Pang a really brilliant game.”

Other ‘C+VG Hit!’ games were Cadaver (Atari ST, Image Works) 95%, Super Monaco Grand Prix (Mega Drive,

Sinclair User issue 98
Sega) 95%, Captive (Amiga, Mindscape) 94%, Wings (Amiga, Cinemaware/Mirrorsoft) 94%, Simulcra (Amiga, MicroStyle) 93%, F-19 Stealth Fighter (Amiga, MicroProse) 92%, Splatterhouse (PC Engine, Namco) 92%, Hammering Harry (Arcade, Irem) 91%, Rick Dangerous 2 (Atari ST, MicroStyle) 90% and Columns (Arcade, Sega) 87%.


The One 25
It was the second birthday of The One and to celebrate the team looked back at the history, so far, of 16-bit software. To coincide with the release of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed game, Clive Barker himself was interviewed. It was a very successful month for high rated games this month, with nine 90%+ games. Clear pick of the month was Powermonger on the Amiga by Electronic Arts, which managed 95% and some high praise: “In its quest to create not just a game, but a living breathing world inside a computer, Bullfrog has done a commendable job.”

Closely behind were Battle Command (Atari ST, Ocean) 92%, Wonderland (PC, Virgin Games) 92%, Wings (Amiga, Mirrorsoft) 91%, 4D Sports Boxing (PC, Mindscape) 90%, Cadaver (Atari ST, Image Works) 90%, The Immortal (Amiga, Electronic Arts) 90%, Pang 
(Amiga, Ocean) 90% and Rick Dangerous II (Atari ST, Microstyle) 90%.



In issue 37 of ACE, Rik Haynes looked at the current and upcoming gaming consoles, including the C64GS, Amstrad GX4000, Nintendo Super Famicom, Sega Game Gear, Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo Gameboy, Sega Master System, Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari Lynx.

The first ‘ACE Rated’ game of the month went to Captive, coming away with a rating of 930. The game, developed by Tony Crowther, was originally titled Federation War, but was renamed Captive following an ACE readers competition, which was won by John Millward from Dudley. “Fans of Dungeon Master will find Captive an essential buy,” commented Alex Ruranski in his review. “combining the elements which made the former so successful.”

In ‘Bit Blitz’ a bunch of ACE readers went on the road to 

ACE 37
Mirrorsoft’s HQ to get the low-down on their forthcoming games, including Cadaver, Speedball 2, Duster and… er, Back to the Future II. In ‘CPChoice’ ACE looked at the new Amstrad machines, the CPC 464 Plus, CPC 6128 Plus and the GX4000.


Zero 12

For Zero issue 12, Mike Gerrard play tested Wonderland on the PC and swiftly gave the game 95 and a ‘Zero Hero’ award. “Wonderland is set to knock people’s socks off… so better put some socks on now and be prepared,” commented Mike. “The Scrolls/Virgin team says that if Wonderland is a success, it’s inevitable they’ll want to do the follow-up, Through the Looking Glass. If I were them I’d start writing it now.” Battle Command on the Atari ST and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles on the NES were also given ‘Zero Hero’ awards with 91 and 93 ratings respectively.

The Amstrad GX4000 was featured in a hardware special along with racing game Burnin’ Rubber, which came free with the console. “The GX4000 is unquestionably more powerful than the 8-bit Nintendo and Sega, but that’s about it. At £100 all in, Amstrad’s console is going to sell and sell.
Software houses are familiar with the CPC format, so there’ll be no shortage of good titles. It’s got a good future me thinks.” (Note to self: never try to predict the success of a newly launched gaming console).


The Games Machine may have gone, but, as promised,Razewas here to replace it. Editor Richard Monteiro, along with writers Derek Chapman, Les Ellis, Julian Boardman and Jason Holborn, produced a magazine that dedicated more time to the ever-growing gaming consoles and 16-bit computers market.

In ‘Sheer Dynamite’, touted as the “first computer entertainment magazine to have a regular column,” Paul Rigby checked out the latest CD hardware and games. ‘Entertainment USA’ and ‘Big in Japan’ would keep the readers abreast of the latest developments in North America and Japan respectively. ‘Which Console?’ looked at all the major players in the emerging battle of the gaming console wars. Flight of the Intruder on the PC was undoubtedly Raze’s pick of the month with 95% and 

Raze 1
a ‘Raze Rave’ accolade. “Flight of the Intruder is a tour de force in simulation programming,” enthused Paul Rigby. “The program shows that care and attention had been applied to the project… For the moment at least, Flight of the Intruder is the king of the skies.”

Also ‘Raze Raved’ wasDevil Crashon the PC Engine with 93%,Rick Dangerous II(Amiga, ST, 90% & 91%), Todd’s Adventure in Slime World (Lynx, 92%),Future Basketball(Amiga, ST, 92% &, 89%), Super Monaco GP (Mega Drive, Master System, 91% & 87%). PD Reviews section pick was All New Star Trek on the Amiga from GTS. The PD game was given an impressive 91%.

For the ‘Hot Slots’ column, Suzy Uki reported on the latest happenings on the world’s arcade action. Games of interest included Pigskin 621 AD from Bally/Miday, G-Loc from Sega, Smash TV from Williams, Race Drivin’ from Atari Games and the Mega-Tech system from Sega.


Mean Machines 1  

It finally happened. After many years of having its own section in mother magazine Computer & Video Games, a test run of Complete Guide to Console bookazines and an issue zero, editor Julain Rignall finally launched issue one of a regular monthly edition ofMean Machines. Yes, a completely dedicated console gaming magazine that would cover the likes of the Mega Drive, NES, Master System and the new Amstrad GX4000.

The Revenge of Shinobi was the first game to get the ‘Mega Game’ treatment. The Sega Mega Drive game was given 94%. “An absolute treat for the ears,” enthused Julian Rignall. “Each level is a graphical masterpiece… The sprites are simply superb… All that would be useless without decent gameplay, but Revenge of Shinobi doesn’t disappoint here. It’s a challenging and amazingly 
addictive and keeps you glued to the machine for hours...”

Other ‘Mega Games’ includedWonder Boy IIIon the Master System with 95%, Impossible Mission on the Master System with 94%,Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on the Mega Drive with 92%, Gauntleton the Master System with 92%, Golden Axe on the Mega Drive with 91% and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles on the NES with 90%. Super Mario was riding on top of the NES chart, while Golden Axe topped both the Mega Drive and Master System charts.


Sinclair User issue 104’s Double Hits covertape featured Gift From the Gods and four levels of Puznik. The highest rated game this month was Time Machine from Vivid Images, which was given 90%, although there was no sign of the ‘Sinclair User Classic’ logo. Garth Sumpter described Time Machine as “an absorbing and innovative game with excellent mono graphics… A brain buster.” Other worthy games included Plotting from Ocean with 88% and Monty Python’s Flying Circus with 88%.

Sinclair User 104


Crash 81

‘Game Thrills’ on the Crash 81 covertape this month were Gunrunner (hewson), Supercom (Atlantis), Mango Jones (Psychaedelic Hedgehog Software) and Talking Hedz (Theo Develegas). No ‘Crash Smash’ games this month, with Plotting coming closest with 86%. Richard Eddy commenting that the game is “well presented, graphics are clear and colourful,” which make that game “feel more exciting than many other puzzle games.”


The Spectrum covertape wars was hotting up and Your Sinclair introduced their first ever ‘Your Sinclair Four Pack’ with four games, including Tau Ceti (Virgin Mastertronic), Rebel (Virgin Mastertronic), a playable demo of Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off-Road Racer (Virgin Mastertronic) and Feud (er… Virgin Mastertronic).

In ‘The Complete YS Guide to Flight Sims’, Jonathan Davies named the best… flight sims on the Speccy, with the likes of Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer and Project Stealth Fighter coming away with the better ratings of 92 and 90 respectively.

‘Son of Crap Game Corner’ followed on from last issue’s look at reader games sent in. Highlights for good and wrong reasons were Yet More Advanced Lawnmower

Your Sinclair 58
Simulators and Things by S Young and Steven Anderson with a rating of 5, The Castle of Quizzard Wizzard by Anon with 0 (yes, zero). D Alderson saved further embarrassment with his fine Destrux game and a 93 rating.

The Time Machine travelled back into the pages of YS’ reviews pages and retruned with 91. “I hope you can understand what I've been dribbling on about (unlikely),” wrote Rich Pelley, “but in case you haven’t I'll sum it up in a couple of words. Erm, it’s good. In fact, it might even be very good, and it’s certainly like nothing else you’ve seen before.” Monty Python’s Flying Circus was close behind with 90.


YC 72
On YC issue 72’s covertape were Championship Dominoes, Liberte and a demo of Time Machine. ‘Megablast’ with Sean Kelly guided the readers through some of the C64’s best blastin’ games around. Best of the best included Turrican, Uridium, Delta and Silkworm.

In the reviews pages, U.N. Squadron was given a ‘YC Fun One’ with an overall skore of 87. Rik Henderson said that the “game, although offering very little that is new, is a very good blasty. Now run along and buy it you arcade freaks you!!!” Lords of Chaos was also given the ‘YC Fun One’ treatment with an 86.


MegaTape delights in issue 66 of Zzap!64 Amiga included Foxx Fights Back, Scorpion, Monster Munch and a playable demo of the forthcoming Creatures. With The Games Machine morphing into Raze, and the editorial team based in Trowbridge, Warren’Wozza’ Lapworth became the newsest recruit to the Zzap team. Editor Stuart Wynne evaluated the chances of Commodore’s new C64GS, which was basically a keyboard-less, cartridge based C64.

Once again, the Apex posse reported back from the development of their upcoming Creatures game. But with hot summer days, their Commodore 128 crashing, writing up development diaries, it’s a wonder any work was done at all.

Two Amiga titles were the ‘sizzler’ games this month with
Delphine’s Operation Stealth awarded 92%. The game

Zzap!64 issue 66
was praised highly: “Graphics, Music, FX and animation all wipe the floor with Sierra On-Line’s games. And Delphine definitely beat Sierra at their own game(s).” Venus the Flytrap was the other sizzler with 90%.


Amstrad Action 61
Launched relatively late in the Commodore 64’s life was Future Publishing's Commodore Format. Steve Jarratt (former Zzap!64 and Commodore User writer) headed an editorial team that had a distinct feel of Zzap!64 about it: Sean Masterson (Deputy Editor had written for Zzap!64), Andy Dyer (Staff Writer), Gordon Houghton (contributor and a former Editor of Zzap!64) and Kati Hamza (contributor and former writer at Zzap!64).

The CF Smash Hits tape included Revolution (an unreleased shoot-‘em-up from Simon Pick), Tau Ceti, Rebel, playable demos of Iron Man and St. Dragon. In special feature ‘Gimmer CDTV’ Damien Noonan checked out Commodore’s latest hardware release the CDTV. This was a multimedia system comprising of a CD player, an Amiga 500 with CD drive, an ‘Interactive Graphics Player (so basically an
Amiga with a CD drive).

Steve Jarratt was first to dish out the new ‘It’s A Corker’ accolade following his 91% rated review of Time Machine. “Time Machine is a cracking game,” Steve wrote, “beautifully put together and just dripping with quality. Rush out and buy one yesterday.” Lords of Chaos was also ‘corker’ed with 90%.

“Old computers never die – they just turn into consoles!” began the feature on the C64GS. Phil South went to Commodore HQ to see the new console for himself and speak to Kelly Sumner, Commodore’s National Sales Manager. The first edition of ‘The Gauntlet’, a one-on-one games playing competition between two readers, began with Mark Hill and Kevin Sibley playing Turrican. “The under-dog had deservedly won… Kevin Sibley is the very first Commodore Format Gauntlet champion!”

C64 GS


For the October 90 issue of Amstrad Computer User, John Cook dived once more into the arcade breach to bring the readers news on the best offerings on the arcade gaming scene. New machine, Neo Geo, was praised for its great hardware, but because it was being marketed as an arcade machine, the games come in at around £150 each. Also played this month were Alien Storm, Hydra and Bonanza Brothers.

In the Gameplan section, Escape From the Planet of the Robot Monsters managed to get a Jackpot final verdict. John Taylor said that “If you’re after mindless fun and something that will keep you glued to your screen til the bitter end, look no further than the challenge laid down by the Reptilons.”

Monty Python’s Flying Circus got the centre page spread 

ACU 71
and a jackpot verdict. Chris Knight had heaps of praise for the game: “…plenty of colourful graphics… the sound effects more than live up to the weird happenings throughout what must be one of the most playable games of the year. It’s certainly the most original. Maddingly so!” Other games to get positive verdicts were Vendetta with a thumbs up and International Tennis with Dynamite.

Also this issue, the ACU team looked at the new Amstrad range of machines in the feature ‘Plus Mania’. Guy Matthews spoke with Roland Perry, the man behind the new CPCs. Then the machines themselves were looked at: the cassette based CPC 464 Plus, the disk based CPC 6128 Plus and the cartridge based GX4000.

Power Plus


Amstrad Action 61
With issue 61, Amstrad Action celebrated its fifth birthday with another covertape, including a demo of Iron Man and the complete game of Tau Ceti. The team (editor Rod Lawton, reviews editor Adam Waring, writer James Leach and art editor Ollie Alderton) looked back at five years of AA. And then there was ‘Magmania – the official Amstrad Action board game’, essentially a cut out homemade style game (oh, dear).

On ‘Action Test’ this month was Iron Lord, the impressive looking adventure game from Ubi Soft, which was given a ‘Master Game’ rating of 92%. Brave Sir James ‘Iron-Britches’ Leach said that the game was “fun to play, and wonderful to look at. There is enough here to satisfy the most demanding adventurer, but the game is never dense of impenetrable.”

GX4000 game Fire & Forget II from Titus was given 94%. “It isn’t a revolutionary idea for a game, nor does it have the imagination of many current and recent software releases,” commented James ‘Fired and Forgotten’ Leach, “but it plays beautifully and it looks good.”

Elsewhere, Monty Python’s Flying Circus came away with 84% and an ‘AA Rave’, Satan from Dinamic was given 83% and Skate Wars was given 80%, but no AA Rave? Top of the CPC Gallup charts this month were Shadow Warriors, Turrican and World Cup Soccer ’90.


Issue 13 of Amiga Action contained their first cover disk. Included on the disk were playable demos of Bar Games and The Killing Game Show.

Two high rated games this month, especially for Amiga Action, who have been pretty stingy on the awards in previous months. First up was F-19 Stealth Fighter, which managed 90%. Steve Merrett wrote, “F-19 should appeal to beginners and veterans alike… A classic not to be missed…”, while Alex Simmons mentioned that “with every detail carefully catered for, F-19 is currently the flight sim to buy and must not be missed.”

Corporation was the other 90% winner this month. Michelle Bowden commented that “Corporation is one of the most original and polished games I have played in a long time

Amiga Action 13
and, needless to say, I recommend you enrol for a ZODIAC mission.” And Doug Johns described Corporation as “a brilliant game that will last you for ages…”


Amiga Format 14
Amiga Format issue 14 coverdisk gaming delights included a playable demo of Flip-It and Magnose and a PD game called Girl Actions (a Space Invaders clone and certainly not was inplied in the title).

Operation Stealth was given a ‘Format Gold’ award with 90%. Trenton Webb described Opertation Stealth as “a worthy successor to Future Wars. With the improved Cinematique system, the game flows smoothly, maintaining pace and atmosphere.”

Trenton also gave Supremacy a similar rating of 90%, praising the game’s strategy as being “strong enough to engross even ardent armchair generals, but is instantly playable enough to win over arcade freaks too.”


The October 1990 CU Amiga ‘Disk Action’ coverdisk contained two complete games in Sky Fight (shoot-‘em-up) and Bouncer (Arkanoid style bat game) along with other software and utilities.

Wonderland was given a ‘CU Super Star’ screen award with its impressive 96% rating. Keith Campbell said that “here is an outstanding game that is a pleasure to play, extremely entertaining, and with widespread appeal to gamesters from nine years of age to ninety.” An equally impressive rating of 94% and a ‘CU Super Star’ was given to Wings and a ‘CU Screen Star’ and 86% was given to Captive.

In the ‘Arcades’, Smash TV was given 92%, with John Cook describing Smash TV as “a game with a body count higher than Total Recall and Terminator put together. But it’s

CU Amiga 8
fast, funny, exhilarating, colourful, slick and a lot better than staying in to watch The Price is Right.”



ST Action 30

On The Disk in issue 29 of ST Action was The Spy Who Loved Me (Demo), Super Off Road Racer (Demo) and Ran Xerox (Demo). Inside were two page spreads on the making of each game.

Simulcra from Microstyle was the pick of the A1 rated games this month, with a final rating of 91%. To accompany the cover review of Murder there was a feature on famous murderers! The game itself was given an A1 rating (just) with 80%. Other A1 rated games were Gold of the Aztecs managed 86%, International Soccer Challenge 84%, Rick Dangerous II 82%, Cadaver 85%, Operation Stealth 87% and Battlemaster 84%.


ST Format’s issue 14 coverdisk included Days of Thunder racing demo, Manix and other programs and utilities. Achieving ‘Format Gold’ status this month were Operation Stealth (Delphine /US Gold) with 93% and The Battle of Britain (Lucasfilm/US Gold) with 91%.
ST Format 14


S 11
Issue 11 of S featured only one new game review with Summer Games on the Master System. It was not “the toughest game to have appeared but it's fun to play and will provide a group of you with a good few hours of competitive fun.” However, due to a printing error, the review score was omitted from the pages and the readers would not know the ratings until the next issue (63%).

Pick of the “Past Master” reviews were Shanghai and Thunder Blade, with 91% and 86% respectively. In a special look at Master System light gun games, Operation Wolf came top with 9, followed by Rambo III, Rescue Mission and Shooting Gallery, all with 8 each.

• 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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