SHOW NOTES by Piper
Since we have a reputation as the most up-to-the-minute disk
magazine around, we thought it would be a good idea to send
someone to the PC Show in London to see what's happening on the
Four days of wandering around the exhibition hall at Earls
Court can do very strange things to your brain, especially when
there's so much to see. It seems that the computer industry is in
a new up-phase, there's a lot of optimism around and plenty of
new companies springing up, usually with well thought out
products. There's no way to tell you about everything in one
article, so I'll just jot down a few points worth remembering in
no order whatsoever.
Possibly the most interesting thing, since it affects all
prospective ST buyers, is the drop in price of both the ST's, by
100 each, and the inclusion of a TV modulator with the 1040, an
excellent move for those buying a mono monitor who also want to
play games. The NEW new TOS should be available around Christmas,
and there are rumours of a new graphics configuration for the
Logotron are kicking into high gear after their successful
"Quadralien" game; they now have two new releases for the Amiga
and the ST, Star Goose, a vertically scrolling kill-'em game
played on a rolling landscape, so you can go up and down hills,
and Star Ray, one of the most impressive horizontally scrolling
games I've seen, with full parallax and seven different
landscapes to survive. Visually excellent, review soon.
Kuma are ready with K Spread 3, and they've finally got rid of
the flimsy packing and moved up-market with a nice plastic
folder. The products have always been good, now the packaging is
starting to match it. K Spread 3 should be everything that anyone
could possibly want with a spreadsheet program, based on the
reactions of people to the already popular K Spread 2.
GST have upgraded their enormously popular First Word Plus to
First Word Plus 3. Most menu commands are now available from the
keyboard, you can print without first saving, restyling is
automatic if you select a style for a block, desk icons can be
moved around, the file size is now limited only by the disc space
and lots of other things. Review soon. Also on display was the
new Data Manager Professional, a relational database which has
grown out of the widely acclaimed Trimbase program and the lower
priced Data Manager, always good value, now half the price.
Psygnosis, with the delectable Angela (it was worth visiting
the show just to finally meet her), were showing off their new
and soon to be released batch of games, which were up to the
usual Psygnosis standard - what more need be said. Chrono Quest
is a fully icon driven adventure in which you have to find a time
machine to prove that you didn't kill your father. Very large,
very complex. For those with less intellectual tastes, there's
Menace, sheer mayhem from start to finish and well executed, if
you'll pardon the expression. Aquaventurer is coming soon and
looks likely to be worth the wait.
Novagen were showing off the progress so far on the follow up
to the best-seller Mercenary. Called Damocles, it has you
scouting around a star system and dodging various nasties and
inconveniently placed planets in solid 3D graphics - gone are the
days of the wire frame. They're hoping to have it ready for
Christmas and are re-releasing Mercenary to whet your appetites.
Level 9 have two new releases, Lancelot and Ingrid's Back. The
first is released by Mandarin and features a cash prize for
whoever can work out how to get it (clues are in the game). It's
based on the Arthurian legend and tries to follow it as closely
as historically possible. Said to be the only adventure where the
hero has a bastard son, goes mad and ends up as a bishop.
Ingrid's Back is the follow up to Gnome Ranger, and Level 9 says
that the background characters now really are characters for the
first time, treating you differently each time they see you and
generally getting on with their own lives.
Software Horizons is one of the new companies I was talking
about. Their first releases, Luxor, Veteran and Mafdet are all
reasonably priced (14.95) and developed specifically for the 16-
bit machines, which shows. All looked nice, and the people seem
to care about what they're doing.
Incentive is not so new, but not that old either. They had
their excellent adventure creator program STAC on display and
were giving sneak previews of their new games based on what they
call "Freescape", which uses solid 3D graphics in very impressive
ways. A demo version of the first game to use it, "Driller" is
available from Cuddly Cactus (Amsterdam 6644022) for fl.10.
Electronic Arts aren't new at all, but they're now taking lots
of companies under their wing for distribution and promotion, so
there are lots of new things coming out. Powerdrome is a car race
around different circuits with the added attraction that these
cars are jet powered and fly. The pit stop sequence is
particularly good, since you get to see, in detail, all the
damage that your careless driving has done as all the defunct
pieces are replaced. Fusion features some impressive all
directions you can think of scrolling as you try to make your way
around a planet generally inflicting damage to whatever you come
across. Something I shouldn't mention, since it's only available
for the Amiga, is Battle Chess, but it's so good that I'll
mention it anyway. Everybody write to Electronic Arts immediately
to make them put this brilliant game on the ST. If you ever saw
the hologram chess game in the film "Star Wars", then you'll know
something of what it's about.
Telecomsoft have a number of newies out, including the long-
publicised Starglider 2, much the same principles as Starglider,
but with solid 3D graphics (where have I heard that before).
Interestingly enough, the game that Starglider seemed to be based
on should also soon be available with the obvious 3D graphics;
Elite finally comes to the ST. Fish is a new Magnetic Scrolls
release in which you play the part of ... well, I'll let you
guess. Whirligig is now out and seems set to take over from the
excellently programmed but incredibly difficult to control Virus.
Probably the most realistic game at the show was by The
Edge/Softek. In Garfield, you have to find as much food as
possible, preferably lasagne, eat it as quickly as possible,
sleep frequently and kick a dog whenever the opportunity presents
itself. Oh yes, you should also try to rescue your girlfriend,
Arlene. If you've got time. Great. They're also going to be doing
a Charlie Brown/Snoopy game, but that won't be until next year.
Alien Syndrome is already out, and Inside Outer should be coming
soon. This seems firmly based on the principles established in
their classic 8-bit game Fairlight as you wander around pushing
things about, opening doors and trying to avoid the Killer
From the Big Boys, Ocean, US Gold and their like, come various
licensed games. Superman looked about ready, Robocop rather less
so, Rambo III made an appearance, and Spitting Image from Domark
should be out now. Coin op conversions were also rife and too
numerous to mention.
Those who've been intrigued by the ads for Microdeal's Fright
Night can stay intrigued for a while longer. All that was
available at the show was a series of example screens, but it's
AB Software, who produced the brilliant - and cheap - AB
Animator program are spreading out. They are working on an
adventure game in which you wake up surrounded by all the stuff
that you've picked up over the years in other adventures, and you
have to put it all back again. Nice. They're also expanding their
education range, now including a speaking clock to teach children
how to tell the time. Also, there's a question and answer game
with a difference: You move around a board, trying to land on the
points squares, by answering questions with multiple choice
answers. The difference is that the questions and answers sit in
a separate folder and can be changed as much as you like. This
means an educational game for the kids, in any language, and a
rather more risque game when they've gone to bed for the adults.
Just don't get them mixed up.
This has just been a sample of what was happening at the show;
just to list all the new products would take too much space, so
apologies to all those people and products I haven't mentioned.
It also looks as if there is now a much greater awareness of
markets outside the UK, so you should soon be seeing more direct
involvement of English companies here on the continent, more up
to date reviews, even some adverts in locally produced magazines,
and there's now much more in the way of multi-lingual packaging.
All in all it looks as if the next few months are going to be
pretty exciting for all us lucky ST owners. Start saving now.