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© Niklas 'Tanis of TCB' Malmqvist

PUBLIC RELATIONS, RAVISHING REDHEADS AND SAVAGE STRESS
by Richard Karsmakers

Friday the 7th of July was to be the most hectic day in the
whole quest, if I now think back of it. This was a day that was
organised by Barrington Harvey (a Public Relations Agency, ED.) -
all we had to do was pop up at 10 AM.
We called them just before that time from the Hotel Lobby while
waiting for the taxi, to tell them that we would probably half an
hour late or so. The receptionist didn't get any answer; the
Barrington Harvey people weren't yet in, probably.
No problem. When they were too late, they surely wouldn't mind
us being too late, either.

Barrington Harvey wasn't awfully difficult to find: Bowling
Green Lane, in which their offices were, was just opposite the
building of the "Guardian" - and you'd have to be blind to miss
that. But it still took well over a quarter of an hour to cover
about a mile because the taxi driver didn't know where it was (he
didn't even appear to know where the "Guardian" building was!).
Due to a minor mistake I gave the man £10 and told him to keep
the change (thinking of the fact that it really costed £4, this
made the tip a bit on the hefty side).

10:26

We have just now arrived at the third floor of Finsbury Business
Centre, 40 Bowling Green Lane. We went to the receptionist and
she told us that neither Nadia Singh nor Simon Harvey of
Barrington Harvey were yet in - the phone still didn't reply.
So in that case, there was surely no problem because we were one
hour late.

Richard

10:32

We have found a means of keeping ourselves at least partly
occupied: A truly ravishing redhead that is working in the
receptionist office. She is really incredibly beautiful, very
well made up, and very sexy as well. She looks a slight bit like
Kate Bush (maybe because of her red hair and long purple-lila
skirt) - but much better.
Just now, she laughed - though not at us. When I asked for a
payphone earlier, I already noticed that she had amazing brown-
greenish, hard eyes.
At least, this makes the waiting time bearable to us.
(Around this time, I also saw someone vaguely familiar walking
in, wearing a long light raincoat. Something told me this was
Nadia Singh, but as she looked at us and didn't react, I supposed
immediately it wasn't her and continued gaping at the ravishing
redhead)

Richard

11:18

Finsbury Business Centre surely is a busy place. Lucky for us,
the 'restaurant' was fully functioning so we had the ability to
order some drinks and some sandwiches as to supply us with some
decent breakfast after all.
Again, the sandwiches were littered with tomato and salad.
Bwaargh!
But you have to do something to remain alive.
Couriers in soaking wet rainsuits walk to and fro, still wearing
their motorcycle helmets and a portophone, leaving wet trails of
rainwater on the floor.

Richard

11:50

The same girl I had seen earlier (the one I had suspected of
being Nadia Singh) comes out of her office, sees us, and nearly
faints.
"My God," we hear her exclaim, "they have been sitting here all
the time already!"
It's Nadia.
We cannot do anything else but nod, take our bags and follow her
to her office. It's a really small office, maybe 4 by 6 metres.
Everywhere are posters of the games they've done the PR for, and
it's indeed just about the smallest office I have seen up to now.
We take some quick pictures there, and are immediately directed
to go to Grandslam.
Before we actually left, Nadia gave us £10 for taxi expenses. We
didn't know it, but we would need every penny of that money today
- and even a pound or so more!

Richard

12:05

In a London Cab, no. 10246, on the way to Grandslam - 12-18 Paul
Street, London.
When we parted from Nadia, we told her that she shouldn't be too
hard on the receptionists - especially not on that ravishing
redhead as we considered her to be rather gorgeous.
At least, it is dry now.

Richard

12:24

We arrive at Grandslam. It's a nice office building in a not too
busy street, and we are immediately treated to some nice and cool
apple juice as the Grandslam receptionist girl tells us to wait a
while until their Software Development Manager, James Poole,
comes to our aid.
The office is segmented by portable walls, and everywhere one
can see posters of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the "Hunt for Red
October" game, and more.

Richard

James Poole arrived within a couple of minutes, and he took us
to a small room with an ST system proudly standing there. He sat
down after introducing himself, and started demonstrating (and
playing) one of the latest Grandslam releases, "Thunderbirds".
After doing that, he showed us two more games that Grandslam
wasn't yet sure to release - asking for our game player's
opinions.
The first of them was "Bouncer", by Chris Rowett. It was a nice
game on which you bounced a ball over a platform in 3D (looking
from the top), with holes in it, specific tiles, etc. It also had
a construction set built in. There wasn't any music in it, yet,
and the 'parallax' background was stars only. It didn't look too
good, but had 49 levels (at the moment).
The second was "Terry's Big Adventure". That appealed far more
to me, also because it reminded me of good old "Great Giana
Sisters" (but "Terry" scrolls well), which I had really liked and
played a lot. The characters and the objects were a lot smaller
(probably 16x16 pixels), there are lots of bonuses, cute
graphics, puzzles to be solved - you know the job. You have to
collect mushrooms and get to the end of the level. You can throw
rocks or use your jojo (which has a true flightpath). It looked
very nice indeed, even though there was no music in it, yet.
This is the kind of game that could do very well when Jochen
would write the music for it. Grandslam where thinking about
doing some Japanese Rock type of song for it.
We left Grandslam at approximately two o'clock, after James
promised to put us on the review list and we demonstrated some
demos to him as well (some Lost Boys stuff, the "Union Demo",
etc.). He complimented us on our English, and told us that he had
but little knowledge of other languages other than English. He
did tell us, however, that he knew how to ask girls whether they
were using contraceptives in several other European languages.

14:02

We are again sitting in a London Cab, no. 1042, and we have just
finished at Grandslam. We are now heading for Mirrorsoft, where
we should arrive at 14:30 - right according to appointment.
That would then actually be the very first company we would
visit exactly in time!

Richard

14:33

We can't get lucky, can we?
We are now sitting in a light blue London Taxi no. 9634, on our
way to the new address of Mirrorsoft. In spite of the fact that
Nadia had only called them this very morning, they had still
supplied us with the OLD address that we arrived on exactly in
time.
The warden of the building told us that Mirrorsoft had now moved
from Shoe Lane to Stamford Street. So that's where we're heading
for now. It's on the south side of the Thames, and it's called
Irwin House.

Stefan

15:21

I guess I really lost my temper again - and my patience. I think
I also almost went into a braincorrupting argument with Stefan.
We were dumped in Stamford Street by the cab well before three
o'clock, and we still didn't know where to go to. There was
supposed to be an 'Irwin House' there, but we couldn't see it
anywhere.
Had the warden also given us the wrong address?
So I started looking for a payphone.
There were three to be seen.
Er.....
All three were occupied.
I got really angry - though I don't really know why. Time was
ticking on and every single person occupying those booths seemed
to have a pretty good time while I waited impatiently.
Finally, one of them put down the horn. I rushed in and called
Mirrorsoft.
"But you have to go to Southwark Street," a girl told me through
the phone, "it's not far."
She explained to me how to get there. It sounded pretty simple.
But, as you could have guessed, we got lost again. She had told
us to take the first road to the left with traffic lights, and it
turned out that we had to go straight ahead. She also told us to
cross the river, which we turned out not to have to do at all.
Are the English so stupid or am I becoming senile?
We entered Irwin House at a quarter past three - almost two
hours late, and not because of our own fault. And it had started
to rain a bit again.
We were met by an extremely hurried Tom Watson, Marketing
Manager of Mirrorsoft. He had to go to a quick meeting and
'wouldn't be five minutes'.
So we're waiting now, while reading some of the leaflets lying
around, as well as some computer mags.
It's a nice office, and everyone's wearing ties (except for the
girls, of course).

Richard

After waiting well over half an hour ('won't be five minutes'?
Indeed!) we were met by Darren, Product Development Assistant. He
was probably even younger than us, and took us too an office deep
down in the building, where he demonstrated some of the
forthcoming Mirrorsoft games to us.
He started off with "Bloodwych", which he continued calling by
its apparent working title - "Crystal Maze". Next came the
"Falcon" mission disk, for which you'll need the original game.
Then came "Xenon II - Megablast". We had been waiting for this
all the time, and originally it was not to be demonstrated
because the demo only worked on 1 Meg machines (don't worry - the
finished version should also work on less memory). So Darren had
to arrange a MEGA ST - we were too eager to see this just to
allow this to slip through our fingers. Too bad we weren't
allowed to take a press copy of this demo home...
After "Xenon II", Darren showed us "Interphase". A game that,
according to the leaflet, is set to redefine ANY vector graphics
game standards available. As we had seen "Hawk", I was very
sceptical. I was stunned to see that "Interphase" comes VERY near
to it.
The last games we got to see were a tennis game called "Passing
Shot" and a game called "Phobia" - the latter already being
released (a full review will follow in ST NEWS Volume 4 Issue 5).
At about five, we got to see Tom for a couple of seconds. We
took some quick pictures (for which he had barely enough time to
adjust his tie) and made sure he would put us on the review list.
After that, we left.

Thunderbirds

"Thunderbirds" is a very nice game. It's a platform-puzzle game
based upon several episodes of the famous "Thunderbirds" series
(the series with the talking puppets in a science-fiction
scenery). The game consists of four independent games - and at
the end of each previous game you get a password that enables you
to continue on that next level next time you start.
We know the passwords, but James told us not to reveal them.
Ha ha! As we aren't the types to break our words, we indeed
won't.
He showed us all four games completely, so that we got a very
good impression of what the game was like.
The graphics are good and highly detailed; the sound is very
good as well (done by Ben Daglish). The game is supplied on a
single-sided disk, but extra digitized sequences are included on
the second side as a little extra for people that have double-
sided disk drives (good thing, Grandslam!). There are two
characters you have to control, and in some of the more intricate
puzzles in the game that have to really interact in order to
allow the player to solve anything.
The graphics for each of the levels are totally different, and
so are the plots. In level two, for example, you have to raise a
sunk submarine and de-activate the nuclear reactor (hint: Don't
take the wrong credit card), whereas the other levels are totally
different.
The game costs £24.99, and for that you get two disks, a poster,
and a music cassette (original theme music full length version).

Bloodwych

Although heaps of reviews have already appeared in the press
(especially the UK press), "Bloodwych" is still not yet ready.
It's a "Dungeons'n'Dragons" type game that bears quite some
resemblance to everyone's favourite, "Dungeon Master".
"Bloodwych", however, is a two-player split-screen game. You have
to form yourself a party that has to perform certain tasks
(finding spells, etc.) in a large maze. Instead of in a dungeon,
"Bloodwych" is set in a castle.
Along the way, you will encounter and can interact with some
strange beings. Some are extremely hostile and must be
annihilated of the quest is to be successful. But other
inhabitants of the castle are friendly and will offer invaluable
help in fathoming the mysteries of "Bloodwych".
A nice touch about the game is the forming of your party. You
can ask people to join, boast, smalltalk, bluff, and more. I
suppose this game will be a worthy game to play since "Dungeon
Master II" still lets everybody waiting (due for launch through
Mirrorsoft by the end of August).
It will be published on the Imageworks label and will set you
back £24.99 - available in the first week of August.

Falcon Mission Disk I

This should be released by now - the middle of July was its
release date.
It's a lot faster and more involved than the first missions: The
individual missions are connected, and it's really quite
difficult as well. The demonstration of this disk was rather
tedious and Darren apparently wasn't much of an expert on this
game, so I am afraid I can't say much more. The scenery looks
good - with lakes, trains (which can move), power stations,
refineries, landing craft, etc. Landing is easier now.
Seems to be a pretty good bargain for the "Falcon" addicts.
Launched under the Spectrum Holobyte label, the mission disk
costs £19.99 - which I personally find rather much. Mirrorsoft is
thinking about releasing one disk in about every three months, as
to increase the value for money of just one simulation.

Xenon II - Megablast

To be launched by the latter half of August at £24.99 on the
Imageworks label, "Xenon II" looks set to beat every other
vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up on the market. A whole drawer
of new words and superlatives has to be opened to describe the
INCREDIBLE graphics, the AWESOME animation, the HIDEOUS
difficulty, the ENORMOUS monsters and the VICIOUS appeal that
radiates from this product.
Though we could only see (and PLAY) a demo which formed level 2,
we were flabbergastingly flattened by what we saw. Everything
moved smoothly, there was impressive parallax scrolling PLUS a
scrolling starfield, and just about the smoothest animation you
ever saw. Many objects (200 or more) could be seen on the screen,
mega weapons, zapping action...everything. And no slowing down in
the action.
There are six sectors to clear, which will all have different
graphics. It is possible to interact with each of the three
scrolling layers to assume incredible 3D reality.
I think "Xenon II" will be the shoot-'em-up sensation of the
decade. It's just GREAT beyond any greatness. It's OUTRAGEOUS
without exaggeration.
Preview rating: Graphics 10, playability 10, sound not yet known
(not in demo, but David Whittaker will be doing it), hookability
10...even value for money 10! And it's just programmed by two
people of the Bitmap Brothers.

Interphase - Edge of Dreamtime

Written by Adrian Stephens (who also helped out with "Carrier
Command", so Darren told us), "Interphase" is a 3D vector
graphics game to be launched on the Imageworks label; price and
release date yet to be announced (though I guess the price will
be £24.99). Its speed comes very near to what we had seen one day
earlier - "Hawk". There's only a lower rate of frames per second,
so it seems. It has very good depth shading, and all sounds are
samples.
In "Interphase", you are visualising the inside of a futuristic
defence computer of a large company. Remarkably, the game is also
one of the first to use circles and ellipses (speaking of
parallel development!).
It's 3D is very good. Lots of objects are still being developed,
and that's why a definite opinion about this game is still
difficult to form.

Passing Shot

Would this be the first good tennis game on the ST?
Maybe.
This game offers you a top-view of a scrolling tennis match with
remarkable 3D of the ball as it comes towards and moves away from
the imaginary 'camera' in the air. It's a Sega arcade conversion,
and is thus very likely to do well - as most conversions seem to
do. While serving, the graphics are displayed in true 3D - from
the back of the player.
It's quite playable and the graphics are moderate. It will be
launched on the Imageworks label; price and launch date to be
announced. No sound was yet implemented in this demo, either, and
there were some bugs in the ball movement and such.

Phobia

"Phobia" is a game entirely written by software veteran Anthony
Crowther - the guy who started Gremlin Graphics with Ben Daglish,
a long time ago now.
It's a horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up that brings the
player through various phobia: Insects, claustrophobia, fire,
death...even dentists.
The idea is good, and the game itself is technically good, too -
though it is very hard and thus hardly playable. The graphics
and sound are also well above average.
At £19.99, "Phobia" is not too bad a game - but it is surely not
worth to stand in the shade of a product as excellent as "Xenon
II" which we saw earlier. But it's nice blasting.

Disclaimer
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.