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A VISIT TO THE BIG ONES - U.S. GOLD AND OCEAN
by Richard Karsmakers

Thursday, July 13th 1989

08:50

It is strange but true: When I arose from my bed at Steve's
place just now, I felt happy and AWAKE! This is strange indeed,
for nothing particular has happened during the night and today
we're just going to visit some software houses - which isn't
particularly as much a thrill as visiting someone as immensely
famous as Pete Lyon, yesterday.
But I guess I'm lucky then. I feel just great.
I am now sipping some of the tea that Steve put here (he's been
doing that every morning...cheers!).
I slept like a corpse. Richard is still lying pathetically in
his sleeping bag and he just told me he hadn't slept particularly
well - hayfever coughs seem to have been bothering him a major
part of the night, but I didn't hear none of them.
("Suck my motherf@*king d*@k..." Richard quote - slightly tired)

Stefan

08:58

A short survey of doorknobs.
All doorknobs in Steve's house are strange.
There's an ingenious lock on the bathroom door, but it's
strange.
The tilted stairs are strange.
Everything is strange.
I've got a slight headache. Yesterday's headache went during the
day, but I am afraid this one's a toughie.

Richard

10:00

We seem to be making a habit of this: Each time when we leave
Mrs. Bak alone to do the dishes of a grande English breakfast on
our way to visit someone it is 10 AM.
We are now on our way to Steve's office (which, by the way, is
in a village called Ripley - as in "Alien"), where we will meet
Steve's graphics artist - Chris Sorrell. After that, we will go
to Birmingham to visit U.S. Gold.
Before we left, I had a call with Mrs. Ellingham (wife of Mr.
Les Ellingham, publisher of "Page 6" - now "New Atari User"
magazine - and English distributor of ST NEWS) to tell her that
we wouldn't be coming tonight like we had agreed before. We would
simply be too busy and we still had to interview Tim. We would
simply arrive in Stafford too late.
Alas! Pity.

Richard

10:15

We stopped at a store to get some Coke for us and cigarettes for
Steve. The weather is nice and warm; the sky is blue and the sun
is yellow and shining enthusiastically.
The Ghettoblaster is once more spilling forth Metallica music -
as is the wish of Mr. Karsmakers. The windows of the car are
again either blatantly open or comfortably ajar (ahem).

Stefan

A couple of minutes later, we entered the new office above the
used cars lot for the second time. Chris and Tim were there, and
when we entered Steve immediately went to talk with the latter. I
went to Chris and we had a look through some of the graphics he
has done uptil now.
Chris is only seventeen years old, and a heavy metallunatic
(he's into bands like Anthrax and Iron Maiden). I suppose he's
the youngest person yet that we have met on our quest (very
likely to be the youngest of the whole quest, too).
The graphics for "Hell" (or "Dante") are very good, and he also
showed me some stuff I hadn't seen earlier, on last Monday
evening. They are impressive, though it barely suffices to say
this. He also showed us the title picture he did for "Spitting
Image" on the Amiga (which wasn't included on the ST). This is
really mindredefining - even better than the TV series!
Chris, however, is thinking of programming more rather than just
doing graphics. We'll see.

10:51

Back in the car, heading for the motorway that will take us to
Birmingham.
The sun is gaining power and is attempting desperately to make
us feel hot and weary.

Richard

11:50

We have arrived at the offices of U.S. Gold in Holford,
Birmingham. It is an office almost just as impressive as that of
Electronic Arts (of course, nothing can beat THAT), and the car
park is filled with Ford Scorpios, Porsches and sporty
Mercedeses. There's only ONE modest car to be found in the middle
of it all: A Ford Escort (Steve's).
We located U.S. Gold's office amazingly fast - maybe due to my
formerly hidden and thus completely unsuspected talents with
regard to reading maps - in spite of the fact that Holford
Business Centre is completely wrongly mapped on the "Birmingham
A-Z".
We gaze awkwardly at the cars and realise that there's big money
here. I suppose that's what you get with all those licenses.
Loadsa money!

Richard

12:00

We've been in for a couple of minutes, waiting for a guy that we
needed to meet (who made the appointment with Steve).
He's not in, and chances are small that he will be in AT ALL
today. But they told us that we should try again in an hour, and
they also told us that there was a nice pub up the road where
they served good food. We should go there and have lunch while
waiting.
Strange.
But I don't think we really objected to suddenly having this
possibility of eating thrown at us - for we (at least, Stefan
and I) are always rather hungry.
The reception hall of U.S. Gold, by the way, is excessively
decorated with all kinds of framed awards ("Best Game", "Best
Design", "Clive Awards", etc.). It looks rather impressive, but
one of them sounds very impressive and has the initials
B.A.L.L.O.C.K. (so Steve noticed).
Ahem.

Richard

12:10

We've arrived at the pub, the "Hare and Hounds", unscathed. We
immediately went to the bar to order food and drinks.

Stefan

13:10

Back at U.S. Gold after filling our tummies with sandwiches and
some regular food (beans, peas, some hot pie).
Boy, the bitter at the "Hare and Hounds" is the worst I have
ever come across! Yuck! It was really awful, enough to turn one's
stomach...
We're waiting, again, for the guy hasn't turned up yet.

Richard

After waiting a bit more, the receptionist told us that the guy
we needed would most likely not be in today. She would direct us
to Bob Kenrick, Production Manager, and "he wouldn't be a
minute."
So we waited about ten (rather long) minutes more before Bob
came down and guided us to what I suppose was the marketing
department. Bob was a really American type of guy (though he was
actually English, I suspect), and initially he didn't strike me
as being a particularly friendly person - maybe because he also
regarded us with some mistrust and suspicion since we were so
young and casually dressed and still claimed to be writing for
three major magazines.
Later, he became more comfortable with us and turned out to be
an OK guy.
We were taken to a place where currently someone was giving a
demonstration of the adventure version of "Indiana Jones and the
Last Crusade". This guy surely sounded as American as you can
get, and with interest I listened to what he said of the game. As
it turned out, there will soon be TWO games called "Indiana Jones
and the Last Crusade": An adventure game in the style of "Zak
McKracken" and an action game of which we still don't know much.
Both games were made by Lucasfilm, and it soon dawned upon me
that the man talking there with the heavy American accent might
indeed be an American - and that he might indeed be connected to
this illustre and notoriously famous company formed around
special effect specialist George Lucas.
To which company he indeed turned out to be connected.
When he was ready with talking about "Indiana Jones and the Last
Crusade", we were introduced and he turned out to be Douglas
Glen, Director of Marketing of the Game Division of Lucasfilm
Ltd. He came from San Rafael, California, U.S. of A.
It was pure coincidence that this guy was in - without his
presence, this would probably have been the most boring visit in
our entire quest. Now, it wasn't boring at all!
He was constantly accompanied by a rather gorgeous female with
fawnen eyes and likewise curly hair, who upon introduction turned
out to be U.S. Gold's European Product Manager of the U.S.
Licensee's Division, Susan Baker.
Yeah. The software industry is surely a nice place to roam in.
After this introduction, we got a European exclusive (first
ever!) view of a revolutionary new adventure called "Loom".
Impressive.
Next, he demonstrated a sort of sequel to "Battlehawks" (which,
quote, "has been a real big hit in the States"). This was also
the first ever demonstration to the press of this game, which
will be called "Their Finest Hour - The Battle of Britain". He
also mentioned a U.S. Ace and a Japanese Ace getting together for
the original "Battlehawks" to increase the reality of the game.

At just before three o'clock, we left U.S. Gold and went in the
car to visit Ocean Software - at an approximate two hours' drive
to Manchester. Douglas ("A very interesting person." Stefan
quote) even invited us to come over to Skywalker Ranch if we
would ever decide to come near California - which surely Stefan
will remember once he gets there as he plans to visit the States
again next summer.

15:28

We just passed a large sign which read "A500".
Yuck.

Stefan

15:33

We are standing in a traffic queue. I just mentioned the fact
that we might not be at Ocean in time, as I suspect they will be
closing at about five and Tony Emmett (the person we'll want to
meet) will then be gone home.
And then came this. A traffic queue.
It doesn't appear to be very long, though, so I'll keep my
fingers crossed.

Richard

15:41

A fire engine came by at dazzling speed, and we earlier already
saw an ambulance rushing over the hard shoulder of the motorway.
There seems to be pretty much goin' on, but it's not yet within
sight.

Richard

15:46

Passing the scene of the accident. Some eye witness news:
I can't see anything. There's some minor problems. There's a
police Jaguar, a car with a dented front with a guy looked at it
rather sadly. Another car...and another car....and another car...
all dented.
("A minor skirmish." Steve quote)

Richard

16:15

We have just visited a place where we bought some Peppermints,
Coke, chocolate and icecream. Now, we are standing at the side of
the motorway, where Steve is desperately looking through the
"Manchester A-Z" in an attempt to locate Central Street - the
place where Ocean's Ocean House is.

Stefan

Even after taking a minor wrong turn which set us back about
five minutes, we have arrived in time at Ocean - two minutes to
five!
Steve surely gave his car a firm beating and we were there in
the nick of time. Again, my formerly hidden talents crept to be
visible and allowed me to read the map and get us to the very
centre of Manchester very fast. We just parked the car somewhere
and went looking at Ocean House.
When we found it, only mere seconds later, it didn't turn out to
be what you'd expect to be a building where a computer software
company resides. It's quite high, quite old, quite red-brown, and
quite filthy.
But we went in anyway, listening to the call of hot software
that seemed to pull us upward into the office.

Tony Emmett, International Sales Manager of Ocean, hadn't left
yet - so we were right in time for talking to him.
Most Ocean 16-bit programs are nowadays programmed in France -
that's where "Dragon Ninja" and "Operation Wolf" came from. At
the moment, someone's also working on "Operation Thunderbolt" -
which is a 3D in-the-depth version of a similar game.
Tony immediately started talking about their first forthcoming
release (released now already, ED.), which is "New Zealand
Story". A very nice game indeed, with aspirations to beat
Firebird's "Bubble Bobble". Before Christmas, they intend to
launch a Volleyball game (no name yet; end of August), a Football
game (no name yet, either; early September) and "Batman The
Movie" (September). Since, according to Tony, "people tend to buy
what's on top of the charts at Christmas", they are also
concentrating on getting out seven games at that time: "Ivanhoe",
"The Lost Patrol", "The Untouchables", "Operation Thunderbolt",
"Cabal" (his nothing whatsoever to do with the Clive Barker
book), "Chase HQ" and a Flight Simulator with no name yet.
Their latest games include "Red Heat", "Dragon Ninja" and
"Robocop" - and "Robocop" was banned by the Children Council in
Germany (even before the Amiga version was launched - which was
at the very moment being made by Peter Johnson). It's now in the
gallup charts for at least 21 weeks...
Tony complained about the fact that Ocean is now located in such
a small office - too small for their current operations, at
least. "No conference room, a lot of noise, not enough space.."
Tony sighs, "and I think the people who own this building want us
out as well. It's a religious building and they object to some of
the games we produce, like 'Operation Wolf' and the like."
Ocean now rents the cellar and the second (top) floor. Their
warehouse is a mile away, and they will soon be moving 'down the
road', maybe in autumn.
Virtually all Ocean programmers are in-house, because, according
to Tony, "you can get a better feel of how programs are being
made." Tony feels that the best games Ocean ever did must be
"Arkanoid", "Robocop" and "Operation Wolf" (in that order). The
bottom three are some he doesn't like personally - games like
"Daley Thompson" ("it sold well, has good graphics, but does
nothing for me"), "Where Time Stood Still" and "Red Heat"
("though I don't like to say this"). It's just not his scene. He
also hates racing games.
We continued talking about the subject of censorship.
Tony: "I think it's spreading. Now, it's mainly Germany, but
Sweden is also forming a problem. A hint of censorship is already
present in Norway. An MP in British Parliament recently actually
raised a question about this precise subject. Holland will
probably be one of the last ones."
("You can't be too choosy when you've got Amsterdam!" Steve
quote).

Tony then gave us a guided tour through the Ocean office. There
wasn't exactly much to see on the top floor, except for the art
department where Ocean does all design of manuals, posters,
advertisements, packaging, etc. It breathed a very professional
atmosphere, and is lead by a guy called Steve Blower.
As we walked into the art department, which was rather small
indeed, our sights were struck so that we felt crushed and
suddenly found it hard to breathe.
We beheld a female that looked as impeccable as one can possibly
imagine - like she was a product of her own artistic talents,
directly created from a beautiful painting and made up in the
most perfect way. She looked almost unrealistically pleasing to
the eye - and that at the end of a working day! On top of that,
she was extremely tastefully dressed; her eyes glanced at us
casually as she told us what the Art Department generally did for
Ocean.
Oof.
Even Steve could be seen having to swallow a couple of times.
Stefan and I exchanged looks as we went downstairs to the
cellars, where the programming department was located.
They were locked behind a sealed, white door - completed by
means of a security lock with key code. After Tony entered the
code we were admitted to some steep stairs that seemed to vanish
in the darkness.
After a couple of seconds of descending, we looked around in the
programming department - real dungeons painted white, even a
quite elaborate complex in which we could easily get lost and end
up dying of starvation.
An original "Operation Thunderbolt" machine was standing there,
and we had a quick go at it (two players at one time). It looked
neat - if the game looks anywhere near it, it should no doubt
succeed in selling massively.
We went to a room, even deeper in the white dungeons, where we
met a freaky programmer with lank black hair by the name of Mike
Lamb. He was busy doing the Spectrum version of "Batman the
Movie" (which he programs using an ST). He also does the ST
version, and pointed out an ST system on which "Degas Elite"
proudly showed some of the graphics done by Dawn Drake (who
wasn't there). He played the Spectrum version a bit, and showed
us maps of the mazes and stuff.
When we left Mike's programming room, we went to look at the
sound department. It was a rather small, confided room, in which
dimmed light revealed a couple of keyboards and some computer
hardware. "All music is done here," Tony explained, "except for
the stuff e.g. Peter Jonhson does at home for his own games."
Someone booted up "New Zealand Story" on one of the machines
present there, and we had an eager look of a game that Tony
expected to be just as addictive as "Bubble Bobble".
After that, we got rid of potential claustrophobia by going up
again. We talked a bit about marketing, and Tony surprised us by
mentioning that "if a game is really bad, we don't publish it.
Even if it means we're losing out money."
A grande attitude, if you ask me. "WEC Le Mans" (remember the
adds?) wasn't launched for just that reason, for example.
In his office, we came upon the subject of software piracy. He
amazed us by producing from a drawer two virtually identical
copies of "Operation Wolf". One was official and the other one
was illegal. A close scrutinizing look was needed to tell them
apart. "The numbers they are doing must be making it worth
while," Tony elaborated, "and that's the frightening side of
piracy."
Indeed. It sounded like organised crime to me!
After discussing this and Tony getting some posterware to give
us, we left Ocean. Again, a very interesting visit - more
interesting than we had imagined!

18:29

We've left Ocean, and are now again in the car and heading for
Ripley. There, Tim will be eagerly awaiting his chance to be
interviewed - so that for him the road to international fame will
also be paved with Golden stones.
Ocean was surely a very interesting company!

Stefan

19:30

We've just paused in a village called Buxton, and went to get
some Fried Chicken at a place that's called (how strange indeed):
"Southern Fried Chicken".
The stuff is really greasy but delicious anyway - even though I
failed in spreading my salt evenly and one piece is now quite
salty indeed.
We're now driving down some really nice countryside - some of
the best we've seen up to now. It's a winding road going up and
down some hills through a valley alongside which a rather
impressive little river runs.
The windows are now all blatantly open and we enjoy the feeling
of the wind and the fresh air brushing through our hair and
touching our faces.
Outside, everything is nice and shady because of enormous
amounts of trees (you know...those long tall things made of wood
with sidebranches covered with more or less large, green flat
things people call 'leaves').
I think I prefer being away from the motorway like this!

Richard

At just before nine, we arrived at Vectordean's Ripley office
and could thus finally go ahead and interview Tim Coupe - the
poor chap has been waiting for almost two hours!
Lucky for us, he had spent his waiting time zealously
programming a 2-pixel sine scroller that will be featured in an
upcoming issue of ST NEWS.
But now for the interview.

What's your date and place of birth?
Tim: Eighteenth of November, 1969, in Derby.
How did you end up in the computer industry?
Tim: By playing "MIDI Maze". It was a game of "MIDI Maze" that
started it off. We went around Steve's one night, for a game of
"MIDI Maze", and did that a few times. So I went into programming
for Steve.
What are your other interests besides computers?
Tim: Music - Acid (sorry). You know, the disco stuff.
(I turn away my face, swallowing heavily so that my gullet can't
do what it wants to do with the current contents of my stomach -
so that the fried chicken won't end up all over the floor)
Tim: I also like videos, sport, boozing.
What do you dislike about the software industry?
Tim: Games which are really hyped up. Like "Outrun". The
screenshots in the advertisements were off the arcade machine
stating that it was the ST version, which is not very good. I
also hate software pirates.
What's the best game on the ST, do you reckon?
Tim: "MIDI Maze".
And the worst?
Tim: The worst....the worst...(Steve Bak listens in and starts
moving behind me, making gestures to Tim as if fighting someone
like he's a blocky and woody sprite on the screen, forming the
words "Street Fighter" soundlessly) "Street Fighter" (we all
laugh).
What have you done on the ST up to now?
Tim: "Dogs of War" on the ST, and this one I'm working on now -
"Hell" or "Dante". I used to have an Amstrad, C-64, Spectrum, and
a Video Genie, but I didn't do anything on those except playing
games.
What's your best achievement on the ST?
Tim: Probably "Dogs of War" (smiles).
What do you think of ST NEWS?
Tim: Brilliant. It's just amazing. What else can I say?
OK. A joke. Tell us one.
Tim: This is one that Chris (Sorrell, ED.) told me today. It's
the only one I can think of: What's the first thing that enters a
fly's mind as he hits the windscreen of a car?...."It's arse!"
What car do you drive?
Tim: A Ford Escort.
What tools do you use to program, draw, whatever?
Tim: "Devpac II", "Cyberpaint" and my sprite grabber (home
made). That's about it.
Favourite book?
Tim: I don't read. Ah! No! It's "VIZ", a grown-up's comic ("No
it's not!" Steve quote).
(Tim turns around and takes an issue from a drawer. It looks
pretty hilarious and some bits are slightly naughty and/or
brainmanglingly absurd)
Favourite film?
Tim: (Thinks a long while) I'd say "Young Guns".
What's your favourite food?
Tim: Doner Kebab, pizza and just about anything.
And the favourite drink?
Tim: Cherry Pepsi, and normal Pepsi.
Favourite band, then?
Tim: Well....Jean Michel Jarre.
Who do you consider to be the most interesting person in the
software industry?
Tim: (Smiles while pointing secretively at Steve) Nobody,
really.
What's your main source of inspiration?
Tim: Money.
What's your opinion about software piracy?
Tim: Eh...no comment.
What's your worst habit?
Tim: I bite my nails, though I've been letting them grow a bit
now.

That comprised the interview. Tim was relieved to have it over
with, so it appeared, and next I did a review of "Dogs of War" -
the first ever, mind you, at just past nine PM! A more extensive
review of this product can be found in the upcoming issue of ST
NEWS
.
At a quarter past ten, we were again at the pub we had been in a
couple of days earlier: The "Royal Oak" with the very friendly
elderly landlady.
Steve was soon happily bluffing about being able to write a game
that has no right, left and lower borders, that uses 64 colors on
screen and that scrolls smoothly in sixteen directions (including
the graphics in those borders). He claimed not to bluff,
mentioning that people thought he was bluffing about vertical
scrolling before "Goldrunner" and horizontal scrolling before
"Return to Genesis", too.
Who knows.
I still think he was bluffing - this is surely something I gotta
see before I believe it!
We mentioned the beautifully made up girl at Ocean to Tim, and
Steve also enthused with us. "She's a bonkable female, then?" Tim
commented. We just about laughed our heads off.
The headache with which I had started the day, by the way,
hadn't particularly worn off. Especially in the pub, now the
strain of the day had fallen away and we were laughing merrily,
it seemed to increase its vigour.
I asked the landlady if she might perhaps have some headache
pills, which she was happy to retrieve - she acted like a mother
comforting her little boy as she handed them over to me. This
happened at ten to eleven.

23:35

We prepare to leave the pub. The landlady comes from behind the
bar and gives us a warm departure hug as we leave through the
back door ("I don't get Dutch here all the time, you know!").
My headache has largely disappeared, though I think some heavy
metal music wouldn't be just right to listen to now.

Richard

Friday, July 14th 1989

00:20

I am having hiccups. And we're going to bed.
We're tired, and this will be the last night at Steve's place.
I am tired.
Tired.
Bye.
Goodnight.

Richard

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Adventure Version

Since this game utilises the same user interface as "Zak
McKracken", the resemblance is striking. The graphics are of a
likewise quality and animation is smooth. There is humour in the
game (like there's humour in the movie), and the basic principle
is that you have to solve puzzles - puzzles that are very similar
but not identical to those in the movie.
The game looks to be pretty big, and I think that everybody who
is into Sierra-type games or, more particularly, in Lucasfilm's
"Zak McKracken" game, will thoroughly enjoy this. In this game,
however, you can control TWO characters: Indiana "Junior" Jones
and his dad.
The launch of this game, which is proudly stated to be the
"Biggest Film-Game Tie in History" is accompanied with
advertisements, demos, fancy merchandise and lots more. The
packaging will include a 68 page copy of "The Grail Diary",
therewith adding appeal to the package.
The adventure game should be ready for launch in September at
£24.99. The action game ("four levels, a classic two fisted
arcade game") should be available in August already - at £19.99.

Loom

"Loom" is a fantasy roleplaying game. But is has a different
setting from the others: No Tolkienesk world, no sneaky trolls
and other cliche characters, no stuff hidden all over the place.
The creative brain behind the game is Brain Moriarty, who used to
be at Infocom and did e.g. "Wishbringer" and "Zork". In order to
communicate what this new universe is all about, the game is
supplied with a 30-minute audio-drama - done by the Lucasfilm
Studios and therefore quite impressive. The tape was done on
Skywalker Ranch with Randy Tom (whose got a wall full of Academy
Awards for sound design of e.g. "Star Wars", "E.T.", "War of the
World" remake). Accidentally, the A-side will be Dolby B and the
B-side will be the same...but using Dolby S (!): The first tape
on the market using Dolby's new noise reduction process (which is
thus hereby announced by Lucasfilm).
An interesting sideline. The tape will eventually be done in
German and French as well...
Douglas: "The story: It's a world that is divided into city
states; each with a profession, a guild. There are the e.g. the
weavers, the blacksmiths, the shepherds and glassmakers. And over
the years each has traded with the others. The weavers became
very wealthy weaving beautiful cloth and learned magic so that
they could weave cloth that was able to cure sickness and reduce
pain. So their products were valued, but they were considered to
be sorcerers and prosecuted. Eventually they left the mainland
and went to an island called "Loom".
There they exercised their magic and lived in peace. They
obtained even greater magic and learned to weave colour and light
and time. And eventually they created their great Loom in their
temple: The fabric of reality. And so powerful was this that if
you would pull one thread, you would change the future.
The women of the tribe became barren and one day one of the
women opportuned the elders to allow her to have a child. She was
turned down and went to the temple that night. She wove a little
grey thread into the loom and that became her child, Bobbin.
She, Lady Signa, was banished and turned into a Swan, and
banished to fly around the world. Once a year, on Bobbin's
birthday, she would come and visit him at the island of Loom.
Bobbin was brought up by Hetchel. He was tought a little bit of
magic, and learned that when he would be seventeen, he would go
in front of the elders and the elders would decide whether he
lives or dies.
So on his seventeenth birthday he wants to go to the mountain
where he has always gone with Hetchel but this time he goes
alone. He goes to the top of the mountain and the Swan comes by.
But down in the village something terrible happens. When he comes
back, all the weavers are gone. They've been turned into Swans
themselves by some Evil force. Clearly, the Evil force wants to
take over the Loom and with it the power that the weavers
respected. Someone wants to take control of the world.
So here you find yourself at the end of the audio-drama. You
are Bobbin. You are small. You don't know much magic. You have
the weaver's staff but you don't know many spells. You have to
make your way into the world. You're trying to find the members
of your tribe and save them. Maybe in the course of it, you'll
manage to stop this evil."
The game will have, quote, "top quality music" done by
Lucasfilm Games' own sound department. It will have a new kind of
user interface, that's just based on point-and-click. The
graphics are done by a guy called Mike Ferrari, who, quote, "has
won dozens of awards for his artwork in fantasy and science
fiction". It's his first game. Since nobody told him it's
impossible to do beautiful graphics on e.g. the IBM, he still did
it - even on that machine! The animation will be, quote,
"rewarding and delightful".
The spells you have to learn in the game are randomized every
time you start anew (so no standard solutions....). There will be
70 rooms in the game, which will very often be three or four
screens wide (to there will be about 200-250 screens in the
game). There are close to a hundred spells in it.
"Loom" should be shipping in the States in late September, and
maybe a bit later in Europe. The German and French versions will
take 4-8 weeks longer. And there will be a sequel.
Some tips for the future player: When the dragon comes and wants
to eat off the shepherd's flock of sheep, turn them green using
the spell you have learned in Hetchel's tent! The sheep, by the
way, can teach you a spell to put people to sleep; the owl can
teach you one to look in the dark; and the dragon must be hunted
off his volcano by turning gold into straw and igniting it.
An impressive game indeed.

Their Finest Hour - the Battle of Britain

The game is very similar to "Battlehawks", but is based around
the Battle of Britain rather than the Pacific War. Hitler wanted
to invade England and he used his powerful Luftwaffe to achieve
this goal. The RAF fought back, and they came very close to
losing. They didn't, but only barely.
Hitler turned his attention elsewhere and Britain was saved.
And, thus, the entire war was changed.
That's what the game is all about. A fascinating time.
All four German bombers are represented in this simulation: The
Stuka, the Dornier 17, the Heinkel 111 and the Junkers 88. You
simply have to shoot those out of the air.
The replay option of "Battlehawks" is enhance insofar that you
can now look at any given point in the sky at the replay - not
only from your own view, but also from a further away view (3D).
The replay is done using a VCR mode (including fast forward,
normal speed play, etc.). You can, of course, still look at it
from a cockpit viewpoint. Moving your point of view WHILE viewing
is also possible. The playbacks can also be saved to disks (to
convince friends, etc. of your achievements).

Batman - The Movie

Due for launch in September, I dare to predict that this game
will be the most successful game of all times.
It is totally different from the earlier "Batman", and features
a maze section, a Batmobile section (scrolling horizontally), a
Cathedral section and some strategy elements as well. Gameplay
seems good and the graphics likewise - but the mere fact that the
game is built around a film that did £50,000,000 box office
receipts in 10 days should suffice to make this game a massive
success irrespective of its quality.
Ocean isn't doing much marketing for this one - the film will
have done it all already. This film, by the way, will be launched
at the following dates: U.K. August 11th, Germany October 26th,
France September 13th, Holland October 12th, and Norway in
September (thanks, Ocean!).

New Zealand Story

The first words that pop into mind when looking at this game are
'cute' and 'cuddly'. Like Ocean states: "The cutest game this
side of Auckland - but beware!
Appearances can often be deceptive, as underneath the cuddly
exterior of the fluffy Kiwi (for in the game, you're a Kiwi
called Tiki) lies a deep thirst for vengeance and murder. His
friends have been kidnapped and it is up to him to liberate them
- one on each of twenty levels! Armed, initially with just a bow
and arrows, you must beat the ferocious pussycats, annihilate the
boomerang-throwers, slaughter the bats and starfish and overcome
the main adversaries at the end of each level. It's fun, it's
wacky, it's the deadliest game you'll ever play...and play...and
play...and play.
New Zealand Story. A Wolf in Chick's clothing"
The game, on startup, looked pretty cute indeed. The graphics
are average but extensive, the levels scroll in all directions
and are multiple screens in size, there are lots of bonuses, and
there are really 'happy' sound effects and tunes. Animation is
quite good, and the game looks to be pretty neat.
A full review can be found in ST NEWS Volume 4 Issue 5. The game
is available now at £19.99.

Dogs of War

When looking at "Dogs of War", the first thing that pops into
your mind is the initial similarity to one of Steve's older
games, "Leatherneck". But "Dogs of War" is better, has more
subtle graphics (Chris did 'em), has more different missions, and
scrolls also horizontally (each of the 12 missions is laid out
over 4 vertical and 3 horizontal sections). There are 3 different
sets of background levels (jungle, city, plains) and seven
different sets of enemies. The horizontal scrolling (four planes)
is flawlessly smooth but is based on a trick.
You can play with one or two players (two also at the same
time), and you can now also shoot sideways. There are 18 types of
guns, grenades and ammo you can buy from the money you can earn
being a mercenary/hired gun in each of the mission. You keep all
weapons as you proceed to buy more. Except for one, all weapons
are real - including the mini-gun used in "Exterminator". You get
extra points at the end of each level for the amount of
destruction you've done.
Enormous sprites can be seen moving at times, like tanks. These
can only be destroyed by anti-tank weapons and will have to be
evaded if you don't have that.
There's a trainer word (cheat code word) that has something to
do with the author's name, and Steve told us he would also
include a special cheat that would have something to do with ST
NEWS
that would give you a bonus demo screen.
"Dogs of War" is a typical "There something on the screen; let's
kill it!"-game (this is a Steve quote), and is due for release by
Elite maybe in August.
The game should be accompanied by a very short novel (2 pages,
5Kb) written by yours truly - featuring Cronos Warchild as the
mercenary annex hired gun!

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.