A look at the November 1990 issue of British C64 magazine, Commodore Format.
- This issue had no subscriber’s newsletter
- Read the accompanying Power Pack feature
In November 1990, life in the UK was changing. PM Margaret Thatcher resigned, and Tim Berners Lee produced a formal proposal for something called the World Wide Web. The Channel Tunnel was finished, too, linking Britain with France beneath the sea. Some things never change, though, and our appetite for American cinema was as ravenous as ever: the big movies that month were Home Alone and Predator II.
Commodore Format, meanwhile, was back for its second issue. Having initially shocked the industry by appearing in the first place (“I thought they had to be joking”, said eventual launch staff writer Sean Masterson), Future Publishing’s prediction of a C64 Indian summer seemed bang on the money. This month, there were two new ways you could buy a Commodore C64C. The Night Moves/Mindbenders pack included the computer along with Sly Spy Secret Agent, Night Breed, Shadow Warriors, Midnight Resistance and a bunch of puzzlers. Meantime, the comical C64GS had been officially launched at the Earls Court CES show, with Commodore Format still full of optimism for a console that resembled an oversized Fisherman’s Friend. The infamous C64-without-a-keyboard (you just stuck games cartridges that also worked on any other C64 in the top) had initial support from Ocean and System 3, and this month’s Mighty Brain revealed that almost everyone else wanted a slice, too. Titus were keen to put Dick Tracy (haha!) onto cart, and there were also planned versions of TurboCharge, Stunt Car Racer and Kick Off. In fact, none of them would appear. The GS saw just 27 titles in total, of which only 9 were exclusives. The machine was a confusing offering and quickly sank, selling under 30,000 units. We’ll come back to the C64GS in later installments of Issue Review, but for now you can read our chat with Mevlut Dinc who’s very entertaining on the topic.
THIS MONTH’S BIG GAMES
The month’s cover star was Rick Dangerous, who was back for his second game. That was supposed to be on cart too, by the way. It was another no-show, but the cassette version of RD2 was hardly a disappointment. The man with the hat battled through four colourful platform levels, starting in London’s Hyde Park. It’s a sort of cartoony Indiana Jones and utterly wonderful. The game’s review is an early example of CF’s commitment to explaining and not just describing games, with a large boxout walking you through essential parts of level 1. Ace, and a reminder of how different Commodore Format set out to be.
The other big double page spread this month was devoted to the hugely popular Midnight Resistance. It’s a fairly straightforward arcade conversion where you walk right, shoot things, walk left, shoot things, walk up a bit…and shoot things. But the scale and atmosphere of the game is immense: huge helicopters swoop overhead as you flamethrow your enemies (if you’ve bought one at the inter level shop, that is). The action is thick and fast, compounded by one of the most thumping soundtracks you’ll come across on the Commodore. The crashing, opening bars of level 1 still tingle the spine 25 years on, and with Midnight Resistance still gaining new fans after two-and-a-half decades, the 80% CF score feels ungenerous.
It’s a one-off bone of contention in a blinding, 100-page-thick issue, though. CF sticks to Future’s Format magazine blueprint again for its second month, with a rich range of feature writing. There’s an interview with LucasFilm games, where – incredibly – the last paragraph appears to let slip plans for the new Star Wars trilogy. The first will be in May 1997, apparently (close enough – Ed). Elsewhere, Jon Bates explains how to make music on your C64 by linking up a keyboard, and Damian Noon rounds up the best educational software. Best, though, is Phil South’s look back at the history of the Commodore. It’s perhaps the first time newer C64 fans would know of the ridiculous “portable” SX-64, and the naffest ten games is a treat. Great stuff. Has anyone ever played One Bite Too Deep? You can now if you want.
If you get emotional and all “lost youth” about these sort of things, CF2 is a bit “something in my eye” to read these days. No doubt it will fire off many happy memories for any C64 fan that flicks back through the quarter-century-old pages. The machine was still on fire in November 1990, with more games than there were pages to review them in. And after a few years with no decent dedicated magazine to read, Commodore Format was cleaning up. Good, good times. CF
ON CF SMASH HITS 2 (WANT THE FULL ACCOMPANYING TAPE FEATURE? IT’S HERE)
The famous covertape wasn’t called the Power Pack yet. You can read about CF Smash Hits Tapes 1 and 2 – and why they didn’t have a box! – here. As for the games themselves…first up, there was Pig Tales, a sort of “create a magazine” sim which was actually CRL’s Oink renamed for some legal reason or other. Lords Of Chaos was a playable demo of Blade Software’s tactical RPG-er, and The Blob was pretty much Pacman. There was another full game to round things off: Empire was Firebird software’s mash up of Elite and Asteroids, and quite fun. Not exactly the sort of classic tape CF would become famous for – but in November 1990, the covermount wasn’t the big selling point it eventually became. Better than a smack in the face with a rolled up Your Commodore, though. (Again, read our full feature on tape 2 here! – Ed)
- More issues of CF
- Commodore Format 2 is dated November 1990. It first appeared on Thursday October 13th.