Commodore Format 22, with Robocod and Hover Bovver on the Power Pack.
- This issue had no subscriber’s newsletter
- Read the accompanying Power Pack feature
Andre Aggasi triumphed at Wimbledon this month, and a wincing look at his hairstyle from that day is a sobering reminder of how long ago CF now is. With the benefit of time, we can look back and say that the magazine was now in the middle of a hugely golden era: third editor Trenton Webb‘s Commodore Format was a joy, and a lot of it came down to consistency. You always knew where to find your favourite section each month, and the way that the elements were pulled together for each month’s covergame – often with a feature, review and demo on the tape – gave the C64 a monthly event.
July 1992’s lead game – Robocod – was a great example. Inside info from the game’s coders spilled over from issue 21’s preview into this month’s review: James Leach (staff interview here) revealed that the guys who programmed 16-bit Robocod had told the C64 crew that the platformer couldn’t be done on an 8-bit micro. But Data Designs thumbed their noses and achieved something incredible: C64 Robocod is the whole thing. There are ten massive, multi scrolling levels with the backgrounds ported directly from the Amiga. They’re laden with thousands of collectables and secret rooms, often accessed by extending The Cod’s body many screens high to reach a ledge. Add in the real-world inertia, cute animation and dozens of enemies and the only thing you’re left raging at are the truly dreadful puns.
INTERNET BEFORE THE INTERNET
Commodore Format had spoken about getting online with a C64 as far back as issue one, but the prohibitive cost of a modem and the eye watering expense of phone calls put the hobby out of reach for most kids. CF revisited the topic in practical fashion this month, explaining exactly how you hook up your C64 to the world. Except it all feels a bit halfhearted: the article can’t really say for sure where you can buy a modem, and with them costing “up to £800” and no fewer than four disclaimers reminding parents of the cost of phone calls, the article feels more like it should be in one of those dry American mags for “serious” users . The one point of interest is that writer Bones says cyberspace is changing and moving towards being a place to make friends and chat. This is some 15 years before Facebook!
JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS
The ninth European Football Championships were happening in Sweden this month. Denmark were the surprise winners, but perhaps more eyebrow raising was the prospect of a C64 conversion of popular arcade cabinet Euro Football Champ. Its beefy sprites, speech and “special moves” (it wasn’t really a very serious football game) didn’t feel like they’d convert to the Commie, and it turned out to be the case: what we got instead was a very familiar looking top down football game exactly as we’d seen a zillion times before. The 76% review was tucked into Commodore Format‘s football themed special at the back of the mag: the roundup of games is a reminder that the sport never got a truly authentic version on the Commodore, but it’s fun to look back and see the state of some of the player’s haircuts (and oh, those shorts!). By far the best C64 football game is, surely, Microprose Soccer. The forefather to Sensible Soccer on the Amiga, it was re-released to tie in with the Euros this month too. At a budget price of £3.99, it was unmissable and fun precisely because it didn’t try to emulate footie properly. Roger Frames’ 82% score is as stingy as his attitude to money!
Ex Zzap! writer Gary Penn had been dropping a few brilliant features on Commodore Format since it launched (“it as just to give us some gravitas”, launch editor Steve Jarratt told us), with this month’s three-page long read being a look at what happened to the greats of the C64 era. Sensible Software, Martin Galway, Chris Butler and more are included but you can’t help but laugh by the end of the piece. What we end up with is a list of each programmer’s games and an observation that “they’re on the Amiga now” almost every single time. Maybe this one sounded better when it was pitched; and anyway, it was far too early to be doing retrospectives. As this month showed, the C64 was alive. CF
ON THE POWER PACK
The first chance to play covergame Robocod was here on tape 22, and although it was a bit limited you could still collect stuff and extend that famous body. The famous tune was there, too! Jeff Minter classic Hover Bovver was there in full, giving kid’s who’d been too young in the ’80s a chance to mow lawns and run away from next door’s rabid dog. Agent Orange was a cross between a shooter and a, er, farming thing (it makes more sense if you load it up), and the package was complete with level one of Codies’ platformer DJ Puff, which rated at 88% this month. There’s a full feature on this month’s tape here.
- More issues of CF
- Commodore Format 22 is dated July 1992. It first appeared on Thursday June 18th.