A look at the April 1995 issue of British C64 magazine, Commodore Format.
- This issue had no subscriber’s newsletter.
Karen Levell was – for reasons unknown – away for this issue of Commodore Format, leaving newcomer Rebecca Lack temporarily in the top seat and credited in April 1995 as “editorial controller”. Rebecca was to remain on the magazine as the first production editor in nearly two years, though she was likely a more general and welcome extra set of hands. In late January (magazines are always working two or three issues ahead!), she wrote to the freelancers who now formed the spine of the magazine. The letter included a new “style guide” of sorts, and is another fascinating little glimpse behind the curtain of Future Publishing back in 1995. Note, for the first time ever you are able to submit your work via email:
This issue of CF finally sees it make maximum use of the by-now limited space, with the return of all those little pieces of magazine “furniture” that give it personality: the news and “next month” pages are back (with firm details of next month’s mag, too), and for the first time in a while there’s space for the credits panel too. It feels less like a series of articles stapled together and more like something coherent again – and it’s a good issue to boot.
TELL ME MORE
Grin and repair it showed you how to fix a broken C64. Illustrated by Roger Frames artist Mike Roberts (interview) and written by long time Techie Tips expert Jason Finch (interview), it has a style and swagger about it reminiscent of the Commodore Format of old, even suggesting that you throw your computer into soapy water and leave it on the washing line for a week as a last resort. It’s rounded off with a competition to win some cool stuff to upgrade your computer with – a nice touch. The biggest compliment that can be paid to this excellent piece is that over 20 years later it’s still linked to on forums when people have poorly Commodores.
The positive feel continued with a look at some DTP software from GEOS. To show how powerful it is, Russ Michaels puts his money where his mouth is and creates the Electric Boys’ new C64 catalogue using the very app, with impressive results. Russ returns later in the mag to talk about a new hard drive for the Commie, and whilst it does feel something like an advertorial – after all, the UK distributor of both it and GEOS was his company – it was very interesting to see another bit of serious hardware from America.
IT’S ALL IN THE ATTITUDE
It isn’t all serious, as Andy takes four new SEUCK games for a road test, and then reviews some impressive looking PD demos. Meantime, there’s a renewed emphasis on the future from a magazine which really regains its voice this month. First, a plea for readers who’d like to be involved in an upcoming feature about using their C64 to get online; then, The Mighty Brain bites back against a disgruntled fanzine reader and points them to last month’s reader survey, suggesting that CF has a future which can be improved upon. We’re coming to the last few months of the magazine now, as you’ll no doubt be aware if you have read this far into the website. But what is so notably different between these final months of Commodore Format and those of former rival Commodore Force is that Format never stops talking about the C64 in the here and now; it’s all about new games, new hardware, and not what happened ten years earlier. Over time, that’s been forgotten: CF may have been small in 1995, but it never stopped talking about the Commodore like it was utterly relevant. See you next time. CF
ON THE POWER PACK
The tape takes an upswing this month, with an exclusive outing for engaging puzzler Square Scape 2. There’s also Psytronik’s Sceptre of Baghdad in full. It’s Jon Wells’ C64 conversion of the Spectrum game, and had originally been reviewed in CF a couple of years earlier – ratching up 73% in issue 29 (there’d been a demo in CF‘s 1992 Christmas issue, too). It’s a sort of Dizzy-ish adventure with some nice graphics and sound. It got a re-release via Psytronik in 2008 with a proper box, as the original had only had a photocopied, mono sleeve.
The tape’s rounded off with Stars and Rings, one of the top 20 PD games from back in issue 50. Power Pack 55 is a great effort and goes some way to making the mag a real package and worth the money.
- More issues of CF
- Commodore Format 55 is dated April 1995. The previous month didn’t give an on-sale date again, but it’s safe to say it probably appeared in the third week of March.