A look at the June 1995 issue of British C64 magazine, Commodore Format.
- This issue had no subscriber’s newsletter.
When Commodore Format launched, the calendar may well have clocked over to a new decade but the UK still had feet firmly in the 1980s: Margaret Thatcher was still (just!) the Prime Minister as issue one hit the shelves. By the summer of 1995, though, the decade was beginning to clearly define itself as one of increased pride in British culture, something we’ve subsequently labelled “Cool Britannia”. As issue 57 went on sale, final preparations were being made for the Glastonbury festival that would define the Britpop era. Sheffield band Pulp were the triumphant last minute replacements for a jaded Stone Roses, and Oasis put in the best performance of their career. This was also the first Glastonbury to have a website, which was solar powered from the site: “internet” was starting to become a buzzword, although it did still have to be explained – even in computer mags like CF. Case in point, this month’s Techie Tips:
Getting online with a Commodore 64 had been covered in CF as early as the first issue, but it was very much about bulletin boards and basic email. This was something new: when people said “online” in 1995 they meant the WWW they’d seen on television, not bulletin boards. It was something the 8-bit Commodore couldn’t do, and cemented the machine’s status as a hobbyist’s machine or – less politely – a thing of yesteryear.
TAKE A NOTE
If you’ve been reading this series so far you’ll know that CF had elected to cover the C64 as an enthusiast’s computer rather than anything retro, shunning the meaningless retrospectives and round-ups that the likes of Commodore Force had run in their last days. Issue 57, to the background of Britpop and Toy Story at the cinema, was no different. This month’s Power Pack featured the music utility Sound Tracker 64 and there was an accompanying feature inside to help you make your SID chip sing. It also signaled the welcome return of long-time contributor Simon Forrester (read his interview), who’d stay on the mag now until the very end. If there could be one critique of the slimline CF during ’95 (the lack of pages aside) it’s that a magazine which had built a reputation on its personality had lost so much of it. Simon’s lively, cheeky writing lifted the entire month.
IT’S NOT CRAP
The June cover story, Top 50 PD Titles, actually contains some sobering truths. There had been fewer than 12 new commercial releases in the previous two years, it said, and urged people to look to public domain in spite of its “less than exciting”, “anorak” image. Andy Roberts does a fairly convincing job, flagging up a pixel perfect (and no doubt less- than-legal) Tetris clone and this little beaut called Mission Monday. It’s by Ash and Dave (they of Codemasters classic Slicks) and features music by the legendary Jeroen Tel, proving Andy’s point: it ain’t all dross in PD land:
Alongside the regulars and a look at a database package for GEOS, that’s pretty much June 1995. It’s a slick, well-presented issue with huge variety again even if it’s lacking somewhat in excitement. Next month – to say the least – this would all change. The barely believable was about to happen. CF
ON THE POWER PACK
The two lead items on this month’s tape came from our old friend, Paul Kubiszyn. Here he is to explain: “Colouration was rushed to meet the deadline for inclusion, and as such never quite had the polish of my other games for Commodore Format. I probably spent longer writing the soundtrack than I did coding. Although a mediocre affair in one player, the game did have it’s moments when playing head to head against a friend. The idea for Colouration, I think, came from a paper based game of the same variety. Only a few years ago, I sat down in a restaurant with my children and was amused to find a version of the game on each of our paper table mats.”
“Myself and a friend were also the ones behind the Super Nibbly demo. We imported and sold two games from C.P. Verlag GmbH (if memory serves me correct) under the guise of BIB Developments. We had 250 tapes professionally mastered by Ablex Audio, and sold about 50 of them! The rest apparently ended up in landfill. Commodore Format actually made a mistake calling the game Super Nibbly, which they’d reviewed in issue 48. It was the previous version of the game – Nibbly ’92. Super Nibbly was the follow up which we couldn’t obtain the rights to. At the time, we didn’t see that much difference between the two games and thought Nibbly ’92 was an excellent game in itself. I still stand by that today, I absolutely love the game, even though it can be frustratingly difficult at times!”
The tape was completed with Barbarian clone Slayer of the Damned and Sound Tracker 64 which tied into that month’s music feature.
- More issues of CF
- Commodore Format 57 is dated June 1995. Again, the previous month’s mag didn’t include an “on sale” date, but it will likely have been the third week of May.