• Two full games
  • Part one of Corya
  • One utility
  • One multihack
It says three full games here, but Corya was split over three issues.

Over in our issue 32 feature, you’ll read that May 1993 was the last Commodore Format to use Steve Jarratt‘s concept for the magazine. The redesign was about more than a fresh set of clothes, though. The C64 was – as CF euphemistically called it – “changing”. With fewer games out there, the magazine needed to pivot towards other stuff. The cover tape had already begun to”change”: this month’s offering had a couple of cool games, for sure. But crucially, there was also a specially commissioned utility.


Thrust is a BBC Micro original from Jeremy Smith, the same guy who’d later go on to co-author Exile. Heavily inspired by Atari’s Gravitar, you spin and thrust through a series of 2D caverns in a wire-y spaceship.

It’s not just a pleasant float around space, though. There’s a mission. You must seek out and recover a batch of valuable pods. They’re protected by missile bases, which have to be destroyed.

The game’s a keyboard affair, which is initially a bit jarring but makes total sense after a couple of minutes. Prodding A and S spin you anti clockwise and clockwise. SHIFT is thrust, RETURN unleashes your firepower and SPACE activates a beam or shield. Upon taking control of your ship, you’ll be hit by Thrust‘s money shot: just like in Exile, your ship and pods are subject to gravity and inertia. The resulting feel of this game is stunning.

At first, your task seems easy. On the opening screens you shoot at a sleepy missile base, pick up the pod by activating your beam and then thrust to the top of the screen. Done. The first real challenge is the third cavern. It’s claustrophobic and fiddly to navigate and lifting the pod out of its hiding place is a daunting task. But the satisfaction from using the sensitive controls – from thrusting just enough – will keep you coming back to ace this game. Stick with it over the later stages and you’ll unlock anti-gravity, invisibility and truly master the importance of fuel.

The Commodore 64 version of Thrust was met with universal acclaim in May 1986. Your Commodore gave it a perfect ten, calling it a warning shot to full-price publishers (unbelievably, Firebird were selling this stone-cold classic for two quid). ZZAP! said it was the best game they’d seen in ages (“it’ll keep you glued to the keyboard”). We’ll leave the last word to Eugene Lacey of Commodore User, who noticed that the game was keeping the magazine’s team in the office after work. It was taking priority over the pub. “I am not one bit surprised. Thrust is a sensation”.

PACK FACT: Thrust packs a bangin’ Rob Hubbard theme, too.


This is the first part of an outstandingly told text adventure from Anthony Collins at The Guild. With roots on the Speccy, it’s a dramatic Lord of the Rings sort of thing that begins when a dragon destroys your village and takes off some of its inhabitants to snack on later. CF split the full game in three, with a password at the end of each chunk that you used to pick up the following month.

The Guild proved over and over again that fancy graphics are no substitution for your imagination. To say any more would ruin a beautifully unfolding story which can be played right now in your browser. Go for it, and if you get stuck there’s a solution here.

PACK FACT: Rival mag Commodore Force gave the full version of Corya a glowing review in the same month Format started giving it away in pieces.

“The Guild proved over and over again that fancy graphics are no substitution for your imagination”


You’re a robot in Steel, trundling around a spaceship with a complex defence system you’ve got to deactivate. It’s not an easy task, but you can break things down to three stages:

  • Find each of the eight cartridges on board the ship.
  • “Activate” them at yellow terminals. Once you drop off a cart it takes you to a sub game where you do a ton of extra blasting.
  • Take the activated cart to the cartridge room.

The game takes place across a series of non-scrolling screens that are filled with a never-ending swarm of enemy robots. Contact takes away energy, but that can be refueled at stations around the ship.

Steel is fun – once. There’s no depth, and the gaudy graphics sometimes make it hard to see what’s going on. But it’ll hold you long enough to have laugh, for sure.

PACK FACT: Originally a 1989 Rack-It budget game, it also rocked up on countless cover tapes and disks and, more recently, TheC64/C64 Mini.


Format’s Really Original Sprite Thingy is a sprite editor to be used with a tutorial inside the mag. CF‘s Jason Finch takes up the story:

“I’m really proud of FROST to this day, so hearing it’s still very popular is great news. I tried writing games on the C64 but they were always shit and I was fairly rubbish at gameplay, but FROST was a useful application and I tried to pack as much in as possible. I was always impressed with that amazing bitmap screen graphics package that came out for the C64. The name escapes me now. I tried to make FROST as good as that, but for sprites.

It came about because John Simpson (known in the scene as Bones – Ed) was pitching a bunch of articles to CF about sprites. I don’t think it could have been my idea alone but at some point the notion of writing the best ever C64 sprite editor came up. The trouble was there were a billion different sprite things around at the time and they were all a bit shit. John wanted to call it NASA, Not Another Sprite Application. I wasn’t so keen, that seemed naff from the start. I think his wife, Jenni, agreed with me on that score, which helped! It’s odd to try to think back to how the name FROST came out. I’m pretty sure I came up with it, but it may have been a CF thing. It stands for Format’s Really Original Sprite Thingy. But I can’t believe anyone could’ve come up with the name FROST and then thought about how to make words up to fit it, and I can’t believe anyone would have made up that name and gone “OMG that spells FROST!”.

Anyway, I’m the sort of dumb idiot that thinks up really cool things to do that are usually so big and complicated to actually implement that they don’t ever happen. With this we kind of had to deliver. I remember working endless days and nights to do my bits of code. I was probably a bit of a control freak at the time, so I ended up writing the whole drop-down menu system it used, doing all the user interface code, most of the sprite manipulation code and everything. John wrote some of it for sure, and we shared the meagre amount of cash half-and-half. That was fine, as although I think I did most of it, without John we wouldn’t have had the whole thing in the first place as it was his sprites idea that started it all off.”

PACK FACT: Loads more from Jason here.


This curiosity is a bunch of Warren Pilkington cheat listings previously published as type-ins in the magazine. You pick a game, press fire and then insert the cassette for infinite lives or whatever. The program itself isn’t by Waz, though, and a way better version compiled by Andy Roberts appeared on issue 51‘s tape. You can read about it here.

PACK FACT: The menu code and design was by “Chapter Eight”. A rummage under the hood shows up a message that says Multi Hack was created between the 1st and 3rd of January 1993. A further hidden note says thanks to Waz and gives a contact address of a “Ric” in Nairn, Scotland.


A perfect mix of classic games and cool utilities. Bang on. CF