THERE SEEM to be a lot of people who reckon that black coffee and hot beans are the complement to Ultimate's return to excellence - Gunfright - thought I, perusing SU (March issue) but where?
Answer; reach for corresponding Popular Computing Weekly and look at the letters ... Sure enough, a more-than-coincidental similarity between the two letters, the other being featured in PCW's Arcade Avenue.
Well, well, well, what have we here? Methinks there is a bad spud in the sack.
My only criticism of Nightshade was that the town was too big, and took too long to hunt through. Coupling a smaller town with a more complex scoring system, leads to faster, more varied gameplay - this is more like it!
• Yes, it's annoying, though hardly surprising, that identical letters be sent to more than one magazine. In this instance the said weakly rag appeared long after our March issue had gone to press. At least we published the Pokes, though.
DEAR Bennett of Southend,
Your letter which appeared in Sinclair User 48 was exactly the same as your letter which appeared in Popular Computing Weekly. Did you send a copy to every computer magazine or just those you thought would be daft enough to print it?
While reading your letter on Gunfright I drank plenty of strong black coffee to stop me vomiting the contents of my stomach (baked beans). I can only presume you had either loaded the free tape head cleaner or that you are just an anti-Ultimate kind of person. If this game had been marketed with the Ocean or Beyond logo I am sure you would have raved about it and it would have been given a five star rating from Sinclair User.
In this letter you say also that the original Nightshade was written by Dare. Don't you mean Rare Ltd?
Thank you Ultimate for another excellent game.
THIS IS in protest at Roger Adlard's letter in the March issue.
Piracy is wrong, everyone knows that.
Gyron, Starion, Elite and Fairlight are reasonably good games, yes.
Action Biker is absolutely pathetic.
Your covers are OK.
Ultimate games are EXCELLENT!!!! (not pathetic!)
Does Action Biker stand among Knight Lore, Alien 8, Nightshade or even Gunfright? Huh, ridiculous.
• Thanks, Nick. I think I know that 'excellent' implies 'not pathetic'. Ultimate games are - or were - pretty good on the whole, but I note that even you refer to "even Gunfright", admitting that it's not quite up to the classic Ashby standard. Fingers crossed for Cyberun.
AFTER READING in Sinclair User the letters written by people who have had problems with new Spectrums, I felt I must come to the defence of Sinclair.
A few weeks ago I was in Dixons and couldn't help noticing a woman with her two sons who were complaining about their Spectrum going wrong. The Spectrum, being their third, had the same fault as the other two. Eventually the youngest of the two sons admitted plugging in the joystick interface while the computer was on.
Not long after, the local TV news had a feature on the same topic. A reporter interviewed a boy who said he couldn't get his games to load. Do you think this is surprising, seeing that his computer and data recorder were less than six inches away from the telly ...?
In wonder how many other faults have been due to misuse.
• Clive would certainly agree with you, though perhaps the instructions which come with the machine could be more explicit about possible hazards. Poor loading can be caused by TV magnetic fields, but is more likely to be due to cassettes placed on top of the TV set.
|How to tease a microdrive|
I WONDER if your expert has given the correct explanation of Mr Desmares' problem of the "microdrive not present" Sinclair User, December 1985 page 47. When I was faced with this problem I found the tape had jammed on the spool and by gently teasing out the tape from the spool a fraction, it ran normally. I also find that after putting in the cartridge, if I push it slightly to the left it runs more smoothly.
Of course, one must not use a metallic object to touch the tape. I found the plastic cap of a Bic ball pen perfect for the job!
The rest of the Galleons with the Treasure from Melbourne are waiting half turbo-loaded at California, for the arrival of those from Silicon Valley. As soon as that takes place, they are to sail for Portovelo to take in the rest of their Cargo, mainly US Gold, with provisions and water for the fantastic Voyage to Britain. They stay at Portovelo a few days only. Such a chance perhaps will never occur again.
The Flying Alas of 36 guns at Terrormolinos, is a new and uncommonly fine Frigate. Built on purpose. And ready for an expedition, as soon as more good hackers are on keyboard.
Captain Francisco Drake - who was not drowned in the Arabian Nights as reported - commands her. The sooner you are on keyboard the better. None need apply but Popeyes, or stout hands, able to rouse about the Field Pieces and copy an hundred weight of Software without stopping for at least three nights.
To Spanish Seamen.
No part of this letter may be copied, reproduced, hired, lent, distributed, stored or modified in any form, in full or in part, without the express written permission of Francisco Drake Publicaciones SA
• Thundering typhoons, it's the Jolly Roger ... Avast, pirates! Belay, lubberly scum! Hoist the red pennant and stand by to repel boarders! Avast, sea-lice! ... Baboons! ...
ON READING the March issue I noticed Gary Hunter's letter, with marks of perfection for the three most successful software companies. He says: "Any comments?"
Yes, I'd like to make a comment: is he any good at maths? Because if you work out each percentage he's got them wrong.
Ultimate should have 97.5 per cent, Beyond 91.1 recurring, and Melbourne House, 88.57.
Except for that major error, I find nothing wrong with your brilliant mag. Please can I have a trainspotter award? Sorry, wrong mag.
• No, you can't - even if I did know what one was.
I APPRECIATE the more comprehensive software reviews, especially of the adventure programs. I'm not so keen on the brightly coloured pages, especially the blues and greens, as it is a struggle to read the print.
• Gareth the Mad Celt does tend to get carried away with his designs sometimes, but I mustn't say too much behind his back, or when he comes to layout this letters page he'll cut short my repli
|The Cult of the Celt|
REGARDING the comments about the "out of proportion" drawing in one of U S Gold's advertisements - the reason is obvious when you realise that the artist mis-read the title as The Leg End of the Amazon Women.
|Sticks and stones|
LOVED - cough, cough - the way you've changed the design of the mag. The ad for Legend of the Amazon Women didn't corrupt me in the least bit (now where's my copy of Playgirl?)
Perhaps that dumbo of an editor Scolding thinks we all play Commando. In the past there was too little coverage of games. Now there's too much. Please could we see a better balanced mag?
On the subject of games, after comparing Tomahawk to Elite, Firebird deserve six of the best for the infamous Lenslok instructions. Elite nearly put me off buying Tomahawk ... The same goes to Melbourne House overlord of the Rings.
• The only reason this one's included is to show you that we don't make the letters up. Dumbo, indeed. Good grief ...
I MUST congratulate you on your excellent 'new look' magazine. It would be better, though, if you put maps, like that of Lord of the Rings, in the centre pages.
• That's more like it - a sensible, rationally-argued, interesting letter, both persuasive and well-written. Collect a gold star. Now, why can't old Gabby from Coventry be like that?
|128 into 48 won't go|
I HAVE two points.
Is there going to be an upgrade kit for converting a 48K Spectrum to a 128K? How much will it cost and will it require expert help to fit the new chips?
Secondly, Mrs M White of Newhaven - letters, March - sounds very much like Mrs E A Jones of Yeovil who has made similar comments in the past in Crash magazine.
Both I feel sorry for, and hope they have good locks on the children's bedroom doors, as the drawing in question is tame compared to what you see walking down the high street.
• I don't think I've seen any walking drawings, in the high street or elsewhere, but I see your point. I also think it's a dreadful ad, though not for the reasons given by Mrs M White.
As to a 128K upgrade kit - no, there won't be one. The 128 is so radically different from the 48K that such an upgrade would be both impractical and expensive.
|The final Blast|
I AM retired and there aren't many of my circle of friends who are keen computer types. So my main contact with what is going on in the computer world is via magazines and Sinclair User is top of the list.
I'm not great on games but do enjoy programming. So it was a relief to find that other readers echo my experiences. Firstly that the service from Transform is first-rate. Most things arrive by return post and an Epson printer, which I had expected to take about four weeks, came within ten days.
I too have been caught by the claims of Blast and found within a few moments I had half a dozen Basic programs that it won't compile. Letters to them remain unanswered. The security system drives me mad.
The need for compiling Basic is a bit over-stressed and generally isn't really necessary, but if a faster operation is required and machine code isn't favoured then I would suggest that Pascal gives the speed and can be learned almost as easily as Basic. A Pascal compiler is a much better bet for success than Blast.
On the plus side I'd like to add OCP's Finance Manager +80 which I find is superb. To this I'd add Masterfile, Omnicalc 2 and, of course, Tasword.
WITH REFERENCE to the blasting of Blast, - March, Sinclair User - I wonder if I've got the same software.
As an 'oldie' (over 30), I was frustrated by my ability, or lack of it, to program only in Basic, and I wrote several rather pedestrian games.
Since I received Blast, all has changed. It may not be 40 times faster but even in P-code I've been able to put in frills (extra random losers etc) which couldn't be done using Basic.
Thanks for an excellent mag.
R A Buckley
OCS SENT ME three different versions of Blast, none of which did anything useful at all, except transfer to microdrive. I gave up on them in the end, deciding it would be simpler to learn machine code programming than try to figure out my heavily annotated version of the manual. Twenty-five quid wasted.
• The controversy over the merits and otherwise of the Blast compiler looked set to rage for some time.
Unfortunately, though, Oxford Computer Systems has now gone into receivership and so perhaps we should draw a veil over these sorry proceedings.
|Thanks a lot|
THIS IS an effusive fan-letter.
Well, why not? Reviewing software must be a godawful task at times - all the more reason for authors who feel they have been treated generously to write and say "thank you".
So, thank you, Chris Bourne. For what? For the kind words about Here Be Tygers on the Automata 10 Pack Vol. 3. It really is very gratifying to know that you enjoyed it. Consider yourself number two on my Christmas blood-orange list.*
* Annie Lennox, since you ask.
• Damn. Old 'lunchbreaks' Bourne is going to be unbearable after this.
AS I WAS studying the shelves of an un-named high street store called Boots, my eyes fell on Chiller, by Mastertronic. At £1.99 and with a trendy cover, this seemed to be a hit. I purchased it without further ado.
When the game had loaded some ghastly writing appeared giving me control options. I pressed '2' for Kempston and ...
On closer examination I realised this wasn't Jet Set Willy but a similar game, jam-packed with less-than-sprite-quality graphics. After two horrendous games I was howling for my £1.99 back.
And Mastertronic still spell cursor as 'curser'.
• Trendy cover?
|The chips from Brazil|
IT WAS with great interest that I read your news item on the Brazilian Spectrum, the TK 90 X, mainly because I reside in Brazil and I am the owner of one.
However, your article states that the TK is completely compatible with the Spectrum. This is not the case - at least on the version sold in Latin America. Microdigital, who make the TK, has substituted the ULA chip for half a dozen anonymous chips which leads to this incompatibility. Most programs in the UK will run on the TK, but others like Elite or Tomahawk won't. Before your readers rush out to buy a TK, be warned it's not cheap,costing around £195 at the moment. The I/O ports are in different locations to those of the Spectrum, so normal add-ons won't fit and the general finish and reliability is nowhere near the standard of the Spectrum.
One of the advantages of having a Spectrum lookalike in Brazil is the vast amount of software available, and at very low prices. Most reputable software shops will sell you any of the more popular UK programs for 95 pence, if you deal mail order then you can buy (say) Saboteur, Beach Head 2 or Gyroscope for 60 pence. All of these programs are pirated copies, which have been smuggled into the country.
AS for R E Cante's letter in the March issue, describing Sinclair User turning into a child's comic ... Well, I think there is nothing wrong with it. I give the magazine four-and-a- half stars, but please put Program Printout back. Before you took it out I would have given you five stars.
• Since we reduced the number of programs published in the magazine, we've received few complaints. Most readers prefer our selective, more detailed, approach to listings now. Some even manage to get them to work ...
• Whadda ya mean, JUST £500? Where were you, anyway?