Not long ago, amidst the usual frenzied activity of the YS offices, a phone call came through from someone claiming to be a PR man from one of the better- known software houses. Suspicion was immediate! Usually, these people have to be tracked down and meagre morsels of information prized from the protected storage systems they have for minds with the skill of a practised psychoanalyst.
WHO'S KIDDING WHO?However, this particularly nervous specimen (who announced himself as Philip Thompson of Software Projects) could hardly stop gibbering away; over an hour-long conversation, he gave us the 'low-down' on what sounded like some interesting new programs currently being written - and also some surprising stuff on Jet Set Willy.
He mentioned two games - Jet Set Willy Meets The Taxman and Miner Willy And Dr Jones - and alleged both to be the new brainchildren of Matthew Smith. He continued by claiming a real-life connection between Smith and Jones, suggesting (rather unkindly) that the good doctor was Matthew's psychiatrist. And for anyone who's spent hours trying to collect all the objects in Jet Set Willy, Thompson offered the advice, "It's only necessary to pick up half of them to win".
But here's the rub. When we tried to telephone Mr Thompson to verify some of his comments, a confused receptionist from Software Projects declared, "I don't think we've got anyone of that name here". After a few minutes' double checking, she came back with denials from Alan Maton, Chris Lyle and Cohn Stokes - all of whom ought to know! In fact, a chat with Chris not only confirmed Thompson's non- existence, but also that there was no substance to any of his 'inside' information. However, it was confirmed that Matthew is working on a third, and perhaps final, game in the Willy series.
But who is Philip Thompson? Well, further excavation work revealed some interesting new information. It appears that a number of software houses have been receiving strange telephone calls from someone who assumes a different persona in each case; sometimes, for instance, the caller claims to be a Times journalist. The only lead
RUMBLESIn his constant search for the truth (or even a ripping rumour) Ron Smith scours the software houses for news of their upcoming releases. You'll read it here first!
|we've had so far is from a rather Imaginative source who
reckons that it's John Philips from Bug-Byte - the company that produced
Matthew's original bestseller, Manic Miner, before he moved on to
Software Projects. John came up with a pretty earthy reply to these
accusations ... the gist of it was "it weren't me, guv!".
TWO MORE FROM A&FBack in the real world, we hear A&F Software is working on a couple of new programs due for release in the late summer or early autumn. The first is called Cylon Attack, a 3D space fight where the player views approaching targets from the window of the cockpit; these increase in size the closer they come. There's also a radar screen to help you locate the enemy - but you'll also have to keep a careful eye on the other gauges, because it's necessary now and then to quickly nip back to the mothership.
The second program sounds even better, according to the great wall of surrounding secrecy. Says A&F spokesman, Martin Hinkling, "It's a brilliant idea, and we've already got a lot of the graphics done. But I can't say any more at the moment for fear of our competitors". More information is promised around August.
IMAGINE TAKES THE PLUNGEIt now looks like the retail price of Imagine's new megagame ( Bandersnatch ) will be about £40. But for this you'll be getting an A4-sized box weighing 2-3lbs containing around 30 goodies, including a customised piece of hardware that will allow the accompanying software to provide 20-30 times the playing power of a normal game.
Says Imagine's Bruce Everiss, "We've got ten professional artists working on the graphics, as well as a couple of professional writers who are producing the documentation. The finished product, which includes 11 entirely new concepts in computer games, will certainly exceed everyone's expectations" The launch date remains sometime in August.
New from Silversoft comes Hyperaction, an eight level game in which you battle 'Pacmen' lookalikes and hungry jellyfish. Watch out for this sometime in August ...
ON THE OCEAN WAVECurrently undergoing manufacture at Rabbit Software is Jolly Roger, a saga of salty life at the helm. Says Rabbit director, Terry Grant, "It features a jolly Jack Tar sort of character whose ultimate goal is to locate and collect the masses of hidden treasure." Unfortunately, but quite understandably, this is kept behind locked doors. So the first thing to do is find all the keys; having got a bunch together (there are about 50 rooms, or cabins) you then begin the search.
Of course, it's not quite that simple. As the poor fellow scours the ship he encounters such horrors as energetic pirates, parrots and rats (not to mention a character called Heather and a rugby team - but then, that could be part of another story). What they do with him when they catch him remains to be seen, possibly around the beginning of August.
AUTOMATA CASTAWAYThe irrepressible Mel Croucher and his colleagues from Automata are staying very tight-lipped over something they're calling Crusoe. All they'll say at the moment is that it's an extremely funny adventure, and a bit better than Valhalla. Presumably, too, it's safe to assume some sort of connection with the famous shipwreck victim.
Bad news for fans of previous Automata releases is that poor old Pi-man has been left out in the cold; he's probably heading back to his home in the Greek alphabet. Anyway, Crusoe should be in the shops over the next couple of months, and will retail for £6.
NEW FROM INTERSTELLANew games outfit, Interstella Software, whose first game - Defenda - is reviewed in this issue, is working on a 'question and answer' series entitled A Question Of ... something; sport will probably form the first 'something' (as if you hadn't guessed!). It'll feature an egg timer that shows how much time you've got left as well as a thermometer for taking your temperature.
Selling at £5.50, the program is being written by one of the directors, Peter Stevens, and will read-in up to 2,000 questions from tape, in four blocks of 500.
The other half of the Interstella partnership is Alan Lloyd. He's the one responsible for Defenda and is at present working on a Junior Kong game that we're assured will be more professional than his first effort; his partner says, "He's got better since then" This should be available over the next few weeks, price £5.50.