|Launch Editor||Peter Connor|
|Categories||Computer, Amstrad CPC, GX4000|
|First issue||October 1985|
Amstrad Action was a monthly magazine, published in the United Kingdom, which catered to owners of home computers from the Amstrad CPC range and later the GX4000 console.
It was the first magazine published by Chris Anderson's Future Publishing, which with a varied line-up of computing and non-computing related titles has since become one of the foremost magazine publishers in the UK.
The publication, often abbreviated to AA by staff and readers, had the longest lifetime of any Amstrad magazine, running for 117 issues from October 1985 until June 1995 - long after the CPC had ceased production and games were no longer available.
Published by Future plc, a company set up by Chris Anderson (ex- Personal Computer Games and Zzap!64 editor). Launch Editor, Peter Connor, also an ex- PCG staff member, shared the writing duties with the only other staff writer, Bob Wade. Bob, another ex- PCG / Zzap!64 staff member,was given the title ‘Software Editor’ and would review the vast majority of the games featured, with Peter given a second opinion. Trevor Gilham, Art Editor, would complete the four man team.
Issue 1 dated October 1985 was released in September 1985 with the cover price of £1; 1p for every one of the 100 pages. It took the new publication a few issues to find its readers, but with the help of a bumper 116 page Christmas 1985 issue with a cover mounted tape, the circulation figures grew rapidly.In October 1986 Amstrad Action split into three separate publications. AA still catered for the CPC range, while 8000 Plus and PC Plus focused on the Amstrad PCW and PC range respectively.
AA eventually gave in to reader's pleas to have a permanent cover tape. An announcement was made, in AA66, that the following issue would not only include a cover tape, but contain more colour and be printed on different paper. Review pages were also slightly re-designed.
In April 1992 the Audit Bureau of Circulation figures showed an increase to 37,120,the highest circulation since July–December 1988's 38,457.
AA100 looked at the top 100 products for the CPC and took a trip down memory lane, looking back at past editors and staff. As circulation figures wound down further still there was a drastic drop in page numbers from 60 to 36 in July 1994's AA106. More compact issues mean no superfluous columns or features. AA107 became the first issue with only one member of official staff.
In AA111 there was no credits list, but the new editor, Karen Levell, answered the Reaction letters and confirmed her appointment. Although everything appeared as normal in June 1995's AA117, with AA118 advertised in the next month box, this was the last AA ever. The final headline (on issue AA117) was Publish and be Damned.
AA covered both 'games' and 'serious' side of the CPC, maintaining a 50/50 coverage throughout its run. The editorial coverage was always seen as being one of the three main areas; games/leisure, serious (programming, business software etc.), and the regulars, such as 'Amscene', 'Forum', 'Action Test', and 'Cheat Mode'.
The latest CPC news regarding all things in the Amstrad world. Later included the games charts and games preview pages.
The readers letters were answered in the Reaction section, where numerous arguments and, usually good natured, humour was found. Later during AAs run the standout letter of the month was highlighted and given the star prize award of £25. The technical problems page 'Problem Attic' started out in the Reaction pages in the early years before getting its own space. "If your CPC’s in danger, if you need help, then you can contact the AA team."
The review approach included a main write up, a second opinion box, a good news / bad news comparison list and the percentages. Percentages were given to Graphics, Sonics, Grab Factor, Staying Power and an overall AA Rating. High rated games of 80% and above were given an 'AA Rave' accolade, while the highest rated game of the month received the 'Mastergame' award. This review style continued well into the early 1990s when the award accolades were scrapped. As budget games became more prominent during the CPC's life AA covered this growing market by including budget reviews in the 'Budget Bonanza' and later 'Action Replay' sections.
Interactive fiction was covered by "The Pilgrim", then "Balrog" and "The Examiner". The Pilgrim format included the latest adventure game reviews. 'Clue Sniffing With The Pilgrim' included adventure clues and tips. 'Pilgrim Post' was the letters column for adventure game topics. 'Adventure News' detailed the latest happenings in the world of adventure games.
The Forum carried on from the Problem Attic column where the resident Technical Editor answered reader's hardware or software problems and queries. As space in the magazine became restrictive other features like 'Helpline' and 'Ask Alex' were merged into the new 'Techy Forum'.
One long running feature of AA was the Type-In section. This included utility, games and demo type-ins sent in by the readers. One had to type in the program code into the computer then run it. The core of this split the readership over whether the programs should be put on the covertape instead - over a six-month period this is what happened, until this practice (and ultimately the Type-Ins section) was abandoned due to space restrictions.
The Helpline page was where eager Amstrad readers would offer contact details help fellow readers having problems. It was later merged with Technical Forum.
The tips pages included game pokes, tips, cheats and maps all contributed by the readers.
Initially called Rear View, the back page was where all the loose ends were closed off, like competition winner results and last minute happenings.
As activity in the Amstrad world declined, the editorial staff, and subsequently the editorial content, was constantly being reduced and the magazine adopted an increasingly eccentric style, with one edition in particular featuring an eight-page script for a Christmas pantomime. Later on, a double spread review for the 2nd Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles game was split between the review itself and a bizarre transcribed interview between Rod Lawton and Adam Peters (pretending to be one of the turtles). Peters would usually try and promote his band in some way (he featured on the cover of 'music orientated' issue and had one of his techno-MIDI band's songs on the covertape). The magazine is also notable for pioneering the kind of responses – sometimes dry, sometimes surreal, usually humorous and mildly rude – to readers' letters of a form now seen throughout UK gaming magazine culture. These characteristics, for many readers, added to AA's charm.
Chris Anderson using his previous success of covermounted cassette tapes with Personal Computer Games included one with the Christmas special issue of 1985. This included two unreleased games from Ocean Software; Kung Fu and Number 1. The covermount cassette tape was only an occurrence on the Christmas and AA birthday issues, not becoming a regular feature until AA67 in 1991, mainly due to requests from many readers. Cover-cassettes featured game demos, applications, software utilities and, in some instances, complete games. Due to the low quality of the cassettes used many Amstrad owners found them to be unreliable, something which was commonly reflected in the letters pages. One solution to fixing the unreliable tapes as posted to the letters section was to unwind the tape and put a warm iron on it. Later, a utility was released on the covertape to convert the contents to the proprietary 3" disk.
Codemasters produced a Dizzy game specially for the AA birthday covertape in October 1988. This 'Special Edition' included different rooms and objects to explore.
AA67, dated April 1990, came with the first of the permanent cover tapes called Action Pack #1, along with a new cover price of £2.20. A playable demo of Ocean Software's Total Recall and complete games Hydrofool and Codemasters' Dizzy were included on the tape.
This tape caused some controversy among the readersas one of the featured games How To Be A Complete Bastard featured mild swearing, plus the game's quest was to be violent and obnoxious throughout a house party.
December 1993 AA99's Serious Action cover tape included the complete Stormlord game, albeit a censored version. With the self-censoring of the Hewson game it seemed that AA was trying to avoid similar controversy that followed AA68's Action Pack #2.[ original research? ]
Voted the best game on the CPC, Firebird's Elite was the complete game given away with the 100th issue's Serious Action cover tape.
Initially only the best rated game of the month earned an AA Mastergame accolade, but from issue 57 this was changed to all games that received a 90% or higher rating. Games receiving 80–90% were awarded an AA Rave. Publishers of CPC games such as Activision, Ocean and Infogrames proudly mounted these awards on their packaging to promote their games to potential customers. The first game to receive a 'Mastergame' award was Melbourne House's The Way of the Exploding Fist , gaining an impressive 94% AA Rating. Issue 38 was the first issue not to award any game the Mastergame accolade. Apparently there were no games worthy of the award that month. The lowest rated Mastergame was Target Renegade , from Imagine Software, receiving an 86% overall rating. Quite why it was awarded a Mastergame was not explained and remains a mystery.
Laser Squad , by Blade Software, which has been mentioned many times as being an AA staff favourite, is awarded the Mastergame accolade, in AA49, with a 91% rating. March 1990 and the mysterious lost Mastergame that would be Chase HQ . The Ocean arcade game conversion received a score of 90%, coupled with being the highest rated game this issue. This would normally justify the Mastergame accolade, however the game only got an AA Rave accolade and no explanation or corrections were made since. June 1990 was the first issue to award the Mastergame accolade to more than one game; E-Motion by US Gold and Turrican by Rainbow Arts received ratings of 92% and 90% respectively. November 1990 and Rick Dangerous 2 received the highest rating so far. The MicroStyle game gained a MasterGame award and an AA Rating of 97%.
Psygnosis' Lemmings and Ocean's The Addams Family were the last games to receive a Mastergame accolade in July 1992's AA82; receiving 97% and 90% respectively. Following issues dispensed with AA Rave and Mastergame accolades. Lemmings joins Rick Dangerous 2 as gaining the highest AA rating given during its publication. March 1993's issue 90 featured the first highest rated game not to receive an AA accolade. Nigel Mansell ’s World Championship received an overall rating of 93%, but no accolade of either Rave or Mastergame. The long standing AA signature accolade had been discarded.
Memorable staff included Publisher Chris Anderson, Bob Wade, Richard Monteiro, Steve Carey, Rod "The Beard" Lawton, Trenton Webb, James Leach, Frank O'Connor and Adam Waring. Later editorial staff included Linda Barker, Dave Golder, Tim Norris and Simon Forrester, whose magazine nickname/handle was "The Hairy One", "The Hairy Happening" or often just "Hairy". Simon had written various programs himself for the platform and was known to jump down the throats of people who didn't agree with his fondness for the video game Chuckie Egg.
|Peter Connor||Oct 1985 – May 1986|
|Matt Nicholson||Jun 1986 – Nov 1986|
|Jim Nagel||Dec 1986 – Jan 1987|
|Bob Wade||Feb 1987 – Jul 1988|
|Steve Carey||Aug 1988 – Nov 1989|
|Rod Lawton||Dec 1989 – Feb 1993|
|Linda Barker||Mar 1993|
|Tim Norris||Apr 1993 – Aug 1993|
|Dave Golder||Sep 1993 – Oct 1994|
|Tim Norris||Nov 1994|
|Karen Levell||Dec 1994 – Jun 1995|
Like Chris, Bob started out at PCG and Zzap!64 , before becoming the Software Editor on AA. Climbed the ranks of Deputy Editor before becoming the Editor. Bob left after issue 34 to Edit sister publication Advanced Computer Entertainment and later Amiga Format . While at Amiga Format he helped launch Amiga Power . Left journalism, in the mid-1990s, to form his own games development company; Binary Asylum, producing Amiga games like Zee Wolf and Zee Wolf 2. After Binary Asylum failed to establish itself into the PC market [ citation needed ]Bob moved over to the internet product monitoring service; Game Campaign. He is now back at Future.
Having spent some time at PC Plus as Production Editor, Steve replaced the departing Bob Wade as Editor on issue 35. Left after issue 50 in November 1989 to edit ST Format . Later went on to become a Publisher overseeing such titles as MEGA , Amiga Power , PC Gamer , .net and the games industries well respected EDGE , among others. In January 1995 he was made Publishing Director for the Consumer Division. [ citation needed ]He now lives in Australia.
Previous experience of working on New Computer Express and ACE , Rod arrived at AA51 and holds the record for longest serving editor, spanning 39 issues and over three years. Left to work as Editor at Future's newly launched Leisure publishing section. Has written, or co-written, many computing and games books.Has written for many publications since, including PC Plus , PC Answers , PC Format . Most recently has written for the weekly "Computing for beginners" style magazine Computeractive . Also runs a Digital Imaging web site where photographers at all levels of expertise can find out more about the terms, concepts and techniques behind photography.
Previous work on Your Sinclair and Commodore Format before arriving as Editor on AA96. Left after issue 111 to edit fellow Future title Ultimate Future Games . In 1995 he helped launch the new Future Publishing Sci-Fi mag SFX , taking over the editor position in 1996 and remained there until 2005. Currently writes a Sci-Fi column on the Sci-Fi UK website.
|Bob Wade||Software Editor||Oct 1985 – Jan 1987|
|Richard Monteiro||Technical Editor||Dec 1986 – May 1988|
|Gary Barrett||Staff Writer||Oct 1987 – Feb 1989|
|Pat McDonald||Technical Editor||Jun 1988 – Oct 1989|
|Trenton Webb||Games Editor||Mar 1989 – Aug 1990|
|Adam Waring||Reviews Editor||Nov 1989 – Aug 1992|
|James Leach||Staff Writer||Sep 1990 – Jan 1991|
|Frank O'Connor||Staff Writer||Feb 1991 – Sep 1991|
|Adam Peters||Staff Writer||Oct 1991 – Jan 1993|
|Simon Forrester||Staff Writer||Feb 1993 – Jul 1994|
|Clur Hodgson||Staff Writer||Jan 1994 – Apr 1994|
Richard arrived as the new Technical Editor on issue 15. After 18 issues he left to launch new Future publication ST/Amiga Format . In 1990 Richard formed the company Words Works Limited, in Trowbridge with his own editorial team and produced RAZE under subcontract from Newsfield Publications . The first issue of RAZE appeared in October 1990 and ran for 12 issue until Newsfield couldn't sustain any more publications.In 1992 Richard, along with another ex-Future Publishing staff member Dianne Taverner, co-founded Paragon Publishing, holding the title Managing Director. Key titles published during the 1990s included Sega Pro , Play , XGen and Games World: The magazine .
Trenton arrived as the new games reviewing guru in June 1989's issue. After 18 issues had left to work on many other Future Publishing titles including Amiga Format and Your Sinclair . During this time he appeared on Channel 4's GamesMaster video games TV show in the reviews section. Later became Editor of magazines such as Game Zone, Commodore Format and ST Format . He left journalism in the mid-1990s to work in the industry itself, working with Bob Wade, at Binary Asylum, as a Games Designer. After Binary Asylum closed, he went to work for Internet and Intranet website design firm Zehuti as Project Manager.[ citation needed ]
Experienced member of Future publishing who has worked on many magazines. Apart from Amstrad Action James had worked on Your Sinclair , Amiga Format , PC Format , GamesMaster and as Editor on SNES magazine Super Play . After leaving Future Publishing, in the mid-1990s, James went on to work for software company Bullfrog, contributing to many games including Syndicate Wars ,Dungeon Keeper and Theme Hospital . Other companies James has worked for include Black & White Studios and Lionhead, holding positions such as Lead Writer and Head of Scripting & Writing respectively, working on such games as Black & White , Fable and Black & White 2 . In 2006 James left Lionhead to go freelance where he now describes his skill and experience as "Writer of game plots, dialogue, websites, ads (ATL and BTL), children's books, sitcoms and more."
Frank's first job in the industry was Amstrad Action's position of Staff Writer. Frank left AA after issue 71 to work on EMAP's Computer & Video Games (a.k.a. C+VG). After his stint on C+VG Frank came back to Future Publishing to edit the Nintendo games magazine Total! . Appeared, as co-commentator, on many GamesMaster episodes during the second and third series from 1992 to 1994. Later moved into the games industry; worked as Editor in Chief on DailyRadar.com an online video games site. Later held the position of Executive Editor on the Official Xbox Magazine . Is currently Content Manager for Bungie; the developer of Halo , Myth , Oni , and Marathon .
Joint second longest serving editorial staff, along with Bob Wade, Adam was the Technical Editor for 34 issues. Reviewed Rick Dangerous 2 , which is the joint highest rated AA game. Adam had written several games himself, including Lost Caves and Ninja Massacre, and if one came up for review upon re-release, he would gracefully be allowed to write a second opinion. He also wrote Your Sinclair 's "Spec Tec" column where readers technical queries were answered. Left Future Publishing in 1992 to travel around the world. Returned to Future Publishing Editing magazines such as Max Magazine.[ citation needed ] Went on to edit Merricks Media's Spanish Magazine based in Bath.
One of the last Staff Writers to work on AA, arriving just as Rod Lawton was leaving in 1993. Later shared duties between AA and Commodore Format before taking over the editorship of CF in 1995. Later worked for Bath-based internet monitoring company called FYI, and their site gamecampaign.com, and then Bath-based web designers Zehuti Ltd.
There were many freelance writers, with many producing a regular, monthly column. They included Steve "The Pilgrim" Cooke; Stuart "The Balrog" Whyte; PD columnists Jerry Glenwright, Caroline Lamb (a.k.a. Steve Williams), Tim Blackbond and Keith Wood; fanzine columnist David Crookes; and reviewers Richard Wildey and Angela Cook. David Crookes continues to write about the Amstrad as a freelance writer for Retro Gamer magazine.
One of the most memorable, however, was technical writer and covertape editor Richard Fairhurst, a.k.a. CRTC. The latter name matched the initialism of the CPC's Cathode Ray Tube Controller and was sometimes expanded to ChaRleyTroniC. He ran a public domain library called Robot PD and was also an accomplished computer programmer, producing the fully-fledged utilities PowerPage and RoutePlanner for the CPC as well as contributing to various demos. In the CPC fan community, he wrote articles about demos for CPC Attack , was editor of the Amstrad-centred disczine Better Than Life, and was the final editor of the more professional-centric fanzine WACCI.
Andrew Nicholas Oliver and Philip Edward Oliver, together known as the Oliver Twins, are British twin brothers and video game designers.
Your Sinclair, or YS as it was commonly abbreviated, was a commercially published and printed British computer magazine for the Sinclair range of computers, mainly the ZX Spectrum. It was in circulation between 1984 and 1993.
Newsfield Publications Ltd was a British magazine publisher during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Zzap!64 was a computer games magazine covering games on the Commodore International series of computers, especially the Commodore 64 (C64). It was published in the UK by Newsfield Publications Ltd and later by Europress Impact.
Zero was a video game magazine in the UK, published monthly by Dennis Publishing Ltd. between November 1989 and October 1992. It won the InDin Magazine of the Year award in both 1990 and 1991, and was also briefly the best-selling multi-format 16-bit computer magazine in the UK.
Emlyn Hughes International Soccer (EHIS) is a soccer computer game first released in 1988 by Audiogenic Software Ltd. The game is named after the popular English footballer Emlyn Hughes. It initially appeared on the Commodore 64, with other versions produced for the Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Atari ST and Amiga.
Laser Squad is a turn-based tactics video game, originally released for the ZX Spectrum and later for the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Amiga, Sharp MZ-800 and Atari ST and PC computers between 1988 and 1992. It was designed by Julian Gollop and his team at Target Games and published by Blade Software, expanding on the ideas applied in their previous Rebelstar series of games.
Covermount is the name given to storage media or other products packaged as part of a magazine or newspaper. The name comes from the method of packaging; the media or product is placed in a transparent plastic sleeve and mounted on the cover of the magazine with adhesive tape or glue.
Dalek Attack is a 1992 computer game based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who, in which the player controls the Doctor and fights recurring adversaries, the Daleks and other enemies. In most versions of the game, the player can choose between playing as the Fourth, Fifth or Seventh Doctor; in the MS-DOS and Amiga versions, the player can play as the Second, Fourth or Seventh Doctor, and in the ZX Spectrum version only the Seventh Doctor was available. A second player may play as the Doctor's companion. K-9 also makes appearances later in the game as does Davros, creator of the Daleks in the TV series, as the final end of level boss. The game is set in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Skaro.
Carrier Command is a 1988 video game published by Rainbird for the Amiga, Atari ST, IBM PC compatibles, ZX Spectrum, Macintosh, Commodore 64, and Amstrad CPC. Carrier Command is a cross between a vehicle simulation game and a real-time strategy game where players control a robotic aircraft carrier.
Rick Dangerous 2 is a platform game developed by Core Design for the Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and MS-DOS. It was released in 1990 and published by Micro Style as a sequel to Rick Dangerous.
Amstrad Computer User was the official magazine for the Amstrad CPC series of 8-bit home computers. This monthly publication, usually referred to as ACU by its readers, concentrated more on the hardware and technical side of the Amstrad range, although it had a small dedicated games section as well.
Mean Machines was a multi-format video game magazine published between 1990 and 1992 in the United Kingdom.
Europress was a British magazine and software publisher based in Adlington, near Macclesfield, Cheshire. Their magazine publishing business was previously known as Database Publications.
ACE was a multi-format computer and video game magazine first published in the United Kingdom by Future Publishing and later acquired by EMAP.
Commodore Format was a British magazine for users of the Commodore 64 home computer. It was published on the third Thursday of every month. All 61 issues were produced by Future plc. These came towards the end of the machine's commercial life - from October 1990 until October 1995.
Saboteur II: Avenging Angel, also known as Saboteur 2, is an action-adventure game created by Clive Townsend and released by Durell Software in 1987 for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and MS-DOS compatible operating systmes. A sequel to 1985's Saboteur, the player controls a sister of Ninja from the first game on a mission to avenge his death. Saboteur II was one of the first action-adventure games with a female protagonist and was well received by critics.
Fun School is a series of educational packages developed and published in the United Kingdom by Europress Software, initially as Database Educational Software. The original Fun School titles were sold mostly by mail order via off-the-page adverts in the magazines owned by Database Publications. A decision was made to create a new set of programs, call the range Fun School 2, and package them more professionally so they could be sold in computer stores around the UK. Every game comes as a set of three versions, each version set to cater for a specific age range.
Jack Nicklaus' Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf is a golf-simulation video game developed by Sculptured Software, and published by Accolade beginning in 1988. It was released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Commodore 64 (C64), MS-DOS, Macintosh, MSX, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), PC-88, and Sharp X68000.
P-47: The Phantom Fighter is a 1988 horizontally scrolling shooter arcade video game originally developed by NMK and published by Jaleco. Set during World War II, players control a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft to face against the Nazis, who are occupying multiple countries around the world. Its gameplay involves destroying waves of enemies, picking up power-ups and new weapons, and destroying bosses. It ran on the Mega System 1 hardware.