April 1985 - Pool, Apple Hunt, Astro-PANIC! For the VIC

Editor's Notes is a bit different, defending a previously published program "Utility Bill Audit" from a high school computer department chairman for not having comments and having too many GOTOs and GOSUBs. I don't quite agree with the claim of "architectural" vs "improvisational" programming styles.

A sidebar about the Winter CES talks about CP/M, a mode for the C-128 (and available for the C64) that I never quite got.

Interview with Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky, about the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" text game.

These issues always have an ad for Mimic Systems' Spartan, a thing that supposedly let a C=64 use an Apple II+ software and hardware. Seems like quite the tale.

"MetaBASIC" was not so interesting. Unlike "Simon's BASIC" that offered easier ways of accessing graphics and sound, this one mostly has programmer's helpers.

Cartoon of the Month (from the "Machine Language for Beginners" column):

The Games

Pool - Joseph T. Wayton

Play a little... 6-Ball? Not bad, actually. You get crosshairs to show where you want to hit the cue ball. (The notes on the C=64 version mention it calculates in 1/256 pixel increments.) Rating:3/5

Apple Hunt - James Arlet

Another "run around an open field" game. With a time limit of some sort. You have a proximity-clearing  "zap" which also resets the time. Run into a tree and die. I like the enemy character graphic, especially compared to the generic smiley for the player. Rating:2/5

Astro-PANIC! for the VIC - Sean D. Wagle

This was a Commodore-64 game in February 1984 (3 months before they started releasing the disks, so I'm not sure if I'll ever try and type this stuff in) and this month it got released it for the VIC... all Machine Language, and using some kind of trickery for the very sprite-like motion, instead of relying on the character graphics. By a 16 year old high schooler, and even runs in the unexpanded VIC. It's a fun game that even has an ending goal of 15 levels. It gets pretty frantic, and the bouncing around of the enemies gets hard to avoid. Rating:4/5

March 1985 - Heat Seeker, Digger

Editor's Notes mentioned Winter CES: the Amiga Lorraine, the C-128, and a "surprise LCD lap (or 'notebook' computer)" that would run on 4 AAs, and have an 80 column * 16 line display... I don't remember that one so it will be interesting to see if the promised followup emerges.

An article about C=64 peripherals had a sidebar on "peripherals of the future" including Compact disks. (Also Electromyograph/Brain Wave Input,  Laser disks, Laser Printers, LCD Screens, Microfloppies, Musical keyboards/samplers, built-in Modems, Radio modems, Robots and Vertical Recording for floppies.)

Inteview with David Crane of "Pitfall!' fame, talking about his more recent Ghostbusters. I thought I remembered reading an interview with him about that game, and how it couldn't have been done on the Atari 2600, but later there was a kind of OK port for it. But, this wasn't that interview, apparently.

Ad clip of (a previous) month:
I was assuming this ad for Spinnaker software ("You bought a computer to cultivate your kids' minds. Make sure it's bearing fruit, not growing vegetables.") from December 1984 would show up again, because I seemed to remember seeing it a lot. But it didn't, so I'm posting it now. As a kid I was kind of struck by the falsity of the screenshot; I mean how could you design a game that would look like that when played?

The Games

Heat Seeker - Jeff Wolverton

This simple but brutal game is one of my favorites from the early years. One heatseeking missile at time is fired at your plane, and you have to loop around to avoid it.  The sides of the screen wrap for both player and missile. The coolest part of it as making it hit the ground and taking one of its fellow missiles still in the silo.  You can fire a stream of bullets too, though mostly you keep the fire button held down and hope to get some lucky hits. The VIC original isn't as good (despite having 'air mines') with clunky graphics and movement, but not bad for a BASIC game. Rating:4/5
BONUS: you can try out my own browser-based recreation of heatseeker!

Digger - Ron Long

3 Guesses what famous arcade game this rips off. In the VIC version 3 "Goats" instead of Dragons and Pookas... and you only get one life. And the control doesn't quite work maybe? Or possibly something was wrong with my disk for this month, it seemed a bit wonky in other ways. Nice little music and title screen. The C=64 port is terrible, they even remove the air pump, and everything looks like Mr. Do on Prozac. Rating:2/5

February 1985 - The Forbidden Crypt, Cypher

I dig the Edward Gorey-esque cover art for "The Forbidden Crypt"!  The Editor Notes a general slow down in the industry (lack of the usual boost around the Christmas Season) and a worried glance at the IBM PCjr, though I think history shows that wasn't quite the right set of concerns. Still it's interesting to see how the fallout from the Great Videogame Crash was going.

Inteview with musician Ryo Kawasaki, who made music programs for the C=64.

The Games

The Forbidden Crypt - Ted Reynolds

I couldn't get this to work on VIC-20 (haven't quite figured out how/if xvic under VICE supports the memory expansion). The C=64 version is a copy of the arcade game "Venture". The enemies move almost as fast as you do,  so the difficulty is a bit too high to really be fun. Rating:2/5

Cypher - J. L. Calvin

Another version of Master Mind, with an even worse interface than May 1984's Mind Boggle. Rating:1/5

January 1985 - Trap 'Em, Chomper, Kablam!

Not too much interesting here. Commodore 128 on the horizon, an interview with Flight Simulator II designer Bruce Artwick. Oh, and Sweetums from the Muppets.

The disk includes 4 out of a "Baker's Dozen" art programs. Also "Math Dungeon", a super lame text-adventure that asks you math problems. And "Magazine Index". Man, what kind of nerd would use a computer to put a list of magazine articles?

The Games

Trap 'Em - Jon Rhees

Traditional "Surround"/Snafu. Has obstacles. Also an option for playing one player, for some unfathomable reason, as expressed in this screen shot. Rating:1/5

Chomper - George Hu

In the spirit of September 1984's "Treasure Hunt", it's another collect-the-dots, avoid the baddies game, but with less design charm. It controls better, though, being all in ML, and has a niftier than usual level select screen. Rating:2/5

Kablam! - Stephen Ressier

It's Activision's "Kaboom!" but lamer. The C=64 version has just one bomb dropped at a time. The VIC version (shown) has 2, but barely.  Rating:1/5

December 1984 - Cosmic Combat, 3-D Labyrinth

Editor's Notes talk about the Plus/4 and the 16, but also the C-128, as well as the Amiga. Overall you get the feeling the company is stretching itself a bit thin.

Feature was on strategy games, not my favorite but I appreciated the lede's reference to the movie WarGames. (Also the Broderbund ad for 5 games including "Raid on Bungeling Bay" (by Will "SimCity and The Sims" Wright) triggered some nice memories.) The article also went over the basics of Chess-playing programs

Kind of poor month overall.

Ad of the month: I thought this guy (from an ad for Datasoft's "Mancopter") was totally cool, and as a kid I would redraw it sometimes:

The Games

Cosmic Combat - Tommy Graham

Pile of meh... IN SPACE! Enemies stumble in from the top of the screen, shoot them with your laser before they hit the bottom and explode (you can get caught in the sideways explosion) The VIC version is a bit more polished with an attractive level select screen, but on the C=64 the game's charming signature "enemies destroy themselves by crashing into each other" move is more pronounced. Rating:2/5

3-D Labyrinth - John Stilwell

Press N,E,S,W to turn, space to move, H for a map, and escape the maze. I've never been a big fan of this kind of labyrinth program, and I found using cardinal directions (rather than left and right relative to the player) kind of distracting. Rating:2/5

November 1984 - Bagdad, Jump!, Supertank, Descent to Kaylon

I had to get a PDF from commodore.ca,
the one I got from archive.org was broken.
Editor's Notes mention the behind-closed-doors CES appearance of prototypes of the Amiga, with that company being purchased by Commodore, and the corresponding Tramiel lawsuit. (Also a passing reference to the Japanese MSX initiative, I remember the COMPUTE! article about those, though it never got a lot of traction in the USA.)

Ha, the first reader letter asks why the graphics tend to be better for the VIC-20 than for the 64, and Gazette gives about the same reasons I did.

An interview with makers of "Archon" and its sequel, Jon Freeman and Anne Westfall (who together form "Freefall Associates", which is pretty cool.) He's not in the photo, but the article mentions the other Archon author Paul Reiche III who went on to make the widely beloved "Star Control" series as well as the ground-breaking real-world-figurine series "Skylanders"

A note about the disk, starting this month they rearranged thing so
LOAD "*",8,1
Now starts the appropriate menu. Which is what VICE runs when you double click on a .d64 image. So, that's convenient!

This issue has a "Machine Language for Beginners" Like I talk about a bit below, I did write an original Atari game with a lot of ML, but I've forgotten much of it. Maybe I should come back to it here!

And the Ad of the month:
It's hard to overstate how cool breakdancers seemed to kids in the '80s.

The Games

Bagdad (VIC)- Bryan Files

Bagdad (C64)

A top notch take on "Joust", I really enjoyed the C=64 version of this in the 1980s. (As long term fans, if any, will realize I'm a HUGE advocate of flying/physics mechanics, hence my original Atari 2600 game JoustPong.) This one differs from Joust in that the button hovers ala Jetpak instead of flapping, but otherwise it's pretty similar: fly around the level strewn with other flying opponents, higher flier in collision survives, collect the bottle dropped after a collision before it turns back into a genie. I'm bummed the magazine article doesn't play up how cool the VIC-20 version is- they must use sub-character graphics, because it's a super smooth playing game, given that the machine has no sprites! Rating:4/5

Jump! - Fernando Ciccarelli and Marcel Ferreira

Cute, if simplistic and lurchingly controlled single human vs single computer shooting game. You move left and right with z and c, firing with x, but if you hold shift you jump... which you have to once the enemy has shot a hole in the ground. I like how the terrain takes a few hits and subtley deforms before finally becoming a crater that you have to jump.  Also how your tank has an middle-eastern feel, like an escapee from the previous game. Rating:2/5

Supertank - Boris Litinsky

Speaking of Atari again... I used to get into semi-passionate debates about "Battlezone" vs "Robot Tank" for the Atari 2600. The latter seems to have more fans - it has cool changing weather conditions, and partial system damage... but I think is ridiculous. You slip around like you're more of a hovercraft, one enemy at a time attacks you, and you "dodge" a bullet just by turning so it's not on screen... a weird ostrich-like "if I can't see it, it can't see me" game mechanic. Compared to Battlezone's gorgeous tread animations, 2-enemies-at-a-time play, saucers, motherships... and a well modeled 3D world where if you heard a shot fired offscreen sometimes you could throw it in reverse and watch the bullet pass diagonally in front of you... well, you can see where my loyalties are.

This game makes "Robot Tank" look like a masterpiece. After choosing from one of 3 tanks (Way too slow vs Only takes one hit vs some deficiency of cannon I can't be bothered to figure out) into combat you go. A lone enemy trundles in from hte left side. Your only moving bit is your slow as molasses crosshairs, from which you can fire a bullet that isn't much faster as it comes in, also from the left side of the screen. If you miss, and you probably will, the enemy will make it to the right of the screen, face you, fire, and disappear. Rating:2/5 and that's being generous.

Descent to Kaylon - Steve Stiglich

You know, I was ready to rip into this one, another lackluster BASIC-y outing, but I ended up kind of getting into it, restarting 7 or 8 times til I could beat a level. You start with your little lander in the mothership at the top of the screen, you press space to release, then space to fire retrorockets, just enough to keep you in place. A and D go side to side. (I feel like I've seen this basic gameplay elsewhere, though.) The C=64 version especially felt like it was suffering from "only move if key is down at end of clocktick", but it was easier to get used to with this game somehow. I think just having a simple goal of 4 landings makes it better than other games that don't have as fixed an achievement. Rating:3/5

October 1984 - Trek, The Tomb, Cabby

This issue was emphasizing a new BASIC learning column... pity they didn't start it the month earlier, might have gone with the school year.

Slight change to the menu program... you still have to
LOAD "MENU",8 but now it has a sternly worded suggestion to consult the magazine before attempting to run the programs on the disk. Not sure if that's a weak anti-piracy measure or they just got sick of answering dumb questions. Also, ads seem more present on this menu... they've been around for a few months but now "ROCKNEY DISK UTILITIES (AD)" is the first item on the first page. At least they're clearly labeled, though ROCKNEY demands you turn off your computer and reload the menu when it's finished.

The biggest feature this month was "Turtle Graphics Interpreter" which is a sloooooow variant of Logo, including making subroutines - kind of impressive. My friend Jeremy Penner (the guy who founded Glorious Trainwrecks, a site I'm sure I'll return to before this blog is through) suggested Seymour Papert's classic "Mindstorms" which, despite its age, has a lot of smart things to say about kids and computers and was many educators introduction to LOGO. (A growing emphasis on the computer as educational tool is palpable in these issues; come to think of it this is the aftermath of the "Great Videogame Crash of '83")

Also, this Ad:

I cut off the main-in form (to an Ontario, Canada address, interestingly..) I guess the angry-goth theme is actually "dancing on the grave of expensive software"? The product seems to be kind of a competitor to Gazette, or maybe more akin to "Loadstar" or "Big Blue Disk"...

The Games

Trek - Andrew Beery

This week on Copyright Infringement! I chose the oddly-Stay Puft Marshmallow Man looking explosion sprite to represent how I feel about this game. When you're not exploding (which isn't as often as one might hope) you're clumsily piloting the side view of the Enterprise. Drones, that look oddly like the Enterprise's classic Shuttles, are flying at you. You're meant to dodge them but your ship also has a phaser. A little odd that Beery used cursor keys instead of joystick controls, but maybe not everyone was blessed with a joystick back then. There's something about beaming crystals or something but it didn't quite seem worth the bother. Rating:2/5

The Tomb - Mike Scharland

I'm going to defy my previous plan of always going for the Commodore 64 version, in part because I think a lot of these games were written on the VIC-20 (judging by how often you can send $3, a blank cassette, and a SASE to get a copy on tape but VIC version only) and because a lot of these character graphic games just look better with the wider VIC characters. Anyway, this game is rather crap. Move from the top left corner to the bottom right, dodge the slowly shuffling "guardians", I guess you get more gold the faster you do it? I like to pretend that the new insult "Basic" (as in "Y'all Basic B-tch-s) is about this kind of thing. At least the movement is smooth. Rating:2/5

Cabby - Ken Jones

I kind of like the little microcosm created here. Your tiny yellow cab (next to the "A"irport near the bottom right corner) makes cute little beeping noises as you putter around the city. What look like misplaced balloons are actually streetlights, and a red light will block your progress. Probably the most charming part of this game is how the Trolleys, moving on their paths back and forth, get all excited and try to run you down when they see you. Anyway, you get various fare requests to drive to or you can pick up a random guy who is sometimes walking around. And make sure your tank doesn't go empty. Rating:4/5 (it got a boost for extra cuteness and because of the neat little microcosm it makes)

September 1984 - Mystery at Marple Manor, Treasure Hunt

Editor's Notes is all about Jack Tramiel switching to Atari. This passage is interesting:
Commodore, aka Jack Tramiel, acquired MOS Technology back in the seventies that eventually made them what they are today. Among other things, MOS brought us the 6502 microprocessor (long the heart of PETs, Apples, Ataris, etc.). And, more importantly, it brought Jack Tramiel the central nervous system of his philosophy of vertical integration. Over the years, his only competitor with the same capability for inhouse chip manufacturing was TI, and they never quite mastered the art the way Jack did.
In a lot of ways, this is a lesson Apple learned well, even if some some parts of the manufacturing process are actually distributed... like Alan Kay said "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware." and Apple's adherence to that kind of thought seems to be a real strength going against Microsoft on the desktop and Google in the mobile world.

The Games

Mystery at Marple Manor - John R. Prager

The computer can be a referee for a game not unlike "Clue". Maybe I'm too biased in my reviews - I'm not going to gather up a pile of people or even a "Player 2" very often, and I much prefer action games to anything else. But, this is my blog, and so I give this game my lowest Rating:1/5

Treasure Hunt - Calvin Overhulser

I'm not going to sugarcoat it... this was not a good month. I'd totally have wanted my $12 back. Anyway, "Treasure Hunt" is a bit of a tropical Pac-Man, which makes it sound much better than it is. Run your dude around the island, look out for the skulls meandering about along with the skulls just sitting there, pick up gold coins and bars, the purple barrels have rum that amusingly mess up your control, there's some way to use the fire button to cross the bogwater. Sound is an incessant beeping, and the control suffers from some of that "I'll move you if you are pressing the control when I figure it's time to see if you're moving, otherwise I ignore you" that "Bonking Barrells" had. Rating:2/5 (for drunkenness, and because the Bog was sort of neat looking)

August 1984 - Balloon Blitz, Sno-Cat

Notable Features

Ha, "Campaign Manager", how timely! The middle of the Reagan years, and at the very outset of of the Dueling Dynasties of Clinton and Bush... unfortunately a two-player only game. Because it's not listed as a "game" I'm not going to do a full review but here's a screenshot:

I guess this was still the era of the Democratic "Solid South". I like the Dungeons and Dragons approach to politics...

Of course for me, "Sprite Magic" was MUCH cooler. Like the previous issue's "Ultrafont+", carefully plotting out the art, pixel by pixel, for one's upcoming gaming masterpiece was endlessly compelling. I spent many hours fiddling with this.

Editor's Notes mention Tramiel's ("Commodore founder and visionary") departure.

The Games

Balloon Blitz - Michael T. Bohn

Press the button to drop a well-timed bomb and destroy the tank. That's... about it? Cute sprite graphics and it's kind of fun to see the tank throw it in reverse and evade, but nothing to write home about. Rating:2/5

Sno-Cat - Andy Keplinger

Another attractive game, but again lacking in a lot of substance or originality... steer the Sno-Cat left and right to avoid trees as you ascend the slope, fire button brakes. Not sure if it's the emulation or the game but sometimes the steering doesn't quite work, making this game even less fun. Rating:2/5

Getting Started with Commodore Emulators and COMPUTE!'s Gazette

For those who wish to play along with the home version...

I'm using the great emulator VICE... this is the first time I've used it on OSX, but before then I was using it for a long time on Windows.  I downloaded the binary here. Opening up the dmg I couldn't just double click on "x64.app", I had to right click and select open, but after that my system knew that the ".d64" and ".t64" files belonged to it.

I got the pile of disk images here... archive.org is great! I also used them to get PDFs of the print version of the magazine.

Double clicking on a .d64 image and VICE will mount it and even do the classic
LOAD "*",8,1
(Unfortunately, that doesn't run the main menu until late 1984, so you may have to run
for earlier issues.)

You might notice that you don't always get a quote mark with your keyboard's quote mark key... you might have to hit shift-2.

Also Commodores were inconsistent about if you had to or even could load a program ,8,1 rather than just ,8 (the ,8 means "disk" vs tape, the ,1 means 'load it into place in memory')

Other notes: on Macbooks the function keys are actually labeled on top of the computer, and correctly mapped, but you have to hold down the "fn" button to activate them. Also, cmd-w activates
"warp mode" which can shorten "disk loading" times and the like.

You should consider getting a USB joystick, or even a Atari-stick-to-USB adapter like I describe here. (Most emulators have some kind of "use keyboard as joystick" mode, but that's not too much fun, is it?)

UPDATE: games that I rate as 4 or 5 stars get added to the blog's accompanying game archive. Each is a simple one-game-per-disk-image that should boot with no problem.

July 1984 - Beekeeper, Bonking Barrells, Space Patrol

Notable Features

"Ultrafont+"!  I remember spending many happy hours designing my own character sets for various games that never saw the light of day. 

Character Graphic games were such an interesting feature of the era. Later Gazette will have some truly impressive examples, but they were generally an expedient way of putting lots of stuff on screen, and making up sets became a fun exercise in tiny pixel art.

The Editor's Notes mentioned the Summer CES and the Commodore "264" and C-16. The gimmick of the 264 was going to be that it had apps (WP / spreadsheet / Logo) and was going to drop sprites and sound. The gimmick was supposed to be non-hobbyist "information appliance" like the Macintosh, though now it reads more like Jef Raskin's other baby the Canon Cat.

Other interesting type-ins were "Quilt Squares" (simple tiling) and "Robot Math".

The Games

Beekeeper - Daniel Gray

This game represents some of why I started this blog: half-remembered fun little microcosms exploring interesting little gaming ideas. This character-based game feels a bit like Centipede meets Asteroids, with a hint of Yar's Revenge... the constantly moving (unless it's up against a wall or Clover) Beekeeper has a short range pesticide gun, but (unusually for the genre) steers left and right. One enemy at a time, either a bee or sometimes a clover-laying crab (???) is a threat in the top 3/4 of the screen. The enemy's movement is an odd mirror of your own. Meanwhile, you're using your peashooter pesticide gun to whittle away at the beehive, and then the sleeping drones behind. So the game play tends to be fly to the wall, whittle away at it, and the duck away when the active enemy gets too close. The sound is kind of annoyingly piercing, however. Rating:4/5

Bonking Barrels - Bruce S. Gordon

And... this game is why I was afraid of starting this blog.  Terribly blinky-and-BASICy overall. You use the A and D key to move left and right, press f3 to jump up to the next level, and f1 can blast a hole over your head to jump through, plotting your way to avoid barrels. The control is bad in other ways - there's some kind of timer running, and if you have a key pressed down when the keyboard is polled, you move, otherwise you stay. "'Bonking Barrels' will appeal to those who want to take a break from fast-actions games which require quick reactions" claims the magazine text I'm not sure controls this bad will appeal to anybody, however... Rating:1/5

Space Patrol - Salvador Alcántara

Not a bad little shooter. UFOs slowly descend, taking turns shuffling downward.  The bases under you scroll but the illusion of motion is challenged since all the aliens never shift their horizontal position. When you've fired all your bullets you can land on one of the bases to refill (having to line up perfectly) but you get fewer and fewer bullets each time. Rating:3/5

June 1984 - 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe, Castle Dungeon, Revenge of Cyon, The Frantic Fisherman


The Editor's Notes starts with muscle flexing about Gazette's paid circulation after a year: 300,000+, putting it in the top half-dozen for the industry, and also mentioning its parent's magazine's surprising growth.

The notes also include a letter to the editor from one Ron Bosse against copy protection. He argues the backups-blocking aspect outweighs the piracy risk. Sometimes when I think about how I sought a Commodore 64 just because the casual/pirate games distribution seemed so much more vibrant than on the Atari 8-bits, I'm not so sure.

Notable Features

An interview with the design team behind M.U.L.E.: Dani Bunten, Bill Bunten, Jim Rushing, Alan Watson. (It mentions an upcoming "Gold Edition", not sure if that ever happened)

There's an in-depth review of "Worms?",  a strategy game I've always liked more in theory than in practice.

Among the other included programs are a version of Eliza ("Therapy"), the educational toys "Spelling Critter" and "Shape Match", and a "Word Scramble" program, where I guess the computer could act as a referee for some kind of home game.

Oh and this ad:
So cyberpunk, baby!

The Games

3-D Tic-Tac-Toe - Mark Doyle
Use your computer as a 3D Tic-Tac-Toe board. No computer opponent. I remember making the same just-board-no-AI in 2D for Atari computers... my 8 year old self impressed my aunt by describing how I would test for every possible win condition. Anyway, nothing very exciting here. Rating:1/5

Castle Dungeon - Dave and Casey Gardner
So, take the pool-of-light lamp effect of Atari 2600 Adventure and combine it with a slow-moving character graphic based dungeon map (ala Atari 2600 Maze Craze) and you have this game. Find and defuse 3 bombs in 3 minutes, there are unmoving lizards that block your way until you find a sword, there are some locked doors that need a key, a pits you press "L" to fly over.

It looks like this game, and many of the others, started on the VIC-20 and then got ported. I think that computer's clunkier 22-across character set was probably better for this kind of game than the C-64's 40 across, more rectangular characters.  Rating:3/5

Revenge of Cyon - Mike Reinman
This game has a bit of a Missile Command theme but is plagued by flickery character graphics. That little blue plus sign is your crosshairs (interestingly it sometimes changes colors when it crosses where a star is.) The Cyon ships lurches downward, and you need to get the crosshairs to where it is and press the firebutton to send it hurling back up into space. It tells you how much time you took, how many shots, and at the very end your rank.

I'm trying to figure out why a surprising number of these games ask for a skill level 1-6.
Rating: 2/5
The Frantic Fisherman - David Lacey
Oof. This game plays like a parody of a Nintendo Game-and-Watch. Use < and > to get to the correct side of the boat to repel the shark or raindrop that threatens you. The pattern doesn't change: Shark. Raindrop. Shark. Draindrop. Space automatically does the right thing (Punch & Judy stick or suspiciously short lived Umbrella... which you only get 3 of per raindrop, though since it's timing sensitive that doesn't end up mattering much. Rating:2/5

May 1984 - Props, Mind Boggle, and SuperSprite

Welcome to the inaugural entry of Gazette Galore... because of laziness, we're kicking off when C!G started putting out a disk version of its software, saving readers the hassle of typing things in. An ad on page 33 announces the launch, with a six month subscription costing $39.95 and a year for $69.95 - about $90 and $160 in 2015 dollars.

Features This Issue: Interview with Will Harvey - his "Music Construction Set" was an impressive piece of software, especially consider its author was still in high school. The article "Speedscript Revisited", going over C!G's signature word processors mentioned an embarrassing bug, with the [n]ext page command getting caught in an infinite loop.  "Sound Sculpture" is a sound editing program, interesting that it features standard Character Graphics (and colors) but a joystick operated mouse pointer. (You actually have to follow the instructions in the magazine, or else you won't hear much.) "Ski Physics" is a kind of stupid math "physics" game - the Commodore 64 seems to have impossible rounding issues.

The Games

Props - Philip I. Nelson
I have to give this "innovative and non-violent" game its... err, props, it's kind of cute! You maneuver a tiny character-graphic pigeon to its mate, tucked into one of the walls, dodging the spinning propellers, each rising or falling in its individual column - kind of like a more vertical Frogger. The twittering sound of flight is pretty cool, though points off for the relentless "swish swish swish" of the propellers. (Some of those points for the kind of amusing "thwack thwack thwack that happens when your bird gets hit by a propeller and is kind of stuck for a second... low-rez literal slapstick!) More points off for not really having an ending, you just play until you get bored. I really liked how the article of instructions for the game went deeply into the programming of it, including how to trigger the machine language subroutines from BASIC. That's so emblematic of the era, where computers weren't just passive entertainment devices, but devices that encouraged kids and adult hobbyists to make stuff.  

Mind Boggle - Jame E. Rylee 
A not particularly inspired version of "Mastermind". The interface is kind of poor, even taking the era into account, when you start it doesn't tell you how many colors there are, they should always show the color with the number that hits it, and "right color wrong space" "right color right space" is ambiguous.

SuperSprite - Nick Sullivan This game suffers a bit from not being played original hardware, since it requires quick use of the function keys. A very wobbly Superman-- err, SuperSprite, is descending to earth, and you have to use the function keys to shove the... "Spritely Gate" bars of kryptonite? What?

So having to hold the Mac "fn" key, along with not having the keys lined up vertically with the bars, is a real distraction. Also the weird wobbliness of the flier is frustrating. Kind of like a proto-escort mission, but the game gets some credit for originality overall.