January 1994 - Blox Trot, 64 Dimensions, Link 'Em

So, the brave new post-print world of Compute's Gazette...

UPDATE: after I had about finished this blog, I was amazed to find out that Martijn Schols' computerarchive.org not only had (dot-matrix?) printouts of the text contents of the disks, but paper covers, in what looks to be Print Shop-generated art (kids of the 80s might remember that program...) As far as I can tell they didn't come with the disk, so maybe they're homemade, by the same person printing out all that text? But each is seasonally appropriate, and I dig 'em, so I'm putting them here.

There's a new pre-menu screen:
On the one hand, there's an air of pathos about leading with "Advertising". I believe that ad revenue is generally more important than subscription revenue for a publication, so this might be where the transition really hurts. (On the other hand, in an era where the Commodore was pretty much not at all in stores, advertising for this niche audience might have more value for the reader than in other circumstances.)

Most of the ads are boring text documents but a few use flashing colors and a few have some nice PETSCII art:
Heh, Used software.

(Side note, when I was young and bored I remember checking out some of the ads on the mid/late-80s disks I had access to. A few were kind of impressive, with animation or interactive elements. I haven't been paying as much attention through the course of this blog, however.)

The disk is now "two-sided", but only the front has the menu, and all the columns and features require flipping the disk - kind of a pain in the butt for your loyal blog-editor, but no price too great for all the fame this will bring me, eh? Fred D'Ignazio's column talks about the Newton MessagePad. Funny how that reference is kind of bridging the gap into the modern era of computing, with its frequent emphasis on mobile.

Blox Trot - Arthur Moore

A two player strategy game, a little bit too "thinky" for me... each player has a 4 x 6 grid that is not unlike a 2D Rubics Cube; as you slide a row or column, the farthest piece loops around to the nearest side. So, clever, but only really spatially smart people will love it. Tentative Rating:3/5

64 Dimensions - Eric J. Bryant

So this Tic-Tac-Toe variant, with four 4x4 boards has an extra parallel to June 1984's 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe with Three 3x3s; that one was included the second ever "accompanying disk", this one in the first ever "disk only" edition, and so that one was near the start of Gazette's run, and this one near the ending. And neither have an AI opponent. But, this one has a better sense of design (a bit more restrained - come to think of it 1984's display was likely influenced by the Atari 2600 version (though that was 4x4x4)) and UI (the cursor goes more where you'd expect it to) ALRIGHT - I've clearly given too much analysis of games few are likely to want to play that much, and programs that aren't all that much better than pieces of paper. Rating:2/5

Link 'Em - John Cameron

Yet another roughly-boardgame themed game- third for this issue, and third by John Cameron. It's for 2-4 players, who like in "64 Dimensions" are trying to get 4 in a row, taking turns putting down balls of their color. When you land on a square, though, it might give you bonus points, it might let you drop on through, or it might let you pick difficulty (with scaled point rewards) for a very confusing "Mastermind" like game where you swap 2 numbers at a time and the computer tells you how many are correct. So the presentation is very nice, but I'm very far removed from the people who I think would enjoy this: it's too much slow and too much conniving for the casual game player and too much luck for the strategy game player. Rating:2/5

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