Martin has been a software developer for many years. This is mixed with a passion for retro machines and game,
Issue 46 of Crash Magazine
Crash Magazine - The Spectrum Gamers Bible
Crash magazine was one of the most popular monthly magazines available covering the best 8-bits money could buy; Sinclair ZX Spectrum and it's games.
Read and remembered by many it is a rich part of 1980's gaming history.
Like thousands of us Spectrum gamers, I read every Newsfield magazine every month, with Crash being my favourite of the three by far.
But my story is a little different from most.
Let's have a look back at one of the most important video gaming magazines of the 8-bit era.
Sinclair products available at Amazon
An overview of Crash Magazine
The magazine was published from 1984 until it's unfortunate demise in 1992.
Games for the ZX Spectrum effectively ceased to be released in 1993 - so it is no surprise that the magazine ended up defunct at that point.
The first issue was published in February of 1984 (when I turned twelve, it makes me feel old!) and some of the notable games reviewed were 3D Ant Attack, Lunar Jetman and 3D Deathchase, which ended up being given the accolade of 'game of the month'.
A few issues in (around issue five I think) and the game of the month moniker was dropped in favour of a 'Crash Smash' rating.
Games that excelled were given a Smash (Generally scoring 90% or more in an overall rating) which eventually became a badge of honour that software houses craved.
If a game was rated as a 'Crash Smash' then good sales were almost guaranteed.
The famous Crash logo
Founded by Roger Kean, Franco Frey and illustrator Oliver Frey in 1983.
Newsfield was based in 'sleepy' Ludlow in Shropshire, England.
With the snappy editing of Kean and the superb artistry of Frey - this and all the other Newsfield publications soon became popular, with Crash, ZZap64 and Amtix! amongst the most read magazines for their respective machines.
Game Of The Month in Crash Magazine: Deathchase on the ZX Spectrum
The Early Crash Smash Logo
The redesigned Crash Smash logo
Issue One Of Crash Magazine
Why I was so lucky with Crash Magazine
I was so lucky when it came to the magazine, and even any of the other Newsfield publications.
Newsfield magazines were printed in my hometown before being sent out for distribution.
My dad (bless him) worked for the Royal Mail and had to go to the printers every week on a mail run. The print manager and my dad got on well so he used to give my dad a freshly printed copy of at first Crash magazine, then each of the other Newsfield prints.
At the very least I would have my brand new and pristine copy it a good ten days before it hit the newsagents shelves.
Sometimes, depending on which day my dad was at the printers I would get a copy 'hot off the press' from the first batch printed.
There were definitely a few instances where I was the first person in the whole of the UK to read the brand new copy of Crash, or ZZap etc. How lucky I was!
Break times at school were never the same again as a group of us huddled round a copy of our favourite magazine, getting a heads up on which games were worth getting hold of.
Whilst mere mortals had to wait for more than a week to see if the latest game from Ocean or Elite was any good, we already knew the score. Good, good times.
Over the years I built up an almost complete collection of Newsfield publications - my magazine rack was bursting at the seams.
Let's just say I was a tad miffed when my dear mum decided to throw the whole lot away...
Crash Smash - a worthy accolade
As the magazine became more and more popular, software companies realised the influence it held over paying gamers.
If you received a good score for a game in the magazine then generally more people would go and buy it. Anything over an 80% rating was considered an essential purchase - and if your game hit the magical 90% (or over) mark (or 9/10 in the adventure section of the mag) and received the coveted 'Crash Smash' award then you were onto a winner.
Sometimes the cassette cover sleeve would have the 'Crash Smash' logo printed on it so you just knew that the game on the tape was quality.
Some notable titles that were smashed include:
- Driller - received a whopping overall score of 97%
- Technician Ted - received a whopping overall score of 96%
- Winter Games - received a superb overall score of 93%
- Mikie - the excellent arcade conversion of the Konami game received a fantastic overall score of 93%
- Commando - the excellent arcade conversion of the CapCom game received a whopping overall score of 94%
- Way of the Exploding Fist - the first proper beat em up game on the ZX Spectrum (I'm not including Bug Bytes Kung Fu as it was far too limited) received an overall score of 92%
All of these games were big hits on the ZX Spectrum and sold well.
A Montage Of Multiple Issues Of Crash Magazine
The Way Of The Exploding Fist on the ZX Spectrum
The excellent theme tune to Mikie on the ZX Spectrum
Anyone who read the magazine will remember 'mailbag correspondent' Lloyd Mangram.
Much of the editorial content (such as game previews and responses to readers' letters) was credited to Lloyd.
Lloyd was of course a fictional character, with all of the articles written by members of the editorial team.
Mangram was sometimes humorously depicted in the magazine as a sketch of a man wearing a paper bag (complete with eye-holes) over his head.
Lloyd Mangram's editorial articles made frequent references to his ancient 'Hermes Typewriter' which was probably something else 'made up' by the editorial staff.
It was a pretty good excuse to roll out if any articles were delayed within the magazine!
Lloyd Mangram Was A Cult Character
The legacy of Crash Magazine
Many retro gamers and specifically Spectrum gamers remember Crash magazine with fondness.
This era was the time when desktop arcade games such as Astro Wars, Tomy Sky Attack and Astro Blaster were on the wane and the might of the 8-bit home computer was on the rise.
You needed to know what was worth you hard saved pocket money and what wasn't.
Even now games that were hit games (smash status) that stand out in the memory.
Crash magazine ceased to exist in 1993 when the 8-bit to 16-bit transition was pretty much complete and now exists online with many of the features from each issue included.
All the 'Crash Smashes' are there along with other highly rated classic games.
Re-live those Crash memories at Crash online.
Useful Spectrum and retro links
- Amstrad CPC 464
During the 1980s entrepeneur Alan Sugar made a foray into the home computer market
- Awesome Graphics
Some awesome graphics were created on many retro computers
- AY Sound
Great tunes on a great and popular sound chip
Nice budget horizontal scrolling shooter
- Dark Star
Dark Star was released for the ZX Spectrum by Design Design software in 1984
- Funny Games
A collection of funny games :-)
- Ocean Software
Ocean Software was one of the biggest developers of arcade games during the 1980s and 1990s
- Realtime Software
Realtime Software were a games developing company that were active in the 1980s and early 1990s. Founded in 1984 by three university students, Ian Oliver, Andrew Onions and Graeme Baird, Realtime Software...
- Retro Computers
Sinclair, Commodore, Atari, Oric, Dragon, Acorn... we've got the lot!
- Sinclair Interface 2
Interface 2 complete with ROM cartridge plugged in The ZX Interface 2 was a hardware peripheral by the manufacturers of the ZX Spectrum, Sinclair Research.
- Spectrum emulator
Want to play those classic Spectrum games? Please read on.
- Spectrum memories
Those halcyon days will never leave us - and the Spectrum is arguably as popular as ever. Let's revel a little in rubber-keyed goodness.
- Spectrum Programmers
Some of the finest and most creative minds that worked on the Speccy
- ZX Spectrum Music
2 channel sound on a single channel beeper? You betcha!
- ZZAP 64
What a great mag for fans of the C64
Any other Crash readers?
BR on December 27, 2010:
That's a nice article - I am the same age as you and it was indeed a good time. There were great games coming out weekly it seemed, with an (un)healthy playground tape swapping scene alongside being huddled around the mags. Crash was always hotly anticipated - I have the DVD of all the scans done by a bloke called Mort. Look up 'Mort's Magazine Scans' if you have not done so already!!
Martin Allan (author) from Sunny Scotland on January 18, 2010:
Glad you enjoyed it! :-)
But - I didn't live in Ludlow. The newsfield mags were actually printed in Carlisle (perhaps other places too, but as far as I know it was only printed in Carlisle) which is where I grew up. So unfortunately I didn't know any of the reviewers...
The Newsfield mags were great - and getting them hot off the press was brilliant!
ZX Zeido on January 17, 2010:
WOW.... getting Crash fresh from printing, what an honor!
So, you lived in Ludlow.... you must have known some of the reviewers, several of them were school kids too.
Martin Allan (author) from Sunny Scotland on January 12, 2010:
Thanks for the .net link Uridium!
Yeah - we'll create one for ZZap (and Amtix) in the near future. The Newsfield mags were brilliant.
uridium5 on January 12, 2010:
p.s I think you might wanna mention this site too
http://www.zxspectrum.net You can play all the games online (apart from Ultimate, probably because they are still owned by Rare)
uridium5 on January 12, 2010:
Oh Guys that was AWESOME!!!
Can you do one like this for Zzap64...pleeeease??