Popular Computing Weekly 30 Aug - 5 Sept 1984

Top titles pirated

PORTUGUESE company MiL crobaite Software is copying Spectrum software in large quantities.

Based in Oporto, the company is offering around 54 cassettles for sale in Portugal.

Each contains two different top selling Spectrum titles from a wide variety of software houses.

The cassette artwork is faithfully reproduced in full colour and the inlays contain extensive instructions printed in Portuguese.

Not one of these games has been authorised by their original publishers.

At least eight of the 100 plus titles in Microbaite’s catalogue come from Quicksilva. Managing director, Rod Cousens, said: “Portugal seems to be one of the main offenders for this type of organised piracy. It’s not the kids copying stuff that worry us so much, as this kind of professional outfit.”

Melbourne House, with The Hobbit and the Horace series, Psion and Beau Jolly — several ex-Imagine titles are on the list — have also been Microbaite’s major targets.
Peter Norman, Psion’s product director, said, “We will pursue this extremely vigorously. We always go to great lengths to stamp out professional piracy.”
Programs in 1Vlicrobaite’s catalogue include: Chuckie Egg from A&F; Football Manager (Addictive Games); Invasion Force, Voice Chess (Artic); Pimania (Automata); Zip Zap, Arcadia, Zzoom (Beau Jolly); Manic Miner (Bug Byte); Dallas (CCS): Pool (CDS); GuIpman (Campbell Systems); Black Crystal (Carriell); Halls of the Things (Crystal); Jungle Trouble, Harrier Attack (Durell); Dictator, Embassy Assault (DK’Tronics); Violent Universe, The Pyramid, Black Hole (Fantasy); Heathrow Air Traffic Control, 3D Space Wars (Hewson); Bugaboo (Indescomp); Mad Martha (Milcrogen); Hungry Horace, Horace Goes Skiing, Horace and the Spiders, Pterodactyls, Penetrator, The Hobbit (Melbourne House); 3D Tunnel (New Generation); Kong (Ocean); Invaders, Planetoids, Chequered Flag, Scrabble (Psion); Smugglers Cove, Aquaplane, The Chess Player, Xxadon, Trader, Galaxians, Games Designer (Quicksilva); Navigator, Everest Ascent (Richard Shepherd); Star Trek, Slippery Sid, Cyber Rats (Silversoft); Joust (Softek); Cruisin, Blind Alley (Sunshine); Transam, Cookie, Jet Pac (Ultimate).

Virgin pushes for quality

VIRGIN Games plans for the autumn reveal a change of strategy.

The company will launch just six new titles and this autumn many of its existing games are to be deleted from Virgin’s catalogue. Deleted titles include Owzat for the BBC, Sheepwalk and Ghost Town for the Spectrum, and all its Dragon titles.

“The best of our current software will be reduced to £2.99 until the end of November. These are games like Falcon Patrol and Racing Manager. The deleted titles are our not-so-good products,” said managing director Nick Alexander.

“We’re cutting the price because we’ve found that catalogue sales have now all but stopped — this is a way of repromoting the titles.”

The six titles Virgin will release this autumn reflect the company’s new policy of selective publishing.

“We are now going for quality rather than quantity,” Nick continued. “But we are still going to market the titles extremely hard, and will spend £0.25m in advertising the games in the run-up to Christmas.”

The new titles are Falcon Patrol II, Terrorist — written by Andromeda Software — and Sorcery, all for the Commodore 64, Strangeloop and The Biz for the Spectrum and Sinbad for the BBC B.

Sorcery is adapted from the Spectrum version of the game, Sinbad has the Arabian Nights as its theme and The Biz is a simulation game based on the life of a rock star.

Virgin will continue this selective policy into 1985. “In the long term, Virgin will be releasing fewer games than in the past; at the most, it’ll be two per month,” confirmed Nick Alexander.

Camputers takeover

CAMPUTERS, manufacturer of the Lynx micros, which has been in receivership since June, is hoping to exchange contracts with a buyer.

Receivers Hacker Young says that final negotiations are now taking place.

Spicer, the paper manufacturer, is reported to be the buyer

Melbourne Howe reveals Holmes’ latest case

THE long awaited Sherlock Holmes adventure from Melbourne House is now completed and should be available from mid-September.

Like The Hobbit, Sherlock Holmes was written by Philip Mitchell in ‘Inglish’, with complex sentence constructions being understood and with characters leading ‘independent’ lives.

As with The Hobbit, a knowledge of the literature is useful although not essential to the playing of the game.

The faithful Dr Watson is, of course, an integral part of the adventure and Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard also appears.

The player takes on the persona of Holmes and the game begins at his rooms at 221b, Baker Street. Successful completion of the adventure depends on solving a particularly difficult case that has Lestrade of the Yard completely baffled.

The adventure takes place in ‘real time’, and the locations are scattered over Victorian England. The number of locations and the complexity of the sentence interpretation routines have meant that the graphics in the game have had to be kept simple.

Sherlock Holmes for the Spectrum will cost £14.95. A Commodore 64 version is due for release in October.

Cheetah releases Rat

THE first cordless joystick has been launched by Cheetah Marketing. Available first for the Spectrum, versions for other machines are also planned.

The Remote Action Transmitter (RAT) works on much the same principle as a remote control TV unit. It has a touch sensitive control pad and fire button. When pressed, these send out the relevant infra-red signals to a receiver which plugs directly into the edge connector at the back of the Spectrum.

The RAT can be used effectively up to thirty feet away from the screen, and the signals are sent out at a wide angle — about 30 degrees — so the player need not point the ‘joystick’ directly at the receiver.

The RAT is compatible with many top software titles including Psytron, Trashrnan, Atic Atac, Sabre Wulf and Hunchback.

The RAT should be available within the next week or so, and costs £29.95. The PP3 battery needed for the unit is. not included in the pack.

Rabbit creditors take action

RABBIT creditors are taking legal action to stop Stuart Edgar from continuing to act as liquidator of the company.

Stuart Edgar was appointed as liquidator by Rabbit shareholders after the company’s creditors put forward no alternative at the creditors meeting on August 10th.

Now they have filed a petition to the courts objecting to Edgar’s appointment.

However, because the courts are now in recess, the petition will not be heard until October.

Aquarius price falls

THE price of the Aquarius 1 micro has been cut by manufacturer Radofin Electronics to £49.95.

The drop means that the Aquarius is now effectively competing with the ZX81 in the starter computer market. However, unlike the ZX81, the Aquarius offers 16 colours and 40 x 24 character graphics resolution. Software is available on both cassette and cartridge.

Radofin has also recently appointed Mike Quelch as sales director. Mike was formerly software sales manager at Dragon Data.

Domark’s marathon quest

A PRIZE of £25,000 is being offered to the first person who can complete Eureka, an adventure-arcade program from a new company, Domark.

The game has been programmed by the Hungarian team from Andromeda, and consists of five separate adventures linked by five arcade games. The arcade screens must be successfully completed for the player to move from one adventure to the next.

Domark was formed last March by two ex-advertising account managers, Mark Strachan and Dominic Wheatley. The latter is the grandson of author Dennis Wheatley. The pair originated the ideas for Eureka, and commissioned the Games Workshop founder and author of Puffin’s Fighting Fantasy series, Ian Livingstone, to plan the structure of the adventure.

While Domark expects the prize to be claimed eventually, the company believes it will take six to nine months for anyone to finish it.

Eureka will be launched at the Personal Computer World Show. Available by mail-order only from November, it will cost £14.95.

Spectrum and Commodore versions only are planned at the moment.

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