The Enduro Racer cover is a very straightforward one, and it was chosen largely for the opportunity it offered Oliver to produce an exciting action picture. The main figure is smaller than it might have been because there had to be a strap announcing the Playing Tips Supplement, which was nicely tied in: the biker looks like he has just leapt over it. Never one to miss a light-hearted dig when the occasion arises, Oliver made the crashing biker wear a helmet adorned with the letters CVG.
For the April issue, Roger Kean had become CRASH Editor halfway through its production schedule. With May's issue he felt he could really get to grips with some of the problems that had been ailing the magazine.
The reviews were first. Several previous issues had failed to cover anything like the volume of games released in the month, and it had always been CRASH's boast that we did cover everything. The problem was that since the early days the number of pages devoted to features and specialist sections like Frontline, Tech Niche and Adventure Trail had expanded dramatically. Increasing the number of review pages would mean expanding the magazine beyond its economic size. Much tighter writing would be required from now on, so that a review would take up less space and more would fit in.
Roger and Ciarán looked closely at recent reviews and decided that many were heavily padded without providing sensible information. One result of the new attitude was that the issue packed in 37 reviews (more than for ages, excluding February's issue) and still left space for the other features, including the 32-page Playing Tips Supplement. The reviews were also split into three categories. each with a different design style: Smashes, those above 50% Overall and those below, allowing us more freedom to give short reviews to games that hardly deserved a full page to themselves.
Then there was the extra colour: in May's issue virtually every game was featured in colour (apart from some latecomers and the adventures), even in the Playing Tips and Frontline. Readers seemed to approve of the colour, but not every letter was so kind about the shorter reviews - the shortness of the Krakout review was especially resented by some.
The number of reviewers also came under consideration. Ben, Paul, Mike and Richard were doing a sterling job, but it was felt that some fresh blood was required, and over the next few months that would arrive. The first new face in was that of Gareth Adams, another Ludlow local studying at the College, and a CRASH reader from the start.
A casualty of the new broom was my Hall Of Slime. To be honest it had outgrown its usefulness and there was a thought of axing it to make way for something new, though no-one knew quite what at that time.
While the dust appeared to be settling at the King Street offices after six months of unrest. Newsfield was facing a serious problem with LM. Despite its obvious popularity with readers, LM was in financial difficulties. Circulation was increasing nicely, but advertisers were still too wary of the 'youth market' and thus the magazine's revenue was almost non-existent and it lost nearly £20,000 each issue. The gamble had not paid off. It was like AMTIX! all over again, only on a spectacularly larger scale. Emergency management meetings were held to see if anything could be done, but to no avail. A few days before Issue 5 was due to go to press at the end of April an announcement was made to the company that LM would have to close down.
For the second time within two months, the management were faced with making staff redundant. It was a terrible blow, personally, in terms of prestige and financially. Trade papers, including Computer Trade Weekly, erroneously suggested that Newsfield had lost half a million on LM. The real figure was nothing like that, but it was a heavy enough loss. The leave-taking a few days later was sad - but on the bright side, all the LM staffers found themselves other publishing work within a few weeks.