When he saw the preview copy of Ocean's Renegade, Oliver immediately said he wanted to do a cover of it when the review copy arrived. It was back to the single, powerful image, not unlike the notorious Barbarian cover, but with more restraint! It was rumoured that Roger Kean posed for Polaroid shots from which Oliver modelled the figure, and while Roger's undoubtedly something of a hunk, no-one believed that Oliver hadn't added considerably to the street fighter's physique to make it one of the best figure pictures he had done.
In two respects, this was a momentous issue. Once again the CRASH reviews underwent a change after much discussion. We had dropped the Value For Money rating with the July issue, largely because of the plethora of budget games. It had seemed to us impossible to continue calculating value for money in any meaningful way when games at £2 and £10 were considered as the same product. Also, some readers had more money than others, making an arbitrary measure of value for money meaningless. Actually, this move brought the CRASH ratings more into line with Roger Kean's original concept for reviews - that the reader should make the decision about the worth of a game after having read everything the reviewers had to say about it.
Now the Comments box was tweaked: Control Keys was dropped (the days when they made a significant difference to playability were over with universal joysticks and definable-keys options), Skill Levels was dropped in favour of a new Options line which also included details on definable keys, two-player modes and so on, Use Of Colour was merged with Graphics to make the comment more logical; but perhaps the most notable addition was that of each reviewer's Overall percentage, which explained more clearly how a game's Overall rating was arrived at.
And then there was the very first ever CRASH Challenge. ZZAP! had run reader/reviewer challenges since it started, and while they were fun to do, they were always a beast to organise. AMTIX! also had a challenge, so the pressure to include one in CRASH had been there for some time. We resisted the temptation easily enough seeing the other magazines struggling to get theirs sorted out each month. But the recent CRASHtionnaire had forced our hands without doubt. Too many readers wanted a CRASH Challenge for the magazine to refuse it.
In addition to the organisational problems (finding the time, inevitably a Saturday; getting the challenger to Ludlow; finding someone to take photos), there was always that nagging feeling in the reviewers' minds that they didn't want to make prats of themselves by losing to a mere reader. However, by dint of moral pressure, Barnaby persuaded Paul Sumner to go first - he's such a natural leader of men, it was argued, that if he did it, the others would feel bound to - and duly he met Mark Turford from Wednesbury on a Saturday afternoon, and just as duly, he lost. They played Mikie as Nick Roberts sat with pad and pen in hand to record this historic defeat. It was ignominy after the ZZAP! Challenge, where Julian Rignall won month after month till people began to think he was Jeff Minter.
Perhaps not quite so earthshattering, but much sillier still, was the arrival in CRASH of Markie Kendrick's King Grub, star of LM, T-shirts and... now the strip. Mark had created the character for LM, but when the magazine closed he refused to stop drawing the darned thing and eventually Roger was forced to give way and make room.
Advance planning for THE GAMES MACHINE resulted in a brochure for would-be advertisers, and in slightly modified form it appeared in the centre of this issue. Historically speaking, the most interesting aspect is the two serious-looking figures in the middle wielding laser guns. The man on the left was, of course, ZZAP!'s Julian Rignall, but few realised that the lass on the right was Glenys Powell, CRASH and ZZAP!'s Editorial Assistant, and, more importantly, Julian's fiancée.
And THE GAMES MACHINE was about to make history itself, with its press date shortly after this CRASH.