Gameswipe - quite good wasn’t it? We loved the chiptune version of Grandaddy’s AM180 at the start, along with references to Turbo Esprit, the ZX81 and Your Sinclair. Hamstrung a bit by rebuking lazy media coverage of violent games, but then spending much of the show showing needlessly violent bits from those very same violent games, but hey. One of the most nicely well-informed gaming shows ever to grace television, alongside BBC Scotland’s VideoGaiden. Here’s hoping that despite the total lack of publicity from BBC Four, it attracted enough viewers to make a full series worthwhile, or at least to make it an annual fixture.
Anyhow, on with the second part of our Scanorama, with several images fresh from the glass of our glacially slow Epson DX3850. First up, the April 1996 copy of PC Zone. This was from the time Brooker contributed a monthly cartoon strip to the magazine, going by the name of Cybertwats. It’s a bit of a shame Brooker packed in doing his cartoons, to be honest. We really enjoyed his Superkaylo website back in the steam age of the internet (no longer online, and sadly blocked by a pesky robots.txt on wayback.org), and can even remember his work for Oink! comic in the 1980s.
(Disclaimer: at this point, we’d like to point out that, despite any evidence to the contrary, we actually haven’t been stalking Charlie Brooker since about 1988. It’s just that he’s had a habit of cropping up on publications and websites we happen to read or frequent. It’s quite bloody alarming, actually. Oink! comic (which we piggin’ loved as a kid), a Your Sinclair letters page, PC Zone in print, And then in the digital age, Superkaylo, NTK.net (which was the first home to TVGoHome), the old SOTCAA forum, and a couple of newsgroups we used to post on in the late 1990s. If anything, he’s stalking us. For fuck’s sake, even the first two words of the Guardian Guide’s review of BrokenTV were “Charlie” and “Brooker”. We’re not even joking.)
There was also a Brooker-penned review of some early offerings from Sega on the PC CD-Rom market. Things were so strange with the PC gaming market in the mid-90s, that the utterly forgettable Comix Zone was the better of the three offerings. Even that only got 68%, and as PC Zone was a games magazine likely to give a CD-Rom title that pumped you full of eye cancer a score in the mid-70s, that really isn’t very impressive.
One thing we’ve just had to scan in from the same edition of PCZ was this advert for another of Dennis Publishing’s magazines from 1996:
Yes, CD-Rom! It’s the future! Look what you get on the covermount! Beavis and Butthead! Playboy! Star Wars! Erm, Myra Hindley! That’s right folks, 1996 was a year that you could plonk a photo of a convicted child murderer on your front cover, and you’d still shift lots of units because there was a covermounted CD-Rom.
On to September 1997, and an edition of PC Zone leading with “Quake In A Codpiece”. So, lots of brown, and a tightly packed scrotum? No wonder the majority of the cover image had a palette comprised wholly of dark grey and black. By now, the letters page had progressed from irate readers whinging about Windows 95 to concentrating on games (or whining about video cards being too expensive, anyway). As for scribblings from the hand of Brooker, there was a review of jolly, family-friendly village-based isometric action-adventure Little Big Adventure 2, a game which was advertised on the back cover of this very issue of PC Zone. Naturally, with it being the latter half of the 1990s, the advert featured a large rendering of the central character in bed with a snoozing blonde, just below a caption asking “Do you remember your first time?”. Ah, the 1990s, when even magazine advertisements for Anusol would probably try to cram in a hugely blatant reference to shagging.
There was also an interview with celebrity gamesmaker Peter Molyneux. There’s a thought – you never really see desperate attempts to paint games programmers/designers as ‘celebrities’ nowadays, do you? We suspect Amiga Format’s rather cackhanded attempts at promoting Andrew Braybrook as “the man who killed pop music” pretty much put paid to that ethos, even if he did look a bit like the one with the glasses from The Chemical Brothers.
More next time!
(Practically no-readers-at-all’s voice: “Hey, what happened to Data Week Day 3?”)
Oh, shush. It might be back tomorrow, or more likely on Thursday.