Amiga Power

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Amiga Power
Amigapowercover.png
Amiga Power #65, September 1996, the final issue
EditorMatt Bielby (May '91 - Jul '92)
Mark Ramshaw (Aug '92 - Mar '93)
Linda Barker (Apr '93 - Jan '94)
Jonathan Davies (Apr '94 - Jun '95)
Cam Winstanley (Jul '95 - Dec '95)
Tim Norris (Mar '96 - Jun '96)
Steve Farragher (Jul '96 - Sep '96)
CategoriesVideo game journalism
FrequencyMonthly
Circulation55,173 (Jul-Dec '91)
60,184 (Jan-Jun '92)
50,222 (Jul-Dec '92)
54,184 (Jan-Jun '93)
54,124 (Jul-Dec '93)
48,147 (Jan-Jun '94)
46,326 (Jul-Dec '94)
30,486 (Jan-Jun '95)
18,704 (Jul-Dec '95)
First issueMay 1991
Final issue
Number
September 1996
65
CompanyFuture plc
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inBath
LanguageEnglish
ISSN0961-7310
OCLC1063474423

Amiga Power (AP) was a monthly magazine about Amiga video games. It was published in the United Kingdom by Future plc, and ran for 65 issues, from May 1991 to September 1996.[1] It was in many ways a spiritual successor to Your Sinclair, which shared many of the same staff.

Philosophy[edit]

Amiga Power had a number of principles which comprised its philosophy regarding games. Like almost all Amiga magazines of the time, they marked games according to a percentage scale. However, Amiga Power firmly believed that the full range of this scale should be used when reviewing games. A game of average quality rated on this scale would therefore be awarded 50%. Stuart Campbell offered some rationale for this in his review of Kick Off '96 in the final issue of the magazine:

"Giving something like SWOS [Sensible World of Soccer] 95% is utterly devalued if you also give, for example, Rise of the Robots [a famously overhyped fighting game, rated 5% by the magazine] 92%. Percentage ratings are meaningless unless you use the full range, and you can't give credit where it's due if you're pretending that everything's good. What encouragement does that give developers to produce quality? They might as well knock it out at half the cost and in a third of the time if they're only going to get another 3% for doing it properly. Of course, the market will die much faster if people get continually stiffed by crap games, but hey - there's always another machine to move to and start the cycle again."[2]

Amiga magazines at the time tended to give "average" games marks of around 70%, and rarely gave scores below 50%. Because the public was not used to this method of grading, AP gained a reputation among publishers for being harsh and unfair. AP occasionally hinted that game reviewers were being given incentives by game PR divisions to mark games highly.[citation needed]

Style[edit]

Amiga Power reviews were often written in a very personal, informal manner. The writers often used in-jokes, obscure references and running gags. Writers would sometimes embark on anecdotes of recent happenings in the AP office, or of their interactions with the other AP staff. This contributed to AP's reputation for self-indulgence, but it also created a sense of familiarity.

Writers[edit]

Many prominent video game journalists like Kieron Gillen and Stuart Campbell used AP as a first step in their career. Gillen, now a successful writer for Marvel Comics, was one of several writers who started off as an AP reader and letter-writer (under the name "C-Monster") before being employed by the magazine as a freelance contributor. Another was Mil Millington (known to AP readers as "Reader Millington"), who would go on to become a successful novelist, selling over 100,000 copies of his debut Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About.

Throughout its 65 issues, AP went through several editors. The editors, ordered by time, were:

  1. Matt Bielby, AP's first editor (issues 1-15)
  2. Mark Ramshaw (issues 16-24)
  3. Linda Barker, AP's only female editor (issues 25–26; issues 27-36 were edited by Stuart Campbell after Linda fell sick, although he never held the title of editor)
  4. Jonathan Davies (issues 37-50)
  5. Cam Winstanley (issues 51-55)
  6. Tim Norris (issues 59-62)
  7. Steve Faragher (issues 63-65)

Issues 56-58 were published with no designated editor.

Concept reviews[edit]

A concept review is a review conducted in an abstract manner - basically, any review which deviates significantly from the usual practice of describing a game and analysing its strengths and weaknesses. Usually, it takes the form of a work of fiction (often a screenplay) which indirectly reviews the game through allegory. Amiga Power featured concept reviews on a regular basis. The term itself (never actually used in the magazine) was an ironic play on the "concept albums" released by prog rock bands of the 1970s.

Competitions[edit]

Competitions were also run in AP's distinctive style, often challenging the readers' wit or creativity. AP frequently provided strange additions to the usual competition rules, such as making peculiar threats to people who were ineligible to enter the competition if they tried to, or specifically disallowing reader Stuart N. Hardy from entering the competition.

Characters[edit]

Like its spiritual predecessor, Your Sinclair, Amiga Power had several joke characters who would make irregular appearances in reviews and features. These included Uncle Joe Stalin, who made occasional Ed Comments in an attempt to erase Stuart Campbell from history; The Four Cyclists of the Apocalypse, the only minor deities committed to rigorous consumer testing; Doris Stokes, who returned from the dead as an even worse medium than before, and several others besides.

Amiga Power regular features[edit]

Oh Dear[edit]

One of the earliest Amiga Power features which appeared in True Stories was Oh Dear, a small monthly feature showcasing poorly rated Amiga games. Oh Dear was removed very early on in the Amiga Power series.

Kangaroo Court[edit]

A regular feature which presents a so-called video game "crime", followed by the "case for the prosecution", which is a section illustrating why the crime is a negative thing. The penalty was usually an execution. In reflection of the nature of a real kangaroo court, there is no "case for the defense".

In The Style Of[edit]

An "In The Style Of" is, as the name implies, a depiction of a game in the style of something else; most often another game. It started out as a Back Page feature, but was soon thrown open to readers as a kind of competition, and moved to the news section.

Readers could send in floppy disks containing their In The Style Of drawn in Deluxe Paint, and every month Amiga Power would select the one they liked best and feature it in the magazine.

The Disseminator[edit]

This feature appeared toward the end of AP's life. It was simply a table of recent games, and the percentage scores that they received from Amiga Power and the two main competing Amiga games magazines of the time: The One Amiga and Amiga Action. It also contained annotations on some of the games.

Just Who Do We Think We Are?[edit]

While other magazines used at most a modest box (the "flannel panel") to introduce their reviewers, Amiga Power dedicated a full page to their staff, with photographs and short sections for each member.

Points of View[edit]

Points of View was a table summarising each AP reviewer's opinion of the main games reviewed that month, if they had played them. The reviewers had room to make a short comment and give their personal score from one to five stars.

Do the Write Thing[edit]

"Do the Write Thing" (an obvious pun on the movie Do the Right Thing) was the magazine's letters page. One distinguishing feature of the letters page was that the magazine gave the letters titles by taking excerpts of the letters' contents out of context, often by going across sentence boundaries or cutting in the middle of a clause.

Amiga Power irregular features[edit]

APATTOH[edit]

APATTOH, meaning Amiga Power All Time Top One Hundred, was a yearly feature. It originally started in AP issue No. 0 (a special "preview issue" of Amiga Power given away as an addition to an issue of Amiga Format), and later appeared approximately in every issue whose number was divisible by 12, plus 1.

APATTOH ranked games depending on how the staff liked them. This meant that games which got good press at the time when they came out could end up very low (or entirely absent) on the list. A notable example is Frontier, which every other magazine touted as the greatest space flight game ever, but Amiga Power ranked #100 in their top 100 list (emphasising the point by placing it one place below a public-domain version of Pong).[3]

There were two games which held an iron grip on the #1 spot in the list. The first was Rainbow Islands, a coin-op conversion platform game which the magazine controversially deemed the Amiga's finest game for the first two years of its existence. The second was Sensible Soccer, which took over the top position in the first AP Top 100 after its release (the game came out too late for the 1992 chart), and never relinquished it (except to its own sequel Sensible World Of Soccer) for the rest of the magazine's existence.

Diary of A Game[edit]

There were four instances where a series of consecutive issues of AP had a feature called Diary Of A Game, where the development of a new game in progress was monitored in the form of a diary, written by the game's programmers. The games were:

  • Mega-Lo-Mania 2: This was the sequel to the original Mega-Lo-Mania. This game never seemed to progress beyond several possibly mocked-up screenshots and was quietly dropped.
  • Spodland: The winner of AP's earlier "Design A Game" competition, where readers were asked to send in concept ideas for a new game, with the winning idea actually getting implemented as a real game by a programming group called The Hidden. The game reached a semi-playable prototype stage, but was never finished and never released.
  • Cannon Fodder: This became the best-rated (although not best-ranked) game ever reviewed in AP and was a huge success.
  • Sensible Golf: This was a golf game based on the Cannon Fodder engine.

F-Max[edit]

In its later years, Amiga Power started advertising a fictional refreshment beverage called F-Max, the lightly sparkling fish drink, with the slogan an ocean of refreshment.[6]

Amiga Power: The Album With Attitude[edit]

In early 2019, an Amiga Power fan launched a Kickstarter campaign[7] to create an officially-licensed AP tribute album containing remixes of assorted Amiga game tunes, accompanied by a booklet featuring contributions from former members of the magazine's team. The campaign was successful, and in July 2020 the finished album was officially released.[8]

Most of the remixes were created by the original composers; among those who contributed to the album were Alistair Bowness, Allister Brimble, Fabio Cicciarello, Mike Clarke, Adam Fothergill, Olof Gustafsson, Jon Hare, Chris Huelsbeck, Carl Jermy, Barry Leitch, Jogeir Liljedahl, Alex May, Anthony Milas, Jason Page, Matthias Steinwachs and Tim Wright.

The physical album took the form of a small hardback book, with two CDs attached to the inside of the front and back covers, and the 100-page Mighty Booklet sandwiched between them. The first CD – subtitled AP's Pick Of The Pops – featured remixes of music personally selected by AP team members (including former editors Matt Bielby, Mark Ramshaw, Linda Barker, Stuart Campbell, Jonathan Davies, Cam Winstanley, Tim Norris and Steve Faragher, plus others), while the second CD – subtitled The AP Bonus Coverdisk – featured remixes inspired by games and demos that appeared on the magazine's cover-mounted disks over the years. The Mighty Booklet contained detailed information about each of the tracks featured on the album, including interviews with the musicians, behind-the-scenes facts, anecdotes and asides from the AP team and full song lyrics; a special The Last Resort section written by Rich Pelley; adverts for F-Max and a Canoe Squad movie; a feature entitled The 'Bum Line, based on The Bottom Line, listing other albums of interest; and an ongoing storyline (following on from the events of AP65) in which the AP team are restored to life by The Four Cyclists Of The Apocalypse so they can attend a concert in their honor.[9]

As of August 2020, the album remains available to buy via the original Kickstarter homepage and is also on the websites of C64Audio.com and 010101 Music.[10][11]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "AMIGA Magazines from the UK". Amiga Magazines List. Archived from the original on 25 August 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  2. ^ "KICK OFF 96 REVIEW - July 1996". Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  3. ^ Amiga Power All-Time Top 100 Games for 1994, Amiga Magazine Rack. Accessed on 2 August 2021.
  4. ^ Amiga Power magazine issue 0, Future plc, May 1991
  5. ^ Amiga Power magazine issue 64, Future Publishing, August 1996
  6. ^ "AP2 | The lightly sparkling fish drink". Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  7. ^ "Amiga Power: The Album With Attitude Kickstarter homepage". Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Amiga Power: The Album With Attitude on Discogs". Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Amiga Power Album Review by SuperNerds UK". Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  10. ^ "Amiga Power: The Album With Attitude on C64Audio.com". Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Amiga Power: The Album With Attitude on 010101 Music". Retrieved 26 August 2020.

External links[edit]

  1. ^ You can use DeliPlayer on Windows or XMMS with ModPlug on Linux to play this file.