Submitted by Dan Dooré on Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 17:52.
|Magazine||Crash/Su Merger, Future Fred Releases|
|Reviews||Manic Miner, The Sound Machine|
|How to be a body builder||Ian Slavin||More fun from Axe|
|Sprite X!||Andy Monk||Sprite design utility|
|Triltex 2?||Steve Taylor||Triltex game demo|
|Mandelbrots||Paul Milner||Mandelbrot generator|
|M/C PT 14||Steve Taylor||Search: “MC 14”|
|Sound demos||Ian Slavin||Sound Machine tunes|
|Puzzled||Andrew Hodgkinson||Super puzzle game|
|Castle Demo||John Hawkins||
Playable demo of Castle - Adventure
|Fonts 3||Ian Slavin||Fonts|
|Integ-Deinteg||Ian Slavin||Elaborate Screen Fade/Intro Routine|
|Ultra Scroll||Dan Dooré||Make Your Own Scrollies|
|Maths||Calvin Allett||Simple Maths For Children|
|Planet||Ian Slavin||Revolving World|
Editorial Good day to you all once more from Dundee. I've noticed that so often, other mags' editorials start with "so much has happened since last issue" or "it's been quite an eventful month" and I only wish I could do the same - but then again, FRED only reports on the real news that you WANT to know about so I suppose that doesn't help matters much. Over the last month, I've made another visit to SAMCo down in Swansea and I've also been doing huge amounts of research into Amiga games. For the gullible, I'll point out that it means I've done nothing but play Amiga games for 4 weeks ...! Just to point out regarding the All Formats Shows : I will attend every London, Birmingham and Glasgow one however I cannot commit myself to go to any others although I hope I will. I will point out that only other SAM companies that support shows regularly are the Supplement who go to London and Birmingham Shows and the SCPDSA who go to London shows. Naturally, whenever it is possible, FRED Publishing and the other SAM companies do attend other venues but more often than not, these turn out not to be profitable and hence a waste of time. Write, phone, fax, telex, buzz, call.... Maybe not. I am running short of programs for future FREDs (games, demos, utilities - anything really) as well as menus and any articles (or stories) you happen to have written. As this magazine is non-profit making, I obviously can't pay anyone for their contributions however you can splatter your name all over it. Or if it's good enough, make it shareware!!!! NB : It would have to be of a high standard, preferably in m/c. Remember the brilliant Colin Jordan compo from last month? Well, it's still open until the end of March. All you've got to do to win the priceless goodies is name three objects depicted in any of the Splat scenarios. I'be had a high response from people asking for games to be done by FRED Publishing. Most of them are licences, mostly from the Spectrum interestingly enough! The copyright holders to Sim City are not at all interested in a SAM conversion so forget that but please, keep suggesting. It's here??? Many of you are getting pretty sick of Alan Miles telling everyone how wonderful this "SAM The Juggler" demo is it seems. But finally, SAMCo have got it!! Yes, you won't see it until issue 3 of the Newsdisk but I managed to take a copy of it and compare it to the Amiga demo it was copied from - and here's my analysis : Amiga version has "slim Michelin man" sprite whereas we have our very own SAM character juggling the balls! SAM version runs slightly slower although the balls are slightly bigger. Graphics wise, the two are very similar - both with great ray-traced animation and shadows. The only problem is that no care was taken over the SAM version's background and therefore looks very 8-bit ish. Overall, it's a great demo which I'd recommend you to get. I could have put in on this issue but I wouldn't steal the glory from SAMCo (sorry GB!) Apologies! Whoops! It appears I made a few mistakes in the rush last month! Firstly, if Lemmings is converted to the SAM it will not be done by SAMCo as indicated in the picture. I failed to thank "Michalangelo" alias Mick Clarke for the pictures he sent in for last issue so thanks Mick! In the credits I also thanked Mark Hall (in Swansea) for "NOTHING", I stand corrected - he did give me a few dead arms throughout my stay. I'm eternally grateful Mark ?!? And now some sad news. I must apologize on behalf of Steve Taylor and myself regarding "Triltex - The Later Levels". So, to all the people who have already placed an order I feel I must say this - "you don't stand a !@#%'~$* chance of completing this lot , nah nah na na naah!!!!" Want to be on TV ? Ever fancied having even a few seconds on television? Well, now here's your chance. All you've got to do is to write in to Gamesmaster (y'know the Channel 4 excuse for a computer programme) and say "Help me Oh great Gamesmaster, I'm terribly stuck on level FOURTEEN of Impatience - please, please can you help". Now, Steve Taylor figured that if you do that, one of you is bound to get chosen to ask that very question on TV !! However you must all say the same level - I suggest level 14. Now is that a clever publicity stunt from a programmer or what? Although, Gamesmaster is coming to the end of it's current series, I'm sure a barrage of letters requesting SAM coverage will have some effect... Here's the Gamesmaster address for you : [redacted] Want to cash in ??? What I'm about to suggest is very depressing - but it could make you some dosh!! As most of you have figured out, the Spectrum mags are in decline. Current readerships are a mere fraction of what they used to be and it's easy to predict the downfall of at least one in the following few months. Now that all 3 "glossies" are run by large publishing houses (Future, Emap and Europress) it is forseeable that whilst it is unlikely for any of these companies to go down, either one or two of the Spectrum mags will. What I suggest is subscribing to the one you think will "go down" first !! Why? Well, you'll get a free game and the last few issues of a magazine. Then, when the magazine goes down, the large publishing house will have to give you a full refund on your original subscription!! Eh??? I know it's a bit of reverse logic or whatever they call it but if you look at failures of magazines in the past - the publishers have always had to give FULL refunds on the original subscription - even if it only had one issue to go!!! So which one?? Well, Your Sinclair is reasonably well - with the highest readership and gaining more and more help from the SAM side. Crash could easily go down again although the quality has improved recently (albeit to a rather "kinky" nature). However, Sinclair User has the lowest readership figures, is run by the largest publishing house (EMAP), has been rumoured to improve "number of copies out the door" figures by chucking a few hundred into the Thames and worst of all - has Garth as an editor!!! Yup, Sinclair user is my top tip for going down the tubes the quickest and because EMAP are rather large to say the least, your money would be quite safe... EXCLUSIVE Now that you've just read through that article, you've probably entirely dismissed the idea or are contemplating trying it out (obviously). Anyway, I thought I'd make you read that before you read this, which is hot off the press... On Thursday the 5th of March there were rumours flying about that Sinclair User and Crash were going to merge! Being the news-hound that I am, a quick phone call to Nick Roberts, deputy editor of Crash revealed a few more details : CM : How much truth is there in this Crash / SU merge? NR : PAUSE. How the **** do you know about that? CM : Spies Nick, spies. So it is true then? NR : Tell me, how did you find that out? Who told you? The conversation continued in this fashion for a few minutes before he realized that I wouldn't reveal my sources. However, he did give away certain details, which if you care to turn the page you'll find out about... No more Crash? EMAP (publishers of SU, and also a rather HUGE publishing house) recently (as in very) put in a generous takeover bid for Crash to Europress. "an offer we couldn't refuse" were the words Nick Roberts used so presumably the sum involved had more than one figure... (sorry Europress, Database or whatever) As from the next issue of SU (not that one about to appear in the shops), it will adopt the Crash logo in the corner of the cover and that's about it. Issue 98 of Crash is set to appear in the next week or two but will not be revealing anything about the takeover - because at time of writing/printing, they didn't even know about it! However, there will not be a Crash after that - issue 99 (or even 100) will never appear. Sad innit? So what happens to our Mr Roberts? Well, he's started working on "N - Force" a magazine for Nintendo owners although he says he wants to write an Amiga magazine for kids!! Is this the end of Nicko of we know him? Nope, he'll be sending in his games and demos to FRED , so keep your eyes peeled... The Future of FRED? Well, FRED's second release is now out : Triltex - The Later Levels is now available and ready for consumption by all you Impatience fans! Lets go over it once more, Impatience was the FRED release that got absurd marks like 90% in Your Sinclair, 87% in ZAT etc etc and had everybody moaning about the difficulty - then, as soon as everyone completed it, they wrote, phoned, asked, begged and pleaded for extra levels. So here they are. The extra levels disc costs a mere £4.99 to all you Impatience owners. When I say "extra levels disc" I don't just mean a disc - ooooh no! If any of you have noticed the 16-bit "Pocket Power" budget packaging then you'll know that they're rather smart! Yes folks, you get a disc in a lurvely display case complete with inlay and instructions - no tacky photocopy job or no packaging here!! Well, now I've had my moan about SAMCo's recent packaging , I'll get on with future FRED releases... Still to come Here are a list of titles that I can reveal are to be released by FRED along with their approximate release dates. Please note, these dates are VERY approximate and are purely to give you an idea of the time until release. There is a very good chance that each of these dates may be out by a month or two but until work progresses further I can't guarentee anything. Shoot 'em Up. Sometime in June. "beats the **** out of Sphera" Arcade Football game. Late Summer. MIGHT be Kick Off licence. Platform game. Early Summer. Dizzy clone ??? Beat 'em Up. Sometime this year. No details. Role Playing Game. Sometime this year. This programmer was established on Speccy but a kind software house gave him a SAM!! Impressed huh? Yes, I'm pretty excited by that line up too! (a nice little Alan Miles quote!?) I would like to stress that while work is under-way on these (and a few other) projects, I am making no guarantee to their release date. What I am certain of is that you'll come to know FRED for turning out good software, with good packaging and on time!! Something that has not been succesfully to date! As usual, I'm always on the look-out for more programmers, musicians and graphic artists on both the SAM and the Amiga. So if you know someone hot, do them a favour and give them the usual FRED address. Generous royalty rates and bonuses available to good coders!! If you've got a game idea or a game you'd like converted - then send me a note or give me a ring and tell me all about it. If there's enough people asking for it - you could be playing it on your favourite machine sooner than you think! Not Swansea Again??? I must be a sucker for punishment - or just braindead. Why? Yes, I dissapeared off in the funny voices, valleys and sheep of that little place to the left of England - Wales I believe it's called. After being held up in customs on the Welsh border (the female customs officer offered to strip search me provided I kept talking - sorry, a little Scottish joke for all you men who don't know how foreign women react to the Scottish accent) What did I learn in Swansea? Well, it seems that SAMCo have a video digitiser on the way! About £50 for the b/w version and for another £50 you can slot in a colour option. Exact prices and dates not released but should be available soon - see Newsdisk for details. Batz 'n' Balls has also been released although a copy hasn't yet materialised in the FRED office (helps if I send a cheque for £l0 eh?). I've been told it's great with the SAM Mouse. SAMCo's software Other future SAMCo titles include Vegetable Vacation - a sort of flying platform game with great grafix, wonderful music, nice effects - but very little gameplay. Price - £9.99 The SAM Coupe Arcade Designer is more or less complete (see Newsdisk for demo) and looks to be good. Andy Wright's Arcade designer apparently includes it's own language! Andy has promised FRED a demo as soon as he can! SAMCo have got the rights to "Roller Coaster", the classic Spectrum game released by Elite in 1986 (approx) work has only just started on development so it will be some time away. Adrian Parker has designed a hardware kit for all you budding Bruce Gordons out there. Price is £25. Date is unavailable. Bowin And The Count Dracula is nearing completion. However - when I saw it, it was a poor platform game, with small graphics, awful music and no playabilty...Will it improve?? Who knows!! And Again... The very day that this is being finished off, I've come back from another Swansea trip (incorporating the rather poor London AFCF on the way). Anway, Adrian Parker was showing me this hardware design he'd come up with which gives the SAM 32,000 colours. It does it by splitting up each of the existing 128 colours by altering all of the binary bits in them. Thus giving you 256 shades of each colour ie 128 * 256 = 32768 colours!! Although it's still a few weeks off development, FRED will keep you tuned. Vegetable Vacatation. Hmmmm. Although I wasn't that impressed with it when I was in Swansea I did encourage it's release. However it turns out that SAMCo havn't arranged packaging for it. So if you send off £9.99 for it, you'll get ... a disc. To me this is unacceptable, considering I got Triltex The Later Levels properly packaged, and it's selling at only £4.99 and only people who have the original can use it! Obviously, when I thought that SAMCo's packaging couldn't get worse, I was wrong! The Newsdisc At time of writing, I've been told issue 2 of SAMCo's Newsdisc has just been released (although I havn't seen it yet). It features 2 playable demos and one non-playable demos as well as news on all the little things like the hardware kit and the video digitiser. If you havn't got it yet, I suggest you send £2 for the first two issues to SAMCo pronto! Issue three onwards however will be priced at £2.50 which may not justify the content but at a quid a time, I recommend it! Issue three of the Newsdisc will supposedly feature the SAM The Juggler demo so that would be worth purchasing as well! However, don't expect any friendly FRED plugs in there - but if you want to get talked in to buying every other mag except FRED then the Newsdisc's for you!! Disc Mags Unfortunately, there's been a hoard of disc mags and PD stuff been sent in and I haven't had time to look at it. So I'll try to give a brief rundown. One magazine I did stop and read was SAM Amateur Programming & Electronics by Shane Smith over in Ireland. Issue One featured articles on machine code, simple hardware design and the history of the Z80 series of chips as well as other articles and programming. The articles has graphics at one side for variety. Altold, I found this a very interesting read and although it's not everyone's cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought the background info on Z80 and Zilog etc was very interesting. This would go very well with the hardware articles SAMCo are doing in their Newsdisk but he does assume that you are reasonably computer-oriented already. However a few years with a computer or anything upwards of a GCSE pass in Computers should be sufficient. Disc Mags SCPDU Don't get this muddled up with the SCPDSA because this is the SAM Coupe Public Domain Update. Basically the same principal as the SCPDSA but this just tells you what the latest PD is, along with various demos from the latest PD people. Issue two is now out and comes with a bonus disc. There was also an issue zero in case you're interested. All three issue cost just £1.50 each. Issue two of the SAM Adventure Club was sent to me recently. The pair running the club seem to be doing extremely well although the club has only had moderate success so far. There's another free adventure on this issue which they plan to continue doing. They also tell me that they will soon be compiling Zenobi Spectrum adventures and putting a few of them together on each disc. Stay tuned or write to them for details. Contents A rather quite month in terms of contributions but I'm sure there is something here for everyone. How To Be A ... Body Builder, continues the intrepid adventures of everybody's favourite alien, Zeb Green. This time he strives to obtain those 10 inch biceps. By Ian Slavin / AXE. Xtreme Software return in style, with a Sprite Designer! Partly in m/c, this is self-explanatory and very simple to use. Just design your fabulous sprites, then all you've got to do is write a program that uses them! Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be including that on FRED if I get it! By Andy Monk / Xtreme. In case you missed out on Impatience, here's another demo to let you see for yourself what all the fuss is about! The aim of the game is to match tiles - sounds easy, luckily for me, it isn't. When loaded, use SAM mouse to pair off ALL tiles on board until completion... NB : This is a Colin Macdonald level, if you want a challenge you need a proper level - get Impatience or T-TLL ! Disc Contents It's been a while since we've seen many mandelbrot programs around so here's a rather good one for you. All the keys are given upon loading and luckily for you, this one uses machine code routines. By Paul Milner. The Sound Machine demos went down rather well last month, so here's a few more to keep you busy. Remember, these can be loaded into the Sound Machine for analysis if you like. You'll need to copy the files on last issue onto another disc with the appropriate filename to be able to run them though. Another demo for you! John Hawkins has sent in a one level playable demo of "Castle" for you to play with. Obviously, with most of the point of the game missing out, the demo isn't brilliant but I'm sure it'll hold some interest anyway... The price and address for getting the full game is in the demo after you quit the game. Disc Contents Andrew Hodgkinson has written a lovely little puzzle game which you'll all enjoy! Called Puzzled!, it contains all the instructions you need and is "pure dead simple" but addictive as well! Where this game really stands out is the music though! After it loads, you'll get a little ditty - wait for the high score table to go and you'll get another, and another, and another....... Impressive aren't they! Steve "Wizard" Taylor returns for all you m/c apprentices with part 14 of his masterful m/c learning column. This time he gives you a run-down on all the important info you need to know to write a good, working machine code program! As usual, there's adverts, screens and the ever popular Bits 'n' Bobs for you to while away the hours at.... Misc People still seem keen for the price of FRED to rise to £2, and with very few people not wanting the change it seems it's inevitable however I'll try to delay it for a few months just to let things settle. It has also been suggested that the programs on FRED could become shareware, ie if you use one program more than once or twice, you send a registration fee to the author which entitles you to updates and special offers. Anyone interested...? Next All Formats Show that FRED attends is April 26 in Birmingham due to rather large losses (over £50 each time) at the past three shows.... Limited numbers of free tickets available for all Shows - send SSAE. Pictures needed for future Sound Machine demos : Pot Black tune (you know, the snooker one) and the ever-so-famous "Yesterday" tune. Get yer mits into Flash and get drawing! A few more menus would go down a treat as well... Impatient If you havn't got Impatience but liked the Triltex demo on this issue then let me tell you that the complete product works with SAM mouse, Joymouse, joystick and redefineable keys. Some of the music was used in the MOM music demo last month. Impatience features two games, one of which is Triltex! The full Triltex has TWENTY FIVE levels for you to battle through. Is it a wonder that Your Sinclair gave Impatience 90% ?? I think not. For those of you who want more Triltex, you'll be pleased to know that Triltex-The Later Levels is now out! Costing just £4.99 this package from the talented hands of Steve Taylor gives you another 25 levels to battle through - and even a new front end! NB : You need the original Impatience to be able to run these levels. Although for only £13 you can get both of them together - worra bargain. Classifieds WANTED : Issue 1,2,6,7,8,9,11,12,13 and 15 of Crash magazine. Will pay well for decent condition. Needed desperately to complete the set! Contact Colin at FRED Publishing. FOR SALE : Impatience - YS Megagame, brand new. Only £9.99 Triltex The Later Levels - fabulous. Only £4.99 6 month FRED subscription.A bargain. Only £8.00 12 month FRED sub. Wonderful value. Only £15 Quality blue mouse mats. Brand new. Only £3.00 Back issues of FRED. All available. Only £1.50 each. Orders not yet taken on future releases - only the stuff that's available right now, and there's plenty in stock! Send cheques / POs payable to FRED Publishing at the usual address. Currently looking into Standing Orders and soon to take credit cards!! However, wait until you see it mentioned in FRED or on any of the ads. Credits Steve Taylor (happy now?) Ged Corner (BDC!) Ian Slavin (laugh at Ged for me!) Andrew Hodgkinson Andy Monk Jon Hawkins Paul Milner Dan Doore (Hippopotamouse) Michalangelo CID (the ST is dead) Adrian "Nosey" Parker Mark 'Oll (!@#$ you too) DVB (cheers mate) GPS Computers (ta) Greg I-don't-know-your-surname PJ (tapes soon!) ESI (ta for the mention) MOM (soon please!) I'm sure with that format, I should have had it all in a scrolly but never mind. Thanks to all those who helped but I've forgotten to credit. FRED21 out early April for just £1.50. Should feature lots of m/c demos, exclusive FRED Publishing news, Poolschecker and probably lots more! Address on label, cheques / POs payable to FRED Publishing please. Thanks. .
Letters & Reviews
Roger Hartley Manic Miner £9.99 Revelation/SAMCO Manic Miner, a new game? Get out of here! Maybe not, but as far as the SAM's concerned (unless you've got the Spectrum version on disc) it is possibly the newest game around. Ten year (nearly) old, and it's one of the newest games on one of the newest computers. What a mystery! I won't bother boring you all with the nostalgia, because I hated the original! That says a lot for my enthusiasm about this one. But alas, my devotion to reviewing software for FRED was enough to overcome that minor (sorry!) problem. Anyway, enough of the silly chit chat (which Col has no doubt edited out anyway), I'd better get on with it. I'm pretty sure everyone knows the idea of this game, but for the benefit of the young SAM users (should I rephrase that?), and because I've got to in a review, I'll tell you all. Miner Willy (that's you) must go through twenty caverns collecting all the erm, collectables and avoiding practically anything that moves. As well as the mobile things, there are also other staionary objects that must be avoided, things such as stalactites, deadly blocks and big falls. Once you have RH Manic Miner collected all flashing objects (varies from keys to coins to sugarcubes (?)) you must go to the exit, and do another cavern. That's it! The only problem being that Willy can't fly, and has to jump from platform to platform in order to collect these things. As simple as platform games go, isn't it? No. As all platform fans will know, the things are always placed in the most cunning and difficult to reach places. So now you know the idea, what's the game like? My first impressions weren't too good. The loading screen is pretty good, but once the game has loaded, it begins to go downhill. A slightly jerky scrolly gives you credits, info and a few tips. Meanwhile, a pathetic tune plays, and you have the option here to select which game you want to play, 1,2 or 3. Option 1 is the original, 2 and 3 are the extra levels. Each game features 20 levels (screens). RH Manic Miner Once you play the game, things pick up again. There is another popular tune in game, which is a big improvement on the menu music, but still only average. It's about the same in style and quality as the Triltex music for those who have that. For those who don't, not bad, but not brilliant either. The graphics though, are brilliant. The sprites are all very small, but beautiful (a bit like me, really). The detail is good considering the size of them, and they are extremely colourful, without a hint of blockiness. These graphics have been very well designed! The big test for me though, was the gameplay. When I had the original, I just didn't have the patience to keep trying. The feel of the old Spec version has been kept to very well, and I don't mean that as a bad thing, surprisingly! It is on the very fine line between addictiveness and frustration, and at times it touches both. Quite honestly, I have been converted! I hated it before, but maybe that has a lot to do with my age at the time. It is extremely addictive, but frustrating at times. That RH Manic Miner frustration soon becomes a vendetta against the game, and you just keep coming back to it. The game is VERY tough, which may scare some people. But hardened platformers will lap it up, and will get hours of enjoyment out of this. I've had it for a few days, and I love it. Maybe Colin will tell you what my opinion was after I'd only spent about an hour with it. One aspect I must praise about this is the fact that it has never yet crashed on me! A lot of SAM games have seriously annoyed me with their mysterious crashes, but this game doesn't seem to have this problem. Not even the NMI button crashes it! Try it for an effect though! Whinges? I can't really think of any! The programming seems flawless, and I can't fault the game. What I can fault though, is the packaging artwork, it's very loud! The music may not be fantastic, but it does it's job, and at least it isn't as annoying as it was on the Spectrum! Anyway, it's optional. If you really hate it, just switch to FX or no sound at all. Wait a RH Manic Miner second! You don't get away with it that easily! Some people will be slightly disappointed to know that I don't think there are any improvements for 512K owners. But then, some of you won't care! At least there's no multiloading, and the loading doesn't take long in the first place. Some people might complain that it isn't very different to the Spectrum original, but it is just a conversion, and did anybody really expect it to be much different? I mean, come on, you have got an extra fourty levels to try out! OK, so the gameplay is old hat, but it's still great, if very simple. I suggest you give this a fair go. The tenner price tag is fair, and if you liked the Manic Miner on the Spectrum, you'll love this! If you were one of the lucky so and so's who managed to complete it, you'll love trying the new levels. If you were a fan (and I'm telling you, I wasn't!) then the price will seem a real bargain, especially with so many new levels. So, my pessimism was premature. After all that it turned out RH Manic Miner to be a top notch game. Not the best technically on the SAM, but for the price it's pretty good stuff. Even if you didn't like the original, why not give this a try? Believe me, if you were like me, you will still like this. Graphics 87% - Great stuff! Colourful, smooth, if lacking animation slightly Sound 71% - Not awful, but certainly not great Playability 89% - Tried and tested formula! Old but still unbeaten Addictiveness 79% - Addictive, but high difficulty level and frustration let it down here Value 82% - 60 levels for a tenner? Not bad going! Overall 81% - Don't be fooled by first impressions, and don't ignore it because it's old either. A top conversion Ian Slavin SOUND MACHINE REVIEW. Let's get this striaght. The Sound Machine is a great package to play around with, but it's not going to turn you in a mega star overnight. Anyone out there who doen't know a great deal about music but would like to learn then this is for you. That is, if you have the patience to read ALL the instructions and not to give up after you have just over-written your finished master- piece. The system itself is in two parts, the Waveform Generator and the Music Editor. The fact that it is in two parts makes it VERY annoying that if the waveform is not quite right you have to reload the generator again. An added bonus is that on my version, if you quit the Generator and go to the Editor, it crashes. Wonderful. The presentaion is very good, but there are a few problems. For example, the icon for deleting and the icon for inserting look similar and I kept pressing the wrong one! IS Sound Machine The mouse is quite responsive and smooth which is a god send with this. The Music Editor shows the current three bars within a two octave scale in a sort of 'stack of boxes'. This 'stack' is the window in which you see any part of the tune and is scrolled. This makes it particularly easy to get lost. I think this wasn't the best way to do it, particularly if your a fan of the Ram Music Machine which used a bar / stave system and then connected them togeather in blocks. With the Sound Machine though, you have to go straight through it in one go. The speed at which it plays can be fairly fast if you manage to cram your bars into the eight notes it gives you four a 4 beat tune, but if you have to expand it to sixteen notes for a single bar it can get quite slow even at full speed. The next 'niggle' is the fact that you need a basic driver AND an interrupt driver as well as your tune to play it from basic. IS Sound Machine It might have been better just to play the tune until a key is pressed, but as it is, it plays havoc with the palette lines. If you play the tune from basic and you use pallette lines they will flash on and off. Apart from these points it is an excellant package. Presentation : 8 ; The icons could be slightly better. Value for money : 8 ; For the price it is amazing. Comment : Easy to use, impressive though some points need 'refining'. Overall : 9 NB: The keyboard Sam is using looks like a KX5, and is that a Laser Harp behind him ? On the other hand, is it a him ? These and other questions won't be answered in the next edition of FRED. SAM article with no name (unless Col uses his own) especially written for FRED... In issue 9 of FRED's rival "Enceladus" was an article about the SAM's CPU, by Stephen Wilson (who I believe is also Integrated logic, or part of IL at least). I was extremely compelled to write in reply to his column, but as I am a regular contributor to FRED, I just have to hope he reads FRED, as I don't intend sending this article to any other SAM magazine. (Now that's loyalty!) Obviously many of you may not have read the article (why not? Enceladus is the second best SAM disc mag around!) so a little explanation is in order. Stephen was talking about how the SAM on the whole is quite slow, and ways to speed it up. I personally don't quite agree with his comments. Whilst the SAM certainly hasn't got the speed of the Amiga, it is possibly the fastest 8-bit around, certainly faster than Speccy, Amstrad CPC, Nintendo NES et al. The main topic of his comments was DMA- Direct Memory Access. For those of you not up on these things, DMA is a system used on the Amiga, whereas chips run almost Anon Letter totally independent of the processor, speeding things up incredibly. The difference DMA makes just has to be seen to be believed. I really hope that the powers that be (SAMCO, in other words) are reading this article, as I have a very important point to get across. First, (and NOT the important point I mentioned) I think DMA on SAM would be an excellent idea, if it could be implemented well. I personally don't think it would be easy to implement, although it is possible. DMA on just say, two chips would make a difference difficult to believe, and put the SAM truly above other 8-bits. I know, the SAM is a much better machine anyway, but the 8-bit consoles do have sprite hardware, which also makes a difference. Said improvement could perhaps raise the SAM ABOVE THE ST. However, I think the easier way would simply be to speed up Anon Letter the processor, which I KNOW can be done. I also know though, that if a processor goes too fast it will simply burn out, and that it is not practical to have extremely fast processors (especially 8-bit). However, if the SAM could have a reasonably priced, 8Mhz+ processor, it would make a fairly large difference, and would be excellent if the processor could be switched back down to the standard 6Mhz. How about it, SAMCO? Now though, the point I want read. Whilst both of these are (in my opinion) top ideas, I don't really want to see them implemented. I know that sound totally contradictory, but there is a perfectly sound reason. I think that incompatibility is already too big a problem on SAM, it's getting too much like PC's. There are too many hardware upgrades already, and most people (like me) simply can't afford them. I only have a standard SAM 512 (which I have spent over £100 upgrading from my 256K without drive). Although I plan on buying a mouse very soon, I don't intend to buy any other hardware, I just haven't got the cash. I'm 16, and broke from buying (1) This extra Anon Letter hardware (2) more than 10 full price prodects and (3) well over 100 PD discs in the past year or so. What is really needed is a new STANDARD. I still have to upgrade my ROM for a start! SAMCO must have realised that so many different hardware configurations is bad for the SAM. I know the standard has only recently been changed, and am glad to hear it. But the fact remains that there are still far too many different types of SAM. Please SAMCO, take heed, and come up with SOMETHING. The way the 256K upgrade and ROM are implemented is perfect, and surely a clock speed upgrade can be done equally well? I hope something can be done after this article is published (it will be, won't it Col?) and just want to say that I am not against DMA on SAM, I just don't think it could be done. If SAMCO are confident they could prove me wrong, and do it the same way as the ROM upgrade (or even offer to upgrade it for a small fee) then by all means do!!! But please, bear in mind the compatibility problems. If something like that was launched, then quite a bit of software using this new feature would also Anon Letter have to be produced to make the hardware attractive enough. It would be a huge project, but one which I feel may be well worth it in the end. Finally, I think I know how SAMCO may be feeling at the moment. Everybody seems to be trying to tell them how to run their business (I've even joined in!). I am only trying to help, and I'm confident that most others writing such articles are the same. Please read them, and you might just find some good ideas among some of them. As MGT you always said you listened to your customers, and I certainly can't dispute that. I just want some reassurance that you still listen to your customers as much as before. Erm, OK, so it wasn't quite the final thing. There is just one more thing I want to know. I have my SAM's sound through SCART (which gives me truly beatiful sound quality, boast!). But despite this, there is still quite a bit of noise in the background (although nowhere near as much as with the ariel lead Anon Letter or audio out). Has anybody at all got a solution to getting rid of the majority of this? Come on, someone found out how to get rid of the SAM's ghosting, so why not this? It is certainly not my amplifier (although it is a bit on the "old and worn" side) so can't anybody come up with something? BEFORE I REPLY TO THIS LETTER, I'D LIKE TO MAKE AN APPEAL TO YOU ALL TO SEND IN LETTERS ,ARTICLES AND REVIEWS YOU DO. I DO NOT GET FLOODED WITH THEM! THESE ARE THE ONLY ONES I HAD THIS MONTH! IF YOU DO OR DON'T LIKE A GAME : WRITE A REVIEW OF IT!! Reply Firstly, I'd like to tell Roger Hartley who wrote the Manic Miner review that I remember you told me that you had an old ROM and no doubt this is the reason for so many of your games crashing! Now to Mr Anon : DMA? Yes, of course the SAM would be better with it but why don't SAMCo put in a better sound chip, blitter chip and 32-bit processor? These would all improve the SAM, but to redesign a circuit board is very timely (hence costly) and costs tens of thousands of pounds just to get the first one produced. Also, if a chip costs a producer £1 extra to make it, it'll add anything from £5-£20 to the shop price. The main problem with white noise is that the TV modulator is in the power pack with results in distortion - hence the buzzing sound.