|Amstrad Computer User|
From CPC464 User to Amstrad CPC User - August 1984 to April 1985Edit
Amstrad Computer User started out as ‘CPC464 User’ (subtitled ‘The Official AMSTRAD Mirco Magazine’) and the first issue was dated August September 1984, costing £1.00 and 32 pages long. Published by Amsoft, a division of Amstrad, the first couple of issues were not made available to the general public, but only to members of the Amstrad User Club. CPC464 User’s only editorial credit in the launch issue was Consultant Editor Gareth Jefferson. Content in these early issues included News, Overview (a look at the CPC464), Q&A, Software Reviews, Listings, Programming and more. Early game reviews included Roland in the Caves and Roland on the Ropes.
Issue 2 and the page count had doubled. The first Game of the Month accolade goes to Roland In Time. Hardware and DIY Typewriter are a couple of the many features introduced.
The Jan/Feb 1985 issue 3, with slightly renamed title, of Amstrad CPC464 User is the first issue to go on sale to the general public costing 95p and 84 pages long. Simon Rockman is credited as editor along with other contributors. Games reviews are given a make over, but still do not credit the reviews to anyone. This time though they were a clearer layout and a rating box is included, with a 5 star rating given to Price, graphics, playability, addictiveness, overall. Manic Miner is the first game to receive the new look review. Return To Eden is the first game to receive 5 stars.
Issue 4 and Amstrad CPC464 User went monthly.
Sorcery, from Virgin Game, is the first game to receive 5 stars in all ratings, Graphics, Playability, Addictiveness and overall.
ACU - June 1985Edit
May 85 issue 6 features the newly released CPC 664 (basically a 464 with a disk drive instead of a cassette deck) on the cover and in depth analysis and features inside.
Following the release of the CPC 664, the June issue is the first to display the renamed title; the familiar Amstrad Computer User. The Gallup software chart is published for the first time. Topping the top 20 chart is Virgin’s Sorcery. Anne Coker joins the magazine as Assistant Editor.
A slight re-design for July’s issue 8. Credits list includes editorial and, for the first time, Production, Design and Advertising staff. Contents still include regular Programming, Hardware and Software features.
October 85 issue 10 looks at the new CPC6128; a new computer with a disk drive plus 128k memory.
December 85’s issue 12, and ACU’s 1st birthday, a bumper 148 page issue, features a re-design of the games reviews again; featuring a new rating box that has marks out of 20 for Graphics, Sound, polish, First impression, lasting impression, value and a final comment.
A Year of ChangesEdit
William Poel, General Manager of Amsoft and Managing Director of ACU, has announced that he will be leaving to run a software company called New Star. A new Adventure feature ‘Seek and Ye Shall Find’ starts in the February issue
March 86 and another re-design; Clearer layout and main content sections include Regulars, Features, Listings, Reviews and ABC. The long running column ‘Hairy Hacker’ debuts this issue; a feature that looks into getting the most out of the CPC including game pokes. Also a 5p rise in the cover price; now up to £1.00.
June 86, issue 19, introduces new Deputy Editor Jeremy Spencer. Also reviews are given a much needed rework; three reviewers, Colin, Nigel and Liz, are given the chance to give their views on the games and along with their overall score out of 20.
October 86 and ACU credits its publisher as Avralite Ltd.
November 86 issue seems to be a letters page for professional programmers as Graham Blighe, Andrew and Philip Oliver write in to comment on recent ACU games reviews.
ACU Settles Down?Edit
A year of continuous fluidity. During 1987 several games are given special 2 to 3 page feature reviews, including 3 pages for the innovative strategy game The Sentinel, Ranarama, Gryzor and Nigel Mansell’s Grand Prix.
The November 87 issue publishes the ACU circulation figures for Jan-Jun 1987; an impressive 63,599. This figure would turn out to be the only ABC figure that will be published.
ACU Jan 88 and a redesign of the magazine layout. Cover logo has also changed along with the general look of the magazine; more colour and neater design. The regular features remain the same for the time being.
Auntie John is the character behind a new programming feature ‘Auntie John’s Machine Code’ which starts in June 88’s issue.
A special cover feature on David Perry and his CPC game Savage features in the November 88 issue.
ACU And CPC ComputingEdit
Jan 89 and ACU incorporates CPC Computing and the magazine goes through a redesign. The games pages get a new look with the introduction of the ACU Star Game awards. The first game to receive the ACU Gold Star Game award is Domark’s Live and Let Die which receives a 19/20 score. Hotshot from Addictive receives an ACU Silver Star Game award with 17/20. Featured game of the month is Ocean’s Operation Wolf.
Titan from Titus receives the first 20/20 rating and also an ACU Gold Star Game award.
Focus Magazines Ltd takes over the publishing of the magazine from March 89. All change for the April 89 issue as ACU has moved to a new publisher and new office. Mark Evans and Andrew Banner are the new Editor and Assistant Editor respectively. Many new reviewers are credited on the games pages including Matt, Adrian, Colin, Paul, Billy, Tony and Rik.
May 89 - As quick as the new editorial staff arrived the quicker they left. New Editor and staff writer are Duncan Evans and Richard Henderson. Another redesign sees a new Neon Zone section where the latest arcade games are featured. The games section is changed again; going under the Meltdown title the games are rated by percentages; Grafix, Sonix, Gameplay and Overall.
June 89 and Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, by Audiogenic, becomes the first game to gain over 90% overall rating with a 91%.
July 89 and a completely redesigned magazine with a new front cover logo. New credits mast (including new Editor Carlo Jolly, Sub Editor Harold Mayes, Staff writers Simon Pipe and Mark Ulyatt. Even contributors have been credited for the first time. The Arcade feature is renamed Combat Zone. Gameplan is the new name for the games section and games are rated by using a bar indicator. The higher the indicator went along the bar the better the rating. Published, again, by Avralite Publications Ltd.
October 89 and some more changes; Guy Matthews is the new editor while the games ratings change back to percentages.
March 90 and one of the largest Gameplan sections yet including, for the first time, a Budget Basement section.
The Forever Changing Face Of ACUEdit
April 90 and the inconsistent game ratings are changed again. The overall rating has changed from the familiar percentage to a picture that represents the score; e.g. Laser Squad gets a sparkling smile rating.
June 90 and, after a longer than usual stint of stability in the editorial line up, there are more changes; Chris Knight moves up to editor and Marc Jones is the sole reviewer credited.
August 90 and the publisher changes over to MCM Ltd, still under the MCPC Ltd division as before.
November 90 and a short Turrican comic strip begins.
The Final IncarnationEdit
December 1990 and a completely revamped design; new main logo, a re-established ACU Gold Award accolade which is given to Electronic Zoo’s table top game conversion Subbuteo.
ACU continues unchanged until August 1991 when the games section is re-named Bomb Alley.
May 1992 and ACU announce that this issue will be the last. ACU’s successor, CPC Attack from HHL Publishing, which even advertises for staff in this issue and has a two page preview slot, will concentrate more on the games playing scene.
Please see here for a list of writers who are credited with writing articles or reviews in Amstrad Computer User.
Please see here for a list of games reviewed by this magazine.
|Issue||Reviews||Avg Score||Highest Score||Highest Scoring Game||Lowest Score||Lowest Scoring Game|
|3||15||3.8||5||Return to Eden, Alex Higgins' World Snooker||3||5 games|
|42||8||66%||83%||Skate Rock||47%||Energy Warrior|
|43||8||65%||93%||Arkanoid: Revenge of Doh||30%||Los Angeles SWAT|
|45||9||69%||90%||Venom Strikes Back||35%||Bad Cat|
|1||August/September 1984||32||£1.00||Gareth Jefferson||Amsoft|
|2||October/November 1984||64||£0.95||William Poel||Amsoft|
|3||January/February 1985||84||£0.95||Simon Rockman||Amsoft|
|42||May 1988||76||£1.25||Simon Rockman||Avralite Ltd|
|43||June 1988||68||£1.25||Simon Rockman||Avralite Ltd|
|44||July 1988||68||£1.25||Simon Rockman||Avralite Ltd|
|45||August 1988||68||£1.25||Simon Rockman||Avralite Ltd|
|Front Covers • Reviews • Writers|