The last few Inside Pitches have drawn some interesting comments from the readership. My good friend Garry Nicolson who I used to bounce ideas off at school neatly summed it up as 'Parochial', Steve Harvey, another old friend, deemed most of it 'Over my head' in the sense of being extremely obscure and, most notably, Pete 'spokesman for a generation' Birks slammed into me as well as Inside Pitch for displaying 'Elitism of the worst kind.' I am sure he didn't mean this and is probably regretting it at this moment.
Computers. Most of you who care will have got wise to Sim City, Millenium and Free Kick by now, all of which are indications of what can be done on a 16 bit machine when the talented programmers get their heads together. And it gets better. As I write, Harpoon sits on my left waiting for a thorough playthrough, The Golden Age of Railways (an 1830/Sim City hybrid) is imminent, I am awaiting delivery of 688 Attack Sub and TV Sports Basketball, SIAM have finally put togther a set of decent railway simulations and the pacesetting Maxis are reputedly working on a terraforming simulation along the lines of Sim City. All this points toward a trend for more complex and interesting simulations that are rather more up my street than arcade fare. Now that this level of game is possible, and apparently selling in numbers, perhaps we can hope for some really good sports and combat simulations that have been possible for some while but never delivered.
I am not sure who, if anyone, this will benefit but I will mention it anyway. As you may know, I have an Amiga computer and I have recently acquired, via an American disk, a public domain version of a Diplomacy game assistance program. From what I can work out it is exactly like those versions found on IBM PCs and seems to run very well - you input the orders and it works out all the results for you and displays it all with some nice graphics. I think it may even print out turn reports into ascii files. Sadly it is object code (C, I think) so I can't make the source available to owners of other computers. If there is anyone out there who, unlike me, is interested in this, drop me a disk and an SAE and I will do you a copy by return.
Making up slightly for the loss of NBA action this year, CBS Fox have released three or four videos licensed from the NBA and priced at a reasonable £10. Best of the bunch is undoubtedly MICHAEL JORDAN: COME FLY WITH ME. Corny eh? The cover promises 40 minutes of action of the world's greatest but what we actually get is a typically schmaltzy biography taking in his career from high school, through his days as a Tarheel and on to the slam dunking genius he is today. Quite why we have to suffer the appalling voiceover delivered in the usual slow, admiring drawl ('But reality has never looked so good. His elegance on the court has transformed the game into an art form.' Pass the sick bag.) rather than just some decent music, I don't know. All this sugar is thankfully interspersed with plenty of cracking film of those one handed dunks and the famous 'Air Jordan' sequences where he really does seem to fly. I can't help but feel a tape of just the basketball highlights would be better, but it would be rather short. Turn the sound down and enjoy.
I still haven't decided on a satellite TV dish. Well, more accurately, I have decided that I want one but can't get round to the hassle and expense of getting one installed. If anything, my television hours per week have dropped over the winter and I find myself craving just exotic viewing such as the NBA, cycling or some decent ice hockey. The reasons are more gaming and reading, much more writing (GI mainly) and the lovely new eight screen cinema that has opened at Queensway. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to the Autumn ITV film season (which promises Aliens, Top Gun and others) because the films arriving on TV now are those that I missed in my non-cinema going phase a few years back. The restricted viewing still included Michael Palin's Round the World in 80 Days that I watched with much enjoyment, Trans World Sport (You want obscure sports? This programme offers an endless supply) and on the comedy front, The Wonder Years and Whose Line Is It Anyway? seem to get better and better. Ultimately disappointing were Cheers which is now way past its best, St Elsewhere which fizzled rapidly toward the end and The Land of the Eagle which was rather boring despite the immense potential and the usual marvellous photography. The hit of the season though is in that tacky zone populated by The Dukes of Hazzard and CHIPS; I mean of course the amazing Baywatch, surely the best early evening viewing for kids and adults alike. Ooerr.
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