Amiga Power

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Amiga Power was a British computer games magazine which ran from 1991 to 1996, for 65 issues, and focused, unsurprisingly, on Amiga games.

Mostly.

It's mostly remembered for its totally quirky yet endlessly readable style. People didn't read it for the Amiga games. They read it for the writers, the biting yet totally honest opinions, the Running Gags, the reviews done in the style of other things (play Review-By-Numbers! No, really; the reviewer writing it as if they were in hospital), the features that you simply wouldn't get in other magazines (for example, a two page spread on how to play Doom IN REAL LIFE).

The magazine ended in 1996 as the Amiga itself was dying, but people fondly remember it to this day. Former staffer Stuart Campbell maintains a historical fansite [dead link] that gives a peek into the inner workings. An archive of its reviews is also available.[1]

Amiga Power is the Trope Namer for:
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World - a term for a level in a Platform Game where most of the difficulty comes from reduced friction on the platforms, thus forcing the player to wrestle with the controls instead of providing a proper challenge. They hated it.
Tropes used in Amiga Power include:
  • Brutal Honesty
  • Catch Phrase: "You useless, cretinous morons.", "Natch.", "Drop your science on those assembled.","It's more important to me than being the editor of a computer games magazine." and a hundred more.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jonathan Nash. If you ever read anything which entered into the world of the utterly bizarre, it was Jonathan Nash who wrote it. The same reviewer who, whenever a photo opportunity arose, always presented himself as a cartoon character. From Animaniacs.
  • Credits Gag: It was easier to list the times when they didn't slip a funny comment under the names of the production staff.
  • Doing It for the Art
  • Four Point Scale: Defied - one of Amiga Power's aims from the beginning was to use the entire range of the percent scale, so 50% means a game is actually So Okay It's Average
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: In their early days, one of AP's many running jokes was to threaten people with clearly over-the-top punishments... which backfired in their review of the point-and-click game Universe, where Jonathan Nash suggested readers should get hold of the game's musician's address, go round to his house, and shoot his family. The musician himself read this and was quite upset by it, and J Nash didn't use the joke again.
  • Happy Ending: The last ever piece of writing in the mag described a sort of Elysian Fields for the remaining reviewers, stuffed with Amiga games and all their favourite things.
  • In the Style Of: The name of one of AP's regular sections. Beginning as a back page feature, it later moved to the news pages where it became a reader competition, with readers being asked to make pictures of Amiga games in the style of other things (normally other games). AP awarded a score out of 10, with £20 worth of Amiga games for each point, but in a Running Gag, always found trivial or unlikely reasons to halve the point score.
  • Mean Glaswegian: Stuart Campbell, once lovingly nicknamed "videogaming's very own serial killer", would not, could not shut up about any flaws, and was admired and hated in equal measure for his insistence on telling the truth. Even in the face of a kangaroo court and firing squad.
  • Moral Guardians: From the sublime (sued by the British Legion to block the use of a poppy on their cover) to the ridiculous (one parent wrote in to ask them to stop using 'crap' to describe games, suggesting 'dead' instead - "'This game is a load of dead.' - hmm, doesn't really work now, does it?")
  • Note From Ed: constantly. ["Constantly." That's it? You're fired - Ed.] Taaa-daaa!
  • Not Screened for Critics: Not for these critics, anyway - games companies stopped sending them review copies because of their unfair practice of using the whole percentage scale, and not giving games at least 80% just for existing.
  • Orphaned Punchline: one of the 'Who Do We Think We Are?' pages (the page in each issue which introduces the writers) involved every reviewer giving their favourite joke punchline (but not the joke itself).
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: done frequently in the Concept Reviews, where you'd suddenly be reading a play, or a transcript of an episode of Have I Got News for You.
  • Reviewer Stock Phrases: Detested by AP to the point that they wrote a feature pointing several of them out to their readers. For example, 'if you like X, then you'll like this'.
  • Self-Deprecation: Probably one of the reasons AP is remembered so fondly.
  • Running Gag: Lots and lots of them. Whenever someone asked how they could "be" Goro, for instance.
  • Spiritual Successor: Dave Golder left to start the SF/fantasy magazine SFX, using much the same humour in the reviews and occasionally some of the old staff as reviewers. Stuart Campbell, for instance, did for The X-Files. It gradually devolved into a 'normal' mag, eventually even eliminating the different titles for the head editor. Thankfully, the honest reviews are mostly still there.
    • Similarly, J. Nash and S. Campbell teamed up with P. Rose and K. Gillen to create Digi-o-spinoff Digiworld—although both were regular columnists for the Teletext version anyway.
    • And Amiga Power itself may be seen as a Spiritual Successor - several of the writers (including Golder, Nash and Campbell) came from the classic ZX Spectrum magazine Your Sinclair, which had a similarly zany style. Sega Power also took up the torch, though they tended to not so much walk the line of absolute lunacy as leap headlong over it while screaming incoherently about mackrel.
  • Take That: seriously. There was nobody safe from Amiga Power's criticism: game publishers, the magazine's own ex-staff, and the readers especially. But most of Amiga Power's Take Thats were directed at other game magazines, and game publishers. Because they cared.
    • In later issues, AP became fed up with other magazines giving clearly awful games 95%, or reviewing games that hadn't been released, or in one case, reviewing a game's PC version and pretending it was the Amiga version. Because of this, they made The Disseminator, a table of review scores from other magazines with annotations to show how bad their reviewing was.
  • Vapourware: its "design-a-game" competition never produced a real playable game. R.I.P., Spodland.