The 4th Dimension stand
The 4th Dimension had two brand new games available, both of which were additions to their new Value for Money range - a series of games all priced at £9.99. The first of these was Silver Ball, a pinball simulator which was so popular that 4D had sold out of all their copies by the end of Saturday. The second new title was Pushy, although this is no relation to the wonderful free Fred Williams titles. The game is a simple, graphically dull, block-pushing affair. This one hadn't sold out but, unlike Silver Ball, it had been previously advertised in the Acorn press.
4D were also selling Cyborg, which they claimed as a brand new game from a new team. This turned out, however, to be simply a rerelease of the game already released by Alpine Software back in 1993, using their Creator game creation utility. It's a strange mix of arcade game and text adventure, and redefines the meaning of "garish" when it comes down to the graphics front. Originally it cost £26 but as a new member of the VFM range you can now get hold of it for £9.95. It's a poor attempt at a game, however, so I wouldn't bother if I were you. It runs far too fast on current Acorn machines, and the text adventure bits aren't up to much. It has also been infected with the patently brain-dead 4th Dimension addition of replacing your monitor definition file when it runs so that when you return to the desktop you can only use 320x256 screen modes... which is more than a little pathetic! They did the same to Drifter, but at least it sort of warned you first. The new Cyborg doesn't even bother with that. Describing it as careless is being polite.
When I spoke to someone on the stand I discovered that, despite the fact that they were selling Cyborg apparently under their own banner, they hadn't actually ever tried playing it! They asked my opinion on it, and whether I thought it was worth £9.99 or not. Perhaps if they'd bothered to slow it down to a playable speed on a Risc PC this would have helped matters...
Intelligence isn't an obvious factor in the 4D camp, but their current policy of charging more for an upgrade than to buy some games from new really is doing very well even for a company which manages to place magazine adverts for £9.99 games and yet obscure this fact by sticking their previous RRP next to every game. Would you pay £15 to upgrade Chopper Force when they sell it from new as £9.99? No, I didn't think so... They didn't even bother to correct the mistake in Acorn User, later reproduced in the show guide, that said that their VFM games all cost £39.99 (and misspelt VFM as VMF). They're so laid back I'm surprised they haven't fallen off the planet. Or maybe the "fourth dimension" is a reference to some private reality that they keep to themselves?
Finally, their photocopied show advertising proclaims that they will now be stocking the entire range of Acorn games from both Superior Software and Oregan Software.
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