Amstrad Action was the longest-running news-stand UK Amstrad magazine, published monthly between October 1985 and June 1995.
It was the first title published by Future Publishing, which has subsequently grown to become the UK's fifth largest magazine publishing company. Broad-based coverage of all things CPC, together with an irreverent writing style, made 'AA' a perennial favourite and at its peak it recorded ABC circulation figures in excess of 38,000.
AA was one of the first magazines to have a software cassette mounted to the front cover. Such covermounts (of tapes or discs) latterly became almost obligatory for computer magazines. Though AA's covertapes were initially for special issues only, Christamas and AA birthdays, the magazine eventually began to issue one every month - containing user listings, utilities, and demos or full versions of commercial games.
Published by Future Publishing, a company set up by Chris Anderson (ex-Personal Computer Games and Zzap!64 editor). Launch Editor, Peter Connor, also an ex-PCG staff member, shared the writing duties with the only other staff writer, Bob Wade. Bob, another ex-PCG/Zzap!64, was given the title ‘Software Editor’ and would review the vast majority of the games featured, with Peter giving a second opinion. Trevor Gilham, Art Editor, would complete the four man team.
Issue 1 (dated October 1985) was released in September 1985 with the cover price of £1; 1 pence for every one of the 100 pages. It took the new publication a few issues to find its readers, but with the help of a bumper 116 page Christmas 1985 issue with a cover mounted tape, the circulation figures grew rapidly.
In October 1986 Amstrad Action split into three separate publications. AA still catered for the CPC range, while 8000 Plus and PC Plus focused on the Amstrad PCW and PC range respectively.
AA finally gave in to reader’s pleas to have a permanent cover tape. An announcement was made, in AA66, that the following issue would, not only contain a cover tape, but contain more colour and be printed on different paper. Review pages were also slightly re-designed.
April 1992 and the ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) figures showing, yet another, increase: 37,120 - The highest ABC since July-December 1988’s 38,457.
AA 100 looked at the top 100 products for the CPC and also a trip down memory lane, including past editors and staff. As circulation figures wind down further still there was a drastic drop in page numbers from 60 to 36 in July 1994's AA106. More compact issues mean no superfluous columns or features. AA107 became the first issue with only one member of official staff.
AA111 and no credits list, although we could deduct that the new editor was Karen Levell, who answered the Reaction letters and confirmed her appointment as editor. June 1995 and although everything appeared as normal in AA117, with AA118 advertised in the next month box, this is the last AA ever.
AA covered both 'games' and 'serious' side of the CPC, maintaining a balanced coverage throughout its run. The editorial coverage was always seen as being one of the three main areas; there was the games (or leisure), serious (programming, business software etc.), and the regulars. Features would come and go, but there was long-running features including 'Amscene', 'Forum', 'Action Test', and 'Cheat Mode'.
Chris Anderson used his previous success of covermounted cassette tapes - with Personal Computer Games - to include one with the AA Christmas special issue of 1985. This included two unreleased games from Ocean Software; Kung Fu and Number 1. But the covermount cassette tape was only an occurrence on the Christmas and AA birthday issues, not becoming a regular feature until AA67 in 1991, mainly due to requests from many readers. Cover-cassettes featured game demos, applications, software utilities and, in some instances, complete games.
Codemasters produced a Dizzy game specially for the AA birthday covertape in October 1988. This 'Special Edition' included different rooms and objects to explore. AA67, dated April 1990, came with the first of the permanent cover tapes called Action Pack #1, along with a new cover price of £2.20. A playable demo of Ocean Software's Total Recall and complete games Hydrofool and Codemasters' Dizzy were included on the tape.
Action Pack #2 caused some controversy among the readers as one of the featured games How To Be A Complete Bastard featured mild swearing, plus the game's quest was to be violent and obnoxious throughout a house party.
December 1993 AA99’s Serious Action cover tape included the complete Stormlord game, albeit a censored version. With the self-censoring of the Hewson game it seemed that AA was trying to avoid similar controversy that followed AA68’s Action Pack #2.
AA staff and contributors
- Pete Connor
- Matt Nicholson
- Jim Nagel
- Bob Wade
- Steve Carey
- Rod Lawton
- Linda Barker
- Dave Golder
- Tim Norris
- Karen Levell
Other full-time editorial staff
- Richard Monteiro (technical editor)
- Pat McDonald (technical editor)
- Trenton Webb (staff writer)
- Adam Waring (technical editor)
- Frank O'Connor (staff writer)
- Adam Peters (staff writer)
- Simon Forrester (staff writer)
- Rebecca Lack (production editor)
- lots and lots more
- The Pilgrim aka Steve Cooke (adventure columnist)
- The Balrog aka Stuart Whyte (adventure columnist)
- Jerry Glenwright (PD columnist)
- Caroline Lamb aka Steve Williams (PD columnist)
- Tim Blackbond (PD columnist)
- Keith Woods (PD columnist)
- David Crookes (fanzine columnist)
- Richard Wildey (reviewer)
- Angela Cook (reviewer)
- Richard Fairhurst (technical writer)
- Amstrad Action scans - every issue online (currently offline)
- Future Publishing
- Wikipedia entry for Future Publishing
- Wikipedia entry for Amstrad Action
- Coverscans of every issue
Please click this link for details of every game to under go the Action Test