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, Christmas and AA birthdays, the magazine eventually began to issue one every month - containing user listings, utilities, and demos or full versions of commercial games.
All scores given by AA throughout its history
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 took a trip down memory lane, including past editors and staff. As circulation figures wound 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 official member of staff.
AA111 and no credits list, although we could deduce 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 was the last AA ever.
AA covered both 'games' and the '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 were 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 1991, 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
- 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
AA Type Ins
Here are some covertapes converted to disks and uploaded by forum member dodogildo: File:AAcoverdsks.zip
During the first six years, Amstrad Action featured a cover tape on special occasions, such as the Christmas and Birthday editions:
- AA4 (Christmas 1985) - Kung-Fu, Number 1
- AA16 (January 1987) - Druid Demo (Level 2), Amfile, Ramdisk, Fastform (NB bug causes error message, see page 21), Blitter, Drumkit, Gigo
- AA28 (January 1988) - The Duct full game, 464 to 6128, Disk Editor, First Numbers, Thoughtlink, Sound Digitizer
- AA37 (October 1988) - Dizzy Special Edition, Micro Assembler, Special Disk Formatter, SmArt II
- AA40 (January 1989) - Total Eclipse Special Edition, Isotopes, Solar System, Perspective Art, Disk Library System, Gibberish, Reviews
- AA49 (October 1989) - Shinobi Demo, Daleks, DataMaker, WordFinder, SelfDest, Easisheet
- AA52 (January 1990) - The Untouchables Demo, Sun Crossword, Gunslinger, Word Processor, Typewriter
- AA61 (October 1990) - Ironman Demo, Tau Ceti
- AA64 (January 1991) - Puzznic Demo, Lost Caves, Space Froggy
Beginning with issue 67, Amstrad Action began to feature a cover tape on each issue.
From issue 67 to issue 90 the cover tape was known as the Action Pack. This tended to feature a demo of a new game, a full older game (or sometimes two), an application or piece of serious software and type ins or pokes:
- AA67 (April 1991) - Total Recall Demo, Hydrofool, Dizzy
- AA68 (May 1991) - Predator 2 Demo, How to be a Complete Bastard, Biggles, AA Toolbox
- AA69 (June 1991) - Spindizzy, Wizard's Lair, Toolikt
- AA70 (July 1991) - Switchblade Demo, Megaphoenix, Future Knight, Balldozer
- AA71 (August 1991) - Hero Quest Demo, Technician Ted, 3D Construction Kit Demo, Devpac
- AA72 (September 1991) - Robozone Demo, Lightforce, Heavy on the Magick, Rambase, Datafile
- AA73 (October 1991) - Turrican 2 Demo, Thunderjaws Demo, Marsport, XREF
- AA74 (November 1991) - Turtles 2 Demo, Terror of the Deep, Sweevo's World, Drumkit, SmArt II
- AA75 (December 1991) - Cisco Heat Demo, Impossaball, Tir Na Nog, RSX-LIB
- AA76 (January 1992) - Graphic Adventure Creator, Southern Belle, Pagemaker Plus, Extended Basic
- AA77 (February 1992) - Seymour Take One, Firelord, Football Forecaster, Fonts
- AA78 (March 1992) - Space Crusade Demo, The Sphinx Jinx, Shockway Rider, DiscContent
- AA79 (April 1992) - RanaRama, Maze Mania, Word Pro, Easisheet, Powerbase 2
- AA80 (May 1992) - Stryker and the Crypts of Trogan Demo, Croco Magneto, Anarchy, GPaint
- AA81 (June 1992) - Forbidden Planet, Sprites, The Addams Family Demo
- AA82 (July 1992) - Lemmings Demo, Dragontorc, Powerpage
- AA83 (August 1992) - Defenders of the Earth Demo, Drehdriss, SuperSonic
- AA84 (September 1992) - Famous Five, City Slicker, Notepad, Liteprog
- AA85 (October 1992) - On the Run, Link, Worktop, Disc Organiser
- AA86 (November 1992) - Glider Rider, Animator, Screen Compressor, G-Paint. Side B of this cassette had an audio track demonstrating the result of MIDI software on the CPC.
- AA87 (December 1992) - Nexor, Pakman, Pilot
- AA88 (January 1993) - Tankbusters, Penguins, JL-COPY
- AA89 (February 1993) - Wriggler, MagicDOS, Superchars, Flik
- AA90 (March 1993) - Steve Davis Snooker, LARA
From issue 91 to 97 the cover tape was known as the Classic Collection. This tended to feature one full game and one application:
- AA91 (April 1993) - Tasword, Colossus Chess 4
- AA92 (May 1993) - BooTracker, Syntax, Balloon Buster
- AA93 (June 1993) - Racing Boxform, Who's Afraid of the Balrog, Mystical
- AA94 (July 1993) - Instant Recall, VFProg, Contraption
- AA95 (August 1993) - Mastercalc, Biff
- AA96 (September 1993) - Screen Designer, Neil Android
- AA97 (October 1993) - Zapp Assembler, Rik the Roadie
Issue 98's cover tape was not named:
- AA98 (November 1993) - The Blues Brothers
From issue 99 onwards the cover tape was known as Serious Action and typically contained an application and a full game:
- AA99 (December 1993) - Stormlord (full game, AA censored version), Font Editor, Dartsma's Clip Art, Grab Converter
- AA100 (January 1994) - Elite
- AA101 (February 1994) - Exolon, Accounts
- AA102 (March 1994) - Graph Master, DIYFX, Cybernoid 2
- AA103 (April 1994) - Nebulus, Speech
- AA104 (May 1994) - Uridium, AA Toolkit
- AA105 (June 1994) - Deliverance, BLITZ!, Status Window, Disk Encoder
- AA106 (July 1994) - Zynaps, Spriting Back Utility
- AA107 (August 1994) - Ikari Warriors, Screen Dump, Picasso
- AA108 (September 1994) - Fantasy World Dizzy, Routeplanner, Graph Plot
- AA109 (October 1994) - Turbo the Tortoise, Crossword Compiler
- AA110 (November 1994) - Crazy Cars 3, RTC Player, Daily Diary, Crossword Compiler
- AA111 (December 1994) - D.E.S., Dos Copy, Breakdown, Minesweeper, Logistic
- AA112 (January 1995) - Titus the Fox, Mega Blasters, DES
- AA113 (February 1995) - Samurai Trilogy, Power Spell
- AA114 (March 1995) - Ball Bearing, Masters of Space, Columbia
- AA115 (April 1995) - Spaghetti Western, Cyberboy, TUSS
- AA116 (May 1995) - Hercules, Chuckie Egg, Disc Editor-Archiver, Columbia 1.1, Bankman
- AA117 (June 1995) - North & South, Imageprint