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Covertape, coverdisk and coverdisc memories


Protocol Penguin
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The entire first disc of Panzer Dragoon Saga on the cover of Sega Saturn Magazine. I got to level fifty odd in the final area, I enjoyed it so much.

 

Most of the Segaflash series for the Saturn too, actually. In the days before widespread internet, the fact that they always started with the same music/intro/menu, but tailored to the enclosed titles, made them feel almost like little playable news shows, so to speak. It helped that they had demos of games like Die Hard Arcade, Nights and Daytona, which all got the shizz played out of them.

 

Special mention to Demo 1 for the Playstation for being a great intro to 32-bit, and to Official PS Mag disc #37 for having a comparably huge chunk of Tombi on.

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There are a couple that stand out in my memory. Firstly, How to be a Complete Bastard on the cover of Amstrad Action. I don't remember exactly but while it wasn't a demo, I don't think it was the full retail release either. Some sort of alternative  cover tape version perhaps. Still got hours of fun from it and some fond memories. Then it'd be Cannon Soccer on disk on a Christmas issue of one of the Amiga mags. I didn't have an Amiga at the time (ST) but my chum did and we loved it. 

 

I had had tons of AA cover tapes. I'm sure there must have been loads more great games on them but my memory of the time is pretty hazy. I think maybe Nebulus was given away on one of them, and a good chunk of Switchblade.

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The first cover tape I remember was a demo of Rasputin on the cover of Your Sinclair issue 1 in 1986, which really seemed incredible getting a tape (plus it came in a cassette box, unlike other early cover tapes). The next one was Road Race, again another YS cover tape, this time in 1987. The difference was this time it was a full game and it was pretty decent, especially as it was free!

 

( I had no idea it was converted from a Konami game on the MSX, found that out years later. Guess Ocean took it in as part of their Konami deal and decided against releasing it)

 

 

And that Amiga Power coverdisc with Gravity Force and Bob's Magic Garden was amazing (Bob's Magic Garden was a brilliant version of Mr Do).

 

 

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Member the first playable demo you played?

I member - Cybernoid 2 on a Your Sinclair tape. 

The main thing I member ... sorry I'll stop that now ... remember is that I couldn't get anywhere in it, like not even past the second screen or something. So it did a really crap job of selling me the full game, basically. 

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I'm lucky enough to have parents who enjoyed games with my brother and I, so my dad would get issues of Commodore Format or Zzap and we'd all get a chance to read and play the contents. I always use issue 2 of Format as shorthand for my introduction to home gaming in late 1990 (although it could have been slightly earlier than that; I'm not sure.) The cover tape had Empire (a space exploration and trading game), The Blob (a Pac Man clone), Pig Tales/Oink (a collection of three minigames) and Lords of Chaos - Escape from Zol (some tile based adventure game?)

 

One thing that was nice about these is that most cover tapes contained demos and full games, so we were able to expand our library of games fairly quickly. Even so, as datasette users we often ran into problems - I feel like one CF demo of 5th Gear loaded successfully once and then never worked again. That said, there were better tape contents; I remember my brother playing the heck out of the Slicks demo because you challenged racers for their cars and could replay the demo over and over and work your way up to earning the McLaren. Less fun were the demos where you reached a game over and then you couldn't retry without resetting and reloading the game (Robocod, Fuzzball) - not great for datasette owners.

 

One really curious covergame we had was called "Tales of Sinbad" - it was a series of minigames but they were played in sequential order (not picked from a menu) so you had to clear one to reach the next, and so on. If you left the title screen idle for long enough you'd see gameplay from these levels, although I always wondered why the player character never moved. Then I picked up the stick and found that these were actually playable segments that ended after a short while - cue me waiting for the final level to roll around and trying to beat it before the title sequence appeared. :lol: 

 

After the C64 we moved on to cartridge systems so we missed out on covermounts until the PSOne and Official PlayStation Magazine. PSM often had playable demos coinciding with reviews in the same issue which was quite generous, and I'll always remember one that had Speed Freaks, Um Jammer Lammy and that Tony Hawk's warehouse level :wub: These discs also had rolling demos, and things like the Gran Turismo video would be replayed again and again whilst we sat slack-jawed in amazement.

 

 

IT'S FMV QUALITY AND IT'S JUST THE RACE REPLAY :omg: 

 

E: a special mention to PSM's Net Yaroze games too. Gravitation. Time Slip. Super Bub. That video poker thing. All of them and more provided plenty of fun.

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I actually came into this thread just to say Gravity Force 2, only to find that it's right there in the OP. Spectacular game.

 

Ever play Gravity Power? It was basically Gravity Force 2.1, I think - essentially the same game but with improvements.

 

Came with the last ever issue of Amiga Power, IIRC. I never actually owned an Amiga so I could be wrong about that, but I played them both extensively with Amiga-owning friends.

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Big ones for me were:

Dizzy on a YS cover tape. Couldn't believe I was getting a full Dizzy game for free. Still one of my favourites in the series.

Chaos, on another Speccy cover tape (probably YS, I was pretty monogamous back then). Played it to death, and it's still my favourite Gollop game. I loved the illusion mechanic, the rideable creatures, the unpredictable blob/forest spells, and the ability to summon weapons and armour which changed your sprite.

I also have very fond memories of another (YS?) tape which had Quazitron and Chubby Gristle on it, both of which I loved.

On the Amiga, the (AF?) cover disk PD game Bip was probably our second-most-played game after Sensi. Such a great 2P game on Powerplay Cruisers.

Another one I have fond memories of was CU Amiga's 21 Games disk, full of what in retrospect was not-very-good PD. I remember enjoying Circuit Wars and Kamikaze Chess quite a lot.

There was also an exclusive Cadaver level or two on cover disks - perhaps one where the goal was to die? Always loved that series, well overdue a revisit.

I have fewer memories from the PC era, but two stand out. One was that time a full free 3D game from Bullfrog (I think) was given away. A sort of pipe-based 3D racer. Not all that in retrospect, but exciting at the time.

The other one was when PC Format gave away a disc containing the Z80 Spectrum emulator and the full Gremlin Games catalogue. I'd been a huge Auf Weidersehen Monty fan as a kid, so this was mana from heaven, and it also made me aware of the potential of emulation. Before long, I'd discovered console emulators too, and one of my golden ages of gaming kicked off, all thanks to this disc.

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10 minutes ago, gingerling said:

Can anyone remember the Christmas Lemmings disk that came with Amiga Format? I played that to death.

 

Yes! Also played that to death. The whole thing is also included in Mr D's excellent homebrew Lemmings DS, which is secretly the definitive version of Lemmings.

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I think playing the Amiga Format demo of the original Lemmings lead me to not getting the full game. Played the demo to death, but it seemed like a long wait until the full game was released... During which I lost my enthusiasm for the game, unfortunately.

 

Some of well-played Amiga games I remember came from cover disks, come to think of it. Bip/Biplanes was pretty good fun. Scorched Tanks I enjoyed a lot more than Worms (and at least didn't pretend to be anything more than it actually was). There was an earlier, simpler tank game on an Amiga Computing disk I enjoyed a lot too, on the sole occasion I bought the magazine. Amiga Power were the kings of Amiga coverdisks though; you could usually rely on them to supply some genuinely good freeware games which you could tell the writing team genuinely liked as well.

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DC-UK magazine had an Action-Replay type demo disc which featured limited functionality, except due to an oversight (or maybe not), they left in the ability to make your Dreamcast region free :)   Happy days

 

I also remember the Your Sinclair Road Race mentioned earlier, I think that was my first games mag!

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My first cover tape memory is issue 42 of ZZAP!

They were due to include a demo of Katakis from US Gold, Activision sued over the similarities to R-Type and the mag was heavily delayed. The replacement game was Time Tunnel, which was difficult to play without the proper instructions.

 

Commodore Format had some great tapes too, including several Jeff Minter games and Uridium.

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IIRC, one of the first editions of The One had a Nebulus demo and one for Scavenger (I think - Hewson game with a spaceship on a road). Played the hell out of both of them.


The One was my Amiga mag of choice (I loved Zero too, but that was multiformat), but it seems to have been written out of history somewhat. Mind you, I'd forgotten CU Amiga even existed before researching my post above.
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My first covertape was Crash 72. My parents bought a 128 +2A (the black one) for me that year and I received the mag as one of the other wrapped gifts. I had no idea that Crash was a shadow of its former self by that point, only that it usually had better games than other Spectrum mags. This tape kickstarted my obsession with Dizzy, leading me to buy all of his games on the Spectrum, Amiga and Megadrive in the early-mid 90s (ok, there's only one on the Megadrive, but it took several weeks to save the money for it at the time).

 

Alexlotl's comment on CU Amiga reminded me I was hooked on the Worms demo from the December 1995 issue for a while. I only stopped playing it when I got the full game for Christmas, and only stopped playing that when it wouldn't work with an Apollo 1240 installed.

 

Amiga Format and CU Amiga's coverCDs were also a revelation - I must have tested every single program, audio file, image, and video file on the disc each month and copied the best to my hard disk - it took a surprisingly long time to fill a 1GB drive. Sadly I lost everything when a software crash invalidated the disk a few years later.

 

Strangely, I never felt the same attachment to PC games mags. I bought the odd issue in the late 90s/early 2000s (including long-forgotten titles like PC Gaming World, CD Rom Today and Ultimate PC), but found it frustrating to install game demos before I could test them.

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I can't remember ever getting cover media until my PC days TBH.  Back in the day I had a Commodore Vic-20 and then a BBC Master 128 and the few magazines I bought were ones where you typed in the program that was printed on the page (LOLZ).  It was probably when I finished Uni and started work when I was first properly exposed to cover media of any sort.

 

Actually I tell a lie, probably around the mid-90s when our household got a PC (486 DX2/66) was when I was first exposed to cover media - PC Direct's CDs.  I also got (and still have) the Official PlayStation Magazine's cover discs for the PlayStation 2 - I loved their Gran Turismo demo - wow!

 

My first job after Uni was working for Dennis Publishing producing their cover CDs/DVDs for all their mags.  That was a great time, being exposed to a wide range of software, from games to full software to trials of latest software to patches.  I remember a time when we had some exclusive on I think Splinter Cell, and it was graphically intensive at the time.  So intensive that it didn't work on half the PCs we tested it on.  As the dept. manager was out on annual leave, the decision by PC Zone publishing editor and the PC Zone Disc Editor was to run with it anyway (with a text file attached to the game entry in the browser warning users).  When the dept. manager came back, she wasn't best pleased as she said she wouldn't have agreed to run with it with such a failure rate.

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20 hours ago, knightbeat said:

My first covertape was Crash 72. My parents bought a 128 +2A (the black one) for me that year and I received the mag as one of the other wrapped gifts. I had no idea that Crash was a shadow of its former self by that point, only that it usually had better games than other Spectrum mags.

Just clicked the link... That almost certainly was the last issue of Crash I bought before upgrading to an Amiga. Remember trying the text adventure and playing the cut-down Treasure Island Dizzy despite already owning the full game(!). Funny how many dormant memories I have of these Speccy covertapes that are only just being accessed – watched the Kim Justice video yesterday, and was surprised how many games I'd recognised despite not seeing them for over quarter of a century.

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i44dec88.jpgFirst cover tape I ever got was Zzap 64 with a demo of Thunderblade. The thing I remember most is the text on the cover behind where the cassette woulda been attached to the cover. It said "Strike a light! A cassette! It must be Christmas and no mistake." 

 

Its weird the things you can remember. Couldn't tell you what the cover pic was. 

 

Edit: found it! Oddly enough, 'twas a helicopter. :D

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19 hours ago, Protocol Penguin said:

Just clicked the link... That almost certainly was the last issue of Crash I bought before upgrading to an Amiga. Remember trying the text adventure and playing the cut-down Treasure Island Dizzy despite already owning the full game(!). Funny how many dormant memories I have of these Speccy covertapes that are only just being accessed – watched the Kim Justice video yesterday, and was surprised how many games I'd recognised despite not seeing them for over quarter of a century.

I got my Amiga for Christmas 1990 (saved up £300 myself from a part time job towards that bastard!)  yet I still bought magazines just for the cover tapes. And I'd only buy the magazine based on the cover tape alone - one month it might be YS the next SU or Crash. I do remember getting a lot of Crash tapes. They seemed to have a lot of hard to find old games on them (for a while you got Durrell games like Scuba Dive).

 

Back then it was almost impossible to get games that were more than 2 years old, unless they had been re-released on budget or on a compilation. Sometimes you'd get mail order places like Castle Computers that would do offers like "A View To A Kill" for 1.99, but by the end of the Speccy's life even those had gone. So cover tapes were a real blessing at trying out those old classic games!

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I have many great memories of coverdisks, from Archimedes floppies that we'd take into school, to Amiga demos that I played at relatives' houses and the massive shareware CDs that you could get for PCs.

 

One lasting memory I have of the latter is, on one occasion, picking up a magazine for essentially one sole reason - it had Duke Nukem 3D on the coverdisk. I think we were about to go on a family holiday at the time so I spent a couple of agonising days looking through the magazine and eagerly awaiting getting home so I could fire it up.

 

When we did get back, I plopped the CD into the drive and waited for the frontend to load up. Duke Nukem 3D! I was finally going to get to play it!

 

Imagine my absolute disappointment when the UI finally did load up... and there was no Duke Nukem to be found. Instead, there was the wholly un-Duke-Nukem-like Seek and Destroy and the other selection of games they'd mentioned in the magazine.

 

I thought perhaps they'd hidden it somewhere on the disk due to the mature content, but no - after much fervent searching, it was nowhere to be found. It literally was not on the disk, despite the magazine advertising that it was.

 

I still don't know the reason behind that, but needless to say I was absolutely fuming. I'm pretty sure I didn't buy that mag again (can't remember which it was, but it wasn't a big one). I can only assume they either didn't get the build in time or didn't manage to strike up a deal with the publisher.

 

Anyone else run into something similar?

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Mine was 16/48 Magazine Tape 3 , which contained the first part of a serialized adventure, The Long Way Home. It was a brilliant, atmospheric and hugely frustrating text adventure, and I do remember seriously neglecting my homework when I was supposed to be studying for a scholarship. I still wasn't allowed the small TV in the room after the regrettable incident involving the unsuitable late-night film, otherwise I would probably have died from self-induced sleep deprivation.

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On 10/12/2016 at 12:48, moora said:

I got my Amiga for Christmas 1990 (saved up £300 myself from a part time job towards that bastard!)  yet I still bought magazines just for the cover tapes. And I'd only buy the magazine based on the cover tape alone - one month it might be YS the next SU or Crash. I do remember getting a lot of Crash tapes. They seemed to have a lot of hard to find old games on them (for a while you got Durrell games like Scuba Dive).

Well, my dad sold the Spectrum to pay towards the Amiga and monitor, so in my case I had nothing to run covertapes on... Would've been nice to hold onto the Speccy though. Couldn't entertain yourself with a £1.65 magazine and covertape when you had an Amiga. Not in 1990, anyway.

 

I switched around Speccy magazines based on the tapes on offer, but settled on Crash with issue 65, when they began regularly offering from covertapes. Shocking that Crash went from nearly 100 pages the previous issue to a 36 page pamphlet due to the tape though. At least the Amiga magazines shrank gradually over time when that format's market started contracting.

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I feel sorry for the writers. It must have been demoralizing to spend all that time and effort writing the mag each month and suddenly have their budget cut to pay for a free gift. Crash did get better - there were 52 pages for most of 1990, increasing to 76 pages for the December issue, but it only seemed to find its feet again with the August 1991 redesign. I loved the colorful layout and increased page count (68 pages). The glossiness of the Europress issues and leap to 84 pages for the final issue were a treat. I only wish it had lasted another 3-4 months before being sold to EMAP.

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Settlers for the Amiga. Cover demo on, I think, Amiga Format. No saves, but you could play as long as the power was on.

 

My university studies suffered somewhat while the power stayed on. Such a great game. 

 

Somehow, the demo of nightmare creatures for the PlayStation convinced me to buy the full game. I think I got further in the demo than the game!

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