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Typical layout of a review in Zzap!
Typical layout of a review in Zzap!
Cover of Zzap!, July 1990
Cover July 1990
Publisher Newsfield
Cover of Zzap!, October 1989
Cover October 1989
Cover of Zzap!, March 1989
Cover March 1989
Language English
Circulation Monthly
Years 1985-1994
History Looking at the number of websites devoted to this magazine, Zzap is possibly one of the most legendary videogame-magazines ever produced. It is easy to see why. The covers of every magazine by Oliver Frey are pieces of art, the wicked humour used throughout the magazine and reviews are good for laughs-a-plenty. With characters like Rockford, Scorelord, Thing, Nose and Ken D. Fish the magazine oozes character. Zzap! will always be remembered as a magazine devoted to the Commodore 64 machine. Until its death in 1994 it has covered C64 games. Amiga games were first introduced in February 1988 by having a 16-bit roundup which summarised most important releases for this 'next-generation' machine. From October 1988 on Amiga games were covered on a regular monthly basis. If a game was released for both C64 and Amiga, they were reviewed simultaneously. June 1991 saw a peak in the number of magazines covering Amiga games. Zzap! decided to shift back to its roots, the C64, until its death in 1994.
Scoring system When a game is reviewed, it gets an objective description which in most cases tells the background story to the game, a summation of possible baddies and weapons available. Subjective opinions are expressed by at least two reviewers whose drawn facial expressions reveal whether they adore, like or loathe the game. Games were rated by looking at the general Presentation (e.g. is a manual provided? accessibility of game-menus, two-player availability), Graphics (speaks for itself), Sound (same here), Hookability (first impression, how easy is the game to get into) and Lastability (will you play the game the next month?). Finally the game got an Overall score. A game can get an Overall score between 0% and 100%. If a game scores between 90% and 95% it is awarded a Sizzler. If it scores 96% or higher, it is awarded a Gold Medal. Strategy- and adventure games are reviewed in special sections in the magazine. Here a more 'traditional' style of reviewing is chosen. A single block of text describes the game and the author's opinion. The boxes were a reviewer expresses his or her opinion are absent. The strategy- and adventure games are also rated different by giving scores for the atmosphere, challenge, authenticity, interaction and puzzle factor.
Personal opinion Bright colours, nicely drawn faces, easy-to-understand text. When I was at the age of 12, Zzap was the magazine I had to get. Although the reviews were never in-depth, the get-this-it-is-even-better-than-reality atmosphere in reviews is unrivalled. When I read a review of Xenon 2 or Speedball 2 in Zzap the first thing I wanted to do is to rush out and get the game. Zzap! really could make software-publishers selling a game. Of course this sometimes resulted in games getting a score which was much too high, but at that time it did not really matter.
When Zzap decided to go C64-only in June 1991 I thought this was a step in the wrong direction. Here our paths separated.

Ken D Fish + Rockford + Thing + Nose = Zzap!