Not content with one page devoted to everyone's favourite retro C64 magazine, those atavistic arcade addicts over at the Raine website went and created a second—which frankly strikes me as either excessively zealous or profoundly careless. No matter: I can do nothing to stop them, and any attempt to sue would only plunge me deeper into the mire of debt which, even as I write, threatens to drown me and all my illegitimate dependents spread throughout this beautiful county of Shropshire... However, since this is none of your business I'll tell you instead about Zzap!Test, an intriguing online retro review magazine appended to all new issues of Zzap!Raine. According to Zzap!Raine's numero uno, Stefano Ferrari, Zzap!Test is "a Zzap!64 in miniature, with C64 games reviews plus comments for other 80s home computers—a concept broadly based on the original Italian Zzap! The idea to include 8- and 16-bit elements to the Zzap!Raine site came from me and MADrigal; but given his great interest in Commodore games and Zzap!64, we asked Lee Bolton to look after the reviews and editorial side of things." I was intrigued by this previously unmentioned "Lee" character—and after inhaling a quart of port and a couple of thigh-rolled Havanas, I tracked him down to the PeeknPoke website, where I forced my questions upon him. The youngster was no match for my alcohol-fuelled wit, but nonetheless coped admirably...

LM: Tell me about Zzap!Test...
Zzap!Test is Zzap!Raine leaning towards reviewing other machines' games, rather than limiting itself solely to Raine games. If anyone out there read the original Zzap!Italia, it didn't stop at the C64: PC Engine, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, and a host of other computers and consoles were looked at over the years. I always think it's nice to look at different versions of games across the formats, it makes some really interesting reading: you could then find out whether that Spectrum game really was better than the Amiga one, and it would make you seek that version out. I find it fun to load up the various games and see the differences. It's only early on in Zzap!Test's life, but the computers looked at so far have included the C64, Spectrum, Atari ST and Amiga. I'm sure we could accommodate more in the future.

LM: Who are the members of the Zzap!Test team?
The reviewers are MADrigal, Zaxxon1, and myself; but there's also great artwork from the early days of UK Zzap! by MADrigal, and I should mention Liliana Vitalini who drew two of the reviewer heads, and Anthony Stiller who drew the "thumbs aloft" pictures of me for the classic Zzap! Issue 107 last year, used again in Zzap!Test (I've lost a little hair since then!). I came across to the team late in the day, as these guys have really worked well together for the first six issues. I'm the new guy, so I'll be making the tea for a while yet—and with that list of names, maybe I should give myself a new handle. I don't think "Lee" cuts it :).

LM: How did Zzap!Test come about?
It started when Zaxxon1 contacted me, just over a month ago. I had always been a fan of Zzap!Raine, and had read the internet issues and posted news about them at my website, Lee's PeeknPoke. They wanted me to edit the new magazine, and of course I jumped at the task. At first it was going to be solely C64 and Amiga, with me providing the reviews for both. Having not used an Amiga for ages (and shock! never used an Amiga emulator yet, probably the only machine I have never played emulated) I took the C64 reviews, with the other guys doing the other machines. The HTML was sent to me for approval, complete with the layout and reviewer comments already there. There was little editing involved on my part, because the comments/design were spot on. I just wrote about the games, and slowly saw it turned into something really special from all parties involved.

LM: Have you always been a fan of Zzap!? If so, can you describe its appeal?
When I got my C64 in 1985, Zzap! was the magazine I turned to for support. It always looked like these guys really enjoyed what they did, reviewing games and having fun with it. I think Zzap! still has this large following because it was on the same wavelength as its readers, and I have never read a gaming magazine before or since that was such a good and re-readable read. It's the bible for C64 games, and the magazines and CD sets I have here at home are essential reading. That's really what we are aiming for in Zzap!Test!

LM: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Yes, When's Zzap!108 coming? No really, it's been great to start working on this new project and I hope it keeps up the standard. I will be working hard on the C64 side of things. All credit to the Zzap!Raine crew. Its just nice to look back at the old games...but did I ever stop?

LM: What are your Top 5 emulated games?
(click on the games for Lee's comments)

I, Robot (MAME)
Star Wars (MAME)
Yar's Revenge (ATARI 2600)
Missile Command (ATARI 2600)
Space Harrier (MAME/SYSTEM 16)

LM: What are your Top 5 C64 games?
(click on the games for Lee's comments)

Space Taxi
Ghosts 'n' Goblins
Lazy Jones








...And that was that. He didn't even offer me a cup of tea, let alone the fiver that I begged for. But that's youngsters for you—no respect. Even so, I wish him, Zaxxon1 and MADrigal all success for the future of their fledgling magazine: if their initial efforts are anything to go by, it bodes well. As for me, I still get a lump in my throat remembering the wonderful times I had abusing readers and mocking Julian Rignall's mullet... Happy days. LM


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