AP2
AP2

Alternative are perhaps most famous for buying up old companies' back catalogues and re-releasing them in their hundreds on about a dozen labels (Winner, Summit, etc etc) all with astonishingly badly-drawn covers often ripped off from 2000AD.

And bless them for it, as, although the original companies were now sadly defunct, newer Speccy owners got the chance to buy some astonishingly great games for a few pounds.

(Microsphere's, for example (Skool Daze, Contact Sam Cruise and so on), or Realtime's.)

Granted, they probably wouldn't work or would be multiloads missing a few of the levels (Alternative did all their duplication in-house, seemingly on a couple of tape recorders linked together) but you could still buy them.

But Alternative weren't content to be the K-Tel of computer games.* They also did original games like the hugely playable tanks-in-maze throwback Hideous,* and had a thriving licence department which released games such as Popeye 2 (a lovely cross between Donkey Kong and arcade Popeye), Popeye 3 (a spectacularly grim comedy wrestling game) and a huge number of children's TV tie-ins like Postman Pat, Fireman Sam and Bangers and Mash, all of which were child-insultingly dreadful.

Around the time the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were enormously popular, Alternative's Roger Hulley visited AP to demo an overhead maze game cynically renamed Galactic Warrior Rats (rats at no point appear in the bought-in game; the instructions explain they were driving the blobby globes that in fact take part) then broke the news the company was busily programming the official Doctor Who licence with this ovationally prizeworthy description of computer games.

RH
Roger Hulley

Alternative's PR bod

"I could be selling potatoes for all I care."

It was so good, he continued, it had already received scores of 90%+ from the Doctor Who fanzines. Doc fans were lining up to buy Amigas to play it.

Doctor Who: Dalek Attack duly turned up and was reviewed in AP22. It was a platform game where the Doctor shot people with his famous laser gun. It got 28%.

Springing into action, Alternative's lawyers issued a writ citing the rave reviews given by the Doctor Who fanzines ("It's the best video game ever," said one) and describing AP's score as "needlessly low."

By now, of course, we were idly marking our lawsuits, and even by the poor standards of the competition, Alternative's was risibly weak and riddled with factual inaccuracies such as accusing AP's review of being riddled with factual inaccuracies.

We were therefore surprised when it succeeded, forcing us to pulp all unsold AP22s. No, only joking.

Unusually, however, this did not stop Alternative from talking to us. Instead they bided their time, on the surface appearing willing to put the silly episode behind them and continue permitting their Amiga games to be seen in the world's biggest-selling Amiga games mag (bar one in Germany) while in fact plotting an elaborate revenge. At exactly the optimum moment, perhaps years after we'd forgotten the Doctor Who incident, they'd strike with maximum effect and we'd look such fools.

At last, 33 issues on, the moment was right. Using as an excuse the "flippant tone of the preview" (that is, some jokes about one of the characters), Alternative at the last possible moment reneged on their pledge to send us a copy of their prestigious, highly-anticipated, much-hyped licence, Thomas The Tank Engine Pinball.

Needless to say, we looked such fools, then bought one down the shops. It was amazingly terrible, but received a generous 17% because in the greengrocer's next door we'd found satsumas were back in season. Hurrah!