This little review refers to the second and final edition of the Gigazine,
issue 2. It was written by the Black Eagle, but he tends to refer to himself
in most articles as Dave Haylett, which is fair enough. This is quite a
'historic' publication, going back to 1995, past the peak of the diskmag
boom. For some reason, it doesn't seem to be widely distributed, and was
It is distributed on a standard ST double-sided floppy. Running it is
straightforward, as you double-click from the desktop and the mag shell
starts up with a random choice of a well-known soundchip tune, these can be
changed on the function keys.
The top part of the screen displays a coloured ascii 'Gig2' logo, some sort
of low-res blocky raster or colour cycling effect is going on behind it, and
a simple vertical scroller menu selector beneath. The menu reminded me of
similar diskmags of that era, such as the late lamented 'Power Diskmag'
It is a bit jittery in general operation, it quits if the mouse is moved,
but the soundchip music continues on the Gem desktop. This tends to be
annoying if you are running it within an emulator on a multi-tasking
desktop, which involves a fair bit of mouse movement when you are switching
between apps. To be fair to the author, he couldn't have forseen this
happening back in 1995! The article displayer looks a lot like a common Tony
Greenwood Stosser generic effort used in many publications. There is no
special customising used.
The editorial gives away some large clues that 'Giga' is not a recent
production, with copious references to one Tony Greenwood. The date at the
end of article is 19th July 1995.
It is divided into several parts, such as the 'Main part', 'reviews',
'programming', 'puzzles', 'silly', and three specific sections with hints
and tips for games varying from 'Captive' to the Jaguar version of Doom.
A quick overview suggests there are quite a lot of articles, which would be
expected, otherwise it wouldn't be a "gigazine"! A slightly slower overview
surprisingly reveals that this magazine seems to be a one-man band, a la
Moondog and UCM, that is, all the articles have been authored by Dave!
Happily, he avoided the temptation to use netgrabs and other filler
material, which is amazing for a publication of this type. Giga features
wholly original articles, if many of them are quite short. The writing style
is serviceable, and the general standard of English is good, certainly
better than most early Maggie articles!
The 'Main Part' has a very eclectic range of subject matter, from the
straightforward, such as Atari 8-bit memories, to Dave's experiences of
working at Asda, through to Dave attempting to explain Chaos theory. He
escews 'Butterfly wing causing a hurricane' for the more prosaic "guy loses
his tie, is late for work, big deal called off, company goes bust" example.
Also, 1995-era specific questions are asked in a searching manner, such as
"Should compilation disks for PD be banned?" - His conclusion is, no.
One of the longer articles consists of a sci-fi story where Aliens Colonial
Marines meet Terminator cyborgs, and are framed by Jeremy Beadle at the end.
Other highlights of this section include an article which does a pretty fair
job of explaining Stephen Hawking's 'Theories of Time and Space'.
He briefly reviewed the Jaguar Console from a laypersons perspective,
generally favourably, apart from the lack of a save game option.
There is a fascinating article, especially for the historical context of how
sub-standard most Wintel offerings were back in the olden days of 1995. Back
then, 1500-2000 ukp used to get you a low-end pentium, which didn't work
properly when you got it out of the box, and it took about three changes of
supplier to get something that eventually worked. And that is even before
you had to fiddle with different drivers to get different games and the
soundcard to work. Weren't the olden days grand! And how did Peecee vendors
get away with such sub-standard half-functional crap in the early days?!
Were people really that stupid?! This is a question begging for the answer
This article is almost worth the download on its own.
The 'Reviews' section gifts the reader with a series of very short reviews
of unmemorable productions, including a Star Trek mouse-mat. The one
exception, where Dave went to a bit more time and trouble, is with a review
of Jag Wolfenstein.
The 'Programming' section features around a dozen articles, not so many for
a 'STOS' gigazine, but the bulk of his programming tips were used up for the
first Gigazine issue. In here we find out the text displayer isn't a Tony
Greenwood generic job after all, but written by Dave himself.
We'll skim over the 'Puzzles' bit, which is a varied collection of quizzes
and ascii mazes, and go on to the 'Silly' section instead.
As for 'Silly' (idea of 'silly' in a diskmag nicked from Deano perhaps?! Is
Deano likely to ever read this?) Some parts of it are wrist-slashing. A
typical example comes with the subject title "Lots of Letters". Instead of
the bulging textfile of correspondence you might expect, you get this;
"Here are some letters."
"A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z"
And that is a whole article! Ok, you can all stop laughing now.
On the other hand, a piece where Dave clearly made some effort is with the
"PC versus ST" story. This tells the story of Dave, an ST owner, dealing
with 'Larry', a proud owner of a new (1995 issue) peecee. All of the hassles
of the latter system are shown in full detail, as a 'competition' between
the two systems unwinds. In spite of which, Larry ignores the evidence until
Dave asks him the killer question "Well why doesn't it work straightaway?"
To which Larry replies "Errm, how much did you say the ST cost?"
I'm not quite sure how a recipe for Passion Cake, and a quick 1k's worth of
ascii starburst fits into this section, although they are very nice. Maybe
he's better off renaming "silly" to "random"?
The final three sections are about the games 'Captive', 'Doom', and 'Elite
2'. These are mainly of interest to the respective fans of these games, and
feel like the most fillerish part of the mag, especially with the Elite 2
planet descriptions which would have been culled straight off the game
itself. 'Doom' features more walk-throughs of the levels, but it is not
clear who wrote these? 'Captive' has lots of tables and things, and is only
for the dedicated fans of that game.
The end is near, 'Cheerio'! The author/editor is unlikely to come back to ST
in this sort of strength, so this is the second and final issue of STOS
Gigazine. Did anyone spot it the first time around, as it was only re-
released fairly recently.
I came to 'Giga' with low expectations, having a certain familiarity with
the worst of the second and third rank diskmags from that period. I was
pleasantly surprised, yes, I know the tone of my review does not show that!
The mag managed a generally higher standard than the norm, and a commendably
high strike rate for originally authored material. Many of the articles were
very short, some of the 'silly' material managed to avoid getting anywhere
near 'funny', and yet..
Some of the articles, where the author didn't take a "Right, that's three
done before lunch, and I'll do another three this afternoon" attitude, and
made more of an effort, were showing real potential. The general standard of
writing, whilst not 100% perfect, was certainly good. If there had been
another couple of contributors capable of writing up to the same standard or
bettering it, then this could have been a little gem with good prospects.
I also enjoyed this more than some others, as a historical document of what
computing was like a decade ago. It is a genuine shock to recall just how
shitty a lot of early peecee's and early versions of Windows were. It was a
useful reminder to myself just exactly why I avoided going down that
mainstream route for as long as possible, and ending up selecting a Mac in
the end anyway!
In an overall ranking scheme of things, STOS Gigazine would come lower than
'Power-Mag' and 'ST Plus', for the simple reason that it was a single-handed
effort, and the other two managed to generate a lot of involvement from
different people, had a diversity of views and a real sense of community
whilst they lasted. 'ST-Plus' in particular managed to find some superb
writers who eventually got poached off for Maggie (heh heh!) However, STOS
Gigazine can proudly raise its head about the likes of 'Mega', and the
dozen's of unremembered no-hit one disk wonders, which relied too much on
internet grabs, unedited press releases and filler material. It could have
been different if Dave had made contact with a couple of other motivated
like-minded people, then who knows how far it could have gone?
By the way, any dude who's into ascii-art gets an automatic thumb up from
Better than average writing style..
High amount of original material..
Some articles are quite good..
Enjoyable as a historical account of 10 years ago..
Fairly basic menu shell, nothing special there..
Many articles very short..
Editor not minded to carry on, it shows in many of the articles..
Single-handed approach doomed not to last..
CiH, for Alive Mag, June '06..