Chiller Turns On Heat | Everygamegoing

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Chiller Turns On Heat

Published in Personal Computer News #078

Chiller Turns On Heat

Mastertronic, pioneer of cheap games, looks likely to set standards in quality as well as price for the rest of the software market to follow.

Its release of Chiller for the Commodore 64 sets a new standard of cheap games which other software houses would do well to look at, and with some trepidation. Chiller costs £1.99, the disk version £5.99, and the game is a winner.

Based loosely on the film Thriller, the program uses an interrupt-driven version of the Michael Jackson song. Your task is to rescue your girlfriend from a haunted house. There are five screens with good graphics, and at £1.99, it's a steal.

If Mastertronic can continue to produce games of the standard of Chiller for this price, other software houses will be hard pushed. Software houses such as CRL and Anirog and others, which recently formed Omega Software to sell games that are not considered to be worth the average £6-£10 price tag, could be in for a nasty shock. Virgin has already been forced to respond with its older titles.

Mastertronic's future plans include a range of educational games featuring Mr. Tronic, a character created by one of the company's directors. Chiller programmers, including the son of a Mastertronic director, signed a licensing deal with Mirrorsoft last year, and a C64 games designer will be issued from Mirrorsoft in the near future. The designer was used for much of Chiller, and the programmers were responsible for the unexpanded Vic 20 Games Designer, distributed by Galactic Software.

Mastertronic reckons to have sold over half a million tapes since its inception just six months ago. The company is now involved in a major export drive and has set up distribution deals in the US and several European countries. A sister company, Mastertronic Inc. has been set up to handle US sales, where Mastertronic games will retain for under $10. Average US rates in the $20-$30 dollar range.

It seems that even cheap games are subject to piracy. Mastertronic has evidence of low-level counterfeiting in Hull, but the pirated copies are selling for £1.99, the same price as the originals. Perhaps low-cost software will drive the pirates out of business.

Mastertronic opened up in April and set a trend; but WHSmith's clearance sale of 50p programs is probably rock bottom.

Bryan Skinner