Published on October 10th, 2021 | by Tim Chuma
Blast Annual 2020 – Vol. 2 (2020) Review
Summary: Has a lot of stuff in it for an ethusiast publication, just needs a bit of a polish next time and maybe mix up the sections to make it more interesting to read.
I had enjoyed reading the 2021 CRASH and ZZAP!64 annuals and heard about this one when it came up as a sponsor on RRR FM in Melbourne. Strange that I had not heard about it before even though I follow a few retro accounts online and the people I asked about it in that scene had not heard about it either. Retro gaming does seem to have strange cliques depending on the country it seems.
From what I could find out about Blast Retro Annual group on Facebook they are a collection of a lot of different retro gaming groups from all over the world. This would explain the different areas of gaming that are not covered elsewhere like the MSX and CPC Amstrad.
There was a Kickstarter for a previous edition but it did not seem to have reached its goal. That this one actually made it to print tells me it must have had a lot more support.
Unlike the big UK gaming magazines that have come back as annuals they do not really have a brand name that they have registered and a lot of different contributors to manage within the annual. The games covered are from 2019 and show that there is still a thriving community creating new games for these machines as with the Spectrum and Commodore 64 in the other annuals.
I used to be able and sit and read an entire magazine all the way through in a couple of hours back in the day, but with this one I had to put it down and come back to it as I went along. Not sure being called an annual means you take a year to read it but it took a lot longer than it would have wanted.
There is a disclaimer at the front of the book that they wanted to review as many new games as possible and they were all the reviewer’s own words. I would have liked things to be mixed up a bit more to make it interesting to read but all the features are at the front of the magazine, with each system having its own review section and the interviews at the back.
I ran out of steam reading through the developer contests in particular as it was a lot of the same content. Once I got through this I was happy to read even the reviews for systems I was not as familiar with such as the MSX and Amstrad CPC as they are not really covered anywhere else.
Some of the reviews did seem a bit extravagant, but where else would you see Atari 2600 game getting a two page spread in 2021? I don’t recall them getting that much space even back when they first came out. I can say the Atari was the system I played the most growing up as we got the first games for it in 1981 and the last game in 1990.
There are things in the magazine such as the meetups and demo scene party reports that you would not really see anywhere else but online so it was great to see them written about here. I don’t even know where they managed to plug in the Commodore 64s on the camping trip one.
The tutorial sections are interesting but more for the enthusiast as there is a lot of crossover with the maker community in the retro scene these days as a lot of the components are getting harder to find leading to people making things themselves.
The stuff about the Amstrad being popular in France was good as I had not heard much about the development on it at all as lot of the retro scene seems to be divided into US and UK camps. I did know about the demos and music in Europe and have met people like GOTO80 and Raquel Meyers in the past.
I would recommend this one if you are a retro fan and want to see areas covered that do not get as much love in other publications or the bigger retro magazines and groups. Well worth your time to have a look for and it is good value since it took me a while to read and there was a lot in it. I would have liked some of the sections to be a bit more tightly edited but that it is my own preference. Thanks to George for sorting out the list of who did what after I compiled it from the book.
Publisher: Blast Retro
Format: A4, Hard cover, colour
Pages: 211 PDF version
Creator & Editor: George Bachaelor
The team: Andrew Fisher, Andrew O’Flaherty, Brian Matherene, Dougie Mcg, Frank Romero, George Bachaelor, Gordon King, John Davies, Lobo, Louie Dimoviski
Lobo did the design and layout for both vol 1 and vol 2 of blast annual 2020
Taraodius, Robero Calangelo, George Bachelor, Martin ‘Martinland’ Schemitsch, Thunder Bird, Andy Dansby, Zoe Kirk-Robinson, Carlos Perezgrin, Luca Carrafiello, Mika Misfit Keranen, Stefan Mader, Arnaud “NoRecess” Storq, Ant Stiller, Stefan Yogt, Graham Axten, John Henderson, Benjamin Yoris, N.I., Bo Design, Alastair Gillespie, Leone Filippo, Paul Gardener-Stephen, Eugene Myers, John Davies, Alec Foster, George Spyropoulos, Igor Kromin, Andrew Fisher
Other contributor information provided by George Bachaelor:
ATARI PARTY EAST Article
Bill Lange helped with info
ROB WANENCHAK and ROBERT MENES helped with use of their images.
Association of friends of MSX (AAMSX)
a Toni was very helpful with this article
CCH and AAMSX provided images
Thunder Bird and NomiStake mentioned in the article and provided the images
Project Blue NES
Developer comments by Ellen Larsson (Frankengraphics).
Pinball Dreams CPC
Developer comments by Rhino
Interviews: Todd Friedman, John Champeau, George Bachaelor,
interviews not possible without content from Chris Abbott 8 Bit Symphony. Jorge Romero Gonzalez MSX developer, Rhino and Batman Group
Commodore reviewers: John Davies, Andrew Fisher, Gordon King
Spectrum reviewers: George Bachaelor, Gordon King, John Davies, Dougie Mcg
CPC reviewers: Gordon King, George Bachaelor, Louie Dimovski
MSX reviewers: George Bachaelor, Richard Yaxley, Frank Romero, Gordon King
AMIGA reviewer: Louie Dimovski
ZX NEXT reviewers: John Davies, Gordon King
SEGA reviewer: Senad Palic
NES reviewer: George Bachaelor
ATARI 2600 reviewer: Brian Matherne
Alan Massoumipour Tribute
Play Expo Glasgow
Demoscene Parties & Meetups
Tutorials & projects
Retro remake reviews
Game developer contests – Atari Lynx 30th birthday, MSX Dev 2018 contest, ZX Dev MIA Remakes, SEUCK 2019 Compo, RGCD 16K Compo, CPC Retro Dev
Reviews: Commodore, Spectrum, CPC, MSX, AMIGA, ZXNEXT, SEGA, NES, ATARI 2600