The Bottom Line
AP01 to AP65
As AP was chiefly a buying guide, it made sense to include with each mag a library of the previous few months' issues' reviews. This was The Bottom Line, which grew to become an archive of roughly the year's worth of official AP judgments. Each game appeared as a tiny screenshot, a summary of the original review, and the usual information such as price and publisher.*
(The Bottom Line's strictly quantitative approach of course differentiated it from AP Recommends, the section in the news pages which pummelled the reader's eyes with outstanding games from the last few months* until they burst into tears and went out and bought them.)
Unapologetically contradicting AP's instinctively correct grasp that games must be marked out of 100, The Bottom Line featured a visually instructive star system, grading each briefly reviewed game from one star (terrible) to five stars (brilliant), plus a special five-red-star rating for achievements of gaming Good Thingness.
Naturally, the original percentage rating was also featured.
Two groups hated The Bottom Line; the art department and the writers.
A tragic shortcoming in Quark Express, the prog used to design the mag, meant that connecting the text and screenshot for each mini-review into a discrete item that would then automatically reflow when the text was edited, or a new review was added, or some slight tidying-up was required because a pic fell at the bottom of a column or something, was impossible, or at least nobody knew how to do it in less than two days of bittily accurate arrangement. As a result, whenever anything at all was changed in The Bottom Line, everything on that entire page (plus, nearly inevitably, the two pages to either side. At least) would have to be manually and separately reshuffled by the Art Ed to accommodate the update.
Each issue's Bottom Line would include, on average, 10 new games. Plus any from 13 issues ago would have to be removed. Plus, the whole thing had to fit in the rigid, permanent eight-page* Bottom Line section on the flatplan.
Sue Huntley called The Bottom Line "Bumline." (It was her official Quark document filename for the section and everything.) This ably communicated the art department's views on The Bottom Line.
The writers who were saddled with each new issue's mini-reviews of the previous month were also unpersuaded of The Bottom Line's charms. It was a basic editing job - squashing your (and everyone else's) reviews into a weeny space without losing the trademark AP reasons for the game receiving its mark. (And then translating that mark into stars.) A boring but necessary task.*
The Bottom Line was raced through as quickly as possible right at the beginning of a new issue, to get it out of the way. It served mainly to warm up the Art Eds' swearing cords.
Of course, the readers loved it, especially new ones. Twelve months' worth of penetratingly accurate AP reviews for the price of one? Bonzer!
AMIGA POWER - Suffering Repetitive Strain Injury Of The Head For You, Our Readers.