JFK Has A Real Good Time With Muddy Funsterism's Michael Caine
As the Amiga staggered through its final stages, three years after its non-non-fatal wounding by game publishers, the reduced number of games available for review left defiant pluck's AP with echoey gaps in the contents. Gaps that, were the publishers to notice, would certainly result in even more pages being cut. Steps had to be taken.
(Of course, things had keeled over before, resulting most famously in AP32's seven-page epic of listy celebration We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together, banged out by Stuart in an afternoon when it became apparent that despite PR assurances four or five games weren't going to arrive; but these were temporary setbacks.)
The taken steps, marked out in heely silhouette on a popular decision-dance chart from 1921, were to drink more pop and reinstate the Unrelated Specials. These Amiga-free features, historically crowbarred in as a particular writer's personal project (sometimes reflecting current external events, such as resurgent media censorship, some other times just the writer's helicopter-related fancy), had been carefully limited in order to maintain focus on AP's public service self-indulgence. But now their sleeve-rolling, palm-spitting moment had come.
Thus AP55's Unrelated JFK Assassination Special ("This year's the anniversary of John F Kennedy's death. What better way to commemorate him than..."), nine pages of baseless speculation and overcompensatory re-enactment (including a trip to a West Country gun club for ballistics tests, and our own paper-and-BB-gun science experiment). Masterminded by Cam, this fine comedy feature in the best AP tradition bled revitalisingly into many regular pages (for example, unrecognisably blurred team photos in Who Do We Think We Are?; and The Secret Car Park) and rescued a difficult game-empty situation with skill and committed effort. The reader response was to complain bitterly about the feature's lack of relevance to the Amiga, despite the fact it was called the Unrelated Assassination Special (not least in large, prominent type as a warning on the cover), despite the obvious care lavished on the entertainment-packed section, and despite the three or four careful explanations throughout the mag that otherwise we'd physically have lost eight pages.
Thus AP61's The AP Files ("The paranormal is much in the news. These days. And now it's in..."), a belief-defying 14 pages of spooky investigation into the rum and uncanny, including a test-your-psychic-abilities quiz, how to talk like the Ghostbusters, why fortune telling doesn't, ghoulies and ghosties (and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night), plus Ouijette (you know... for kids), Kennedy-on-a-Stick and the exciting chapter-serial Doris Stokes, Psychic Investigator. Planned with unusual foresight and resultingly one of AP's most handsomely designed, tangibly unified features (extending even to the cover, now the budget was officially unable to support front-page art of any kind), the Files were held together by the mysterious omnipresent hosts Tim Norris and Sue Huntley as imperturbably visaged and reassuringly besuited Agents From FIB. Tim was also responsible for the idea and oversaw the feature throughout (or, technically, "edited the magazine"). The reader response was to fail to notice any of the jokes and instead ask for more photos of Sue.
Thus AP62's Life and Death Football Special ("Here We Go Here We Go..."), a Steve-Frrr- coordinated, tightly compact eight pages of disappointingly pertinent footy bittage (the game Total Football was reviewed that ish, plus Euro 96 was on at the time, plus AP semi-regularly carried a football game round-up anyway, to which four pages of the special were devoted), but qualifying in this category for the double tangents of the visually impenetrable stock-photo cover (something happening at night with rows of unidentified people obscured by smoke. Football fans? A riot? The fall of the Berlin Wall?) and the accession of final-full-time- mighty-being Martin Axford to TRUE AP MIGHTINESS by seizing four pages of the magazine to write about his home club of AFC Bournemouth after visiting there as a VIP to interview the team and manager ON EXPENSES. As far as we know, there was no reader response to this Quasi-Unrelated Special.
Thus Bloody, Bloody, Bloody, Cam's modest, six-page AP63 tribute to Michael Caine, covering the famous actor's career, declaring Caine's Jack Carter (from Get Carter) the hardest man in movies after a series of celebrity-villain bouts, comically describing the events of Zulu In The Style Of... a football match report, and (oh no!) unconvincingly linking Amiga games to Caine movies. Presumably this lapse on the part of the sixth page was the sinister influence of the issue's overall film theme and straightforward inspection of movie-licence games through the years. Contrition was exhibited by Who Do We Think We Are?, which had everyone dress up as the Young Michael Caine, though this did mean the reader response to the final Unrelated Special was solely requests for more photos of Sue, again.