"Dear AP2: wasn't there a series of AP features examining then-emergent pop culture phenomena?" asks Ombria Squeee of Bear Flats. "If all crime is committed by the living, oughtn't life be made a crime?" puzzles J Death of Exmouth. Let AP2 IDENTIFY YOUR PERSONAL TRUTH with the COMPOSITE FLY'S-EYE OF BOTTLE-BOTTOM SCIENCE CLARITY.
So. Whatever Happened To... ? then. What's that all about?
7 appearances from AP28 to AP53
Whatever Happened To... ? began in AP28 as a tie-in to that month's covergame, Syndicate. Sinister ingenuity's Dave Green examined the incredible world of "cyberpunk" in response to a typical reader's whistly quizzings, in a feature designed in appropriately understated, boxy black by Jacquie Spanton. After that, it's anyone's guess. AS YOU WILL SEE.
AP28 - BLACK TO THE FUTURE
SO THEN Whatever Happened To... Cyberpunk?
PERPLEXITY-SOOTHING DEMANDS BY AP READER K Cecil of South London
EXEMPLARY GAMES Syndicate; Speedball 2; Interphase; Chaos Engine; Cyberrace; and New Zealand Story
Dave Green drops his science on those assembled about the electric fad. ("It's new! It's exciting! It's certainly no more than ten years out of date!")
AP30 - GOODBYE TO THE REAL WORLD
SO THEN Whatever Happened To... Virtual Reality?
PERPLEXITY-SOOTHING DEMANDS BY AP READER Hugh Dromgoole of Warminster
EXEMPLARY GAMES Star Wars; Indianapolis 500; Cybercon 3 ("Inexplicably omitted last time"); expensive coin-ops (eg Virtua Racing); the Star Trek Holodeck; and brain implants
Jonathan Davies inspects the reality indistinguishable from our own except for our paucity of trapezoid people. Introduces the important WHT? element of a hastily jotted feature replacing a review because the game didn't turn up. (In this case, as-yet-unsuspectedly mundane platformer Oscar.) Equally contributorily, the original layout is barely touched. We realise we possess an important defence against the towering unreliability of games programmers.
AP41 - CYBERSURFING USA
SO THEN Whatever Happened To... THNTRNTeiee?
PERPLEXITY-SOOTHING DEMANDS BY AP READER Mark Dannert of Oldthorpe
EXEMPLARY GAMES Making crank calls; forwarding chain letters; playing hide and seek; quantum physics experiments; trying to spark World War 3; hacking
Cam Winstanley establishes himself as the regular series writer (with minor quibbling assistance from J Nash and the mot juste from JD) by examining the incredible world of the online, which had recently been introduced to AP by a special connection on gentleman editor Jonathan Davies's Mac. Cam's pioneering lecture remains the standard textbook for over three hundred years. Note the blissful eleven month gap since the last Whatever entry; almost a year of untroubled AP production in which nothing ever went wrong at all brought crashing to a sparky halt by the sudden postponement of Super Stardust.
AP46 - THE COAT OF MANY COLOURS*
SO THEN Whatever Happened To... Multimedia?
PERPLEXITY-SOOTHING DEMANDS BY AP READER Harry Zimmerman from Rifle, Colorado and Daniel Uphaven from Welwyn Garden City
PIONEERING TECHNOLOGIES Digital LandscapeCapture; Digital PhotoCapture; Digital AuralCapture; DigiDelayLipSynch; Digital LowQualityActorCapture; Digital TextPageCapture
An expert dissection of the glittering utopia of "FMV" games, remembered fondly for its record- and layout-breaking density of IntraCapitalisedWords and for Simon The Publisher emerging worried from his office with the news that notoriously litigious John Rhys-Davies (the example LowQualityActor in a scene from Wing Commander or something) had instructed his solicitor to lay cast-iron proceedings against us for defamation of character.
AP48 - A BETTER TOMORROW
SO THEN Whatever Happened To... The Grand Tomorrow Of Videogames?
PERPLEXITY-SOOTHING DEMANDS BY AP READER Richard Teideman from Bromley and Marie Arymar from Bournemouth
BLUEPRINT STAGES Artist's impression; impressive statement; media hype; machine prototype; Japanese people queuing; the official launch
The series gathers a slightly different (and contextually more sensible) title (probably inspired by last month's unrelated Whatever Happened To... All the Dinosaur Games?) for this legendary entry which captured reader interest like an elbow lock and a weighted net as we followed the creation of a THRILLING NEW GAMES MACHINE from disappointment-promising hype to disappointment-delivering reality. Sue's specially flashy logo (for the Fururi Heapzofun 2000) remained stuck to the official AP laser printer with desiccating blu-tak ever after, and the pictures of Japanese people queuing (aidingly supplied by Super Play, home of consumer-patience photojournalism) jostled decisively into our line of Five Hardy Jokes. As a splendid bonus, this article led to (Verge - Ed) being called Verge, by everybody everywhere, for the rest of time.
AP50 - BLUE MAGNET SAILOR CHIMP YAKUZA 2026
SO THEN Whatever Happened To... The Grand Tomorrow Of Manga?
PERPLEXITY-SOOTHING DEMANDS BY AP READER Pam Overbinder of Abertillery and Gupta Ranjib of New Delhi
OBLIGATORY ANIME SCENES A vocal conflict; something is surprising; she's asking for it; a meaningful debate; an allegedly humorous incident; air is moving rapidly
Straightforward anime gags, prompted by Cam's having recently watched an enormous pile of videos, and subtly referring back to AP31's flannel panel in which everyone appeared as a (genuine) cartoon character name.
AP53 - POUND OF FLESH (AND THE CRATE OF BEER'S IN THE POST)
SO THEN Whatever Happened To... The Grand Tomorrow Of Game Reviews?
PERPLEXITY-SOOTHING DEMANDS BY AP READER Rodger Huxley from Robin's Hood Bay and Derrick McIntyre from Dumfries
DARK UNDERBELLIES OF REVIEWING PR man on my shoulder; you'll like this; PC exclusive; try before you buy; USA exclusive; the score of SATAN
Back to the perceptive crossness, with an entry marking our realisation that games mags were, tangibly, colludingly, acceleratingly, irreversibly and en masse, shapeshifting into glossy manufacturer-approved advertising catalogues, a bit like the scene in any version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers where a char realises they're alone in a crowd. Inspired not only by the usual mags but also the recent career of SOMEONE WHOSE NAME WE KNOW, who followed exactly the described course of carefully and calculatedly not offending PR companies (by, for example, telling the truth about games they reviewed) and consequently obtaining a cushy PR job in glamorous overseas.
We'd planned Whatever Happened To... The Grand Tomorrow Of Game Magazines? but a piercingly incisive letter along exactly those lines from reader "Albatross" of Norwich (predicting, among other things, Girls & Screenshots Magazine), left our outline redundant and in the bin. In sterling AP style, we printed the letter in AP52, acknowledged Albatross's superiority in the reply and ended the series. Fortuitously, the problem of late games was solved by the twin-pronged tines of having all our pages cut by the publisher and reactivating the Unrelated Specials instead.