Mean Machines Forum Staff Love-In
By Damien McFerran - 10 May, 2007
We love bringing people together here at The Mean Machines Archive. It makes us feel good about ourselves. But when those people happen to be ex-EMAP employees that haven't seen each other in many a year, it's even more special.
Tom Guise - formerly of Megatech and CVG - recently posted this epic story on the MM forum. Paul Glancey also posted in reply, so check it out. I thought it was worth highlighting here as many people don't seem to bother with our forum - Christ knows why, it's ace and full of really interesting people chatting bollocks about the 'good old days'.
Anyway, what follows will make no sense if you're not a MASSIVE Mean Machines/Megatech/CVG fan.
"Paul Glancey... it's me, Tom. Really. Beneath this matted beard and these rags and lice and caked excrement, beats the same heart. Look into my hollow eye sockets (underneath the melted plastic lenses), see... yes... I am he. You recognise...
Paul, I love you, man. I read your interview and I was very moved. To be labelled with words like "court jester" and "buffoonery", well, it's an honour few would accept.
And by the way, just for the record, I NEVER played Super Tennis with Tim Boone. I played it maybe once or twice with Android McVit3, but I never really got into it. It was Mario Kart, mainly against Paul Davies (who was phenomenal as Bowser). And it was always for the title of "Ultimate Ninja" (which Paul ultimately won... for all time. Ever). Of course, the simple way to destroy Paul D was to hit the reset button halfway through losing a race. His delicate brain bones would just pop, and he'd swing his big horse head up in the air and grimace and exhale with a deep Rochdale "gnnnngh!". Or occasionally he would close his eyes gently, as if to try and wish the terrible event away to Kirby's Dreamland. But he couldn't.
Well, since I'm here and you're here, PG, I thought I'd share another Sonic preview cart story, since I am Sonic's best friend (Tails, being, if you recall, pimped out by Sonic - like some electric blue Fagan - due to the lucrative fact that he sported two pert foxy anuses beneath his twin twirling tails (as revealed in Untold Tales of Tom's Island issue 42 - Stan)). Anyway, I'm doing my Ronnie Corbett thing again. I digress. This story is about the Sonic 2 preview cart. A sequel, if you will, about a sequel...
Back in those early golden days of MegaTech when we were still on the same floor as Mean Machines, it was a privilege to work for absolutely fuck all. Of course, we still needed to eat (mainly baked beans on toast), so to pay for that we would A. Borrow money off Oz. B. Do freelance for a sister magazine. If that magazine was Mean Machines, great! Because we'd probably already played the game and we just needed to do extra screenshots. Occassionally though it was "Sinclair User".
Don't get me wrong, the editor, Alan Dyke, was a great bloke. But reviewing 48k Spectrum games that needed to "load" after playing Megadrive was fucking horrible. Rad and I mainly used to do it, and on this fateful night I think I was down in the Sinclair cellar reviewing Jim Bowen's Bullseye on the Sam Coupe (a kind of nerd-built super Spectrum: and, god, if you thought reviewing Spectrum games was tedious, imagine trying to load them on a Sam Coupe. What the fuck is a Sam Coupe? I wrote a comparison test on it for Sinclair User and I still don't know what one is. Verdict: bigger and whiter than a Spectrum. Has Sam Coupe written on it).
Now, I love a bit of Bully as much as the next man, but fuck this, so, naturally, I went upstairs to the fourth floor and played Street Fighter with Rad and Paul D. And, as we were leaving (at about 11pm) I saw that Paul Glancey had left the pre-production preview board of Sonic 2 sitting in the Megadrive on his desk. Sonic. The Hedgehog. 2. No fucking shit. And when I say preview board, I mean preview obilisk. This wasn't a small exposed ROM board. It looked about the size of a PS2 v2 (I was smaller then, mind you. Wagon Wheels and Monster Munch were bigger then too. And so were my genitals).
"You've got to borrow it for the night," said Paul in his gruff, melodic, slightly Louis Armstrong-ish way. "If you don't, I will!" he said again, striking some kind of weird, splayed, speed skater pose. Naturally I told him to fuck himself, and I put it in my bag.
Got home (which was just a bedsit with a fridge for a bedside table, and my TV on top of it) at about midnight, played it until 4am and then passed out.
Maybe I should have let Paul Davies borrow it. Paul is one of these amazing people that doesn't get into work on time. He gets into work early. Maybe half an hour early. After having had breakfast. And doing his laundry. And watching the whole of the Little Mermaid. Me? I tended to wake up five minutes before I was supposed to be at work, rise up vertically on my heels, screaming, give myself a quick gentleman's splash and then running out the door a good fifteen minutes after work has started. (And I'm worse now).
And because I was so fucking poor, I walked in. And no matter which way you cut it, that was a 30 minute journey, even if you did that funny run-walking thing (I used to weave past commuters and imagine I was in the Millennium Falcon and they were asteroids. That's probably an embarrassing thing to admit, but it prevented me from thinking about... "how fucking late I am!!!").
At Priory Court there was a sort of unspoken Start Work "Doomsday Clock". If you got in any time before 9.30am (which was, let's be honest, a very reasonable start time), you were gold. No-one was there. If you were Paul Davies, you could begin to tidy up the games room, or label all the SCART leads or whatever goody-two-shoes thing you'd do. The chieftains (Jaz, Rich, Paul G) arrived by mystical cloud no later than 9.30am.
If you arrived at around 9.35... maybe 9.40am, you were probably okay. Possibly coats were still coming off. If it was a Monday, people were talking about their weekend. Before 9.45am you were allowed to keep your skin.
Anytime between 9.45-10am, okay, you need to get to your desk quickly, sit down and get your computer started quickly (without it doing that "Diiiiing" Mac sound). Perhaps use the brazen Rob Bright technique of cursing openly about public transport (Ed Lomas later became superb at this). If you were really lucky, a new, much anticipated, game had arrived, and everyone had piled into the games room to watch Gary Harrod playing (and if it was two player, maybe Rich and Jaz, but nobody else. At least for the first hour). And you could slip into the crowd and start going "Oooh", "Aaah", "Monkey boooy!", "Spender, Cracker!" or whatever, like you'd been there for ages. Then walk out with everyone, laughing about how great that game was, even though you'd seen 8.3 seconds of it.
After 10am? That's two minutes past Doomsnight. You're fucked. And by you, I mean: Tom or Rad.
Rad was actually fucking brilliant at coming in late. He'd bluster in at about 10.20am sometimes (which always made me feel good because someone had got in later than me! By 28 seconds! The only thing that was worse was if we bumped into each other at the station and arrived together. We might as well have ridden in on donkeys with cymbals between their knees, blowing bugles). Then Rad would take off his big, Germanian, yak wool trench coat and he wouldn't be apologetic. He wouldn't talk at all. He'd be in a really fucked-off foul mood. Then he'd climb out the back fire stairs to go to the sandwich shop and come back with two big bacon and egg butties and a coffee and sit there at his desk eating them and reading Select or Smash Hits. Honestly, the audacity was fucking brilliant. I'm laughing about it right now. It was fucking awesome.
On this particular morning though, I was not only late, not only past zero hour on the Doomsday clock, but I was carrying the preproduction Sonic 2 board. And as I ran up the stairs (the Priory Court lift could add 20 minutes to your trip...) someone (I can't remember who. Paul D maybe) caught me on the stairs.
"Have you got the Sonic 2 board?" they asked frantically.
"Yeah, of course."
"You'd better get upstairs quick, Paul Glancey's going spare."
"Yeah, I'm late... I know, but..."
"No. He's going to call the police. He thinks it's stolen. Get upstairs quick."
What had happened was this. The night before, I had decided to plug the "fucking" Sam Coupe into Paul's screen grabber on his desk (MegaTech had the only screen grabber at the time). So I had cleared a space on his desk. And afterwards, I'd taken it back downstairs without returning his desk to form. And when Paul arrived in the morning, after removing his Indiana Jones leather jacket and fedora, he would have thought "Hey, this isn't how I left my des... Sonic - it's gone!"
I might add that Paul also used to hack at the casing of his Mac with a screwdriver, in fits of frustrated rage, when games drove him mad. So his computer looked pretty "jacked" already too.
Anyway, by the crags of Kilimanjaro, I got the fucking verbal thrashing of my life. Paul told me, in no uncertain terms, that if he had called the police he would have sacked me. And he had been two 9s into dialling the number when I arrived. I just thank Ragnar, in those days phones still had a dialing wheel.
That was very early in my career at Megatech, so I didn't know Paul that well then. And I think he really would have gotten rid of me, plunging me back into a world of meat packing and wiring plugs. But over time a friendship was born, as broad and powerful and eternal as the shoulders of Atlas himself.
And, a few months later, PG gave me Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to review. Which, due to our on-sale dates, meant that it beat Mean Machines by a couple of days to be the exclusive world first review of Sonic 2!
Or maybe he gave it to Paul Davies to review, because I was taking fucking forever reviewing Alien 3 or something. I can't remember. But if you have that issue of Megatech, take a look. If it's a load of incoherent shit, it's Paul Davies.
Next month: Tom constructs a complete map of Sonic Spinball from screengrabs in only three months, PG hires a thunder god to be deputy editor, Jeff Zie drinks one beer, turns red and kills a man with an arm lock, and a massive peregrine falcon lays a mysterious speckled egg that sings Road Rash codes, and hatches to reveal an enchanted caterpillar called Ed Lomas."
Check out the entire topic here, but please don't flood Tom's inbox with requests for him to dump the Sonic ROMs. They will be ignored and I'll probably have to ban you, or something.
michael - 07 Jun 2009, 15:30 GMT
hey guys. i still have issues of cvg sega saturn magazine mean machines et all. i remember the preview boards and what not used to be huge!! anyway the blog brought back memories of good times and games.. keep em coming. ah the cheat extrodinaie ed lomas. they all worked too mind.