Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

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Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by DRS » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:37 am

Hello all. My next castaway is someone who should be familiar to those who read games magazines in the 80s (especially if you had a Commodore machine). Gary Penn's CV (well, highlights of it...) is pasted below and includes involvement with plenty of games as well as mags. As always, ask whatever you like - I'm talking to him this thursday afternoon.

Cheers in advance

Paul @;]

The One (editor)
Commodore User (Deputy Editor)
The Games Machine (co-editor at launch)
Zzap! 64 (staff writer 1985 to editor 1987)

BMG Interactive:
May 1995 – June 1996
* Race 'n' Chase (Grand Theft Auto)
* Cranium (Tanktics)
* Space Station Silicon Valley
* Covert
* Tank (Mass Destruction)
* 3D Pool
* 360X

DMA Design:
April 1997 – August 1999 (plus a spell at Rockstar 1999-2000)
Creative Management/Direction; Writing; Vocals
* Attack (Unfinished)
* Body Harvest
* Clan Wars (Unfinished)
* Grand Theft Auto
* GTA2
* Space Station Silicon Valley
* Tanktics
* Wild Metal Country

At Denki (where he still is):
* Quarrel (iOS/Xbox)
* Denki Blocks! (iOS/Facebook)
* Juggle! (iOS/Xbox)
* Big Cup Cricket (iOS)
* Big Hit Baseball (iOS)
* Go! Go! Beckham! (Game Boy Advance)
* Denki Blocks! (Game Boy Advance; Game Boy Color)

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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by lanky316 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:56 am

Working at DMA on the orginal GTA. Did you have any idea the little cartoony game would go on to become one of the biggest and most controversial franchises in modern gaming?

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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by jdanddiet » Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:03 am

Did you secretly think the ZX Spectrum was much better than the C64?
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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by necronom » Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:24 am

Do you miss the days of the C64 and Amiga, or is it as fun and exciting working in the games industry now as it appeared to be during the Zzap!64 years?
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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by Fred83 » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:53 am

Did you ever think at time as editor on one magazine that the end was nigh for the amiga in the 90s.That the pc would take over eventually?.

or- how complete was saturn port of grand theft auto.Would it had the same features as the pc version like hijacking the train which was cut in the ps port?.
Last edited by Fred83 on Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by paranoid marvin » Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:46 pm

The One split into 2 magazines around the same time you left the mag: coincidence?

Having worked in both roles,did you prefer to be a writer for a mag or the editor?

Were you ever asked to give a game a better review than it deserved?
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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by merman » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:34 am

Who was the best games player at Newsfield?

Would you rather aim for critical acclaim or commercial success with your own games?

How does it feel to be on the receiving end of reviews after all those years as a reviewer?
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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by drewbar » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:08 am

Mama Llama review - 59% Seriously, do you still reckon it was that bad and have you and Jeff settled things over a pint?

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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by drewbar » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:10 am

Who had the better hair at Zzap? You or Julian Rignall.


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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by uglifruit » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:12 am

Re: Go Go Beckham! (GBA)

How come such an excellent and original platform game was squandered on a celebrity licence where, as any fule kno, second rate derivative tat is the norm? been goofin' with the bees?

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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by Waz » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:43 pm

One question I'd always like to ask:

Who made the decision not to give Wizball a Zzap! Gold Medal when it was reviewed?
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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by NorthWay » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:45 pm

Stavros - Mad Finn, or just good spin?

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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by thevulture » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:40 am

Any thoughts on the quality of gaming magazines avaiable these days compared to the ones you were involved with? (I miss the likes of The One, Zzap 64 and The Games Machine-Edge+Gamestm are mere shadow of these, seem to lack the personality).

What pressure as a reviewer were you under from the games publishers?

Wild Metal Country-Was a bit of a mess, the realism in terms of tank controls, physics etc often seemed to hamper the game, turning what had the potential to be something special into an often labourious affair.Would you agree? :wink: Or is it just a very miss-understood game?. (PC ver.seemed far better recived than DC version).

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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by Mayhem » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:56 am

Was it something that happened at Newsfield that made you want to leave for EMAP, or just a decision to move on?

Any amusing stories to tell about the move from Yeovil to Ludlow so early on in your job?

And when Chris Anderson left, did you have any notion at the time that the company he'd then found (Future) would become so big?

Were all the C64 games provided on disk for review purposes, or did you have to wait, like most of us, for tapes to load?
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Re: Questions for Gary 'Zzap' Penn

Post by Bub&Bob » Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:14 pm

During your time with Zzap64, what was the game which made you and the rest of the team think "wow, didn't think that was possible on the C64"?
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