Status: Preview, Findability: 3/5

Zzap 64 were always a magazine to have a laugh at times, and they did it in style with one particular April edition of Zzap! 64 with this “amazing” looking game introduced one day back in 1986. Here are the Zzap articles to show what happened.

Mindsmear was promised to consist of the most advanced graphics and game play that the C64 had ever seen – with fully moving, smooth scrolling bitmap backdrops. All created by Bob Stevenson, and looking very impressive indeed.

What caused a small amount of chaos was when Zzap announced that the creators of Mindsmear needed a publisher. It resulted in many top C64 companies ringing Zzap’s Ludlow headquarters to enquire about the game and find out more.

Unfortunately, their faces fell as Zzap told them that this so called wonderful game was all but a April Fools joke. Bob Stevenson had joined together with Zzap to create a couple of mocked up screenshots to fool people, and it worked a treat!

Thanks to Julian Rignall, we learn that it was Gary Liddon who was the mastermind behind it all. He looked into the feasibility of the tech to ensure that the story was solid, and consulted with Nick Pelling to get it right. Gary then asked Bob Stevenson to produce a set of fake screenshots, which Doug Hare then coded up later into a small demo that would be uploaded onto Compunet.

After the stunt, many musicians would compose tunes in the hope they would get picked up for the game. This included Barry Leitch and the late Anthony Lees, as well as various others. We’ve added over the years many of these tunes which we believe to be intended for the game, all into a download. We’re not quite sure if this was before or after the prank was revealed.

Zzap announced the prank to the world in the very next issue, and apologised to a member of a certain company who really fell for it in a big way.

So, there was never anything playable of the game at all – just a series of screenshots. You can thankfully at least download a demo of a selection of the screenshots which were mocked up (press A to advance through the sequence). There is one screen missing with the map overlay, which we hope to find someday (This may have been mocked up by Zzap themselves separately from the demo). If you have a copy of this, please let us know!

Contributions: Jason Kelk, Andrew Williams, Steve Hutton, Steven Day, Gary Liddon, Julian Rignall, Nick Pelling

Supporting content

Update history

  • 02/04/24 – Another tidy up and new info thanks to Julian Rignall and Gary Liddon.
  • 26/08/20 – Major tidy up, as the write up was very messy.
  • 08/14/14 – Added an unused logo and fixed credits
  • 20/12/13 – Added a large series of tunes which we believe were compo entries.
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