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The Covers 5 of 7:
The late 80's Makeover

All images are clickable thumbnails

In September 1987, Virgin Games acquired 45% of Mastertronic and the complete takeover was not long in coming. Only a few months before Mastertronic had in its turn bought out Melbourne House and thereby established itself as a "respectable" full price software house. These two developments, and the massive potential of our Sega distribution deal, changed the nature of the business. Budget games, still a cash cow, were no longer glamorous or even very interesting. The founders of the business ceased to take much notice. A string of badly thought-out deals and dodgy practices from some of our suppliers produced a large number of undistinguished games.

At around this time we appointed our first Budget Manager. This symbolised the fall of budget games within the company. Previously, budget was seen as the heart of the business and was run personally by the directors. Now it was assigned to a rather junior member of staff.



At this time too, sadly, we dropped the old Mastertronic image. The yellow on black colours, the letters in grids, the big "M" - these were replaced by a logo in boring Times Roman but with a single letter - the "i" in italics. Here is one of the first releases in the new style - Prowler from April 1988.


The MAD range was treated even more drastically. There was an attempt to relaunch it, as can be seen from Vectorball (July 1988) but within a year the name vanished, replaced by Mastertronic Plus, as on this example of the re-release of Xenon (May 1989)


Toys'R'Us required us to supply all of our products (and those that we wholesaled on behalf of other distributors) in blister packs to be hung upon racks. This picture gives a good example of how these would have looked - the racks and contents have been sourced from surplus stocks and reconstructed by Tim Abbott, to whom I am grateful for supplying the picture.


16 Blitz

It was obvious that the new 16 bit computers - Amiga, Atari ST and IBM PC - would eventually replace the cheaper but obsolescent 8 bit machines. Our first 16 bit release was Ninja on the Atari ST in March 1987 but we produced few 16 bit titles until 1988. Whilst it was clear that we could deliver budget priced software for the new machines, it was not at all obvious what the price should be. The media - 3½ inch disks on Amiga and Atari ST, 5¼ inch disks for the PC - were more expensive than cassette tapes but not enormously so. But the machines themselves were much more pricey. We settled on £4.99 as a suitable retail price in the UK and created the 16 Blitz identity since obviously neither the 199 range nor MAD was suitable. The label was launched in time for Christmas 1989

There isn't much about the range on the internet but I do, however, possess the T-shirt that we created to mark the label - and here it is. 16 Blitz T Shirt - only 1 owner




Conflict, released in 1990, shows the appearance of the label, with the Mastertronic italic "i" logo.