Product: Proaction
Publisher: Proaction
Compatibility: BBC B/B+/Master 128
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #48

Proaction

Sadly, precious few companies support the BBC and Electron computers nowadays and some of the best software released toward the end of their shelf lives exists in just small quantities. Contacts do exist but most have only a passing interest in 8 bit computers and courses of dealing with them can be very frustrating.

First Impressions

The case being thus, when a catalogue advertising the company ProAction was delivered to EUG headquarters, there was considerable excitement. Reference to the company can be found on both the 8 Bit Software and BBC Game Archive web sites and its history stems from 1991 when it acquired the right to compilate further Play It Again Sam compilations from Superior Software.

A nicely presented paper catalogue (and a disk containing the text) offered the Editor and EUG readers all the finest of the Electron software produced - and at very reasonable prices. Elite, Exile, A Question Of Sport, a host of award winning educational titles and all the famous Play It Again Sams compilations were just £7.95 each! As if this weren't enough, ProAction offered several brand new releases for the BBC (Play It Again Sams 19 and 20) and were willing to offer EUG readers a "Buy Two, Get One Free" offer for a limited period.

But things were not as rosy as they first appeared. There was no letter of introduction to the company. The paper list was just anointed with 'List For 2000. PC Disk enclosed with list in (indistinguishable) format' in very untidy handwriting. Also, as a matter of Play It Again Sam Elk fact, number sixteen is the last compilation by Superior yet ProAction's catalogue advertised a 17, 18 and 19 available on 'BBC Micro/Electron cassette'.

Intrigued at either their innovation or mistake, we forwarded an order to ProAction the very next day for three of its educational titles (Dataword, Money Matters and Picture Book, advertised at £7.95 each) and asked politely if the company could double check the compatibility of these Sam titles. After all, it would be misleading to advertise compilations if they didn't actually exist for the Electron (particularly with respect to new members of the group). Guru Editor was convinced it was an error and the response would be an apology and corrected list.

The Sting

A month later, an envelope came back containing our same cheque and letter. The three titles we had ordered had been ringed in black and scribbed across the top of the EUG logo was the crude message "We no longer supply these titles" in the same handwriting as before. No explanation. No answers to the questions regarding compatibility. Not even an apology for the waste of time and money.

This was the first documentation that found its way into the dustbin in manically torn up format. What can this pathetic 'company' claim to support? Its proprietor, David Bradforth, is a one-man outfit who doesn't own the premises under which the ProAction name is registered; his messages, scrawled contemptuously over the catalogues, require a book of calligraphy to decode; he doesn't have at least three of the products he advertises; his leadership doesn't court any element of customer sevice and he doesn't care a jot about receiving orders for products never even released!

He puts me in mind of a Kamikaze pilot - one quickly heading for destruction. Even here though, a Kamikaze works for some grander purpose and has had some basic training. ProAction is the opposite of even this. It appears to have no purpose or training at all! or sense. If it has nothing to offer, why on earth even bother producing advertisements?

Verdict

A total loss. Thumbs down. Zilch. When some companies close down, 8 bit owners collectively sigh as another nail is metaphorically hammered into the nail of their machine's coffin. But the sooner this zombie, which should've been the first to die yet is still lumbering around making the BBC series look ghoulish, bites the dust, the better it will be for all!