Loading screen made me grin
The first few arrrgh-peeps, building anticipation for the game code's audio assault. Think I'm going to have to rip that for an alarm sound.
For me, 1983 was all about Flashdance but getting Manic Miner for my ZX Spectrum on Christmas morning was almost as good as some burgundy legwarmers. Manic Miner Manic Miner: fiendishly frustrating and yet so easily addictive Created by Matthew Smith and released by Bug-Byte Software, this diabolically difficult platformer …
I reckon it's from a Beeb from the look of the fonts used.
...and a quick google confirms this level was indeed one that was "introduced (or modified) by non-Spectrum versions of Manic Miner" on the Beeb: http://members2.boardhost.com/jetsetwilly/msg/1240870196.html
// Terminator because the icon reminds me of one of the baddies
Had the Dragon 32 version, which was black and white. On the plus side it did apparently have 2 extra levels. Not that they were much use, I could barely get past the first one :( Chucky Egg on the other hand, I was rather good at that :)
Penguin Icon? Dragon's cheat code: P P PENGUIN
Probably just as well the Dragon's version was black and white: the Dragon's approach to colours was such that the manual's official description of white was "buff". I seem to recall that the red was more of a mud brown, and green looked rather radioactive. And then there was the aliasing... They were good times, but I'm glad graphics quality has moved on just a bit!
First game we had for the C64 when I was but a little'un.
I remember Eugene's Lair very well. As soon as you get the last key, Eugene goes and sits on the portal, blocking you. Timing it perfectly was essential.
Any game that progressed past Eugene's Lair was a success and felt like breaking exciting new ground.
Maybe I ought to go download it.
Neither is the first one: top of the tree trunk shows yellow, red and green pixels all within the same 8x8 attribute square. Not possible on speccy.
Nor the second one: Willy's white-on-black head and the red-on-black ground tile cannot share the same 8x8 square without becoming both white-on-black or both red-on-black.
The top screenshot has the tree trunk rendered one character-cell wide (in red/yellow) with red/green cells immediately above and yellow/green below. There's no confusion here - look across to the garden and you'll see where the cell boundaries roughly lie.
Agree about the other one though.
Technically it was possible to show more than two colours in a cell at a time via use of precise timing. Essentially you had to update the attribute setting of your target square such that the top part of it had been sent down the wire to the telly and hence was fixed, but the next line down had yet to be drawn. By the time the ULA has gone back to memory to request the colour of that square to send down the wire again it's changed from what it was last and hey presto the 8x8 colour restriction is broken - at least going over multiple lines.
IIRC the best you could do would be a sort of 4x2 grid (split the cell into two halves, one side ink, other paper, and you could update in time so that the first two lines are two colours, the next two are another two etc..).
Did the Speccy have a raster-compare register? I know what you described could be done on the Commodore 64 - I coded many a scrolly demo with "rasterbars" using the HBLANK colour-poke technique, in my time! But doing so requires a raster compare (on the c64 it was wait on $D014/$D016 change and STA #colour into $D020/$D021 IIRC, been too many years so I might have it wrong.) I didn't think this was possible on the Speccy, can anyone from that era enlighten me please?
Towards the end they managed to get a lot more out of the C64 graphically and sonically. They managed to get more RAM, sprites in the borders and sound improvements.
Recently they managed to do a music replay routine for the C64 that gave it 4 channels of digital sample playback and two synth channels. Both can be filtered!
Quite impressive given it didn't have sample playback facilities at all (they exploited a click bug in the chip) and it only had three channels of synth playback.
I wasted so much time with that when I was at school, and now there's a Windows version, more time wasted. It seems harder now (I actually finished it when I was young(er)).
There is info and a port at (munged URL) http://w%%ww.m%ark%loma%s.ne%t/ch-egg/
Take out the % symbols to access the URL. I have done this because Avast! flags up as a compromised site. :-(
Of course, for those of you not actually running Windows... ;-)
I was under the impression that Elite (yep, the same Elite from the 8-Bit days) were in the process of developing a bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone in the style of a rubber key 48K Speccy, I haven't heard much since I read about it, I believe late last year or early this year, but if they do release it I'm sure it'll either work on a PC/Mac or maybe even an Android phone or PS3/Wii with emulators, or someone will work out how to make it work.
Just wish I could find some more information about it as I really want one.
Playing Manic Miner on an emulator is fun, but nothing beats playing classic games on the real systems.
If you fancy having a go at playing this or other classic games on real hardware, then come along to the next Retro Computer Museum event where the ZX Spectrum and many other machines from the 1970s,1980s and 1990s are available for visitors to use.
6031769 - a number that is ingrained on my psychie, you keyed that number in anywhere in the game and a boot appeared in the status bar, you then pressed and held various combinations of 6 and other numbers to skip direct to the various levels.
Damned fine game, never managed to get the supposed cheat for Jet Set Willy working, was always led to understand it was "typewriter" or "writetyper", I forget which, but hey ho.
This truly has to be one of the defining games of the era. As a Vic 20/Commodore 64 owner I naturally had nothing but contempt for the Spectrum, but this game turned that contempt to jealousy and its eventual release on the Commodore saw the start of many, many wasted(?) evenings.
Bug Byte churned out some excellent games - I even remember being in Liverpool once and forcing my Mum to take to to their offices, the address of which I knew off by heart from all of their magazine ads; 100 Old Hall Street rings a bell, even after all these years. I think I was expecting some sort of Aladdin's cave so was a little let down to be given a rather blank reception by some confused looking developers.
I just wonder, given the limited spread of the Spectrum outside of the UK (including the Timex version in the US), how much the rest of the World is even aware of Manic Miner and what it missed out on?
Sonic - Green Hill Zone. I'm firing up my emulator right now. And I legally own the game, the console and the sore thumb - ops, the last one is mine. They all work perfectly, but right now they are inside a oxygen-tight glass display. No, the thumb is not sealed.
I see your Sonic Green Hill Zone and raise you a Streets of Rage (Brass Knucles) - opening title and Level 8. Yuzo Koshiro still rules. Since my Mega Drive (er Genesis..) had the stereo audio jack, I ripped most of those soundtracks... with a tape recorder.
Here is another one for those bassists on call: Toe Jam & Earl. On the sound test you get only the Bass track.
Gosh. What memories.
Manic Miner was an exercise in frustration. Unless you used the POKE for infinite lives you were on the road to madness. Even as a spotty kid there was no way I had those kind of reflexes. Same goes for the sequel Jet Set Willy.
I once had the pleasure of meeting the long-haired and sandal-shod Matthew Smith at the Software Projects offices in Liverpool when I was selling them my game for the Speccy. An highly interesting guy.
Miner Willy turned up in the crowd cheering on the athletes in the Spectrum version of Daly Thompson's Decathlon. There was friendly competition between Ocean and Software Projects at the time so a bit of homage never hurt. In my spare time after school I did work for Ocean. Paul Owens wanted me to do some code to print a cheering crowd for Decathlon. Even though the code, graphics and sound effects all had to fit into something like 200 bytes it was still quite effective. Those were the days...
Being a geek I was more into Wargames in 1983.
There were some pretty good wargames on the speccy. I can't remember the titles or who made them and can't look them up from work, but one company did a phenomenal Arnhem battle and Tunisian campaign. They managed to keep me amused for months on end. Then if you liked a fantasy wargame there was always Lords of Midnight.
Arnhem (Operation Market Garden), Desert Rats (North Africa campaign), and Vulcan (Tunisian campaign) were are all cracking wargames programmed by Robert T.Smith, and published by CCS.
My other favourite war/strategy games on the Speccy were:
- Chaos, Rebelstar 1 & 2, and Laser Sqaud (written by the Gollop brothers, who later went on to create the Xcom series on the PC).
- Swords of Bane
- Shadowfire 1
- The Bulge
- Stonkers (published in 1984 by Imagine, and arguably the first-ever RTS game!)
I played this for, literally, years. The O and P keys on the (rubbish) keyboard eventually died and we had to re-map them to U and I - until they, too, died and we worked our way back down the keyboard. It was probably a year before I was able to complete it (I was only 6 or 7!) and there was no save game. If you wanted to complete it you had to do it in one setting.
We had Jet Set Willy, the follow-up, but it never caputred the joy of those original 20 caverns. My opinions are obviously coloured by nostalgia but I would still rate it as one of the greatest games with Half-Life and Geof Crammond's F1.
Love it love love it!!!!!
I'll never forget the first time I played this at a friends house sometime in the early 80's...a year or two later I had my own spectrum + and this was one of my first games. Still love it now though its not so easy to play on the ipad or iphone!!!
I haven't seen some of those those levels in the screenshot's above for 25 years...wow I'm old.
kids today with their Xboxes and Playstations don't know they've been born!!
Ah nostalgia for the good ol' days :)
A few weeks ago I managed to get a port of the venerable Jasper Spectrum emulator working on the Kindle, and naturally, this was one of the games I had to try. I actually managed to complete the first level, but, as you might expect, it wasn't really a success. _The Hobbit_ worked rather better...
Ah, the joys of pixel-perfect gaming ;)
If anyone's interested in a bit of history: Manic Miner was inspired by Miner 2049(er) and was developed on a Tandy computer by Matt Smith. A fall-out over royalty payments led to Matt and Bug-Byte falling out; Matt went on to found Software Projects and then created the ultimate British Surreal Platformer: Jet Set Willy. Which also included one of the first DRM systems: once loaded, you had to enter the 4-digit number from a colour code-card before the game would start...
[BTW: both Manic Miner and JSW are available on World of Spectrum - and WOS also offers the ability to play both games in your web-browser, via a Java Spectrum emulator...]
Unfortunately, Matt's newfound fame and fortune led to things getting a bit out of hand (hey, he was 17 when he wrote MM) and much of the money from his two games were ploughed back into Software Projects and various anti-piracy systems (the DRM system mentioned above and custom-made cassettes); these weren't particularly effective and other companies failed to show any significant interest in buying them. After a while, Matt faded into obscurity, broke and puttering around Europe squatting in communes and doing odd jobs.
In the meantime, the internet popped into being and people started asking "where is Matt Smith". Eventually he resurfaced (partly via an Italian documentary, of all things), appeared at retro-gaming conventions and started to earn royalties again - for instance, from the Elite iPhone Spectrum emulator package. So things have picked up for him a bit!
Anyhoo, here endeth the history lesson...
..... looks more like it was from the BBC version. Music while loading from cassette was another BBC-ism (there was a interrupt once every TV frame that you could easily hook into).
I found there was as almost much fun to be had in hacking games to change the graphics characters and in-game messages, remap the controls, slow down or speed up the timing, add extra / infinite lives / energy or -- especially once they started mucking about with fancy non-standard tape loaders -- get them to load from disk, as there was in actually playing them.
Most emulators will let you muck about with the target system's memory in various ways. So you can, say, look for every "DEC" (= decrease) instruction in the program and try changing one at a time to a NOP (= no operation) -- remember that on the 6502, DEC takes an argument which also will have to be overwritten with NOPs, otherwise it will be interpreted as another instruction.
You'll soon know when you've found the DECrease that counts down your player's lives.
It's got a widget for vista/win 7 where it scrolls through random spectrum game screenshots, and on the site they have ROMs, scans of crash/C&VG mags.
The widget always gets a lot of interest when I'm doing some training etc as anyone over 35 recognises and loves it, and the looks on the 20 year old faces of utter confusion.
It's what the internet was invented for.
Also,and I can't find any mention of this, I'm sure I remember buying jet set willy on release and it had "if I was a Rich Man" as the music, but I assumed because of copyright they had to recode later versions back to Grieg - anyone? Bueller?
Personally,I could never and still can't get past the warehouse, everything up to it a breeze.
With the 3 god-damned lives it comes with. No 30-lives-Konami-code for you.
Just a reminder: UUDDLRLR BA Start.
Or River Raid (Atari 2600): no continues, no pause, 3 lives. The household record lies in 250.000-ish, and it belongs to your cousin. Prepare for 12 hours, with leg cramps, no bathroom, and no eating.
Another one is AfterBurner 2 for Mega Drive. 23 levels. If you survive the onslaught, you will be able to catch a falling apple with time to spare. You even have time to decide if you want to pick it up only by the stem. I felt I could dodge bullets... but I played dodge ball instead. Even at point blank range people missed me. The whole planet seemed slower somehow. Scary stuff.
I thoroughly recommend Manic Miner: The Lost Levels for the DS. It's a piece of fan-made freeware taking the best lesser known levels from all the various ports of Manic Miner to other platforms and giving them a graphical overhaul. It's one of the best things I've played on the DS, and it's free!
You will need either a DS and nefarious SD card that lets you play homebrew, or it works equally well on a DS emulator.
and the guy who sold me the second hand ZX81 kept forgetting to bring it, and I only saw him once a week at orchestra rehearsal.
For weeks I could never sleep on Friday night, for thinking of getting a ZX81 the next day.
I taught my self machine code from the comments on other peoples listings, and my 3 best programs in machine code were:
1. read, data, and restore extension (better than the one in the magazine)
2. playing audio - yeah
3. morse-code decode - I tap away on the keyboard and the message appears on screen
Then moved onto a CPC6128 lent by a friend (thanks Keith) and learned about binary trees and so on and wrote a database.
Then BBC micros and econet
Then PC's with "debug" to assemble software
And then I got paid to do it and it's still great, and working on literate programming system, new.fangled.org
The original Speccy just had a simple beeper (much as with the early PC) and triggering it caused all other processing to halt. Ergo, no music while playing games. However, Matt figured out how to trigger the beeper via interrupts, allowing him to write a game engine which alternated between processing events and generating sound (i.e. move, beep, move, beep, etc).
As a result, as you lost lives (which were displayed at the bottom of the screen as animated characters), the less the Spectrum had to process inbetween beeps and the faster the music got...
Lots of love of Manic Miner, yet it was the game you could never finish.
Banyan tree and the yaught stand out for me, for some reason. I never really got that far into the game, but I remember people at the time and in later years saying that the game couldn't be completed due to a bug or something.
Jet Set Willy had a bug that was caused by an Arrow in The attic pathing from the memory area into system RAM which corrupted some of the other levels. Basically a buffer overflow style bug. I once wrote a TSR in PASCAL on the PC that simulated a worm wandering across the screen eating all the letters. I just forgot to stop it from overwriting data when it went off screen so it merrily started chomping down on system RAM until the PC died. Oops.
So much of my yoof was lost to Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and Pimania, not to mention Elite. And all the cool skillz I learned debugging those bloody programmes I religiously typed in from Commodore User (how I loved my VIC-20) and Sinclair User!
I fear if I go to World Of Spectrum I may never be seen again... beer, because I'll need it on my journey back to the 70's/80's...
This was the first game I ever completed. I clearly remember being surrounded by a crowd of equally spotty geeks as I managed to get to the 20th and last level with a single life remaining. The last level was actually pretty easy... sweat drenched, I jumped into the final portal and...
...went straight back to the first level
Bit of an anti-climax. But I gained enough geek kudos to last throughout secondary school. :)
I wrote the Dragon versions of MM and JSW. A lot of hard work, no access to the Speccy source code and all the graphics were hand-coded from graph paper drawings to binary. I still have the listings somewhere. Oh, yes - there were 2 extra levels and yet if memory serves, the whole thing was only 22KB !
Hugely fun times, Mathew had a lot of Charisma and it's a shame his success was marred by too many hangers-on. Wonder where he is now?
Software projects was a very cool yet surreal place to be.
Happy times :)
If my memory serves me, Matt used a Tandy model 4 to write his code on.He also had a model 4P too which caused much droolage at the time! I don't think any of us had the original source code, we were given a speccy and a cassette copy of MM (or JSW) and left to get on with it.
I do recall writing some code to dump graphics from the speccy onto a little thermal printer which saved me some time (and eyestrain) when I wrote JSW. Probably still got them somewhere in the attic.
The fact that I can remember the developer's name after nigh-on thirty years suggests I spent rather too much time playing MM and JSW on the Dragon - not that there were many other games to be playing. Which led to my developing my own... and a career in programming thereafter :-o
Have both on my PC to this day :-) Thanks for putting the cheat codes in - made life so much easier. As you say, happy times :-D
Although I loved the original on the Spectrum, I found that playing the Retrospec version, linked to at the end of the article, is a more enjoyable experience. Sure, in the 80s those 8-bit graphics and beepy-beep sounds were acceptable, but nowadays they're not.
Too many times I've thought, "Ooh, wouldn't it be good to play such-and-such again" and fired up the emulator, only to find that my rose-tinted spectacles have affected my senses yet again. I did it with Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, Cybernoid and various other games that I used to play on the Spectrum as a kid. Similarly, I booted up my ST emulator to play Rick Dangerous, Llamatron, Defender of the Crown, Rocket Ranger, etc... and then wished I'd not done so.
I hate to say this but sometimes it's better to just have fond memories of things from the past.
My first memory of this game was seeing it on TV. It must have been one of the first computer games to receive some coverage on TV.
Then of course a few years back it was back on TV along with Matthew Smith who simply had no idea that 8-bit nostalgia existed or that Internet community were wondering where he was.
For those who didn't see it:
Manic Miner was ok but really there were a lot of better games at the time. I was a BBC owner so going to be a little biased. Nether the less, companies like Ultima Play the Game on the Speccie produced some great games.
Althought the BBC had some amazing games, like the original Elite, Revs, Planetoid (version of Defender), the best games really were on the C64. The sound and graphic chip worked make it a fantastic games machines.
I wouldnt own a C64 given I was a BBC owner of course, as the machines were just computers, they were a religion. After all you cant be a Hindu, Christian and Muslim at the same time. ....
Funny old days. Golden age of home computing.
I'll start -
Valhalla (remember paying a staggeringly massive £14.95 for that in 1994 iirc).
War of The Worlds (came late in the Spectrums life but bizzarely was written in BASIC, the packaging was better then the game)
The Great Space Race ( Thank god I didnt buy that one, learnt my lesson with that firm)
Shadowfire 2 (not a bad game but didnt push the boundaries like the original did)
You know, because another way of obtaining Manic Miner is to connect your Spectrum up to the headphone socket of your computer and play the YouTube video you've helpfully embedded. Ummm, unless the usual psychoacoustics have stripped too much. The Kansas City Standard, as on the Electron and BBC, used 1200 and 2400 Hz near-sinal waves but switching between them digitally to give quite a complicated DCT. Not sure what the Spectrum ROMs did in exact frequency terms, but it was a digital output with serialisation and de-serialisation handled on the CPU if I recall correctly (ie, it was the exact same circuits as the 48k sound output), so probably that loses even more in MP3s.
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