Only the Best BBC Micro Games
How to play the classics in three easy steps.
It's actually very easy now to get all of your old BBC Micro favourite games up and running on your PC thanks to the great work of the folks developing the BBC Emulators. The following three steps cover everything you need to get started. Each step is split into two sections: Background, and Practical. Background contains some additional information that you may be interested to read about. Practical is for if you just want to get going ASAP.
Step 1: You need an emulator.
Background: It used to be that there were many emulators available; it could be quite a challenge getting them up and running, and the quality of the emulation varied a lot. However, that was then, and today things are much better. There are really only three emulators now that are worth getting and they are: BeebEm, B-Em and Model-B. BeebEm has had, in the past, something of a chequered history and there are still various versions flying around for different platforms and all maintained by different developers (BeebEm is open-source, and so can be expanded by anyone in the community). However, due to Mike Wyatt's fantastic work on the PC version of BeebEm, it's one of the best emulators out there and for this guide, it's BeebEm V3.11 for the PC that I will be using.Note: You can download all of the other emulators I mentioned above by visiting my Links Page. Once you have got BeebEm running from this tutorial, it might be an idea -- if you're feeling keen -- to go and check out the other emulators and see which ones you like the most.
Practical: I would advise you use BeebEm to get started. Download BeebEm v4.13 by clicking HERE. Once downloaded, click on the executable and install BeebEm version 3.11.
Step 2: Download a Game.
Background: Originally, BBC Games were stored in either Tape or Disc format. In the world of emulators, the file format for BBC software can vary considerably, and so a standard type of format is desirable. For the BBC, there are two typical formats: Raw Tape Format/.INF, and Disk format .SSD/.DSD/.IMG. Most emulators will only use Disk format games. .SSD stands for Single-sided Disk. .DSD stands for Double-sided Disk. .IMG is an older format extension that stands for BBC disk IMaGe. .SSD and .DSD is preferred to avoid confusion as .IMG is also sometimes used to indicated a graphics format. .IMG is functionally the equivalent of .SSD and .DSD and .IMG files can be renamed .SSD or .DSD (depending on type of IMG file). All of the games on this site are in Disk format (.IMG Extension).
Practical: Find a game on my site, and download it. They are all in .ZIP format. Once downloaded, you will need to extract the game image and place it into a folder of your choice - BBCGames might be a good name to choose. (Windows XP handles .ZIP files automatically. You will need an extractor like Winzip if you are not running Windows XP. (Hop along to their website, download and install it before continuing).
For simplicities sake, we'll say you have chosen CITADEL by Superior Software. (click on the Citadel link if you would like to immediately get the Citadel Game Image).
Step 3: Load the emulator and play!
Background: The emulator creates a 'virtual' BBC inside your PC. In this case BeebEm creates a virtual BBC Microcomputer. There are a variety of options that you can play with including screen resolution (Under View -> Window Sizes), and you can also switch the Emulator from a Model-B to a Master 128. The emulator needs certain ROMs in order to work, however these are included with BeebEm.
Practical: Start the Emulator, and after a couple of seconds you should hear a beep, and the "BBC Computer 32K" message. You're ready to begin. Click on 'File' and then 'Load Disc 0'. Find the game image that you downloaded - which in this case is Citadel. Double click and the screen should go back to the main BBC Page. Press down "Shift" and press "f12" and the game should automatically load!
A few extra points:
- Some games use strange keyboard layouts, so I would suggest that you use the User Defined keyboard layout, and set up your own keys. Otherwise, depending on your country and keyboard layout, playing the games could be very tricky.
- Many Save/Load Game options do not work. Try using the Save and Load Game State option (Under File -> Save State or Load State) instead. It's better than using save game anyway.
- If the emulator runs slowly, try shrinking your screen size, or switching off sound. Make sure your system meets the requirements needed - anything equal to, or more than a Pentium-3 should be fine.
- If you run into trouble, try visiting the website of the Emulators author. Links can be found on my Links Page.
- Feel free to email me (email at bottom of page) if you're having a specific problem, and I'll help out if I can.
- Some games do not auto-load via "Shift+f12". If not, you will need to load the game manually just like you would have on a real BBC. Type in *CAT to view all the files. Then try typing in: CHAIN"filename" where filename is one of the game files. Most files have a name similar to the game. For example, Chuckie Egg does not auto-boot, but if you type in: CHAIN"CHUCKIE" the game will load. Most games auto-boot, but some do not.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com with any comments, suggestions, or questions regarding this site.