Only the Best BBC Micro Games
The "Best of the Rest"
Since setting up the site originally - back in 1999 - I've had several people ask me about different games that were not on the site. I've also been playing several games on the emulator, and have realised that there were quite a few I missed originally that definitely deserve to be here. So because of this, and all of the email requests, I've set up a "Best of the Rest" section. Neary all of the games that didn't quite make "Golden Oldie" status in my mind, but were definitely games I, and of course many others remember playing. Examples include: Dare Devil Dennis, The Sentinel, and Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror. Read on to learn more about my thoughts on such games, and to download them for your emulator.
If you remember a game, but can't quite remember the title, please feel free to email me, and I'll try and help out.
All of these game images are still under copyright to their original owners, even though they may no longer be in business. These images are provided so that you do not have to convert your old tape and disk copies over to the emulator supported disk format. Rather, it's been done for you already.
Now here's an example of a game that people either love, or they hate with a passion. Sentinel by Firebird Software was released in the mid/late eighties - probably around 1987 (anyone confirm?). It was a port from the original Commodore 64 version, which had gathered rave reviews from magazines. The idea of the game is to manipulate an artificial landscape so that you are higher than the Sentinel and can then vaporise him.
You do this by raising land, absorbing energy, teleporting, etc. What makes this seemingly easy task difficult is that you have to avoid the gaze of the Sentinels drones. They occupy different points on the landscape. If you are caught in their gaze, you need to move fast, otherwise *ZAP* and Game Over. So the gameplay was innovative, and original, which was good. The problems however, were numerous. The BBC just could not render the 3D graphics fast enough, and so the game was sluggish to play at best. Mode 5 type graphics meant that everything was Blue, Yellow, Black or Red - and that made it difficult to see what was going on. Despite these negatives, the game was fun, and even though it had 1000+ levels, you kept coming back for more.
| Download The Sentinel |
A&F's Cylon Attack game was quite clearly based on the American TV Series Battlestar Gallactica. The ships were quite well designed, and it was easy to see they were inspired from the show.
The object of the game was to blow up all the attacking Cylon Ships and then return to your mothership. You had a limited amount of Fuel, and in most of the later 'Attack Waves', you would have to return to refuel. Some of the more interesting aspects to the game were the fact that larger 'saucer' type ships would spawn drone ships, and collectively they would all attack your mothership when you refueled. Should your mothership lose all her shields, that's game over. Should you lose all your shields, then that's Game Over too. I very much enjoyed Cylon Attack - it had great gameplay, good graphics, and decent sound. A very respectable game.
| Download Cylon Attack | View product Cover |
I remember thinking that this was the most useless game ever made. What on earth did it do? I tried dialing numbers but nothing happened. It turned out the initial version I had didn't have any instructions - probably because it was a copy (ahem). Anyway, once someone told me the magic first number: 672-3427 and SL312, that was enough to get me hooked. Now, I think that System 15000 was one of the most innovative and original BBC games ever made. Never heard of it? Then read on.
In System 15000, your friends company Comdata has been ripped off to the tune of $1,500,000 by another company called RealCo. The Police havent been able to work out how to get the money back, and so it's up to you to get the money transfered back to Comdata. With only the AVS System 15000 software, and a telephone number for Kingsdown Polytechnic computer, you're the one and only person who can save the day. What made System 15000 so interesting was the openness of the game, and the fact that you had to deduce information from hacking into various computer systems around the world. There were international numbers to be dialled, banks to hack into, and a large financial transfer to be made. Even now, System 15000 would be considered an original and challenging game. For 1983, it was incredible.
| Download System 15000 |
Although, the graphics had to be toned down in quite a major way, the gameplay remained. Fortress followed Zaxxon almost identically with all of the stages mirrored - even the opening wall that you must squeeze through. Fortress relied on you being able to shoot the bad guys, but be conscious of your ever dwindling fuel supply. Fuel dumps could be shot in order to partially refuel your ship. Think of Fortress as a 3D version of Scramble. The problem with Fortress was that it was even harder than Zaxxon. It was incredibly difficult to get involved with the game, as it was truly a challenge to stay alive for more than a minute or so. Despite this, Fortress was something of a one-off for the BBC, with no other software house ever trying to copy the Zaxxon game.
| Download Fortress | View Game Cover |
Now to be fair, I never understood the appeal of Dare Devil Denis. However, several people have asked me about it, and so I've included it in the archive. Visions software produced only a handful of games for the BBC, the most recognised being Dare Devil Denis and Demolator.
In Dare Devil Denis (hereon known as DDD), you play the role of Denis who has to ride his motorbike across the screen in order to be a successful stunt man. You see, Denis is trying out for a TV series, and has to show the world how good of a stunt bike rider he is. In essence, this means you have to control Denis as he jumps over buildings, while dodging assorted hazards and other whatnots. On later levels there are bouncing policemen, helicopters and ambulances to avoid. Complete each level without crashing, and the director is suitably impressed: You get paid, and then get to move onto a harder level. What made DDD fun was the gameplay. Graphics wise, you were dealing with nothing more than simple 8x8 sprites. But the gameplay, and most notably the need for precise jump-button timing surprisingly made the game a lot of fun.
| Download Dare Devil Denis |
You could view a map of the UK at any time, which made it a tad easier to see where you were going. However, New York had no map which made it an incredibly difficult destination. Realistic behaviour was key in Jumbo, and the 747 instruments were acurately portrayed, and the game itself used very realistic flight physics. And just like in real-life, your 747 handled like a bus with wings. Stall speeds, bearings, airport beacons, and airport landings were all highly acurate to real flying. Being the most realistic flight sim also made Jumbo exceedingly difficult to play. Taking off was easy, and turning was okay, but landing was another matter entirely. There was no automated landing system, and the inability to acurately see your approach path made it ridiculously hard to land before hitting the end of the runway. If you did crash, Jumbo would happily tell you how many yards you spread wreckage. My record? 350 plus yards, and proud of it.
| Download Jumbo |
Designed as an educational game to primarily develop mathematical and logic skill, 'L' was typically played in the classroom by kids at school. There were many puzzles in 'L', most of them based around arithmetic and logical pattern matching. Puzzles such as arranging theatre stage lights in a certain combination, and square rooting robot guards were all challenges in this delightful game.
One of the unique properties of L is that it was an educational game that was actually fun to play -- a very rare product from an era when typical educational games consisted of sub-standard quality, and very poor gameplay. The exceptions to this being the wonderful Granny's Garden, and Flowers of Crystal. L provided kids with a decent parsar, capable of understanding many words and phrases, imaginative settings, and well thought out puzzles. It created a game where learning was fun, and school was fun too. It's still enjoyable to play today and the people who developed 'L' can be proud that they produced such a high quality, educational game.
Note: "L" is a fussy game to get running. With BeebEm, load the game in BBC Master Mode, rather than the standard BBC Model B. Use Shift+F12 to load, or if this does not work, type in: CHAIN "L.L"
| Download L - A Mathematical Adventure |
Released in 1985, Mines of Terror was one of the first (and only) games that came on both a tape/disk and ROM. You had to install the ROM in the BBC's ROM Slot, and then load up the game. It is said that Micropower put so much money into developing Mines of Terror that it significantly contributed to them going bankrupt.
Mines of Terror was a great improvement over the first Doctor Who game (The first adventure) by BBC Soft. It had good gameplay, and very detailed graphics for the time. I'm not quite sure what the game was actually about - perhaps something to do with stopping The Master before he takes over the Universe. Usual sort of thing. If nothing else, Mines of Terror helped preserve Colin Baker as The Doctor, which was fortunate considering the absolutely duff scripts he got handed in the actual series. Gary Partis, who wrote Mines of Terror, wrote several BBC Games including Syncron - one of the fastest scroller games ever made for the Beeb.
| Download The Mines of Terror (Disk Image) |
| Download The Mines of Terror (ROM Image *required to play*) |
| View Game Cover |
Software Projects produced many games for the ZX Spectrum, and ported a few of them to the BBC Computer. One of the most popular was Manic Miner. Jet Set Willy was in essence the sequel to Manic Miner. The good news was that you could now freely wonder from room to room. The bad news was that the game was just as hard to complete as the original. Jet Set Willy included one of the most cruel tricks in any game - a room which, if you entered, you would repeatly die until you ran out of lifes.
With some great gameplay, but suffering from lacklustre graphics, and embarrassing sound, Jet Set Willy wasn't really the success that it should have been. In fact, Superior showed how such a game should be done when they released Citadel in 1985. Perhaps most interesting was the fact that Jet Set Willy was a direct port from the Spectrum by a company that was reluctant to release games for the BBC. Jet Set Willy proved that there was a big market for BBC Games, and that the BBC could do anything the Spectrum could. Jet Set Willy is a welcome addition to the archive.
| Download Jet Set Willy |
Lode Runner was a highly original arcade game, which had been previously copied by Acornsoft with their Monsters Game. Software Projects first released Lode Runner for the ZX Spectrum, and then as with Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, it was ported to the BBC. Preserving all the gameplay of the original, Lode Runner was (and still is) a great game. However in my mind, this was one of those occasions where a copy was better than the original. Monsters just seemed to be more fun, and more colourful.
| Download Loderunner |
Simon Hessell produced three great games: Great Britain Limited, World Travel Game, and Inheritance. In Great Britain Limited, you had the chance to be Prime Minister and show everyone how you'd run the country. The game was primarily based around you attempting to balance the governmental budget, while attempting to be popular with the voters, and win the election. It was a tough game, and I thought it was the least fun to play. World Travel Game was perhaps more light hearted than the other two. The object of the game was to travel the world and collect a certain number of souveniers as quickly as possible. Sound easy? Well it is in principal, but mix in a finite budget, train delays, and time limits and you have a challenging game. Still fun to play today.
In my opinion, out of the three games Inheritance was Simon's best. Comprising of almost two seperate games in one, Inheritance was split between you first raising a certain amount of money, and then managing a business. To begin with, you start with 10,000 pounds.
The object of the game is to convert this ten thousand to a hundred thousand by playing the stock market. You can buy chemicals stocks, metals including zinc, and copper, and you can also gamble some on horse races. If you make the hundred grand that you need in time, you then get to take a trip to a secret caribbean island to obtain the secret coca-cola ingredient that you need. Once you have it, it's into business selling cola to as many customers as possible. Sound complicated? Well, it is, but it's also a lot of fun. It's also a huge game, and it won't load on a standard BBC Model B with Disc interface unless you relocate it in memory. This downloadable version does not have the relocator, so to play Inheritance, you'll need to use a Master 128 emulator.
| Download Inheritance |
What was interesting as we look back on the early eighties, was the amount of blatent game concept copying that was performed for home computer games that would just not be tolerated today. By this, I do not mean copying of games between friends, I mean copying game ideas without licensing. Drain Mania by Icon software is a prime example of this sort of plagiarism in that it is a blatent rip-off of Mario Bros by Nintendo which had been released in 1983.
Despite the dubious honour of being a plagiarised game, Drain Mania has some fantastic gameplay and is actually really great fun (probably I suppose because the original was great). In fact, having played both Mario Bros and Drain Mania, I feel that the Drain Mania author actually did a better job. The object of the game is to capture/kill all the creatures that are coming out of the drains at the top of the screen. You do this by bouncing them over by hitting your head underneath them as they pass over you. Then, by running into the little nasties, you capture them and score points. The levels change as you progress, and become increasingly harder with fireballs and water jets flying around trying to get you. There are also bonus stages a la Mario Bros, where you collect as many gold coins in an allotted time as you can. Overall, it's great fun.
| Download Drain Mania |
I always enjoyed playing Frenzy by Micropower. A similar game called Kix was released by Superior Software on their Superior Collection Volume 2 disc. Although, Kix arguably had better music, Frenzy had better gameplay. Much better gameplay. Why? Well, a single enemy line is better to trap, than many expanding sets of lines :-) (If you do not understand - play Kix - you'll soon see what I mean).
In Frenzy, the object of the game is to 'capture' areas of the screen, by drawing boxes. You do this by moving around your blip-like cursor thing, and then engaging draw mode. Draw mode can be either fast or slow. You get more points for slow, but run a bigger risk of being captured. There were many different tactics you could use, such as making long, thin boxes and then completing a big box by joining them together. See screenshot! Frenzy, and Kix were both versions of an arcade game called 'Qix', which unfortunately, is hard to come by these days. Versions of Qix were released for the Atari 5200 and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
| Download Frenzy |
Atlantis software released a number of budget games including Hobgoblin, Golden Figurine and Anarchy Zone. Hobgoblin was basically a BBC version of Ghosts 'n' Goblins, complete with Mode 5 4-colour graphics, and poor sound. Golden Figurine was a poor-mans Citadel. It was let down by awful sprite animation, too fast movement, and non-existent sound. Anarchy Zone in contrast, was a fantastic new spin on the traditional Galaga-type space shooter. It showed just how hit-and-miss the game industry could be.
In Anarchy Zone, there are a variety of different alian spaceships. All intent on destroying you. Some can be killed with one shot, some cannot. What makes Anarchy Zone interesting is the 360 degrees rotation that your ship can do around the entire screen. Wave upon wave of aliens descend from all corners, and you really have to keep moving around the screen in order to stay alive. Sound was good, with music and good effects. Gameplay was great. I really enjoyed this game. Released late in the BBC's life, Anarchy Zone included such modern features as pass-codes for each level, so you could skip ones you had already completed. Anarchy Zone was priced at 2.99 and was one of the last BBC games I purchased.
| Download Anarchy Zone |
One thing that most games forgot about in the early 80's BBC land, was sound. Sound was important. I remember as a kid thinking that what I wanted was arcade sound - no wait, not sound but NOISE - on my BBC Computer. Most games didn't do this however, and so when Software Invasion released Attack on Alpha Centauri, my prayers had been answered.
Attack was really just a version of Galaxian, with pseudo-3D type graphics, and strange, bug-eyed aliens. Whoopy doo you're thinking. Well, there was one thing that Attack had that no other game could touch: The ability to annoy your parents! "What's that noise.", "Turn the sound down", "Play something else" are just some of the expressions I had yelled at me when I played Alpha Centauri. It had arcade-type noise. You felt like you were playing an arcade-game, and your parents, much to their chagrin, also thought you had an arcade in the house. And that to me, ladies and gentlemen made Alpha Centuari a classic hit. Oh, and it's fun to play as well.
| Download Attack on Alpha Centauri |
Shards software produced a few titles for the BBC, but none really made a big impact. Perhaps the best known was Empire, which was an adaptation of the (in)famous board game Risk.
In Empire, you have to amass armies, and use them to take over as many countries as possible. The more countries you occupy, the bigger your armies become. Conquering continents gets you extra bonus armies each turn. The computer is also doing the same, and so part of your mission is to kill all of the computers armies. It's a fun game, and not a bad conversion at all. The biggest problem is the AI of the computers forces - sometimes it's downright silly. The graphics are fairly minimal, as is the sound, but overall it doesn't matter too much. The game has a lot of playability and is a worthwhile addition to anyones BBC collection.
View cassette cover | View scan of cassette | Download Empire
Another early BBC game, Dodgy Dealer put you in charge of a small startup company, and have to try and make lots of money. It's never made clear what you are selling in the game, which is a little odd - you're just selling 'items'!! There are numerous aspects to the game which must all be monitored closely, things such as the age of your delivery van, the production output of your plant, etc. etc. It's an interesting game, and if you like management simulations, this is probably for you!
View cassette cover | View scan of cassette | Download Dodgy Dealer
Well, where shall I begin? If there's one game that I receive more email on than any other, it is Granny's Garden. Released by 4Mation in 1983, Granny's Garden was written by Mike Matson. The game was set in the magical Kingdom of the Mountains, where six children -- sons and daughters of the King and Queen -- have gone missing. Using a variety of simple logic puzzles, spelling tests, and maths quizzes, Granny's Garden was instantly captivating to the children who played it. It's also the number one game that people seem to remember from their days playing on the BBC Micro while at school.
Always primarily targeted at the education market, Granny's Garden was probably the first game that was as popular outside of school as inside. The other game that had similar appeal was The Flowers of Crystal game -- also by 4Mation. Granny's Garden was first released for the BBC Micro, and then later ported to the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC Home computer. A few years later, an enhanced version of Granny's Garden was released for the PC and Mac, with a Windows 95 version also being released.
Sadly, 4Mation software are still exercising their copyright on Granny's Garden and I am unable to include the BBC Version on the site for download. Please don't email me and ask for the game as I cannot provide it to you.
You can visit 4Mations website if you wish by clicking Here
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