back to article Bug-Byte Manic Miner

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 …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. jubtastic1

    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.

  2. paulc
    Thumb Up

    POKE codes?

    do they still work... do the emulators support the magic ROM pack that could snapshot the game and also let you do the POKEs needed to get to start at various levels or enable invincibility etc.

    I wasted so much time playing this game...

    1. Alan Bourke

      Yes they do ...

      an emulator emulates the target hardware exactly, and what you're playing is an image of the original software, so anything you could do on a real Spec you can do on the emulator.

    2. mrmond


      The original version needed 6031769 for the any level cheat but typewriter in the software projects version.

      You only needed pokes for infinite lives. 35136,0 for the spectrum or MM running obn a speccy emulator.

      1. John70


        wasn't it writetyper for Jet Set Willy?

  3. bitmap animal

    What a great game

    They had a Spectrum running this at the Computer Museum in Bletchley Park when I visited last year. I managed to get straight through the first few levels, I hadn't realised how ingrained the game was.

    I really was a great innovation and game a big push to the industry.

  4. Paratrooping Parrot

    I loved this game

    This, along with Chuckie Egg were my favourite games for a long time. Although I did not get that far in this. I played it on the Amstrad CPC464.

  5. spaceyjase

    Final Barrier?

    The screen shot isn't from the Speecy version which had a picturesque view like shown on the title screen and a long conveyor belt under the exit. I've no idea what version the one form the article is from.

    1. David Gosnell

      Blue Danube

      Ditto with the jarring Blue Danube, which wasn't loading music (the Spectrum wasn't quite that smart), merely title screen music.

    2. William Towle

      Re: Final Barrier?

      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:

      // Terminator because the icon reminds me of one of the baddies

    3. stucs201

      Always looks wrong in colour to me anyway

      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

      1. Vometia

        Re: Always looks wrong in colour to me anyway

        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!

    4. Giles Jones Gold badge

      BBC version

      Indeed. I did wonder what that was all about.

      After some Internet research I believe that's from the BBC Micro version.

  6. David Hicks

    Wow, Manic Miner

    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.

  7. bowdie


    That last screenshot isn't from a spectrum. BBC perhaps?

    1. Allicorn

      Title schmitle

      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.

      1. William Towle


        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.

      2. cyborg

        Rainbow Processing

        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..).

        1. Joefish

          Still can't put red, white and black in the same 8x1 area though

          Which is what that screenshot shows. And the maximum width anyone's ever achieved with independent 8x1 attributes is half the screen. (Or full screen on a 128K, but with 2x8 attributes).

        2. Steven Roper

          Re: Rainbow Processing

          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?

  8. Andrew N

    Hardest level

    I reckon the hardest level was the Room with all the light beams, I can't remember what that was called. It has to have been the hardest thing to do ever, especially as you only often got one go at it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The awesome Solar Power Generator

      That is all

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Eugines Lair, what memories...

    Now for Attic Attack, Jetset Willy, Daley Thompsons Decathlon, Saber Wulf, The Hobbit, but feel free to skip Mr Wimpey!

    Oh happy days...

    1. Code Monkey
      Thumb Up

      +1 for Atic Atac

      That was my favourite. And a marvel of the programmer's art to squeeze all that into a mere 48k.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Giles Jones Gold badge

          C64 demo scene was the best

          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.

      2. Mike Richards

        Atic Atac!

        Pure bloody genius.

        It was the one game as a C64 owner I wanted more than any, so I was thrilled when (and correct me if I'm wrong) BugByte released Wizard's Lair for the C64 - a near as dammit clone.

        Shame we never got Knights Lore and Sabre Wulf though.

  10. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    Superb! You should cover a little about Mr Smith, he's still quite a character!

  11. Natalie Gritpants
    Thumb Up

    Please do Chuckie Egg

    Or tell me where to get hold of it again.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Chuckie Egg is great!

      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)

      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... ;-)

  12. A 31
    Thumb Up

    oooh these loading screens

    thanks for the memory el reg !

    that game really tested my patience when I was a kid

  13. Admiral Grace Hopper


    I still return to this game even now. Even on an emulated system I can almost feel the squished liquorice allsort keyboard.

    1. Rob Beard
      Thumb Up

      Rubber keyboard

      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.


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Playing it on real hardware

    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.


  15. nick dring
    Thumb Up

    loved this

    Many hours spent playing this - its even great today on the ipad/iphone.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    That last pic is from the BBC version of the game - the Spectrum "The Final Barrier" was completely different. Also the Spectrum version doesn't have air-draining beams of sunlight in Eugene's Lair.

  17. Stuart Elliott
    Thumb Up

    And the cheat code was

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      God damn, I thought I was the only one who remembered that code......

      Must stop using it as a password.

  18. NightFox
    Thumb Up

    A Classic

    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?

  19. GrumpyJoe
    Thumb Up

    I'd like to thank you

    for embedding that tune in my head all day. No really, thanks.

    I'll return the favour - Sonic the Hedgehog, Green Hill Zone!

    Now it's in YOUR head (audio virus ahoy).

    1. Code Monkey

      Ultimate Earworm

      Spanish Flea

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I second that...

      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.

  20. Scott 2

    Ahh but,

    the Commodore 64 version was clearly the best!

    *cue Spec vs CBM flamewar*

    1. Paul RND*1000


      If you liked blocky graphics in 15 shades of brown.


  21. Danny 4

    Take me back to the 80s

    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.

    1. lawndart


      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.

      Superb stuff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wargames

        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

        - Alien

        - The Bulge

        - Stonkers (published in 1984 by Imagine, and arguably the first-ever RTS game!)

  22. Bassey

    What a great 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.

  23. OldBiddie

    This *is* a title

    6031769 - that is all.

  24. Jason 23

    love it

    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 I'm old.

    kids today with their Xboxes and Playstations don't know they've been born!!

    Ah nostalgia for the good ol' days :)

  25. David Given

    Not so good on the Kindle

    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...

  26. MattF

    Ah the memories

    28 years later, "6031769" is still a muscle memory ;)

  27. Richard Wharram
    Thumb Up



    (must contaIn letters)

  28. juice Silver badge

    It's all getting a bit manic...

    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...

  29. Richard Wharram


    and then press 6, 5, 2 and 1 together and you can see what The Final Barrier looks like on the Speccy.

    Is it sad that I didn't have to Google for any of this ?

  30. A J Stiles

    That last screen

    ..... 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.

  31. Tom Servo
    Thumb Up

    You HAVE to go to World of Spectrum website

    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.

  32. stu 4

    we had far more skill than today's kids

    3 lives to complete all the levels.

    yer modern COD/Modern Warfare scrote wouldn't have a chance in hell.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Try Super Nintendo Contra...

      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.

  33. Alan Bourke

    If anyone wants some updated Manic Miner action ...

    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.

  34. sebacoustic

    illegal software distribution?

    I wonder if one could record the audio stream off the youtube video and load it into one's Spectrum.

    I can't try it because i don't have one.

    I never had one because I couldn't afford it. had to put up with a second-hand ZX-81

    1. juice Silver badge

      Probably not...

      The audio on Youtube is probably too compressed to be usable. However, there's been plenty of examples of people taking the audio from a TZX (tape image) file and dumping it into an MP3 player, which can then be plugged into a real Speccy...

    2. Sam Liddicott

      same here

      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,

    3. Giles Jones Gold badge


      If you want to load stuff into your Spectrum but don't have the tape or tape recorder then get a TZX file and use PlayTZX, works for me.

  35. Alan Bourke

    And finally ...

    ... it wasn't *that* great an innovation, it was heavily inspired by Miner 2049er on the Atari. But it was the first decent platformer for the Spec.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    i am sure

    Matthew Smith was told it was not possible to have continuos music in the game, but he found a way to do it. The man is a genius.

    1. juice Silver badge


      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...

  37. Cool Hand Luke

    The Impossible Game

    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.

    1. Alan Bourke

      You're thinking of Jet Set Willy

      there I think.

      1. Cool Hand Luke

        Yes I am.

        Massive fail on my memory. Thanks for the correction.

        More of a monty mole man myself. :-)

    2. Tegne

      Manic Miner was completable.

      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.

  38. Ian Yates
    Thumb Up

    All together now!

    Dur dah dur dah dur dah dah, dur dah dah, dur dah dah...

  39. Cowardly Animosity

    TITLE goes here

    Aaargh, just found an archive of Home Computing Weekly. I am old, and sad.

  40. Cowardly Animosity

    Go TITLE yourself

    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...

  41. Drew 2
    Thumb Up

    A milestone for me...

    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. :)

  42. Zog The Undeniable

    Cover art

    Wasn't Jet Set Willy the one with the cover art of a miner (in NCB donkey jacket) chundering into a toilet after too much champagne? Political satire at the height of the miners' strike.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Killer App

    This, along with AticAtac and Jetpac, helped shift an absolute shitload of Speccys in time for Christmas '83 (my 48K included). :-)

  44. Jim 59

    Hard game

    Played it plenty on the Amstrad cpc464. My best level was something about "skylab" with crashing windmills. The gameplay really was down to the pixel, and collision detection was that accurate. Good programmin'.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong willy!

    Banyan Tree was from Jet Set Willy - the sequel to the game, released by Software Projects :)

    Loved the original - preferred the SAM Coupe version! :)

  46. Mint Sauce

    You had to be careful combining your POKES though ;-)

    I remember playing JSW and combining 'fall from any height' and 'infinite lives'. That was not a good idea if you fell through to another screen as you just got stuck falling forever LOL. Unfortunately I cant remember the codes ;-)

  47. Haku

    Well that's my afternoon sorted

    *digs out ZX Spectrum +2 and whatever tapes he can find*

  48. Dodgy Pilot

    Dragon Miner

    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 :)

    1. A J Stiles

      "no access to the Speccy source code" ?

      The game was written in machine code (possibly even hand-assembled using the Z80 instruction set from the Spectrum programmer's manual). The source code, such as you could call it, would have been trivial to obtain.

      1. Dodgy Pilot

        "no access to the Speccy source code" ?

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I probably owe you an appology then

      I seem to recall my copy of both coming with a photocopy of a handwritten version of the copy-protection codes.

      <---- I'll replace this with a real one if ever we meet.

    3. msmorley

      I guess that makes you Roy Coates then?

      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

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jet Set Willy anti-piracy measure...

    ...anyone remember the little card with coloured strips that was the Jet Set Willy anti-piracy measure?

    I can tell you that was fun for me as a kid with red/green colour blindness...

  51. Scarborough Dave

    Ahh! The good old days!

    Got very dizzy during loading screen sequence though!

  52. Zippy's Sausage Factory
    Thumb Up

    Remake for DOS

    Andy Noble did a fantastic remake for DOS which is available on his site: I wasted lots of time on my (much missed) old Libretto playing that! :-D

  53. Mr Young

    48K Spectrum done well it did

    I started off with Z80 block move commands for scrolling and arrays - stuff like that? TRS-80 as well! I guess I'm a big ASM crust by now

  54. Waderider

    For linux users.........

    .........just install FUSE, go looking and you can get any Speccy game up and running. Best one of all is British Lowland, in my humble opinion........

  55. Steve Evans

    And on Android...

    Go get yourself the Spectrum emulator Marvin, then you can play oodles of ROMS, including MM.

  56. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Classic gaming

    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:

  57. Pahhh
    Thumb Up

    Ok but.....

    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.

  58. The big blue one

    Want to have a play

    If you want to have a go I found a java version at

    There appears to be lots of other classics as well. O how I loved "Lords of Midnight"

    p.s. don't forget to enter the Load"" to get started.

  59. Paul Wells

    Manic Miner - The Opera!

    The Franz Kafka Big Band did a long sketch about an opera based on it, there should still be three arias from it available somewhere on the net.

  60. jason 7 Silver badge

    How about remembering some of those games that really dissapointed?

    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)

    1. Mike Richards

      C64 Elite

      Oh that was just painful.

      And any of the Ultimate: Play the Game games for the C64 - the Spectrum got works of art, the C64 got big blocky messes.

  61. cdilla

    Marvelous memory

    Thank you for that wonderful memory. I was in my mid twenties when I played this and it's successor JSW. It is pure, distilled nostalgia to see and hear it again :-)

  62. ThomH

    Piracy! Someone call FAST!

    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.

  63. Sam Therapy
    Thumb Up

    Superb game

    Skylab Landing Bay was the funniest room, IMO.

    All the mags at the time had thousands of pokes for the game and Your Spectrum had a hack which introduced a new room - April Showers - as an April Fool's joke.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020