back to article Looking for the perfect Valentine's gift? How about a week of retro gaming BBC Microlympics?

Parents staring down the barrel of half term or computer fans with a fondness for the good old days, rejoice! The National Museum of Computing is marking the 40th anniversary of the BBC Micro with a week of retro gaming, including Chuckie Egg and Elite. Yes, we know we have to wait until December for the actual anniversary, …

  1. msknight

    Who needs an emulator?

    ...I've got three of them here. One of which is capable of reading Fat32 USB sticks and has a 6502 Co Pro (couldn't afford the ARM cheese wedge that came up on ebay a few years ago) ... but I can play Elite Executive Edition :-)

    1. ThomH

      Re: Who needs an emulator?

      Maybe you could compromise: fire up PiTubeDirect and use a Raspberry Pi to emulate the ARM coprocessor, and only the coprocessor — you have to wire the thing to your Tube interface.

      It can also do a 286, a 32016, a 274Mhz 6502 or a bunch of other options.

      1. Peter Mount
        Thumb Up

        Re: Who needs an emulator?

        I've got one for the internal tube interface on my BBC Master. I did a video for Doscember showing DOS (DOS Plus not MSDos) running on it with a couple of PC games working fine.

        Just search for "Running DOS on a BBC Master 128" on YouTube

        1. MOV r0,r0

          Re: Who needs an emulator?

          Slightly triggered that your message didn't end with *Dismount

    2. Anonymous Tribble

      Re: Who needs an emulator?

      "couldn't afford the ARM cheese wedge that came up on ebay a few years ago"

      Are they worth something now? I'm starting to regret giving mine away.

      1. msknight

        Re: Who needs an emulator?

        I think it went for £4K on fleabay a few years ago. Would likely have to be a collector, or someone skilled enough to code for it over the tube. Having said that, there are a reasonable few of those people around.

  2. GlenP Silver badge

    Can't Play Elite...

    My hand built (by me) custom joystick has long been consigned to electronics heaven. It was specially crafted to allow easy setup of the rotation needed for docking.

    1. msknight

      Re: Can't Play Elite...

      What! You didn't buy docking computers? At least those on the C64 had music while docking. The BBC tape version just went straight in. Had to wait until the disk version for the BBC to be able to fly in on its own.

      1. dhawkshaw

        Re: Can't Play Elite...

        I found the docking computers more of a hinderence - especially after I'd played for long enough to get the muscle memory on the roll keys down to match rotation without even thinking. I tended to make heavy use of the BBC not being able to process multiple pressed keys at once for some 'on a sixpence' manoeuvring. To my detriment I then could never get the hang of some of the emulated versions or re-emaginings on other platforms.

        Oolite was about my favourite non-original - but I still found myself remapping keys to the 'old ways'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can't Play Elite...

          Rotation? What rotation? Amateurs!

          If you timed it right, you could just fly straight ahead and hit the slot when it was horizontal

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Can't Play Elite...

          The docking computer glitch that used to just smash you into a million bits fir no apparent reason. No thanks.

          1. msknight

            Re: Can't Play Elite...

            "The docking computer glitch that used to just smash you into a million bits fir no apparent reason. No thanks."

            Pffft... Spectrum users.... ;-)

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Can't Play Elite...

              The C64 version didn't care what side if the space station you were on, therefore if you engaged it on the wrong side it would carefully ram your ship into the rear of the space station. It also struggled from too narrow an angle and tended to spend ages scraping the front face of the station rather than actually dock. As for caring about exiting spacecraft... nope... just flew into them...

              When I did use the thing I'd tend to align the ship up approximately myself, enable the docking computer and then hit maximum time speed for instant dock regardless of ships in the way and so on.

              In witchspace (knocked out of hyperspace by the thargoids) the docking computer could be used to target thargoid ships, just lock on, enable it, and the docking computer would line you up to shoot the thargoid. Unfortunately if often did this by slowing the ship down to an absolute stop which made one a bit of a sitting duck target...

    2. Zimmer

      Re: Can't Play Elite... A Joystick!? A JOYSTICK!!? Heresy!

      ..see title...

    3. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Can't Play Elite...

      "Dock, Dock, Dock. That's all it is to you, isn't it..."

      1. msknight

        Re: Can't Play Elite...

        And Thargoids... the thieving b*$@ar*@.

  3. Nik 2


    TNMOC's website explains it thus:

    "The online games Heptathlon will take place during February half term with 5 games over 5 days."

    I think they should have used 6502 chips rather than original Pentiums to count the events...

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Heptathlon?

      They are allowing for the weekend off?

  4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Age ranges

    Why not more classifications?





    1. FIA Silver badge

      Re: Age ranges

      It's about encouraging kids.... not kicking their asses. :D

      Although if you do set it up can I suggest 'Daily Thompsons Track and Field' for round 2, that'll at least give the young a physical advantage....

      (Then a week or so later, a certain demographic gets to coin the term 'Claw hand').

      1. don't you hate it when you lose your account

        Re: Age ranges

        It's about encouraging kids.... not kicking their asses. :D????!!@@??

        As a parent I have to say winning is the game here. Just one small victory please.

      2. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Age ranges

        'Daily Thompsons Track and Field' the graveyard of many a joystick ;)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Was going to have a look and see whats in the shop but sadly the link's thowing a 404 :-(...perhaps this is their way of saying they'd rather have donations ..

    1. Andy Taylor

      Re: Shop

      The correct shop URL is

  6. MutantAlgorithm

    Ah Chuckie Egg, still pretty much the only game I have ever completed. Given that it was about 35 years ago I don't think the muscle memory will remain enough to make it worthwhile entering the competition now!

    As for the months and years I spent playing Elite and still never managed to make it to Elite level :-(

    1. ThomH

      Chuckie Egg doesn't have an ending, though I think it loops after 48 levels?

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Yup. I completed Chuckie one weekend at school, after many attempts and a lot of missed "homework".

        It just went right back to the beginning again. SO disappointing.

        1. NeilPost Silver badge

          So a very enjoyable journey there and a disappointing ending only.

          Sounds better than Lost was on the TV.

    2. Pedigree-Pete

      Winning Elite...

      I played it as a team of two, usually Pilot & co-pilot. Approaching Elite Status we found a hack which allowed us to "mess around under the hood".

      Result, we never made Elite, we became a Fuel Scoop. Lesson learnt. PP

  7. AOD
    Thumb Up

    Right on Commander!

    Ahh Elite. I remember playing the BBC version, initially due to the number of keys involved my brother and I shared the flight controls and weapons. Later as I got more proficient I would happily operate the Cobra Mk III single crewed Started with the Tape version and then progressed to the Disc version where the docking computer would actually manoeuvre you in. It would sometimes botch the docking and you'd end up scraping paint or exploding.

    Once docking was mastered I could dock manually at full speed and as far as combat was concerned, I could run away at full speed, switch to the rear view and happily treat my pursuer to a viewport full of military laser fire.

    Then played again on the Archimedes and the Risc PC. Now I occasionally take the XBOX version for a spin. Having Norman Lovett (the original Holly from Red Dwarf) providing the voice for the cockpit voice assistant (or COVAS) is sublime.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Right on Commander!

      X-Box version? Tell me more! Where do I get it?

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Right on Commander!

        And does the COVAS occasionally switch to a completely different appearance and personality, as an April, May, June, July and August Fool?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Right on Commander!

        Here would be a start

        (PC player myself)

        1. matthewdjb

          Re: Right on Commander!

          Elite dangerous is great. If you get stranded, you can sort people in real life and they'll come and rescue you

          I played for a year when it came out. Haven't touched it since. But I recall docking is not that difficult.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Right on Commander!

          Oh Elite Dangerous - no thanks - I'll stick to E:TNK

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: Right on Commander!

            As a Frontier girl I feel duty bound to give it a plug, although Elite was my gateway drug.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Right on Commander!

      Oolite for the win! Open-source version of the original, even down to the same missions - but with a whole lot more besides. And unlike 'Elite: Dangerous', it's still standalone so you don't need to worry about some annoying little moron who does nothing but play games all day popping your ship all the fricking time because he thinks it is funny.

  8. Franco Silver badge

    Repton theme music is now stuck in my head in all of it's 8-bit glory, which makes a change from In the Hall of the Mountain King (from Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy) which is the usual one when the Beeb is mentioned.

    1. AOD

      Best Beeb music award goes to...

      My favourite music of all on the Beeb had to be the "hidden" music in the loader for Frak!

      If you were naughty enough to copy the game, the loader would then play the theme music for Captain Pugwash.

      Oh and I did make it to Elite as well. Was rather chuffed when I did.

      One other thing to keep in mind as well was that the Disc version actually had missions as well. I can still remember the adrenaline hit when the screen flashed up "Incoming Message" after docking.

      1. Davegoody

        Re: Best Beeb music award goes to...

        If you really wanted to hear the Captain Pugwash theme, you could exit the game and type “proc pugwash” and it would play.....

      2. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Best Beeb music award goes to...

        Frak's normal theme music was a bit of an earworm as well, it's one of the games that still gets an occasional play in BeebEm.

  9. Kaemaril#

    No Mr. EE? Count me out!

  10. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

    Smaller, cheaper...

    Is it worth mentioning that there is a BBC Micro simulator that runs on the Pi Pico MCU?

  11. Peter Fairbrother 1

    Shared universe elite


    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Shared universe elite

      Yes, but so far not done yet without making the game world (universe) ridiculous or thoroughly easily abusable.

  12. NanoMeter

    Dangerous Level

    I reached Elite, Dangerous level before I switched to a 16 Bit computer. Now I'm trying once again on the PC.

  13. DrBobK

    I taught programming to university students on the BBC Micro - their work was 'saved' on cassettes. Got some disc drives later and so could play Elite while they struggled with the exercises. I was quite amazed at the 3D feel of Elite and how immersed you got, even if it was all green lines. The game I remember being even more impressed with was the free flight simulator (not really simulator, not realistic, just fun) on the first Archimedes. There was also a flight sim game on SGI workstations around then (maybe even a bit later) and the Archimedes one was just as good apart from the fact that you could network the SGIs if you happened to have a few Indigos or Irises lying around.

  14. TRT Silver badge

    This made me think...

    About Time Commanders for some reason. That was a great programme. They should bring that back. Be easy to social distance that.

  15. Stuart Halliday

    I wanna play Sentinel....

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Martin an gof Silver badge


    Maybe I should dig up my "hacked" copy of Revs, where - aged about 17 - I managed to find the bit in the code where the gearbox stopped at five forward gears and removed that limitation. Far from just a sequence of progressively "longer" gears, experimentation found that there were a couple of gears with both lightning fast accelleration and a top speed very much higher than normal. Thus it was possible to start from the back of the grid and be at the front before the first corner, and even if you spun off so little time was wasted getting back up to speed that it didn't really matter. Also changed the names of all the drivers to those of friends :-)

    Or maybe I should find a way of digging about in the emulator's memory and see if I can stumble upon the same edit!

    Would make a change to being beaten hands-down by offspring who are far better at SuperTuxKart either single-player or network mode than I am.


  18. James Wilson

    I've only just seen this so missed midnight on the 15th, does anyone know if I can still get the link for Chuckie Egg?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      There's one here:

      Oh my god, it can run in the browser. Well crap. There goes the rest of my evening...


  19. Chronos


    Bloody geese.

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