Tag Archives: BBC Micro

Lunar Jetman, BBC Micro

The BBC Micro conversion of Ultimate‘s classic Lunar Jetman is a very good one, using a high res display mode for the graphics, which are mostly monochrome (just like the Spectrum original).

It plays just as well as the original too, and this results in a very challenging, but very playable game. And let’s face it: the original is a very difficult game.

The task in hand: to collect a bomb and drive it to the enemy base, before picking it up and dropping it on an enemy missile launcher, is much easier said than done. Predominantly because there’s a time limit, and random alien sprites keep getting in the way, and holes in the ground impede your vehicle so must be covered with girders. Again: easier said than done. Completing the level by destroying the enemy base is possible (I’ve done it myself on occasion), which means doing it again at a higher difficulty level the next time.

More: Lunar Jetman on Wikipedia

Sabre Wulf, BBC Micro

The BBC Micro version of Ultimate Play The Game‘s classic Sabre Wulf is so chunky and garish that it hurts the eyes! That said: it plays well enough.

Gameplay is identical to the Spectrum version: you play Sabreman and you run around a big maze, looking for four parts of a mysterious amulet. Enemies appear randomly on each screen and most can be killed with a sword. Some are invulnerable though and will only change direction if you hit them with the sword. And of course there’s the titular Sabre Wulf himself, who patrols the lower levels and is invulnerable to everything. If the Wulf touches you – or any other enemy touches you for that matter – you lose a life. So avoiding being touched is key. A skilled player will go for some time without losing a life, although it’s very easy to lose concentration and get knocked down.

Although this plays similarly to the original, it’s really nowhere near as good. Not by a long chalk. The chunky, stretched graphics just don’t look very good to be honest. Certainly not as good as the beautifully-stylised graphics of the original.

Like most of the BBC Ultimate conversions: this is only a partial success. It’s capable of delivering some fun for a short while, doesn’t have much “wow” factor, and is very much overshadowed by the Spectrum original.

Sabre Wulf on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum version, BBC Micro version,
Amstrad CPC versionCommodore 64 version

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre_Wulf

Manic Miner, BBC Micro

BBC Manic Miner was released by Software Projects in 1984.

Compared to the Spectrum original it is slow and flickery, and isn’t quite as colourful, although it plays pretty much identically so isn’t too bad.

One thing to note about the BBC version is that the final two levels are completely different to the original. Level 19 should be the “Solar Power Generator”, but here you get “The Meteor Storm”, which still has the moving reflectors but not the light beam. The final level is still called “The Final Barrier” but is different and much, much harder than the final level in the Spectrum version. They at least give the BBC version something unique to offer, even if reaching them is beyond the patience of most mortals.

More on The King of Grabs: 10 Best Manic Miner Conversions

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manic_Miner

Spy Hunter, BBC Micro

David Hoskins made this BBC Micro conversion of Spy Hunter for Micro Power, Sega and US Gold (not to mention Bally Midway) in 1986.*

It’s a strange conversion overall. For starters: the scrolling play area is really vertical – more vertical than the arcade original – which is weird. Secondly, the roads are quite empty and there’s only one skill level (that I could find), so no way of increasing the difficulty or the amount of traffic. Thirdly, the speedboat sections come too frequently (the opposite of the arcade version, which is rare, and the NES version, which is super rare), which lessens their ‘specialness’.

Overall, the BBC Micro version of Spy Hunter is a mess. Yes, it’s slightly playable, but it isn’t much fun and it seems to be one of those conversions where the programmer didn’t care enough (or couldn’t see their mistakes) to make it a reasonable representation of the arcade game. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that this is a good game…

* = That’s a hell of a chain of command – four major games companies and they still can’t come up with a decent game… BBC Spy Hunter should have been a lot better considering those involved.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter

Knight Lore, BBC Micro

Legendary developer Ultimate Play The Game gave good support to the BBC Micro, releasing many of their iconic games on the platform.

This Beeb conversion of the classic Knight Lore is arguably better than the original ZX Spectrum version, because it doesn’t suffer quite so badly from slowdown. Graphically, it’s still monochromatic, like the original.

Knight Lore is a brilliant game, however you play it. Sabreman turning into a werewolf mid jump is always hilarious…

Knight Lore on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Famicom Disk System

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Imogen, BBC Micro

Imogen is an endearing and memorable BBC Micro action/adventure, published by Micro Power in 1986.

It was written by Michael St. Aubyn and features a wizard (who you play and is called Imogen) who can transform into a monkey or a cat to do certain things. Like solve simple puzzles.

The puzzles are relatively easy logic problems, and ‘find-the-right-item-to-get-you-past-the-guy-blocking-the-way’ type issues. Found items are manipulated via a menu at the top of the screen.

The graphics in Imogen are excellently drawn and move well. It’s a pity, though, that they are somewhat monochromatic.

As far as I can tell Imogen appeared on BBC/Acorn computers only, which makes it an iconic system exclusive.

More: Imogen on bbcmicro.co.uk

Castle Quest, BBC Micro

Castle Quest was published for the BBC Micro in 1985 by Micro Power.

It was written by a young Tony Sothcott and is a platform adventure game with simple puzzles and a scrolling landscape.

Castle Quest is fondly-remembered by Beeb fans for its challenging gameplay and smooth scrolling. It’s a little archaic now, but still plays okay if you know what you’re doing. It’s similar in some ways to the classic Montezuma’s Revenge.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Quest_(1985_video_game)

Uridium, BBC Micro

Another conversion, but a very good one. Andrew Braybrook‘s classic horizontally-scrolling shooter, Uridium.

The BBC Micro version – from Hewson Consultants – is bold and colourful, and moves pretty smoothly, and retains the playability of the original. It doesn’t have the ship destruct sequence though.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uridium

Mr. Ee!, BBC Micro

When Mr. Ee! was released way back in 1984 the games industry was a bit like the Wild West – everybody cloned everyone else’s games and no one gave a sh*t. It wasn’t until later that official licenses and lawsuits for similarities became a thing.

Which is why Mr. Ee! is an almost perfect clone of the arcade game Mr. Do! and was marketed as such back in 1984. Because they could get away with it…

In the early Eighties clones of famous arcade games were all the rage and every software house was making them for every home format. It was rare, though, for them to get the conversion absolutely right. Adrian Stephens did a sterling job translating Mr. Do! to the Beeb though.

More: Mr. Ee! on bbcmicro.co.uk

Jet Set Willy, BBC Micro

Matthew Smith‘s brilliant Jet Set Willy translates perfectly well to the BBC Micro.

It’s not quite as a colourful as the ZX Spectrum original, but as Beeb platform games go, there are few better.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_Set_Willy