One of the more frequent subjects of discourse between 16-bit owners these days seems to be a longing for good conversions of classic 8-bit games. Only last month we printed a letter from a reader who missed "the 'golden oldies' such as Jet Set Willy", and went on to ask "is there such a thing as a simple shoot 'em up anymore?"
It is a sad fact that as games have become more sophisticated in terms of graphics, sound, and size they have often lost the playability and addictiveness which were common features of the best 8-bit games. Companies like Ultimate-Play-The-Game and Software Projects became renowned for producing software which made the best possible use of the limited graphics and sound potential of those basic machines, but not at the expense of the immediate and lasting appeal of the games.
Now Software Projects have answered the prayers of 16-bit owners, who are fed up with paying through the nose for games which are visually and aurally stunning, but either unplayable or so insubstantial that they become nothing more than vaguely interactive graphics and sound demos; but now, the classic game, Manic Miner, rides again.
Manic Miner was the professional debut of programmer Matthew Smith. It is a two dimensional platform game with twenty stages, which must be completed successively. Looking at it today, it doesn't seem to be anything to ring home about, but, when you begin to play, it does not take long to discover the addictive qualities that made the game such a huge success when it was first released.
You control Miner Willy, a spritely little chap who is trying to find his way out of an abandoned mine, which is now populated by various malign creatures including the likes of snapping toilets and mutant telephones. You achieve the escape by jumping from platform to platform, dodging the nasties and collecting all of the keys on the screen. Once you have obtained them all, it just remains to head for the exit before your air runs out.
With this new release, Software Projects are bound to please a lot of Manic Miner fans - not only have they included an updated version of the game which makes full use of the advanced features of 16-bit machines, but there is also an exact replica of the original which is so accurate that you can use the same pixel perfect timing you developed when playing the game on your humble speccy.
The new version, while looking like a state-of-the-art Amiga game, is still faithful to the spirit of the original. That is to say, it has bags of playability. Rather than trying to fit each stage onto a single screen and having smaller sprites as a result, the author has gone for large, well animated sprites, so you only ever see a small section of each stage, the rest being scrolled smoothly on as and when you come to it.
Gone is the familiar atonal rendition of Peer Gynt - it has been replaced by one of those ditties which you find yourself humming in the bath three days afterwards. Spot effects have also been souped up and there is some digitised speech thrown in there for good measure.
It is nice to note that Software Projects have taken the plunge and given 16-bit gamers what they have asked for: advanced graphics and sound with a bit of good old fashioned 8-bit playability. Other companies take note - this is the way 16-bit games should be!
Spectrum game conversion. A classic title! Amiga disk contains the original spectrum game conversion and a reworked amiga version. Both are very enjoyable, cool games! You must help your miner to get through the barriers and find the keys to exit from the mine, before oxygen runs out!
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