• Chris Tate

sinclive 5

Over the Christmas break period, I found a folder containing some old school things (as in things from school, not old school in the cool sense)

In the middle of the pile was my old O-Level Computer Studies project. It was a game I created for the BBC Micro that we used at school. A super simple game I might add, I was never going to get rich on the back of this one. The project as it turned was from when I was 16 in 1986 (and yes, this is before a lot of you were born - no need to tell me about it)

But, it got me thinking, could I get it to work again? My notes were pretty thorough as it turned out so I thought I'd give it go.

Firstly, I don't own a BBC Micro and indeed never have so I was going to have to emulate this somehow, I tried a few Java emulators, but wasn't too keen and eventually decided upon the BeebEm emulator and downloaded it to my spare laptop.

I started to enter some of the listing, being selective to just get the bare bones of the game loaded, but I found it a very painful process as my portable keyboard doesn't really align the old BBC one so I abandoned plans to type directly into the emulator.

Instead I thought I'd crank up the old Notepad.exe and work in there. Handily the BeebEM emulator has a paste feature so I could copy the code directly from notepad into BBC BASIC.

Typically, I think there were some errors in my listing as there is no way the code would have worked as it was, so I spent some time troubleshooting and got it to work in the end.

One odd thing, the game start screen shows "Exouda Developments" - I have no memory at all of using this name or indeed where the name comes from..

It's actually quite addictive. It's quite simple, Chris Curry has thrown the letters in "Sinclair" all over the place and you have to collect them in your Sinclair C5. You leave a tail though and you can't touch this. I guess it's a bit like Centipede or maybe the classic Snake.

You also have to worry about your C5 battery going flat too so I think I also invented the concept of Range Anxiety... :)

To complete the game I think you have to clear 10 screens, I've only managed 6 so far...

A few notes :

  1. I still have the same bug as I had on the original BBC where I can re-map the a-z characters, but not the numeric characters, or at least not a the same time. I will look into this a bit more at some point.

  2. The game plot refers to Sir Clive Sinclair being at odds with Chris Curry and this predates the excellent Micro Men by years :)

  3. The plot involves the Sinclair Silicon Wafer technology that I was very excited about back in the day. It's used in many things now, Sinclair was unable to make it work as memory though.

  4. If you lose the game is displays that the technology has been sold to IBM, so maybe this was the rumour at the time?

  5. Who drew the picture of Sir Clive? It certainly wasn't me.

Anyway, it was a fun project for a bank holiday. I think I will next try it on the excellent Raspberry Pi 400.


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