17 October 2009











Thought you’d heard the last of Miner Willy? RG’s Surbiton archaeologist Stuart Campbell has dug down deeper than any man alive, and he knows different.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, dear Retro Gamer viewers. You’re thinking “OMFG Manic Miner again? There can’t POSSIBLY be a single pixel, joke or assembly-language hexadecimal of code in that game that hasn’t been documented to death and beyond by now!”

Which just goes to show what YOU know about anything, so shut up. Y’see, the problem is that everyone thinks of Manic Miner as a Spectrum game. Maybe at a pinch you might have encountered the more or less identical ports on the C64 or Amstrad, but it’s a game that’s quintessentially identified with the Speccy. And that fact obscures the fact that there were many other Manic Miners, several of which added their own distinctive stamp to Matthew Smith’s seminal original. (And that’s leaving aside the superb SAM Coupe version, which effectively featured two entire separate sequels alongside the original 20 levels.)

The Acorn Archimedes version, for example, has a unique and helpful feature whereby if you die, the keys you’ve already picked up on that level stay collected. But much more interesting than that is the fact that several MM ports included extra levels not present in the Spectrum game, or which were radically different. Indeed, when you add them all up, there’s a whole new 20-level “lost” Manic Miner out there. So why not join us now as we tell Miner Willy’s untold story? Just what did happen between the moment he stepped back out from the mine into the daylight, and the point years later when we met him again in Jet Set Willy? Why did he turn so spectacularly to drink? And how DID he come to have a gateway to space hidden in the upper rooms of his mansion? Let’s find out!

LEVEL 1 - Home At Last
(Source: Oric)

The opening scene in our story features a depiction of Willy’s house as seen on the original’s title screen/final level. Having lost his keys somewhere in the mine, Willy has to make an unconventional entry via the roof after some perilous leaping around outside. A simple enough business, but has the house been secure in his absence?

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