The first games that I had with my ZX Spectrum for Christmas in 1983 were Manic Miner and Lunar Jetman — they were recommended by a friend in school who was a little older than me and more up to date on the Spectrum games scene. This was THE game played all over that Christmas period with brief respite whilst checking out the Horizons tape that came with the computer and trying to figure out what I actually had to do in Lunar Jetman.
Manic Miner as it is widely known was created by Matthew Smith — it’s a platform game covering 20 screens littered with enemies from the incredulous mind of Smith where killer penguins, evil snapping toilets and mutant telephones are the norm. Collecting all the shiny objects on a level (keys, tennis bats, bananas etc) sees a door open to the next level. Each level becomes progressively harder. As you mistime a jump and fall to your death with your final life, you scream with frustration as a Pythonesque foot of doom squishes poor Willy, rubbing further salt into the wounds of failure. You cannot help but have one more go to see if you can get further. Highly playable even now and is always one to go to on the Spectrum.
Even after nearly 40 years since release, Manic Miner is still a game that is worth revisiting to have one more go - I will one day finish all 20 levels and then move to Jet Set Willy! How far have you got through the game? Which level was your undoing? Tell us in the comments below which level keeps tripping you up!
Check out our ZX Spectrum range of books on the store - I suggest the first one to look at is "The story of the ZX Spectrum in pixels_ Volume 1":