This month’s Retro Gamer (May/June 2012 #103) contains a four pager from yours truly. This time, the subject is the 1985 BBC Micro/Electron release Citadel. Like most games of the era, it might look a bit primitive by modern standards, but programmer Michael Jakobson squeezed every ounce of storage out of the old Beeb to deliver a colourful gameworld made up of 240 interlinked screens. It’s a wonderful example of a vintage arcade adventure, and it’s also a consummate BBC Micro game. One of the commenters on the forum remarked that when he first played it, the game seemed as big to him as Skyrim does now. This time I was able to get in touch with Michael Jakobson and also Simon Storr, the author of Citadel 2.
I was particularly happy with the layout as the guys managed to cram some decent sized screenshots into the mag to show off the (8 colour) graphics. The BBC Micro had a colour system that was based on primary colours giving it a very bright and distinctive look and Citadel is a fantastic example of that.
Some of the guys that I follow on YouTube have covered the game before. Steve Benway gave it a first impression look, and PsiMan did a more detailed retrospective on it as it was a favourite of his back in the day. There are some more gameplay vids to be found on YouTube and there is a nice video of Darren Jones, the editor of Retro Gamer flicking through the issue here. The article is being discussed on the StarDot (BBC Micro) forums, and the issue itself is being discussed on the RetroGamer forum.
This month’s Retro Gamer (Issue 101, Mar/Apr 2012) features my eight page feature on a favourite retro platform, the BBC Micro. It’s immensely gratifying for me to write about the Beeb as it was my first computer. Some of you may know that it has recently celebrated its 30th birthday. It’s a great platform and I genuinely enjoyed playing some of the old games. It was also nice to get in touch with some BBC Micro developers that I hadn’t spoken to before while re-establishing contact with some that I already knew. I was also able to bring some of the best YouTube retrogamers into the mag (see videos here, here, here and here).
One snag with the way that the feature came together is that I ran out of room and I wasn’t able to use all of the material that I was given. No matter: I plan to spin the extra stuff out into later features, and I’ve already discussed some ideas with the editor. More info when it’s confirmed.
There is a feedback thread for the issue on the forum. As ever, thanks go to all of the people who helped me with the article.
Issue 79 of Retro Gamer magazine contains my six page feature on Superior Software, the most prolific BBC Micro games company back in the 80s and 90s. The company is still in business today selling remakes of the classic back catalogue and can apparently even supply original copies of BBC Micro games.
I don’t have my copy yet but you can watch Darran, the editor of Retro Gamer flicking through the issue on Youtube. As you may know, this is my third feature for this magazine. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it, and I hope I’ve done justice to such a great company. There is a feedback thread for the issue on the RG website.
[Update: I’ve got it and it looks great. I forgot to add my name to the introduction and I’m not credited elsewhere, but I did write it, I promise!]
Thanks are due to Richard Hanson, Peter Irvin, Tony Oakden and Gary Partis for allowing me to interview them.