Friday, 21 August 2015

Manic Miner Minor - Matt Smith's First Game Remembered

Matt Smith and his creation Manic Miner have taken on a legendary status recently, being featured on mainstream TV and Radio and even getting mentioned by former Labour Leader Ed Milliband during his less than successful election campaign. Mr Smith made few games before quiting the games industry in the 80's, but he does have more to his name than Miner Willy's adventures.

Delta Tau One was the first game he created, all the way back in 1982, for the very early home system the TRS-80. Apparently it was released commercially, selling 13 copies and netting him a profit of £50, presumably leading him on to bigger things. It's a game that rarely gets mentioned even amongst retro-fans, which is a shame 'cos it's quite fun. It's an obvious 'tribute' to Galaga, but it plays very well and is clearly a cut above the average BASIC coded bedroom arcade rip offs that were common in the formative years of the computer boom.

The TRS-80 is not a well remembered system in the UK, it didn't sell in any large numbers and was quickly overtaken by Sinclair and Commodore machines in the market. This probably helps to explain why the game is so little known, as even hard core collectors in the UK don't tend to bother with the old Trash 80. The fact that there are only 13 original copies out there could potentially make it a valuable collectors item if anyone cared enough to seek it out. I've tried looking for it for sale several times, but I all I seem to find is American college memorabilia! If it's out there it's well hidden.

The above video is one I made a while ago. There's no sound on the standard TRS-80, so the soundtrack is the utterly fantastic, but sadly still not officially released Buckie High by Boards of Canada.

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