The gaming world has come a long way since the 1980s, with huge leaps forward in technology (it’s bizarre to think that Pac-Man was once at the cutting edge!). But mind-boggling graphics and sprawling open worlds aren’t everything – and apparently, no one knows this better than the BBC.
Be prepared for a lot of nostalgia. Now, the Complete BBC Games Archive has made hundreds of retro games available to be played again in a BBC micro emulator, on a real BBC Micro, or on the web.
BBC Micro computer
The 8-bit BBC Micro-computer was released in 1981 by Acorn computers and subsequently used in many schools across the UK. Nearly all the games in the archive were curated by Mick Brown who began collecting BBC computer games from shops and storing them on both 40 track and 80 track floppy discs in 1984. (Floppy disks were 1.44 megabytes in the early 80s – meaning that you would need about 23,175 floppy disks for one copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider for PS4!)
The games have been enhanced for ease of use and checked for compatibility with various emulators and hardware. Instructions have been added for many of the games from authentic sources, such as cassette inlays, and any major changes have been noted on the game’s page.
Classic games archive
It’s definitely worth having a look around the site, or a quick search for a childhood favourite, such as Granny’s Garden, which was once all the rage at my school. There are also several old versions of games that are still being remade now, such as Prince of Persia.
Despite the dated technology, there is a certain charm to the retro vibe these BBC micro games online capture. It’s interesting to see that many games bear more than a passing resemblance to their originals and are still being produced.
Furthermore, the actual concepts and mechanisms behind these games, for example side-scrolling, are even now informing new games. Firm favourites, such as Tetris (which is still surprisingly addictive), have stood up to the tests of time (and probably will for the foreseeable future and longer).
The archive is still being developed and the BBC are looking for suggestions of missed games. If you think of a missing game (or, even better, own one) then they’re asking you to get in touch, so they can add even the most obscure games to this brilliant archive.