Blasts from the past

Thanks to Rich Talbot-Watkins pointing me in the right direction I’ve been reminiscing about old BBC games on the Stairway to Hell website. There, amongst other things, is a load of old BBC games, including some Rich and I wrote when we were kids. Curious to see what we’d been up to I loaded the disk image of Frogman (yes, unimaginitive name as ever) up directly into EditPad and had a sift through the text…then I found this…

“Congratulations on your fine choice in games ...... FROGMAN was written and produced by Matthew Godbolt and Richard Talbot-Watkins. Yes, this is one of those cunning scrolltexts featured on so many of those Archie games. Well now is the time for Beeb owners to unite and fight for processor equality! ...... Hellos and thankyous are due to the following (in no particular order): Our families (for putting up with us), our friends at Howard Of Effingham Sixth Form College: Dave, Richard, Paul, Richard (a different one), Richard (another different one), Chris, Manners, Gatford, Moffat, Ben, Anita, Sarah, Sue, Katie, Polly, Catherine, Katherine, Hayley (dungarees), Alison, Pam (spam), Jane (my legs are crossed — MG), Ben, Peers, and the rest of you. Cheers to Dominic for playtesting the game, and for the loan of his Beeb. Teachers (yick) to be danke- ed include : Mr (shhhh!) Bowes, Mrs (snooore) Whyman, Mr (northern) Beety, Mr (if a cow, it gives milk, then you can let it kick you. If the cow it doesn’t give milk, then you cannot stand it to kick you (!?!)) Asadullah, Mr (WHILE … DO) Maguire, Mr (balding slaphead) Everson, Mr (irrelevant stories) Laver, Miss (oh, black clothes again, eh?) Myers, Mrs (whacko) Jackson, Mr (sarcastic voice) Eccleston, Mr (head teecha) Marchant, Mrs (colour co-ordination) Palmer, Mrs (yeees) Jeffery, Mr (puppies?!) Payne and the rest of the underpaid, overworked (or should that be overpaid, underworked?) staff. Wibbles are also due to these esteemed thingies, without which this superb game would not have graced the populace at large: Nescafe and PG tips for the huge amounts of caffeine required, Acorn Computers Ltd for such a wonderful range of computers, BBC Acorn User (esp. the Daves) for the dosh and the confidence to complete this game, Bray, Dickens and Holmes for the most useful book in the Cosmiverse (Advanced User Guide), Olivetti for the printer, Ferguson and Philips for TVs, Casio and Yamaha for the music keyboards, Sharp and Philips for the CD players and other sound blasting equipment, Metallica, Ozric Tentacles, Genesis, Holst (yep, we mean it), Black Sabbath, Faith No More, and the other bands which have kept us alive during the bleakest system crashes, Dean R. Koontz, Stephen King, Stephen W. Hawking, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Lenny Henry, The Word, Police Squad, Tomorrow’s World, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Mary Whitehouse (not), and the other billion forms of entertainment which have kept us sane(ish). Thanks also (for no particular reason) to lightbulbs, belly-button fluff, top-loading VCRs, fish, radiators, NASA, electrons, neutrons and protons (but not positrons), pewter, phosphofructokinase, black holes, those little bits of bent metal that you have to work out how to disentangle, ear wax, Kevlar body armour, Einstein and his General Theory of Relativity, YS (fnar), Rudolph T.R.N. Reindeer, Donner, Blitzen and Co., Jiminy Cricket, haemoglobin, a boiled sweet, the ozone layer, elevators, fish (again), the ancient Aztecs, Post It (TM) Notes, Jeremy Beadle (not), germanium, silicon, iron, tungsten, rubidium, argon, krypton and newtonium, Phylum Chordata (fish), Terry Wogan (ahem), F.W. De Klerk, flushing lavatories and the squirting flower. Things that get a no-thank-you include luminous toilet paper, Narcissisism, speling tests, GCSE exams (done), A levels (to be done at), doctorates (we’ll be lucky), Premiership of the Republic of Iceland, itching powder, Finger-seeking Superglue 3 weapons, New Clear Arms, Potassium permanganate, arsenic, sulphate, nitrous emissions, radioactive chair legs, mathematics, the Government, the Opposition, politics, sea-dwelling higher vertebrates (I thought you liked fish?), sexual deviations involving sheep (Mr Bowes take note), tortoise molesting (Hale + Pace take note), the digeredoo (or whatever), Rudolph Hess, Home Alone 2, Pritt Stick, the blue tack stuck to MG’s carpet, opulent aardvarks, trestle tables, Numismatical inadequacy, Edd the Duck, Gordon T. Gopher, Gordon Bennett, the wasp’s nest outside RTW’s room, hayfever, asthma, eczema, cancer, AIDS, the prostrate gland, the wibbly thing at the back of your throat, homelessness and finallyish exploding novelty golf balls. And now for some of those little puzzles in life that wind you up something chronic if you can’t solve them — Why do dogs always lick their <censored> in full view of the family during dinner? Who was the first bloke (or blokess) to test a parachute? Why are there 24 hours in a day? How many fairies can dance on the head of a pin? Who cares? Why do they care? … And for a little brainteaser (courtesy of YS) — Part a) What is the record time for a London Marathon run? b) How many people ran in the 1991 Marathon? c) Name them. (ahahahahahahahhahaahaahahahaahahaa) Well I thought it was funny. Anyway, I’ve just realised that this file is bigger than the main code. Oh for an Archimedes (hint to Father Christmas). Well Rick’s got one, so why can’t I have one? Money! The only reason this game was finished was for the though of lots of little green notes making their way towards my perpetually inadequate bank account. Enough heart-rending stories, I’m off to watch Roseanne. (P.S. RTW wishes to inform the general public that that sentence was prepared without his prior consent and that he has never, and will never, like and/or watch the TV Programme Roseanne. Thanx)”

Well I never, there’s a host of names and things I never thought I’d see again…As it happens Father Christmas did bring me an Archimedes that year, so we never did finish the game.

Note to anyone wanting to try the game: You’ll need a decent emulator like Tom Seddon’s Model B in order to play it due to the awkward protection system. B-Em also runs it apparently, but I’ve not yet been able to get it working.

Filed under: Blog
Posted at 12:09:02 BST on 5th August 2006.

About Matt Godbolt

Matt Godbolt is a C++ developer working in Chicago in the finance industry.