Here finally is Manic Miner for you to download.
Requirements: Atari XL/XE with 64kb or higher, PAL and NTSC compatible (there's actually around 8kb unused from our available 62kb)
As most of you probably know Matthew Smith set about designing Manic Miner for the Spectrum early in 1983 after being inspired playing Miner 2049er on the Atari so it's only fitting that we now eventually have a conversion back to the Atari. The game became one of the first big hits on the Spectrum and is remembered fondly for it's humour and great playability.
I started writing Manic Miner for the Atari back in 2010 completely from scratch, although there were just a few things to finish off and tidy up ultimately I wasn't happy that it was entirely there and it became something that I pushed back for another day. I wanted to make sure that I did the original game justice, several of the other platforms that had conversions released in the day were written in their own way by the developer and were lacking.
When I returned back to the project at the beginning of the year I decided the best course of action was to start over. Having spoken with Mariusz about his z80 work after working on Saboteur together I'd improved my z80 knowledge and began translating Matthews' original z80 code line by line to 6502. After the necessary changes for the A8 and some rewriting and optimising I then had the original game in glorious monochrome running faster than the Spectrum. This would have been acceptable for a quick and dirty conversion although some game features such as the Solar Power Generator wouldn't be possible with the game in it's original form on the A8. It wasn't my intention either to create a simple port, the A8 is capable and worthy of spending the time to develop the game fully in the way I wrote my original conversion. The next preliminary step for me was to re-write the entire game in clean 6502 procedures reworking everything to use a standard Atari bitmap layout rather than a simulated Spectrum layout. These procedures were then rewritten and reworked into the methods used in my conversion which is char based so, after effectively writing MM four times for the Atari I've made absolutely sure to reproduce the game 100% bugs and all.
The interrupts for all of the 20 caverns were hand written and carefully thought out being designed over several months in 2010. I'm using sprite copies and mid scan changes where necessary. It was labour intensive manually timing them all and dealing with solutions to minimize the bad lines but thanks to the accuracy of Altirra I was able to work my way through them over time. When I came back to working on the game again I hadn't intended to mess with these but I could see with fresh eyes several could be written more efficiently and could actually be improved also. I ended up rewriting many of the trickier ones and reworked most of the others to various degrees. I completely restarted the Final Barrier which I was never happy with and after some thought and planning I decided to create a combination of bitmap and char layout, partly inverted partly not inverted and wrote special procedures for that cavern. I'm glad that I took the additional time to redo all the caverns, I was reluctant at first with the work involved but it's solved everything I wasn't happy with.
Miker's music is of course included again and the speed is modified for NTSC machines.
Thanks to Poison and Solaris this week for taking the time to give their views play testing the game. Thanks also to Phaeron for Altirra and for testing some of the interrupts on the real hardware for me.
I have the game delayed to run at roughly 140% speed on PAL systems compared to the original which feels good to me, I deliberated over whether to delay the game down to the Spectrum speed, which feels like slow motion now going back to it after play testing for a while. My thinking was that the PC remake of Manic Miner was also a little faster and everyone spoke positively about that version still retaining its authenticity. Solaris has played the game through to completion and said he felt the game play speed was good too. It's probably best to get some further feedback from everyone regarding the playing speed.
As the play testers were both using PAL machines I've only just added the modified delays for NTSC machines yesterday afternoon, luckily I had some free time to get that in place. I will need to spend a little more time making some further changes to the NTSC delays to deal with the music when it's turned off so I'll post a final revision soon with that but either way I wanted to make sure to release the game now rather than delay it any further so it's available for everybody that's been waiting for it to appear.
Attached is the executable and also a DOS 2.5 disk image with the executable autorunning.
Good luck playing the game, some of the later caverns are quite tricky and need some practice. I can complete almost all of the caverns but I haven't yet completed the game in one run on the Spectrum or Atari