The Manic Miner wiki last edited by Jeff on 12/29/15 10:51PM
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Manic Miner was a hectic and popular game that's remembered as much for its music as it was its gameplay. The game saw the player controlling miner Willy with the objective to collect all flashing objects within each screen before heading to the flashing exit before your air supply ran out. Each level was all contained within one screen with no scrolling. Miner Willy would have to avoid some truly strange monsters such as telephones, penguins and flowers while negotiating moving platforms and timing difficult jumps. All the while the background music of the familiar part of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" would loop endlessly.
Interestingly, including background music was a big innovation of Manic Miner and was thought to be impossible at the time due to memory constraints. Matthew Smith achieved this by alternating the processor/memory from playing the game to playing the music. This is why Manic Miner has a characteristic, instantly recognisable 'juddery' effect to the music. It aslo explains the subtle juddery movements of Miner Willy and the monsters inhabiting the mine he has to avoid.
The ZX Spectrum version of the game is the most well-known version of the game and was released in 1983. It is regarded as one of the most popular games ever for the ZX Spectrum but enjoyed a comeback on the Gameboy Advance (developed by Jester Interactive at the time) and as a mobile phone game.
The game's success not only made Matthew Smith quite, quite wealthy, but also spawned a quick sequel also staring Miner Willy in 1984 - Jet Set Willy.