Micro Mart

Retro Mart: Taking A Byte

Author: Shaun Bebbington
Publisher: Retro Software
Machine: BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in Micro Mart #1048

Shaun finds a BBC Micro software scene via Byte Back, Stoke-on-Trent

Retro Mart: Taking A Byte

Well, the event that everyone had been waiting for, Byte Back, was finally upon me. The hall, which saw me placed with the 'home-brew' section, was rather cold, even with all of these old machines running, and a good deal of them were BBC Micros too. Next to me, Jonathan Cauldwell was working another 'game in a day' loosely based around working in a fast food drive-through. This ended up being called Banger Management and will be reviewed next week.

I spoke to Jonathan about his various projects, including the much anticipated More Tea, Vicar?, which he said will probably take another couple of months to finish, but no work has been done for a while, as he is waiting for graphics. At least this project has not been forgotten.

I was also next to Jason Mackenzie, of Psytronik Software. Jason confirmed that his label is due to release Creatures II for the Commodore 64, as well as a few other classic and new titles, such as Knight 'N Grail, a Ghosts 'N Goblins explorer platform game. But of most interest was the mass BBC activity, with the label Retro Software being its main driving force.

Several releases are lined up by the relatively young software house, and Zap! was released at the event. This is a vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up by Jamie Woodhouse in the style of Namco's arcade classic, Galaga. Although somewhat challenging, it is certainly a great blast. Other releases will include the infamous Repton: The Lost Realms, which is an official sequel by the way, Mountain Panic, a platform epic set in the Arctic Circle during winter, and Blurp, a Repton clone. For more information, head over to www.retrosoftware.co.uk. I hope to have more on this venture and its wares over the coming months.

There was the Ocean Reunited talk, which was badly let down by modern technology, and Jonathan 'Joffa' Smith seemed to be doing his best to disrupt Jonathan Cauldwell's attempts at fixing bugs in the game. Watching Matthew Westcott compose the tune for Banger Management so quickly (less than an hour!) was impressive to see, and the results are rather good too. And I finally caught up with James Monkman, from www.rgcd.co.uk, who had several cartridge releases for the Cé4 for sale, as well as showcasing some of the best home-brew games that are available. I've been warned to expect more carts soon.

Other than playing games, and sampling food from the on-site and understaffed kitchen (that served everything with chips whether you asked for them or not), not much else of interest happened.

Or at least, not much I can write about. But most importantly, a lot of money was raised for the two charities, the RSPCS and the Donna Louise Trust - around £2,000, which is mighty impressive. Hopefully, there'll be another!

Shaun Bebbington

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