Acorn BBC micro, highscores
I collected highscores and related information from:
- My own scores.
- Old hi-scores in magazines. Here are some useful links:
- Hi-scores on the web:
http://stardot.org.uk/forum/ : the competitions.
High scores in other magazines?
I will perhaps go through a few other magazines than Acorn user/Micro user/Beebug, to see if they list high scores. Any suggestions? Better would be references of which issues contain score lists, and better still would be scans/pictures of such pages!
- "Acorn user": I think I got all high scores from 1982-1991, I didn't check in later years. Email me if you found something more.
- "Micro user": Listing high scores seems to have started only in TMU 1988-12, continued in TMU 1989-12 and the last issue I found with high scores is TMU 1990-12. Is there anything in other issues?
- "Beebug": I checked out the magazines/ supplements from vol. 1 to vol. 8. (April 1989). I likely did not find all highscores as these are placed in supplements, which for several years were loose from the main magazine, which means they are easy to get lost. And thus only 2 are included in the pdfs from 8bs.com for the early volumes up to vol 4. If you have any more Beebug supplements: please check and send me an email on whether there are/aren't scores and if there are scores, a pic or text file of scores.
Are the listed scores real? And really made on a BBC micro (not Acorn Electron!)?
I will discuss here the scores of some games that interest me on how likely it is that the scores are real, and/or whether some scores were likely done on an Acorn Electron or even an Electron version on a BBC micro.
To know if a score is real is difficult, as there could be tactics that will give a higher score. Developing tactics is essential for some games, such as Planetoid (a.k.a. Defender). For games such as Fortress, the only thing required is practice and learning the course by heart. The score is clearly limited by fuel running out faster on each trip through the course.
- Planetoid: The game: It is just as playable now as it was in 1984. The difficulty curve is perfect, there are many types of enemies that you need to deal with in different ways, you can get further by developing the right strategy, it's not about reflexes. Elite is one of the best games as a total package, but Planetoid/Defender remains the game that for me is the most fun to play after all these years, and that is still a challenge.
Tactics: See my Planetoid page.
Scores: I have a big doubt about the Planetoid scores of 2.8M and 3.1M: suddenly from the highest score known in 1985 of 653k it jumped 2 months later to 2.8M by another guy, and 5 months later to 3.1M by the guy who had scored 653k. There is an Electron version of Planetoid, did both use that and use the fact that scores were not differentiated between machines at the time? Or are these scores just made up? It's hard to be definite but perhaps I will be able to tell more on whether such high scores are possible, in a while, after playing more Planetoid... At the moment I would say: Such scores are not possible, unless the movement speed of the landers wraps around somewhere close to where I've got to, at about 1M or less points (as I feel 1M is possible even with increasing speed of landers) which means in one of the waves ca. 54-60.
- Fortress: The game: Too bad there is no randomness in it. For me this reduced playability to 0 after achieving my high scores. It was graphically cool, and a challenge to get perfect but there is no fun in playing it again.
Tips: You can get used to any key combination, but really you should change the keys! The combination that I used may seem quite strange but is natural. I will leave this as an exercise to find out, email me if you think you know! (perhaps I should award a prize, I will think about it!)
Scores: All scores that I've seen are likely real, and it's really moot as none of them come even close to my 268,000 and 248,000 scores from 1986... The highest score I've seen is 160,000 by Mat Newman (the programmer of the game) in TMU 1990-12. At the time just after the release of the game (so 1984), I read in some magazine, not sure which one, bits from an interview with the author (I didn't buy the magazine, only read quickly the main bits in the magazine in the store), in which it was stated that author had scored, at the time of the interview of course, 144000. Well, in 1986 I set out to improve on that. I learned the entire course by heart, which is not easy as it's quite repetitive and only small details change. The biggest problem with that is restarting after dying, then I always think "Where am I, what do I need to do, where (left/right hand side of the course) to move to?", and as the course is so repetitive it means almost no clues as to where exactly you restart just from looking at the screen. This makes it harder to learn the course. I played until I was perfect and thus my score was limited simply by the fuel running out, which goes faster each time you go through the course. For the 248,000 and 268,000 scores I needed to get some fuel tanks that are very hard to get (close behind walls), so it will be extremely hard to improve on my score, you would need to shoot even more of the fuel tanks, and that means those that are even closer to walls (and possibly that have some enemy planes nearby, it's been a long time since I played it)...
- Meteors: The game: I played it first 1995, and I have to say that I don't like how it plays. In particular I dislike that you can't rotate accurately and the difficulty curve is quite poor, jumping from fair to very hard far too quickly. I played a far better DOS game in the 1990s, which was actually fun to play and try to get to a higher score. With Meteors it's just frustrating, how far I get seems almost random, and almost irrespective of how well I play, to somewhere in the region of 20k-35k. Often at higher levels when I die, the next ship gets hit by a fast flying asteroid so losing another or even 2 lives without being able to do anything, which is just stupid and frustrating. I suppose need to become a lot better before higher scores can be achieved and I'm not sure I want to try because playing it is not much fun...
Tips: The essence of high scores with Meteors is getting close to the big asteroids, and shoot a rally of bullets to wipe out all 3 sizes quickly, then on to the nex big one, otherwise you end up with too many small ones flying all over the place which take too much time to destroy which means the spaceships appear and when the small purple one appears you're basically toast. Also you should preferably shoot the 2 largest size asteroids from behind, not head on, to avoid the smaller ones flying into you at high speed.
Scores: the guy with the highest score (498,500) has a high score with Overdrive for the Electron, so presumably his Meteors score is made on an Electron, and possibly the score by the other player with a score of over 430k is also with the Electron version on an Electron. Is that slower? My own high score of 42900 from 1996 was not where I felt that I really mastered the game at all yet, and this means 2 things: 1) I am sure scores can be higher, and 2) I have no guess as to what is possible in scores when just extrapolating from my score, but it is a very hard game (esp. when the small purple spaceship appears), and 498k just seems impossible... It's not one of my favourite gmaes, but perhaps I will try getting a higher score, and to try to beat the 73k score from AU 1984-10 which is likely real (by someone who posted a few achievable Planetoid scores, the issue of AU with his 73k score lists his score of 488k for Planetoid). Micro user list's Neil Raine's high score of Meteors as 52,000, so I think the 73k is also possible (with a lot of practice), any scores much higher than that I consider as bogus, or at least not made on BBC micro.
- Hopper: Some very high scores, up to 63k. This game goes from easy to need-to-be-pixel-perfect after about 30k points, and that is hard... But I would not say the scores listed are impossible. There is a 52k score on beebgames.com too... But are they all BBC micro scores or Electron too? Is the Electron version when running on an Electron, not a BBC micro, slower? What about a BBC micro version running on an Electron? That would definitely be slower! I actually tried it in the early 2000s and BBC hopper on an Electron is really slow... So would be easier to get a higher score there I suppose.
- Arcadians: Almost 100k is a very high score... But I never played it as much as e.g. Planetoid so it's hard to say what is possible... Also here it could be that scores are made on an Electron. And I think that at least 1 of these high scores of more than 30k was made on an Electron. From looking at e.g. the 48k score, the same guy has a high score at Overdrive for the Electron. Another guy with a 97k score has a score with Mr.EE which is a BBC micro only game, so perhaps 100k is possible just with more practice. Or did he play that game on (someone else's?) Electron? It's all possible :-)
- Killer Gorilla: Luck is involved in this in getting a high score esp. on screens 2 and 4 to get past the fireballs, but I should give it a go to try to beat that 836k score (and at the same time then I would see if it's a real score! It seems quite high (as seem 2 other scores, 496k and 672k) and would need a lot of luck for sure (to get past the fireballs all those levels)...
In general to see about playing speed differences, the question is: do BBC games on the BCB run the same as Electron versions of that game on the Electron? E.g. Arcadians (BBC) and Arcadians (Electron), do they have different playing speed or other differences?
Last modified: 2017-7-27