The 8-Bit Book - 1981 to 199x ... available now from Golem Books!

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The 8-Bit Book - 1981 to 199x ... available now from Golem Books!

Post by jerellis1 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:17 am

Hello everyone - hope you don't mind me copying and pasting a thread I posted earlier this morning over at the rllmuk forum. The 8-Bit Book - 1981 to 199x is nearing completion, which means it's my turn for a bit of shameless self promotion! This will be the final book in a trilogy which also includes Andrew Rollings and Andrew Fisher's Spectrum and Commodore 64 books, and it follows exactly the same format; a year-by-year analysis of the most important and intriguing games of the era, complete with background information, curious trivia, quotes from magazine reviews, screen shots, cover artwork and an explanation of how each game was played. Like the previous two books, The 8-Bit Book - 1981 to 199x will be a full colour, landscape format paperback, with around 230 games covered and a foreword from a key industry figure, the identity of whom will be revealed shortly (the forewords for the two previous books were submitted by Sir Clive Sinclair and Jeff Minter).

Originally planned as a BBC Micro, Acorn Electron and Acorn Archimedes book, Andrew Rollings and I decided fairly early on that the project would be more viable if we were to cover all vintage 8-bit formats instead, focusing in particular on the more obscure platforms of the day, as well as featuring some of the most fascinating Commodore 64 and Spectrum games that didn't make either of the first two books. The result is a comprehensive look back at the landmark games of many of the most fondly remembered 8-bit platforms, including (deep breath): the BBC Micro, the Acorn Electron, the VIC-20, the Commodore 64, the Spectrum, the ZX81, the Atari 400/800, the Amstrad CPC, the Commodore 16 / Plus 4, the Commodore 128, the Apple II, the Dragon / Tandy / TRS-80, the Texas TI99 / 4A, the MSX / MSX2 and the Oric 1 / Atmos (and I'm also hoping to include a couple of Sam Coupe games for good measure).

As with each of the first two books in the series, around 230 games will be covered in total. The following 186 entries have already been completed (really deep breath):

Alpiner (TI99/4A)
Car Wars (TI99/4A)
TI Invaders (TI99/4A)
Tombstone City (TI99/4A)
Popcorn (TRS-80)
3D Defender (ZX81)
3D Monster Maze (ZX81)
The Oracle's Cave (ZX81)
Castle Wolfenstein (Apple II)
Softporn Adventure (Apple II)
Wizardry (Apple II)
Radar Rat Race (VIC-20)
The Count (VIC-20)
Aztec (Apple II)
The Dark Crystal (Apple II)
Necromancer (Atari 400/800)
Planetoid (BBC Micro)
Snapper (BBC Micro)
Starship Command (BBC Micro)
Parsec (TI99/4A)
Tunnels of Doom (TI99/4A)
Clowns & Balloons (TRS-80)
Donkey King (TRS-80)
Gridrunner (VIC-20)
Black Crystal (ZX81)
City Patrol (ZX81)
Mazogs (ZX81)
Trader (ZX81)
Planetfall (Apple II)
Ultima III: Exodus (Apple II)
B.C.'s Quest for Tires (Atari 400/800)
Dandy (Atari 400/800)
Encounter (Atari 400/800)
Jumpman (Atari 400/800)
Miner 2049er (Atari 400/800)
Pitstop (Atari 400/800)
Spelunker (Atari 400/800)
Aviator (BBC Micro)
Blagger (BBC Micro)
Chuckie Egg (BBC Micro)
Drogna (BBC Micro)
Granny's Garden (BBC Micro)
Gunsmoke (BBC Micro)
Time Lords (BBC Micro)
Twin Kingdom Valley (BBC Micro)
Forbidden Forest (C64)
Jack Attack (C64)
Escape from Moonbase Alpha (Electron)
Felix in the Factory (Electron)
Monsters (Electron)
Antarctic Adventure (MSX)
Bomberman (MSX)
Moria (Oric)
Zorgon's Revenge (Oric)
Winged Warlords (Spectrum)
Time Bandit (TRS-80)
Zaxxon (TRS-80)
Artillery Duel (VIC-20)
Robotron 2084 (VIC-20)
Skramble (VIC-20)
Star Trek - Strategic Operations Simulator (VIC-20)
Fruity Frank (Amstrad CPC)
Roland on the Ropes (Amstrad CPC)
Conan: Hall of Volta (Apple II)
Murder on the Zinderneuf (Apple II)
Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 400/800)
The Seven Cities of Gold (Atari 400/800)
Daredevil Denis (BBC Micro)
Elite (BBC Micro)
Frak! (BBC Micro)
JCB Digger (BBC Micro)
Pengi (BBC Micro)
Wizadore (BBC Micro)
The Incredible Hulk (C16 / Plus 4)
Tales of the Arabian Nights (C64)
Cuthbert in Space (Dragon 32)
Countdown to Doom (Electron)
Jet Power Jack (Electron)
Track & Field 1 (MSX)
Don't Press the Letter "Q" (Oric)
Mr. Wimpy (Oric)
Avalon (Spectrum)
Battlecars (Spectrum)
Gift from the Gods (Spectrum)
Rebelstar Raiders (Spectrum)
Strontium Dog: The Killing (Spectrum)
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Spectrum)
The Perils of Willy (VIC-20)
Forty Niner (ZX81)
Sorcery + (Amstrad)
The Devil’s Crown (Amstrad)
Alley Cat (Atari 400/800)
Bounty Bob Strikes Back (Atari 400/800)
Gauntlet (Atari 400/800)
Rescue on Fractalus (Atari 400/800)
The Goonies (Atari 400/800)
Zorro (Atari 400/800)
Boffin (BBC Micro)
Castle Quest (BBC Micro)
Citadel (BBC Micro)
Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror (BBC Micro)
Repton (BBC Micro)
Tempest (BBC Micro)
Daley Thompson’s Star Events (C16 / Plus 4)
Monkey Magic (C16 / Plus 4)
Blackwyche (C64)
Law of the West (C64)
Racing Destruction Set (C64)
Scarabaeus (C64)
Theatre Europe (C64)
A Mind Forever Voyaging (C128)
Yie Ar Kung-Fu (MSX)
Bored of the Rings (Spectrum)
Gyron (Spectrum)
Marsport (Spectrum)
Robin of Sherwood (Spectrum)
Shadow of the Unicorn (Spectrum)
SurfChamp (Spectrum)
Avenger (Amstrad)
Get Dexter (Amstrad)
Heartland (Amstrad)
Max Headroom (Amstrad)
Spindizzy (Amstrad)
The Sacred Armour of Antiriad (Amstrad)
World Cup Carnival (Amstrad)
Might and Magic (Apple II)
Tass Times in Tonetown (Apple II)
Boulder Dash Construction Kit (Atari 400/800)
Infiltrator (Atari 400/800)
International Karate (Atari 400/800)
Galaforce (BBC Micro)
Imogen (BBC Micro)
Stryker’s Run (BBC Micro)
Kikstart (C16 / Plus 4)
Alleykat (C64)
Bounder (C64)
Fist II: The Legend Continues (C64)
Murder on the Mississippi (C64)
Sanxion (C64)
Super Cycle (C64)
The Last V8 (C128)
Dragon Warrior (MSX)
Vampire Killer (MSX)
Contact Sam Cruise (Spectrum)
Doctor What! (Spectrum)
iD (Spectrum)
Turbo Esprit (Spectrum)
Cobra (Amstrad)
Dark Sceptre (Amstrad)
Freddy Hardest (Amstrad)
XOR (Amstrad)
Aliens – The Computer Game (Apple II)
Henry’s House (Atari 400/800)
Firetrack (BBC Micro)
Voidrunner (C16 / Plus 4)
Airborne Ranger (C64)
Echelon (C64)
Mega Apocalypse (C64)
Ravenskull (Electron)
Metal Gear (MSX)
Nemesis 2 (MSX)
Bobsleigh (Spectrum)
The Vindicator! (Amstrad)
Neuromancer (Apple II)
Exile (BBC Micro)
Impossible Mission II (C64)
Modem Wars (C64)
Project Firestart (C64)
Sinbad and the Throne of the Falcon (C64)
Snatcher (MSX2)
R-Type (Spectrum)
Target: Renegade (Spectrum)
Rock Star Ate My Hamster (Amstrad)
The New Zealand Story (Amstrad)
Prince of Persia (Apple II)
Myth* (C64) … *the Magnetic Scrolls text adventure, not the System 3 platformer!
Tusker (C64)
Aleste 2 (MSX2)
Contra (MSX2)
Final Fantasy (MSX2)
Space Harrier II (Amstrad)
Metal Gear 2 – Solid Snake (MSX2)
SD Snatcher (MSX2)
Last Ninja 3 (C64)
Warlock the Avenger (C64)
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (Spectrum)

There’s a very slim chance that one or two of the games in the above list might end up making way for other entries, but at this stage it’s unlikely. Of the 44 (or so) still to be written, I have a pretty clear idea of which games are going to make the final tally, but things can change at the last minute so I don’t want to confirm the names of the titles I have in mind until I’ve finished writing about them; I’ll simply update this thread each week with the latest additions. I aim to have all of the writing done by the end of September, after which I’ll be concentrating on screen shots, cover artwork scans, page design and so on.

I’d be more than happy to receive any last minute suggestions for titles to include that I might have overlooked. Naturally, covering so many formats, it’s not going to be possible to write about every single game of note ever to have been released for every 8-bit machine, but as long as there’s a healthy selection for each platform then that should make for a pretty exhaustive list overall. Bear in mind that I’ve tried to keep the number of games featured in this book that also appeared in either (or both) of the first two books to an absolute minimum – at the moment there are only a handful of games included in the 8-Bit Book that were written about by either of the two Andrews (Elite, Chuckie Egg, Exile, Spindizzy and one or two others) so if, for instance, you’re scratching your heads and wondering where the hell Thrust, Revs, and The Sentinel are, the fact that they have already appeared in either the Commodore 64 Book or the Spectrum Book (or both) means I can’t guarantee they will make a second (or third) appearance.

We decided against using another photo of a vintage computer keyboard for the cover, as it would be impossible to choose one without making the book look like it was dedicated to one single format. Andrew Rollings suggested we create an image using 8-bit graphics on a black background, so I came up with the Elite screen shot adaptation above (yes, I know it’s been done before on the cover of both Retro Gamer and Edge, but I’d like to think that my cover is a more suitable use of the idea than either of those two). Not only did this tick the box in terms of it looking like something generated using an 8-bit machine, but the choice of Elite as the inspiration for the cover was entirely appropriate, given that it was undoubtedly one of the most iconic 8-bit games ever released, it was developed for one of the ‘lesser’ platforms that we wanted to champion (no offence, Beeb lovers), and it was also ported to a wide variety of other 8-bit platforms including the Commodore 64, the Amstrad, the Spectrum, the Acorn Electron and the MSX.

So there you have it. The 8-Bit Book – 1981 to 199x is now available to pre-order over at, and you can find out a little bit more about my credentials for writing it at the foot of the authors’ biographies page. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts, or to submit any suggestions for titles you’d like to see included in the final roster of games covered.

Cheers all!

Jerry Ellis.
Last edited by jerellis1 on Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:18 am, edited 14 times in total.

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Post by psj3809 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:21 am

Cant wait for this book ! Pre-ordered a while back. Looks very good and i really enjoyed the Speccy/C64 ones from hiive so this is another one i cant wait for.

Hurry up and write it ! ;)

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Post by Greyfox » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:47 am

sounds really good...I may have to treat myself to this one...but I don't like the front cover...I understand it's 8-bit etc...and it would be a shame for readers to be dismayed by the cover not knowing what's it's very Elite pro orientated I think maybe a montage of all graphical formats from each platform instead of one...?...but that's just my opinion

but still I will be sure to check it out when it's finished..

all the best

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Post by witchfinder » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:53 am

Looks awesome, can't wait for this one! Is it really not going to be released till March next year? How can you do this to us!? :shock:

I'll be pre-ordering mine as soon as I get paid this month...
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Re: The 8-Bit Book – 1981 to 199x... coming soon!

Post by resident paul » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:14 am

jerellis1 wrote:
Tompsone City (TI99/4A)

I never heard of that one before?

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Post by Opa-Opa » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:19 am

I'm having one, to go with the first two which are in my collection.

If I am being honest I don't like the cover (like Greyfox), it looks like a 5 second jobby of a game that many people considered to be very dull.

What you need is something far more eyecatching that instantly says the book is a collection of games from the era, that just says "Elite" and not much else.

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Post by jerellis1 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:27 am

Thanks for the comments folks - genuinely interested to hear that the cover might not be to everyone's liking, but I would imagine it's not too late to change it (I did grow quite fond of it while I was designing it but I'm certainly not too proud to accept it might not be up to scratch - I'll have a chat with Andrew and see what he thinks).

Out of interest, who thinks another single format 'keyboard' cover might work better? Do you feel that if it the book had just the one machine on the cover that it might be mistaken for being a single format book?

Oh, and Resi Paul - Tompsone City's a typo (which I shall correct right away). But you already knew that, didn't you...? :wink:
Last edited by jerellis1 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by The Master » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:33 am

Sorry, but I think the cover looks beautiful. It gets my vote to stay as it is (maybe with a little Pac-Man hidden in the corner somewhere for good measure).
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Post by psj3809 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:39 am

I'm a fan of the cover as well, obviously very retro and nice and simple.

As long as the contents superb though you could have a picture of metal mickey on front though i dont mind ! ;)

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Post by CraigGrannell » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:46 am

One thing I'd definitely change about the cover is the pretty much unreadable 3D pixel font for the years. Make it standard 2D.
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Post by mikeb » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:54 am

Or maybe do it vector style a la Star Wars Arcade...

Great list of games by the way, lots of my obscure faves in there.

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Post by acorn4eva » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:58 am

Well I love the cover (but I guess I would say that, huh?) though I agree with Craig - the sloped 'scrolly' text does look pretty awful!

Can't wait to buy the book, mind! :D

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Post by andrew_rollings » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:26 pm

well, as with the other books, preorders will fund the printing. Getting your order in asap will be most helpful.



Ps. Lots of amstrad games in there. Should keep Darran happy!

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Post by merman » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:30 pm

Airborne Ranger... oh man, how many hours did I waste loading that?

Good luck with the book Jerry! :lol: - new books for C64 and retrogaming fans coming soon!

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Post by Sabreman » Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:27 pm

Pre-order confirmed. Looking forward to it :)

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