If you don't know what I'm talking about, if you look through the Blog Archive you'll see I've talked about the computer game Repton several times: both the cover art and graphics I've done recently for Retro Software and also some of the screens and graphics I designed on my BBC Micro back in the 80s.
This time of year - Christmas and my birthday - always makes me think of Repton. Waiting for Christmas 1986 was almost unbearable as it was then I was going to get a copy of the latest Repton release, Repton 3. I didn't have a disc drive at the time, so my copy of Repton 3 would be on cassette tape for the BBC Micro.
The excitement was because, for the first time ever, I was going to be able to design my own levels and graphics for the game and I couldn't wait. I only had a couple of C15 cassette tapes to store my levels at first, and I as I designed levels and graphics I'd save over my previous work again and again. And sometimes a quirk of the cassette recorder volume or tone control meant that the file wouldn't save properly. I dread to think of the number of levels and character designs I lost.
However, one of the very first levels I designed that Christmas I was so pleased with it just seemed to hang around and hang around and I still have it to this day. The password for the level is "TIMOTHY" - named after my pet goat at the time and it was always screen G (for Goat).
Screen G - TIMOTHY
I actually could only complete this level with great difficulty for many years - I used to be happy if only I died twice when completing it.
Eventually, using information I'd gleaned in a Hac-Man article in The Micro User I culled all the easy levels I'd created on various tapes and 5.25" floppies into one set - Set1.
Set1 also featured a customised set of graphics. I was very disappointed with the graphics in Repton 3. This was because they didn't look like the abandoned diamond mine on the cover art. They were all clean and clinical and didn't have much character. So I sat in front of Repton 2 with coloured pencils and recorded every sprite faithfully on graph paper.
My original drawings from 1986
Then I entered all the character designs into the Repton 3 editor - a process that took a very long time and was rather difficult on a fuzzy Microvitec CUB CRT monitor.
The graphics entered into Repton 3
Recently I've been thoroughly enjoying the Repton level play throughs posted onto YouTube by SentinelProxima, ReptonGeek and TestPilotMonkey. SentinelProxima is the YouTube channel name of Michael S. Repton, undoubtedly the world's best Repton player.
I was curious to see how Michael would tackle Screen G, as I take an age to complete the level even now. Michael very kindly produced a long playthrough of all the screens.
The first four levels are completed here:
And the second four levels are completed here:
It was incredible to watch Michael complete my levels - all far more elegantly and with greater efficiency than I could ever manage. As I've said before, the effect of watching someone so good play Repton is as compulsive as watching a 147 break in snooker. It really was a pleasure to watch, and it was a truly fantastic birthday present.
Lovingly prepared new versions of Repton 1, Repton 2, Repton 3 and Repton Spectacular are available to buy for the Microsoft Windows operating system from Superior Interactive. And, for those lucky enough to use the GNU/Linux operating system, you'll be pleased to hear all three games work reasonably well with WINE.
You can download my levels for Repton 3 for the PC version of Repton 3 from here.