Manic Miner is a popular, classic platform game originally written by Matthew Smith for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1983. The game has been ported to numerous 8-bit computers such as Amstrad, BBC Micro, Commodore 16, Commodore 64, Dragon, MSX and ORIC.
In this brief article I will comment on some of the differences between Commodore 16 and Commodore 64 versions of Manic Miner.
In general, the following observations hold, so I will not usually mention these facts again:
Below we will summarize the properties in more detail, examining both versions room by room, side by side. The C16 version is on the left, the C64 is on the right.
|01||CENTRAL CAVERN||CENTRAL CAVERN|
No essential differences. Easy room in both versions, but you must have decent timing to make it. If you struggle with CENTRAL CAVERN, you need lots of practice, because the latter rooms require much more precision and totally accurate timing.
|02||THE COLD ROOM||THE COLD ROOM|
No essential differences, but the required timing is not quite the same. Extremely easy room in both versions.
|03||THE MENAGERIE||THE MENAGERIE|
No essential differences, but in order to avoid the two enemies on the top, the timing needs to be different. In the C16 one upward jump is enough to synchronize the movement, but the C64 requires three similar jumps.
|04||ABANDONED URANIUM WORKINGS||ABANDONED URANIUM WORKINGS|
This room seems to be identical in both C16 and C64. Very easy room indeed, as you do not even have to face the enemies at all. ABANDONED URANIUM WORKINGS requires just a few easy jumps and that is all there is to it.
|05||EUGENE'S LAIR||EUGENE'S LAIR|
The required timing is different. Eugene looks different. After all the items have been collected, in the C64 version Eugene starts to flash and rushes downward to block the exit. In the C16 version Eugene's movement remains constant.
This is one of the easiest rooms once you get the timing right.
|06||PROCESSING PLANT||PROCESSING PLANT|
The required timing is different. The enemies move in a larger area in the C64 version. In order to reach the exit, Miner Willy has to be placed at the extreme position before the final leap, but failing to do so does not lead to death. Relatively easy room in both versions.
|07||THE VAT||THE VAT|
The required timing is different. Easy room in both versions, but the C64 version is slightly more difficult because like all of them, the last enemy moves faster too.
|08||MINER WILLY AND THE TOILET||MINER WILLY MEETS THE KONG BEAST|
The required timing is different. The C16 version has a toilet at the top of the room while the C64 version has the kong beast. In the C64 version you have to turn the switch in order to proceed, but in the C16 version the switches will not even move. In the C64 version turning the second switch causes the kong beast to fall down, but no extra points are awarded. Both versions require one precise and rather difficult jump. Apart from that jump, this is a pretty easy room.
When entering this room, you have to remember that the first enemy will immediately attack you from the right. So be prepared to instinctively jump to the right or you will lose a life.
|09||WACKY TRIANGLES||WACKY AMOEBATRONS|
The enemies look totally different. WACKY TRIANGLES requires one very precisely timed jump, but apart from that, it is a pretty easy room. WACKY AMOEBATRONS is very similar. No essential differences.
|10||ENDORIAN FOREST||THE ENDORIAN FOREST|
The required timing is different. In the C16 version, after the initial jump to the right, two upward jumps are needed for synchronization. In the C64 version, one upward jump suffices. In the C64 version, the lowest enemy moves in a larger area. Quite easy room in both versions.
|11||SPINNING THINGY'S||ATTACK OF THE MUTANT TELEPHONES|
The C64 version has telephones while the C16 version has triangles. I play the C16 and C64 version using a different strategy. After dropping from the initial platform to the right, in the C16 version I wait and jump to the platform on the right, and make my way from there all the way to the right and down.
In the C64 version, I wait until the purple telephone is up, drop down, wait, jump right, jump left, move slowly to the left, and so on. Even though this room may look scary in both versions, once you know how to play it, all the moves are pretty easy.
|12||RETURN OF THE ALIEN TOILET||RETURN OF THE KONG BEAST|
Just like in the eighth room, the C16 version has the toilet at the top of the room, and the C64 has the kong beast. In the C64 version, you have to turn the switch in order to proceed. In the C16 version, trying to turn the switch does nothing.
In both versions, the first enemy will immediately attack you from the right, so again, just like in MINER WILLY AND THE TOILET and MINER WILLY MEETS THE KONG BEAST, be prepared to jump to the right when entering the room.
The C16 version is more difficult than the C64, because the enemy in the middle must be passed using a very accurately timed jump. In the C64 version, once you have turned the switch, it is much easier to enter the rightmost part of the room, because the enemy begins to move in a larger area.
All in all, this room is not horribly difficult, but you have to be very careful not to make a mistake.
|13||ORE REFINERY||ORE REFINERY|
The required timing is different and the required strategy is different. That means you have to learn two different ways for playing this room, one for the C16 and another for the C64. The C64 version is slightly more difficult due to the faster speed.
|14||PENGUIN SICK BAY||SKYLAB LANDING BAY|
These rooms are very different. The C16 version is ridiculously easy, with only two enemies that move in a very predictable pattern. In contrast, the C64 version has quite difficult and complex enemy attack patterns. You are only safe at the bottom of the screen, and on two specific platforms. In all other places, the enemies constantly crash onto the platforms. I consider this room one of the hardest in the C64 version.
|15||THE BANK||THE BANK|
A very easy room in both versions. The C64 version requires a little bit more care, because the enemies are faster, but nevertheless, this room is a piece of cake. You only need a few precise jumps and you have plenty of undistracted time to position yourself properly. In fact this room is so easy it could well be the first room of the whole game.
|16||SIXTEENTH CAVERN||THE SIXTEENTH CAVERN|
This room requires very precisely timed jumps in both versions. However, the C16 version is more difficult of the two. In the C16, the jumps have to be extremely precise. Also, the rolling platform moves in the opposite direction compared to the C64 version, making it harder to jump on it, and impossible to recover from a fall if Miner Willy happens to drop down at the leftmost part of the room. Definitely one of the hardest rooms!
When entering this room, you must remember that the first enemy will soon attack you from the right. So immediately run to the right and jump. Alternatively, you can move all the way to the left, and jump over the lowest enemy as it approaches you. However, that requires near-perfect timing, because the enemy above is also very close to Miner Willy's head.
|17||THE WAREHOUSE||THE WAREHOUSE|
A very demanding room in both versions, but the C64 version is even harder. The C16 version has only one enemy at the bottom of the room and it moves in a very limited range. The C64 version has two very nasty enemies at the bottom, and one of them is a real speed monster. The second triangle counting from the left also moves super quickly in the C64 version, making this room extremely difficult.
The timing required is very different in both versions, and I play them using a different strategy too. In the C16 version, I start falling down right when the leftmost triangle is at the top. I keep falling until there are two levels of platforms left. Then I do five upward jumps to synchronize, and the sixth jump is to the left.
In the C64 version, I also start falling down right when the leftmost triangle is at the top. I keep falling until there are two levels of platforms left. Then I do nine upward jumps to synchronize, and the tenth jump is to the left.
After getting back up to the starting point, in the C16 version I jump to the right, fall down, and jump over the second triangle.
In the C64 version, I choose to fall all the way down, and pass the enemies at the bottom, and fetch the innermost key later.
|18||LOGO'S REVENGE||AMOEBATRONS' REVENGE|
The enemies look different and they move in totally different patterns. C64 version has two more enemies as well. The C16 version is easier of the two. It does require a few carefully timed jumps, all right, but the C64 version requires more precise timing. This room is not super hard, but it requires concentration and very good timing to complete.
By the way, please note how the C64 AMOEBATRONS' REVENGE room's vertically moving enemy face looks exactly like Eugene in the C16's EUGENE'S LAIR!
|19||SOLAR GENERATOR||SOLAR POWER GENERATOR|
The C16 version is much easier than the C64 version. Notice how the C64 version has three huge balls going up and down. The C16 version has less enemies, and the AIR runs out more slowly. In the C64 version, you have to move very quickly or the AIR will run out. In the C16 version there is no rush, and you can even skip reaching the normal exit, because after collecting the last key, you can jump up and down so that you will hit a beam from the "solar generator". It will take you to the last room automatically. In contrast, the C64 version requires that Miner Willy reaches the exit in order to proceed to the last room.
|20||THE FINAL BARRIER||THE FINAL BARRIER|
The required timing is different, but both versions are easy. The C64 is slightly harder, because you have to pass the enemy at the bottom using a strictly vertical upward jump that has to be timed perfectly. In contrast, in the C16 version the enemy can be passed by doing a jump to the left, because the enemy moves further to the right.
Jumping on the rolling platform has to be timed differently. In the C16 version, I jump on when the ball is at its lowest position. After that, you just need one well-timed jump to the right. Then you can wait and jump up to collect the last key, and drop down, and pass the lowest enemy again.
In the C64 version, I jump on the rolling platform when the eye is at its topmost position. After that, you need two jumps to the right. Then, like in the C16 version, you can drop down and pass the lowest enemy.
Note how the ball in the C16's THE FINAL BARRIER looks exactly like the three balls in C64's SOLAR POWER GENERATOR.
Both versions are very playable and enjoyable. With the exception of the rooms 12 and 16, the C64 version is in general more difficult when it comes to the rooms. However, because of the extra lives that you gain on C64, you get more attempts to complete the game.
In case you are interested in trying out Manic Miner, perhaps on a wonderful emulator such as VICE, here are the links for downloading:
manic_miner.prgsize: 12288 bytes)
manic_miner.prgsize: 27093 bytes)
manic_miner.prg) so if you download both the C16 and C64 versions, make sure to save the files in different directories.
Being able to choose the starting room helps immensely when practicing Manic Miner. For that purpose, I have included the following brief instructions to modify the running Manic Miner's memory space. Only a single byte needs to be altered. For the change to take effect, you need to lose the remaining lives in the current game, and then just let the game restart itself.
To choose the starting room in Commodore 16 Manic Miner issue command:
X is between 1 and 18 in decimal.
Or issue command:
fill 2a03,2a03 Y
in the VICE emulator's machine language monitor where
Y is between 1 and 12 in hexadecimal (assuming the default hex radix).
|decimal||hexadecimal||room number||room name|
|2||2||4||ABANDONED URANIUM WORKINGS|
|6||6||8||MINER WILLY AND THE TOILET|
|10||a||12||RETURN OF THE ALIEN TOILET|
|12||c||14||PENGUIN SICK BAY|
|18||12||20||THE FINAL BARRIER|
To choose the starting room in Commodore 64 Manic Miner issue command:
X is between 1 and 19 in decimal.
Or issue command:
fill 4023,4023 Y
in the VICE emulator's machine language monitor where
Y is between 1 and 13 in hexadecimal (assuming the default hex radix).
|decimal||hexadecimal||room number||room name|
|1||1||2||THE COLD ROOM|
|3||3||4||ABANDONED URANIUM WORKINGS|
|7||7||8||MINER WILLY MEETS THE KONG BEAST|
|8||8||9||THE ENDORIAN FOREST|
|10||a||11||ATTACK OF THE MUTANT TELEPHONES|
|11||b||12||RETURN OF THE KONG BEAST|
|13||d||14||SKYLAB LANDING BAY|
|15||f||16||THE SIXTEENTH CAVERN|
|18||12||19||SOLAR POWER GENERATOR|
|19||13||20||THE FINAL BARRIER|