Fairplay Campaign

"Alongside the SAM version, it's the best MM "sequel" I've seen." - Stuart Campbell

What is Manic Miner C.S.S.?

Basically it's my rejig of Mathew Smith's all-time classic platformer based around themes and 'folklore' that have arisen on the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup. The game features 20 all new levels and an almost complete redesign of the level graphics.

The Most Fabulous Digiworld Review In The World = reproduced with with kind thanks to Jonathan Nash


SCENE: Space. Enter Mainwaring & Wilson

MAINWARING: Now, Wilson, this just won't do. The men are - Glk! Glghh! (HE DIES.)

WILSON: Captain Mainwaring? Oh dear, this is - aaarghh! Chhkkhh! (HE DIES.) (Enter Corporal Jones & Private Fraser)

JONES: Don't panic! Don't - hrrrghhh! (DIES.)

FRASER: We're doo - urghk! (DIES.)

VOICEOVER (AS BODIES FLOAT AROUND): Dad's Army in Space Without Helmets, tonight at 8pm on BBC1.

But anyway.

There's no ageism at Digiworld. A splendid game is a splendid game, whether a million years old (like Pac-Man, playable of course in MAME) or bang up-to-date (like X-Box MAME). Nor do we discriminate on the grounds of fanboy freeness. Why, only yesterday Mr Popular recommended a Thief mod. Accordingly, for my inaugural Digi review, I'd like to tell you about CSS Manic Miner. (Because Midtown Madness 3 hasn't turned up again - Ed.) Shut UP.

You all know Manic Miner, obviously. Single-handedly invented the platform game as we know it, with only the slight, trifling assistance of pinching 17 ideas from Miner 2049er.

You may not know that there's (still) a reasonably thriving mod community, with dedicated hard-working fans redesigning the game into a series of ever more ambitious "experiences" packed with features ingenious enough to make original author M Smith fall off his ottoman. And they're all rubbish.

These well-meaning mods are rubbish because they've lost track, completely lost track, of what Manic Miner is about: the fun.

Forgetting the excitement of fairness, they've substituted clever, enjoyable levels with extremely clever, horrid clumping lumps of haw-haw smugness so empty of fun that they may as well have the levels play themselves for all the entertaining, attainable skill that's involved. These mods aren't to play, they're to be shown off.

And then there's CSS Manic Miner.

It doesn't exploit bugs in the game to add special features. It doesn't lavishly redraw all the pics so you don't know what anything does. It's based (for flip's sake) on a bunch of in-jokes about a bunch of people on a Speccy newsgroup. Yet with its accomplished understanding of what made MM fun, it is ace. Hurrah!CSS Manic Miner returns that all-important confidence to the game. You know that if you mess this bit up, you can likely recover. There are the traditional pixel-perfect jumps, but the author lets you breathe in between. You're not forced around the screen along the one true route, any tiniest deviation from which spells disaster. In short, you have the confidence to play it for fun. Isn't that super?

I think that's super.

(PARENTHESIS. There are a bunch of games nowadays where you're encouraged to stamp your idiot personality on the thing by stringing together penny- farthing-riding combos or something. MM demonstrates acely that this has always been with us. Do you take a level bit by bit, anxiously pausing at the platform's edge, nudging Miner Willy's foot to the farthest point; or run like a loony start to end and take off in mid-stride, mixing exhilaration and panic? Express! END PARENTHESIS.)

The loving design, combined with a fine sense of visual clarity in the new pics make CSSMM a big old bag of lovely. Diabolical traps and neuron-defying feats of timing abound, but because it's all fair and fun, you don't feel cheated when you perish. (In fact, you end up applauding one of the traps, which puts an odd spike in the middle of nowhere solely to catch panickers who can't stop after a series of tricky jumps. I laughed for 7.2s.)

I can't think of a single bad level in CSSMM (except in the sense of staring at the Clubhouse one for about a week before understanding it. Cough). Every element in the Manic Miner sly-o-vocabulary is bunged in, by an adept bunger who understands you don't admire games you can't play. It's smashing, it retains the spirit of the original in exactly the way (say) Jet Set Willy II didn't, it's free and you're downloading it now. Hurrah!


MINER Accomplished and fun. Free of gimmicks, free of enragements, free.

WILLY Embarrassingly little. Needs emu? Er.

DIGIWORLD'S VERDICT Tremendous mod for a timeless game which masterfully grasps the original's stringently fair craftiness.



+10% Deedle-eedle um-dum.
+10% Relies only on the rules.
+10% "A-ha!"
+10% "Groan."
+10% "Yikes!"
+10% "Blimey."
+10% "I - I - corwumph!"
+10% Solar power-free zone.
-10% "That was never my fault!"
+30% "Actually it was, entirely."
-10% I've counted this up wrongly.

Review-me-done by J NASH.

When will it be ready?

4th September 2002: It's done!!!

At last the game is ready to be played! I might tweak it here and there based on feedback, but this is a fully working version. I plan on creating a standalone TZX version too, but haven't quite figured out how to do it yet.

How can I play it?

You need a computer capable of running a Sinclair Spectrum emulator that can handle 128k SNA files - RealSpec works ok (see the comp.sys.sinclair FAQ for a list of those available). I'll try to provide different file formats shortly.

The 128k SNA file can be downloaded here (zipped) or here (unzipped - F'NAR!).
Z80 format files are available here (zipped), or here (unzipped).

Please let me know of any bugs.


Thanks must go to;

  • Matthew Smith for creating this timeless masterpiece of a game in the first place!
  • Andrew Broad, without who's Manic Miner Screen Editor and Manic Miner Room Format website, this project wouldn't have got very far.
  • The various good eggs on comp.sys.sinclair on whom this version of Manic Miner is based.
  • Anyone else I've forgotten...

High Scores

Want to send a high score? Use the email address as shown at the bottom of the page and entitle the message "Manic Miner CSS scores". Remember to include your name, score and the level you reached. The score should be that reached either when you've copleted level 20 the first time around, or when all your lives have been lost. No saving the game after each level as that would be a cheatingbast thing to do!

Have fun!


*** High Score Hall of Fame ***
Name Level Score
Paul French The Retrospec Clubhouse 29909
Nomenluni *** L@@K, W@W, R@RE! *** 25123
Fishy *** L@@K, W@W, R@RE! *** 15987
Matthew Clemson Lethal Chuntey Deficiency 10353
Derek Jolly Willy Wan%?@[NO CARRIER] 8035
Luv-Snail Len's Robocop Waxing salon 6931
Llama Wax Len Len's Robocop Waxing salon 6420
Chris Young The Chuntey Generator 4942
Daniel the Manual The Chuntey Generator 4099
Scribbler Scribbler's Fridge 2446
Screenshots Manic Miner: comp.sys.sinclair screenshot
Manic Miner: comp.sys.sinclair screenshot
Manic Miner: comp.sys.sinclair screenshot
Manic Miner: comp.sys.sinclair screenshot

Contact me at N.Fishwick@BTInternet.NOSPAMTHANKS.com (remove the NOSPAMTHANKS)