Minesnake is a brand new arcade game for the Sharp MZ-80A / MZ-1200. The game offers a new take on the classic game Snake where you eat food to grow your snake and access new levels. The twist in Minesnake is that your snake may also drop mines to blow up walls that are preventing you from reaching the food. Just try not to blow yourself up while you're at it!
If you decide to purchase the cassette tape release you will receive a download of the game in MZF format and the tape also includes two further games by the author (Dam Blasters and Astro Attackers)
"...it's entertaining to play and well presented with it." - Retrogamer Magazine (Score : 82% !)
Minesnake author Joachim Froholt talks to Sharpworks about his history with the MZ-80A and answers some questions regarding Minesnake's development.
I first got into computers and games when my uncle gave me his old Sharp MZ-80A at some point in the eighties. I don't think he ever suspected how much of an impact that seemingly benign gift would have on me. It was love at first sight, and although I only had three proper games for it, I was absolutely spellbound by the whole computing experience. Later on my parents helped me buy a Commodore 64 on a trip to Sweden, and from then on gaming and general computer usage was my number one hobby.
It eventually became my job, too, as I more or less stumbled into a position as a staff writer and games reviewer for the Norwegian games website Gamer.no The dream job, one could say, and I stayed there for over a decade before winding up at a general tech site for a while. These days, I'm trying to get my own gaming site off the ground - not easy in this age of social media, so obviously I'm hoping that creating what must surely be the number one hit for the Sharp MZ-80A of 2016 is going to bring in loads of cash. Yeah, well. It's been fun, anyway. :-)
My other main hobby is what we Norwegians call --friluftsliv--. Hiking, geocaching, finding cool places to make a fire and cook a meal, or even something as simple as listening to a podcast or an audiobook for an hour in the middle of the woods ... sometimes alone, sometimes with a like-minded friend. Other than that I'm a pretty normal guy who likes dark beer and sports on TV. Winter sports, of course.
How were you introduced to the MZ-80A and did you have any computers before this?
The Sharp MZ-80A was my first computer. My uncle who visited from another part of the country brought it with him, because he had bought a new computer (probably a 'proper' PC) and thought I'd be interested. This was in the eighties, so nothing was thrown away even if it was outdated - as long as it still worked, someone could probably use it. I hadn't really thought about computers before, and had absolutely no experience with them before he brought me the Sharp. But I was instantly hooked!
Did you have a favourite 80A game?
Technically not, because it turns out that my favourite games were actually created for the MZ-700, but worked on the MZ-80A as well. Of those, I think Land Escape is my favourite - you have to cross a scrolling, random landscape full of dangers, and the game offers a surprising amount of variety.
Were you inclined to write any games or programs yourself when you first owned the machine?
I tried, but I was probably too young. I didn't understand much English at the time. My first programming experience was when I typed in a small program from the manual, which printed a seemingly infinite series of numbers on screen. A really simple program, but I was completely awe-struck by what happened. I remember leaving the computer on while we were away to see how far it could count.
What was your first experience of the MZ-80A?
I remember quite vividly the day after my uncle first set up the machine for me. Everyone else went away on some errand or other, but I wanted to stay at home and use the computer. Unfortunately, I could not remember how to load programs from tape, and it was so frustrating to have the computer in front of me, and not being able to figure out how to use it! And when I finally managed to load something, it was a game I hadn't tried and didn't know how to play...
Things soon got better, though. All in all, I had a great time with my MZ-80A, and it introduced me to the wonderful world of computing. Without it, I might have completely missed out on the Commodore 64 and Amiga, and all those great games from the eighties and nineties.
What would you like to achieve in modern times with the MZ-80A?
It's mostly about having fun, I love modern puzzle games such as Spacechem and Infinifactory, and programming BASIC is just another form of puzzle, really. You have a bunch of predetermined tools (commands), and something you want to achieve, and then you figure out how to use those tools to achieve what you want. Very addictive once you get past the initial hurdle.
I'm not skilled enough to push the limits of the computer, but I think it's a fun challenge to see if I can create games which can be enjoyed in 2016 using a computer from 1982 and a programming language that was invented in the sixties. Plus, I really like the Sharp, and I'd love to see a more active homebrew scene for it. Maybe my games can inspire others to start making games?
Do you have anything new you are working on that you can tell us about?
I'm working on a dungeon crawler which uses some pretty cool ideas I came up with for drawing graphics for the monsters, as well as generating a maze-like play area and representing it on screen. It actually turns out that making a game like this in BASIC, and with limited memory (especially if the finished game is to be compiled, like Minesnake was), is really kind of tricky. But in a fun way.
Oh, and I have a ton of ideas for Minesnake 2. The original was started before I got access to the excellent BASIC compiler by Uwe Maxim, so many of my ideas had to be dropped as they slowed the game down too much. That's no longer a problem.