Looking for the perfect Valentine's gift? How about a week of retro gaming BBC Microlympics?

Chuckie Egg and Elite? Oh you shouldn't have!

Parents staring down the barrel of half term or computer fans with a fondness for the good old days, rejoice! The National Museum of Computing is marking the 40th anniversary of the BBC Micro with a week of retro gaming, including Chuckie Egg and Elite.

Yes, we know we have to wait until December for the actual anniversary, but it would be churlish not to take up the offer of a place in The National Museum of Computing's (TNMOC) "Microlympics" and see if the decades have dulled that muscle memory.

Playable via an online emulator, the games and challenges for wannabe Acorn athletes are:

  • Monday, 15 February 2021 – Chuckie Egg (highest score)
  • Tuesday, 16 February 2021 – Revs (fastest over 10 standard laps)
  • Wednesday, 17 February 2021 – Citadel (score)
  • Thursday, 18 February 2021 – Repton (highest score)
  • Friday, 19 February 2021 – Elite (credits collected)

Registration is free and divided into three age groups: under-12s, 12-17, and over-18s. Interestingly, TNMOC told The Register that the entrants so far were divided relatively equally, speaking perhaps more of parents seeking ways to amuse their poppets as much as a sudden surge in interest in ageing hardware.

At the risk of igniting playground feuds, we also asked why the BBC? After all, we are rapidly approaching the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the Sinclair ZX81, and the Commodore VIC-20 also hit Europe in 1981.

"We're not trying to get into which was the best platform," explained Gavin Clarke, content strategist for the museum. "It gets very religious," he added, understating the passion that lurks within the hearts of those who had to defend their choice of home computer some 35 or 40 years ago.

The answer is a familiar one to those who remember the devices popping up in schools during the 1980s. TNMOC maintains a classroom of the computers and runs education programmes based on them.

As for the games themselves, the team selected a cross section to appeal to all levels. "Some will obviously work with different age groups," said Clarke. "Some are a little more complex than others. I mean, Revs is quite a fiendish little game…

"And of course, Elite just had to be in there for lots of different reasons."

Gamers are trusted to be honest, and enter their achievements via Google form before midnight on each day. There will be a daily winner in each category and an overall event winner with the highest total combined score for each game.

Up for grabs are goodies from the museum's shop, although a browse through the nerdery on offer might prove otherwise wallet-damaging (we fully intend to baffle the younger generation with a floppy disc notebook or two). Special prizes are on offer for the overall winners and players with the highest scores will also get a copy of idesine.com's (https://www.idesine.com/) delightful book Acorn - A World in Pixels.

Or you could just buy it from the museum's shop. Institutions such as TNMOC are not having the best of times at the moment.

As well as this event, we'd recommend a look at what is coming up (and there may well be more Microlympics with different games in the near future). Private group virtual tours are also on offer in addition to the public options, or those who fancy it can support the shuttered institution in other ways, such as by adopting an artefact in return for a selection of freebies. ®

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