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Gold Mine Menu

GOLD MINE by Simon N Goodwin


This is the game I wrote for DkTronics in 1983, in the cut down 16K version in which it was first published. It may be freely distributed as long as it is accompanied by this document - but IT MAY NOT BE SOLD - and ideally with the '1991 remix' version from the Sinclair User cover-tape. Actually that's the original, for 48K Spectrums, which was split in half because DkTronics were worried that Spectrums with the full 48K might be scarce (in fact they out-sold the 48K version nine to one from the start, and soon superceded it completely, but DkTronics were playing it safe).

This game sold around 6,000 copies in the first few weeks after launch, which propelled it to number 19 in the CTA (Computer Trade Association) All Formats chart. It took ten fairly lazy student days to write the first version, about half spent on the ingenious tape copy protection, alas now effort wasted, but not then! - and ismostly in ZX BASIC, with a bit of machine code to check for the 'mined out' condition and check for a genuine tape. See if you can figure out the scheme. It fooled quite a few people, including the tape duplicators, who eventually asked to have it removed as they were getting spurious 'tape loading errors' (quite intentional on my part) by making block copies of the data which ignored the 'sting in the tail'...


GOLDMINE48K.z80 is a snapshot of the full 48K version, written first but published long after. It is the 'director's cut', released nine years later.

There was a SAM version, this time entirely in BASIC but with much better sound effects - that was published on one of the SAM Supplement disks and is also freely distributable, as part of a complete set with this document and the Spectrum version(s). Graphics were identical apart from the extra colour depth and coloured rock strata overlaid with palette interrupts.

Gold Mine 256K

I make no great claims about the game - the UDG graphics were designed onto a sheet of squared paper during a particularly dull 'Complementary Studies' lecture - but it sold well and got reasonable reviews at the time. It was never going to win a BAFTA, but - as part of a much larger team - I've made up for that since!

Simon N Goodwin simon [at] studio [dot] woden [dot] com



Producer: DK Tronics, 16K 4.95

They say this is a strategy game, but that's hardly true. You do need some strategy to go for the gold in the quickest way, but it's not the main ingredient. Use the lift to go up or down from the surface and then dig towards the gold sites. Not everything that glitters is gold, though. Tunnels can collapse and there are underground streams. Energy runs out fast underground, especially if you are carrying gold. In addition, the lift may collapse if you are carrying too much weight. Replenish energy by returning to the surface and depositing gold in the bank. In any event, a rather slow game with limited appeal, but probably good value for younger children.

CRASH (A Newsfield Publication), February 1984

Gold Mine demo

Gold Mine


dk'tronics, Unit 2, Shire Hill Industrial Estate, Saffron Walden, Essex

Starting at the pithead of a gold mine, you must ascend and descend the mine shaft and dig for gold in the hope of striking it rich.

Barring the way to wealth are hard rock, streams, rock falls, or simply fatigue. Go too far and you won't be able to get back, collect too much gold and you'll be too heavy for the hoist to lift you.

If you manage to get your booty back to the mine buildings, you can re-equip and start out over again - by handing some of the gold over.

Reasonable but not spectacular graphics - I like the way the miner puts up pit props as he proceeds.

There are four levels of difficulty, and a nice touch is that you can define your own keys. There's an introduction to the game on one side of the tape, with the game on the reverse.

P.F. [Pete Freebury], Home Computing Weekly, November 1983

instructions: 90%
playability: 75%
graphics: 75%
value for money: 75%

* * * [out of 5]

Gold Mine preferences

A review of the reviews, 20 years on

An exemplary review in Crash - no surprise that a couple of years later I was working every month for them, rather than dk'tronics! Dispensing with genre in a couple of lines, it lists all the features, then zooms out to a three-phrase summary which says everything else that need be.

I've put the Home Computing Weekly one later, though it came out first, because while it's more comprehensive and complimentary it lacks the focus of the CRASH 'Living Guide to Spectrum Software.' Even so I did contribute a few articles to the 38p weekly ;-). Satisfying scores, and top marks for instructions (probably because of the demo on side 2 - the tape box instructions were generic) provoke a wry lack of surprise.

Neither review spotted the similarity between Gold Mine and an old BASIC mining game, with mono character graphics, for the TRS-80. The code and graphics of Gold Mine were all new, but Gold Mine's gameplay mechanics cloned MINER/BAS, a US covermount years before. Back then I knew far more about designing board games than computer ones.

Neither mentioned the sound, though I'd been quite pleased with that and did it even better on the MGT SAM version. No change there, then! (writing now as a game console audio technology programmer with an uncommon enthusiasm for documentation :-).

Simon N Goodwin, Warwick 2004, updated 2009

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