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Martello Tower

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Released: 1986

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: BBC Micro

Publisher: Derby Educational Software Centre

Developer: Anita Straker

Submitted by: Lee Richards

Comprehensive schools used to be dangerous places for people like me.  My neat little CoE junior school had not prepared me for the big school.  I was sudddenly surrounded by all sorts of scary.   From the bus ride in each morning to the final school bell life had become hazardous.  It was like being taken from from Animal Crossing and forcibly dropped into Smash TV.

I realised very quickly that if I made it past the fifth year (Level 5 – final boss GCSE's) I would be safe. Nobody messed with the sixth formers.  But that still meant five years in the trenches.  I needed to find a refuge somewhere from the bullies and the inclement weather if I was going to survive until A-Levels.

My saviour was Anita Straker.  By creating Martello Tower for the BBC Micro she gave me the keys to the perfect hiding place. 

For making it into the top maths class, as a treat, the Head of Maths allowed my fellow students and I to spend an hour with the BBC Micros on which we were able to try out a few educational software packages.  That was where I first got introduced to Martello Tower and the challenge to escape in 60 commands.  I was hooked.

The computer lab never really registered with the bullies and the thugs.  The lab assistant who looked after the BBC Micros was more than happy to vouch for me and the other 'targets' during lunch hour and load up Martello Tower for us to see who could make it through in the fewest number of moves.

Looking back from the vantage point of a dreary class reunion this was a game that separated those who would have an interesting future from those who would never achieve more than their parents had.  Every one of the 'targets' has gone on to bigger and better things I couldn't say the same about the others – pay attention in class kids it could just save your life!

The game is still as good today as it was in 1987.