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(Back) into The Valley

Remembering a BASIC coding classic from 1982

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We all had a lot of fun, tweaking the code to cheat and just playing the game the proper way.

The Valley - logo

What are you... Barbarian or Wizard?

Time went by and other kids moved on to different, more visually exciting games, but I always kept the Boots C15 cassette I kept The Valley on near to hand. Dragon games were more expensive and less exciting than their Spectrum equivalents, so I didn't have a lot else to play. Only Ken Kalish's Doom-before-its time Phantom Slayer got as much screen time.

But The Valley got me really programming. A Frogger clone came first, with 6809 machine code routines Poke'd into place to handle the side-scrolling logs and lorries.

The Valley - screens

Screen magic: text-as-graphics in glorious monochrome

And I carried on playing it. Until A levels took up almost all of my free time. Then University.

Computing Today was long gone, but I never stopped thinking about The Valley. It never ocurred to me not to hack into the Amstrad PCW 8256 I bought up to type up my third-year Physics project.

I came back to The Valley many years later only to find that old Boots C15 tape was long lost - though I still have the Dragon 32, Phantom Slayer, a fiendish Donkey Kong clone and a few other titles, all of which still load and run. I occasionally get it out for my son, who's young enough still not to dismiss the ancient four-colour blocky graphics out of hand.

The Valley - player

IT professionals, take up your swords...

I pondered coding it up for Mac OS X, but without the listing I'd not only be re-inventing the wheel but producing a hybrid of recollection and guesswork. It would be a Valley, but not the Valley.

Since I couldn't remember the name of the publication The Valley first appeared in, Google proved unhelpful.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I came across Fraser Charlton's Valley memorial page, complete with a version written in BBC Basic, a Windows runtime of BBC port, and some scans of the original pages - it's where I got the pictures from for this article.

Fraser's now a Consultant Pathologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle Upon Tyne, but he still remembers The Valley fondly. I do too, and I suspect we're not alone.

Right, last one to Vounim's Lair is a wuss... ®

I'd like to thank Fraser for not only posting the sample scans and BBC Basic code, but also agreeing to my cheeky request to scan in the entire listing.

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