It’s easy to find old games from the big publishers, and even many of the smaller ones. But what about the ones that fall through the gaps? A lost ZX Spectrum game by a deceased developer has finally been unearthed and archived, and it’s all thanks to Facebook.
Back in June 2022, Stephen Atherton wrote in the private 8-Bit Text Adventures Facebook Group:
I have an old adventure game that a friend I knew years ago programmed and was sold by a small company in Cumbria and it got good reviews in some magazine back in the day. It was called Wonder Worm and was a ZX Spectrum adventure game were you played as a worm. I just found a copy of it on one of my many cassettes of games. I was wondering how people convert these old games so they can be played on emulators.
Developed by Neil Davidson from Workington in Cumbria, Wonderworm was a text adventure that predates The Quill. The challenge is simple: take the worm on an adventure to reach his uncle’s “Wormsday party”, a subversion of the usual adventure game quest!
Written in BASIC, the ZX Spectrum game was published through Havensoft at a special price of £4.50 and received a 5-star review from Home Computing Weekly. Back in the early 1980s, anyone could set themselves up as a game publisher, and advertise their products in the classified ads or even standard advertisements in computer magazines.
After the post to the Facebook group was made, what happened next was pretty wonderful. The group guided Stephen through archiving his copy of the game using Audacity, with one user persevering with the captured audio until a tape image ROM was sucessfully extracted.
As a result, Wonderworm (aka The Adventures of Worm) is now available to download on Planet Sinclair (Spanish language site).
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.