A&F Software's Chuckie Egg is a home computer video game released in 1983, initially for the ZX Spectrum, the BBCMicro and the Dragon. Its subsequent popularity saw it released over the following years on a wide variety of computers, including the Commodore 64, Acorn Electron, MSX, Tatung Einstein, Amstrad CPC and Atari 8-bit family. It was later updated and released for the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, and IBM PC compatibles.
The original idea is generally attributed to the then 16 or 17 year old Nigel Alderton. After a month or two of development, Nigel took a pre-release version of his Spectrum code to the two year old software company A&F, co-founded by Doug Anderson (the A in A&F). Doug took on the simultaneous development of the BBC Micro version, whilst Mike Webb, an A&F employee, completed the Dragon port. Chuckie Egg went on to sell over a million copies and remained a steady earner for A&F, who eventually went under in the latter half of the 1980s.
The versions fall broadly into two groups — those with realistic physics (e.g. the BBCMicro and Amstrad CPC versions) and those without (e.g. the ZX Spectrum version). Although there is a substantial difference in play between the two, levels remain largely the same and all the 8-bit versions have been accepted as classics.
This game is often credited alongside Manic Miner and Lode Runner with helping develop and popularise the platform game, and has gone on to be a cult classic with a number of unofficial retro remakes appearing online.
Much of the game's cult status was helped by the fact that schools used BBC Micro computers, and many schools had a copy of the game, introducing it to a wide audience of youngsters.
The eponymous protagonist, Repton, is a lizard who crawls around in an underground maze in a quest to find all the diamonds (some being held in safes, their release being triggered by finding and collecting a key) within a time limit in each of several levels, while avoiding being trapped or killed by falling rocks and monsters hatched from eggs. The original Repton game was released in the summer of 1985 and has 12 levels, with passwords making it possible to jump directly to later levels.
The sequel to the game, Repton 2, released for Christmas 1985, is much bigger. It introduces several new features: spirits (that follow walls and objects to their left and must be guided into cages, turning them into diamonds) and skulls, both of which are fatal to Repton on collision. There are also jigsaw puzzle pieces to collect, which eventually spell out the message "Repton 2 is ended". There are no levels as such in Repton 2, instead 'transporters' move Repton between different screens which, subject to a few restrictions, can be completed in any order desired. The entire game is in effect one very large level without passwords, meaning that it must be completed in one attempt. Finally, certain screens also contain an exposed 'roof', where meteors (predictably fatal to Repton) fall from the sky.
Repton's requirements in Repton 2 are onerous: Repton must not only collect all diamonds (including those held in safes and behind cages), but also collect all earth, kill all the monsters, collect all puzzle pieces and use all transporters. Once these substantial tasks have been completed, Repton must then negotiate the roof of the entire length of the final screen, avoiding meteors falling from the sky in order to collect the completion piece and thus complete the game. This part is particularly tricky, since the meteors fall from the sky in a random fashion, making it difficult for the gamer to guide Repton to safety. This long list of requirements, coupled with the fact that the game must be completed in one attempt, is unique among the Repton series and makes Repton 2 by far the hardest Repton game to successfully complete. To add to the inevitable frustration suffered by anyone attempting this, a bug in the original version of Repton 2 meant that the game contained one diamond less than the stipulated number needed to complete the game. This means that successful completion of these versions is, in fact, impossible.
Repton 3, released in November 1986, was developed by Matthew Atkinson at Superior's invitation since Tim Tyler wasn't interested in programming it—although he did design some of the levels for the new game. While the first two games had only taken a month each to program, Repton 3 took 8 months. It reverts to the form of a series of limited time password-protected levels. A few new features were introduced: fungus (a substance that spreads wherever it finds space and kills Repton on contact), time capsules (resetting the current level's time limit each time one is collected), crowns, and a time-bomb which must be defused to complete each level. Repton 3 includes a map editor along with the game, so that it became possible to create data files with alternate maps and new graphics for the levels. Three themed sets of such files were released as expansions for Repton 3, with the titles Around the World in 40 Screens (1987), The Life of Repton (1987) and Repton Thru Time (1988).