Percy’s Panic

I’ve mentioned before that back in the 1980s I used to write computer programs and articles for magazines. I wrote programs for the popular, British Acorn computers of the time. Sadly, when they died, my programs all but died with them.

But not quite. These days there are emulators for old computers which run on standard PC computers. There is one for the Acorn Electron (That was what I owned) and another for the BBC which was, if you like, the proper computer, a cut above the basic Electron.

One of my programs was called Percy’s Panic which was always popular amongst friends and family. I recall that the magazine weren’t keen to publish the listing but I argued with them and that was when they decided that maybe I could write articles as well. So, Percy’s Panic was published and reached a wider audience.

And now, courtesy of the emulator and a bit of work by a friend (thanks, Pete) I have access to the game again. By present standards it is terribly basic. This is the start-up screen.


And here is the game in action.


Here, Percy has reached the fire engine and is winding his hose out through the maze. The fuse, running towards the house has mostly turned red so Percy hasn’t got long to save the house.

Sounds included a steadily rising note as the game progressed to engender that sense of panic, a fire engine klaxon and an exploding house which also vanished in an explosive flash.

The game kept a high score record – cancelled, of course, when the computer was turned off.

The game was all written in BBC Basic language which was very advanced for its time.

Now to be a real computer nerd. This is the code that detected key presses and did the movement of Percy or hose.

  • 490 DEFPROCmove
  • 500 X%=manx%:Y%=50
  • 510 GCOL 0,1
  • 520 REPEAT
  • 530 IF INKEY(-66) AND POINT(X%+12,Y%)<>3 THEN Y%=Y%+10
  • 540 IF INKEY(-104) AND X%<1220 X%=X%+20
  • 550 IF INKEY(-103) AND POINT(X%-20,Y%+30)<>3 X%=X%-20
  • 560 IF INKEY(-98) AND Y%>800 Y%=Y%-10
  • 570 MOVEX%,Y%:VDU225
  • 580 IF TIME MOD 9 > 6 GCOL0,1:MOVE fuse%,850:DRAWfuse%+burn%,850:fuse%=fuse%+burn%
  • 590 SOUND 1,vol%,fuse% DIV 4,1
  • 600 UNTILPOINT(X%,Y%)=2 OR fuse%>820
  • 610 IF fuse%>820 PROCexplode:ENDPROC
  • 620 T%=TIME DIV 100
  • 630 PROCsuccess
  • 640 ENDPROC

And to think I used to understand that! It would soon come back, I expect.

When my son and friend were looking at Percy’s Panic we had a surprise. We never knew it had spawned spin offs. But another amateur programmer wrote two further tales of Percy. This was found on the web at

Percy II – Percy’s Revenge: This is the very first game that I wrote and I think it shows. It’s very slow and has some playability problems. It is called Percy II as it’s supposed to be a sequel to Percy’s Panic, which was not written by me but appeared as a type in program in the pages of Electron User.

This game is very simple. Collect the keys to open the maze and then get to the centre of the maze before the time runs out to complete each level.

Percy III – Super Spy: This is the third and last instalment of the Percy trilogy. This is a levels and ladders game where Percy has to reach the female spy to advance to the next stage. A switch replaces the female spy on the last stage, which destroys Dr Doom’s base. Once you’ve completed all nine stages you move on to the next level. On level two, some platforms are replaced by melting platforms that dissolve when you pass over them. On level three, an arrow is fired across the screen for you to avoid.

This game was written in BASIC and was to be sold to school friends by a few of us who called ourselves LADS Software. One of my friends even designed a tape cover for the game. Sadly we never sold a single copy.

These games were written by Danny Nicholas. It would be good to hear from you, Danny.

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