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Revs on the BBC Micro

About this project

In 2020, I fully documented Elite on the BBC Micro as a lockdown project. I love Elite. It's my favourite game of all time, and Ian Bell and David Braben are complete heroes of mine. It turned out pretty well.

In 2021, I fully documented Aviator on the BBC Micro, because I wanted to see if I could, and because Geoff Crammond is a total legend. It also turned out pretty well.

By 2022, I felt I was ready to tackle Geoff Crammond's next game, Revs:

BBC Micro Revs screenshot

Revs is a stone-cold classic. It is widely regarded as the very first racing sim, with a proper physics engine, decent driver AI and a view from the driving seat that's about as far as you can get from the arcade style of contemporary driving games. Revs is a cornerstone of racing sim history, but like Crammond's previous game, Aviator, Revs had never been documented before, despite being one of the most influential games to originate on the humble Beeb.

Revs itself might not be particularly well-known outside of the BBC Micro fanbase - even though a version was released for the Commodore 64 - but when Crammond revisited the genre in 1991 and produced Formula One Grand Prix for Microprose, it was an instant classic that defined the shape of racing games for years to come. And how much of Formula One Grand Prix is influenced by Revs? Quite a lot, it turns out.

Revs, then, inspired an entire genre that is still absolutely massive today: that of the racing sim. And it did it on an 8-bit micro with just 32K of RAM, a far cry from the next-generation Amiga, Atari ST and PC platforms that Formula One Grand Prix was published for. Even today, playing Revs is a genuine driving experience that is clearly a forerunner of the modern racing sim, as demonstrated by GPLaps in his brilliant YouTube video Racing Revs with a Modern Fanatec Wheel.

So I spent most of 2022 pulling Revs apart and documenting exactly how it works, and I'm so glad I did. Revs is a beautifully coded masterpiece, and I hope you enjoy exploring Geoff Crammond's genius as much as I did.