Back in the 80s, when you were stuck in a video game, you were pretty much stuck. There was of course no internet. You could try asking your friends, but they might just be as stuck as you. And when we did get gaming shows on TV it was pot luck whether or not they would give tips for the particular game you were stuck on.

Today, if there is anything you’re not quite sure about, in life in general, you just hop online. You can read a customer review of, for example, a new 360 video camera on Amazon, you can read an online review of iLottery, you can check viewer ratings of the latest Avengers movie on IMDB, and you can get tutorials on how to do just about anything on YouTube. And specifically, if you’re stuck in a video game you can read umpteen video game reviews, you can ask for help on gaming forums and you can look for tactics on sites such as Strategy Wiki.

But when I was a lad, the only place we had where we could find tips, or even better, maps, were computer gaming magazines. Lots of magazines had them but Your Spectrum and Crash / Zzap 64 stand out for me. I’ve recently been looking through all the old Your Spectrums and they really did have some cool maps in there. Below you can see a few of the cool maps they had, mostly using screenshots. I’d love to know how they made it. Probably just taking photographs of the screen?

Sometimes though, there is nothing better than a hand drawn map. I’ve always been partial to a hand drawn map, whether it be a JRR Tolkien map or one of those old World Maps where USA is all squashed and the oceans say “Here be monsters” etc. When you’re talking about retro gaming art it’s hard to look past Oli Frey, and maps is no exception. Here are some great ones he did. The pictures below are taken from the Fusion Retro Books website, where you can buy prints or canvases of these maps. I reckon I need to get myself a copy of that beautiful Knight Lore map!

Speaking of Knight Lore, here is a great version made using the actual screenshots. From the website Speccy Screenshot Maps.

And here’s another Ultimate game, Alien 8, but I don’t think this one was by Oli. Image from SpectrumMagic.

If you’re interested in ZX Spectrum maps then you must check out the rest of the Speccy Screenshot Maps site, where I got the Knight Lore map above from. They have literally hundreds of maps on there, including Starquake which I started mapping out myself when I was about 12, on graph paper, but sadly never completed it.

And when talking about making your own game maps, you have to take about this great post by Mark Howlett.

I’ve always loved maps of every kind. And video game maps are not only useful and beautiful, but they relieve so much frustration as well when you’re stuck in a game. I really need to get a copy of that Knight Lore hi res print!