Minesnake for the Sharp MZ-80A


Minesnake is a brand new arcade game for the Sharp MZ-80A / MZ-1200. The game offers a new take on the classic game Snake, where you eat food to grow your snake and access new levels. The twist in Minesnake is that your snake may also drop mines, to blow up walls that are preventing you from reaching the food. Just try not to blow yourself up while you’re at it!

Screenshot (with a bonus fly).
Screenshot (with a bonus fly).

Game features:

  • A main campaign with 21 hand-made levels
  • A random campaign with 10 levels that are different each time
  • Ability to play random or custom levels, as well as regular old Snake
  • Sounds and music by Kelp and Shell
  • Two bonus games – Astro Attackers and Dam Blasters

You can now buy the game on cassette from Sharpworks, or download it for free from Itch.io.

You may also obtain a version registered to your name (especially compiled for you), either by buying the cassette version (select «personalised version») or by paying 2 pounds or more on Itch.io. The cassette version comes with elegant cover art created by Petko Mishev, and the cassettes are recorded on both sides.

This will be a challenge.

The game is playable on emulators, but it works better on a real machine and the game speed has been optimized for real hardware.

You may also transfer the game to cassette yourself, if you have a cassette player that can play & record sound from your PC. It’s pretty easy. If you decide to play on emulators instead, EmuZ-80A by Toshiya Takeda and Hideki Suga is by far the best option (at least as of December 2016).

Minesnake was developed for the Sharp MZ-80A / MZ-1200. It will work on the MZ-80K and the MZ-700, but it will not behave 100% as intended. There is an option to rebind keys (for MZ-80K owners without the numeric keyboard of the MZ-80A), as well as an option to set the speed to something more playable on the MZ-700.


The game was developed by Joachim Froholt with help from Ben Coffer and Michelle Soper, in 2016. It was published by Sharpworks.

About the Sharp MZ-80 computers

My Sharp MZ-80A - the machine this game was developed on.
My Sharp MZ-80A – the machine this game was developed on.

Back in the late seventies, following the release of the Apple II, Commodore PET and TRS-80, the Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp decided to release their own microcomputer. The Sharp MZ-80K was released in 1978, originally as a kit computer, but later fully assembled. It became quite popular in Japan, and also enjoyed success in European countries such as Britain and Germany.

The Sharp MZ-80A (known as the MZ-1200 in Japan) was introduced in 1982, as an improved version of the MZ-80K. Among the innovations was 2 kilobytes of screen memory, allowing the computer to store two «screens» at once. There was no known method for direct control over the individual pixels on screen, instead each screen consists of a 40×25 grid of character positions (for a combined 1000 characters). Cleverly, though, it allows for a form of «pseudo graphics» using a set of characters that consists of four squares each, where each of these squares may be turned on or off, and seen as a giant pixel on the screen.

Planning a level.
Planning a level.

Until the Famicom was released in 1983, and even for many years after, much of the early evolution of the Japanese games industry happened on home computer platforms including the MZ-series of computers. Indie developers released games through code listings in magazines decades before «indie» was a term, and companies such as Hudson Soft, Square and Enix got their start releasing games for these platforms. This aspect of the Japanese games industry history is, unfortunately, largely forgotten today.

For more information on the Sharp MZ-80A, you can visit Ben Coffer’s excellent MZ-80A Secrets-site.

You may also read an interview with veteran games developer Mikito Ichikawa, who have recently been porting old Japanese computer games to Steam right here on Spillhistorie.no. And if you know how to read Norwegian, or use Google Translate, we have several other MZ-80-related articles.

Here’s a video featuring some bits of gameplay from Minesnake: