Manic Miner – Second Release (“Lantern”)

Manic Miner for the 48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum
“Lantern” Release

One of the classics, if not THE classic game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, written by legendary games programmer Matthew Smith.

There are several variants of the game, which was sold in cassette format. Cassettes were the usual format for games in the 1980s, until disks became the preferred format towards the latter stages of the decade.

An Introduction to these articles and links to the other articles, are here. It also includes information about the debates about these variants, releases and editions. There has been much debate over the years, in the absence of definitive statements by Bug Byte or elsewhere.

Part 1 of these articles talked about variants of the First Edition, First Release (“Whistler”), released on Bug Byte.

This Part 2 talks about the Second Release (“Lantern” or “Lamp”), also released on Bug Byte. It is the Second Release of Manic Miner of the First Edition.

Like other parts in this series, this article does not discuss the program/game itself. For that, please see here.

Manic Miner Expert Adrian Grubb, writes about more variants for collectors…

(images used with permission of Adrian Grubb – taken from 26th July 2018 post)

The complete package – box with sticker, inlay and tape

Some time ago I discussed in-depth my findings on the first-release of Manic Miner, more commonly known, for some reason, as the ‘Whistler’ edition… he’s NOT whistling, it’s his philtrum, or cleft chin! That article concerned the differences in loading TO THE EYE, hacking isn’t my scene at all.

This article concentrates on inlay and cassette variants, the results of the study of fourteen copies.

It is perhaps foolhardy of me to state facts as regards the various releases of Manic Miner, as most have their own memories and convictions where the timeline is concerned. All I can do is try my best.

Cover Variants

The Lantern dark choc and milk choc cassette covers plus a labelled and boxed cassette

The cover of this second-release is simply known as Lantern, or Lamp. There are actually two versions of Lantern, known as dark choc and milk choc.

  1. Lantern Cover Variant 1 – Milk Choc. The milk choc is so called due to its glossy brown background, and has sharp images and colours throughout.
  2. Lantern Cover Variant 2 – Dark Choc. The dark choc has a dull brown background, and the images and colours are less distinct or faded. This has led a few to consider the dark choc inlays to be fakes.

Sticker Variant

For a limited period, the cases of the very earliest releases had a round, black sticker attached, usually to the spine, sporting the code BBS 00105 in white.

It would seem the reason these were added was due to the inlay change. The code was printed on the spine of the SO-CALLED Whistler (First Release). On the Lantern spine it was omitted, most probably by error. So the sticker was added.

Inlay Variants

  • Lantern Inlay Variant 1 – No Flap. The original Lantern came with a standard J-card inlay with the backstory and instructions on the panel.
  • Lantern Inlay Variant 2 – Extra Flap. A later version, with an extra flap, was produced in much larger numbers.

One side of the Extra Flap showed the cover art of four other Bug Byte games, the reverse carried the backstory and instructions.

On the inlay panel were various details. They included Bug-Byte game stockists and the address to send a program to them for a free, no obligation appraisal of its worth.

The first of the inlays with extra flaps had the code, BBS 105, printed at the bottom of the details panel. On later versions, the code was dropped.

  • Lantern Inlay Variant 3 – Extra Flap, With Code
  • Lantern Inlay Variant 4 – Extra Flap, No Code

Spelling Error

Without the Spelling Error on one line
WITH the error on the next line

The original backstory and instructions contained an obvious spelling error, “Undergraound”.

The error went unnoticed, still present when the inlay with extra flap was introduced. The entire sentence containing the error was removed from the backstory with the Software Projects Manic Miner (Second Edition) release, that with the mutant telephone cover.

Cassette Variants

The earliest Lantern release came on a grey cassette, “Made in England” in black print on both sides.

Grey, or light grey (some call white) cassettes with single, blue-printed white labels followed.

A small number of black cassettes received white labels with black print to both sides, these most probably the last labelled to be released.

Grey cassettes with black printed details on both sides, including the code BBS 00105, were the swan song for the Lantern. These were made in Holland, not England, and had a yellow leader as opposed to the usual red or pale blue.

Game Loader and Loading Screen Variants

In Part 1 of this series of articles, which was on the “Whistler” release, variants of the Game Loader were described. In the “Lantern” release, there is an intriguing variation in the loading screens that are displayed while the main game is loading.

  • Loading Screen Variant 1. This is the “normal” flashing attribute “MANIC MINER” loading screen, loaded to a black background.
  • Loading Screen Variant 2. Instead of the loading screen loading to the flashing attribute “MANIC MINER”, a white background is loaded which exposes the loading information. Is this genuine, or a sign of piracy? After a great deal of research and asking around, this has been confirmed as a genuine variant by Adrian Grubb. Below is my copy of Lantern Inlay Variant 2 with Loading Screen Variant 2. Please get in touch if you have more information.

This ends Part 2 of the series of PopeyMon articles on Manic Miner For Collectors.

More articles on Manic Miner will be published here on PopeyMon Games and Fun soon… Part 3 is now here.


  1. Oh my copy, bought in 1983 from WH Smiths, is Lantern with loading variant 2. Definitely legit and not a pirate copy, bought it myself all those years ago. And it still loads in 2023. I always wondered why the usual middle third flashing attributes loading screen wasn’t on my copy.

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