Code The Classics Volume 1 Review (Python)

Code The Classics Volume 1 cover

If you grew up in the early 90’s you may remember computing magazines that came with game programming code typed up inside, so that you the reader could type it into your computer and play the game. I’ll admit this was always a bit “hit and miss” when I attempted it, which could have been my typing skills or an error in the magazine.

Fast forward to today and Raspberry Pi press has launched a new book called “Code The Classics Volume 1” and I feel like it is time to revisit some of the retro games.

First up though I have to discuss the physical book, which is over 220 high quality pages of history, game code and interviews in a beautiful hardcover. Although the book is available as a free PDF, and the code is available for free via GitHub (links at the bottom of this post) I would highly recommend picking up the hardcover which at the time of writing is £12.00

Example of Boing!
Example of Boing!

Code The Classics Volume 1 covers the following game-types with games written in Python inspired by an original title, which I’ve placed in brackets:

  • Tennis (Pong)

Pong is the classic video game of a paddle moving up and down the screen trying to bat a ball past a paddle on the opposite side of the screen. Code The Classics Vol 1 has a version called Boing!

  • Action Platformer (Bubble Bobble)

Bubble Bobble hit arcades in the mid 1980’s with Bub and Bob eliminating all enemies on the screen to progress to the next stage. Code The Classics Vol 1 has a version called Cavern.

  • Top-down Platformer (Frogger)

Frogger sees the player control a frog with the aim of getting the frog across a busy road. Code The Classics Vol 1 has a version called Infinite Bunner.

  • Fixed Shooter (Centipede)

Centipede was released in the early 1980’s and sees a centipede making its way from the top of the screen to the bottom, where your player is. The player can shoot upwards to try and stop the centipede from reaching the bottom of the screen. Code The Classics Vol 1 has a version called Myriapod.

  • Football Game (Sensible Soccer)

Sensible Soccer was released in the early 1990’s and is a football game. In all honesty, although I had heard of Sensible Soccer it is not a game I’ve played (even with chances at retro gaming events) – football games, including the modern ones, are not for me. Code The Classics Vol 1 has a version called Substitute Soccer.

Example of Boing!
Example of Boing!

The book includes an introduction from Dave Perry (I still have fond memories of EarthWorm Jim on the Sega MegaDriver) and interviews with Dan Malone and Allister Brimble. It also includes a section on setting up (for Windows, Mac OS X and Raspberry Pi) Python, Pygame Zero (although the pip installer of Pygame Zero currently fails on my Macbook) and a brief section on IDEs and Git.

Who is the book for?

I enjoy digging back into retro games and whilst growing up remember wanting to design and make a video game from scratch, even playing around with BASIC to create some text based adventure games.  To me this book is perfect for:

  • Anyone that wants to play retro titles with a new feel.
  • Anyone (young or old) that wants to program a game, spend time taking a games programming apart (hint: great for cheating at a game) or to see how great game design can make (or break) a game.
  • Code Clubs that are looking for a different way to engage with learners.
Example of Myriapod
Example of Myriapod

I am looking forward to modifying the game code and graphics to create my own versions of the classics. Hopefully by the time I’m done Raspberry Pi press will be onto Code The Classics Volume 2.

Want to know more about Code The Classics Volume 1? Check out Eben Upton discussing it on YouTube:


Code The Classics Volume 1 can be purchased from the Raspberry Pi store:

Code The Classics Volume 1 can be download (for free) as a PDF from the Raspberry Pi Wireframe magazine website:

The code for the games is available from the Wireframe Magazine Github:

I have previously blogged about the Manchester Science and Industry Museum retro gaming event and have (quite a few) posts on Python.

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