One of the most major, and profitable, games written for the BBC Micro. Based on boulder dash, but with much larger graphics, better music, and more original puzzles. In its classic form, Repton has you taking control of a little anthropomorphic lizard as he moves through a 2-D grid map with the aim of collecting all the diamonds and killing all the monsters. Although gravity had no effect on anything else, boulders would fall if nothing was below them and could kill both Repton and monsters if caught beneath. Repton could clear earth out of the path of boulders by moving into it, a set-up which made possible a whole variety of puzzles based on getting boulders out of the way of one path without closing off another. The mixture of these puzzles with the more frenetic necessity of killing the monsters which chase you, avoiding the sprites which moved along easily predicted paths, and beating the time limit, is what gave Repton its ineffable charm.

Hugely popular, the publisher (the prolific Superior Software) found they had a great franchise on their hands. Accordingly, along with much merchandise (furry Repton soft toy, anyone?) many sequels were produced, and here are all the versions I know about :

Repton - the original, featuring The Entertainer as background music and a ridiculously steep learning curve.

Repton 2 - a massive game, one of the few early computer games to have a substantial cash prize for completing it (another was the equally impossible Castle Quest). I don't know if anyone ever claimed it. Please /msg me if you do. Apparently the jigsaw, which you had to complete to win the game, in its completed form read "REPTON 2 HAS ENDED", which must have been a bit of a let down. Also introduced the "Repton shuffle", a hugely satisfying maneouvre to successfully perform which consisted of rapidly moving left and right nudging rocks from a falling stream in the process.

Repton 3 - introduced time bombs which you had to defuse after collecting all the diamonds, just to up the pace a little. More importantly, came with both a level and a graphics editor, allowing you to make whole new worlds and puzzles for Repton to explore. Fantastic. At least three separate titles were released having been made this way - quite possibly (I'm not sure) by amateurs using these editors. Repton Around the World in 80 Screens had (you guessed it) 80 levels of comedy foreigners and ridiculous stereotypes. Repton Thru Time had our hero placed in Flintstones style caveman days, in a Chandleresque 20th century America (full of telephone booths, guns, and police), and in a Jetsons future perfect of robots and aliens. The Life of Repton followed him through various diamond-and-monster related rite of passage antics, all the way from baby to OAP through schooldays, teenagehood and work.(Note: my memory's rather vague on the specifics of these levels, so if anyone can correct mistakes please /msg)

Repton Infinity - The last of the bunch, released in the dying days of the Beeb, this was essentially an entire Repton design system - allowing you to actually code your own Repton-style games. The programming language included was advanced enough to be able to cope with a huge range of possible games quite easily, as long as they were to be played on a 2-D grid with clunky graphics and sixteen colours. Sadly, my version was buggered, so I can't tell you how well it worked. However, apparantly the magazine Micro User ran a design-a-game competition, and some of the results are still available on the internet, if you feel like getting BeebEm and trying them out. Update - tgidden was apparently one of the winners. We should all feel honoured to count such a star as one of our own.

Repton 4 - Thanks to call for the info on this not really a Repton game at all - no boulders, released on the Archimedes and the Amiga, and in the Amiga version had an elephant rather than Repton because Amiga users had never heard of him. One to be forgotten.