Circa 1985 in our school BBC Micro lab, we wasted much time playing a tiny type-in game that looked a bit like this:

One Line clone "2D Star Dodge" on the Amstrad CPC

The playfield was filled with a random arrangement of asterisks, and the player controlled a continuously-growing diagonal line that could be switch from falling down to going up by pressing a key. The game played similarly to later games like SFCave (Palm) and Flappy Bird, except the screen didn't scroll. There were ports to other systems, such as one to the Dragon 32 (written by Alan Cook) and another to the Amstrad CPC (written by me, published in Amstrad Computer User in 1988).

I'm trying to find the original. Here's all I know:

  • It was written in BBC BASIC

  • It was most likely called "One Line", but I have a faint memory of it perhaps being called "Whirly"

  • It was one — quite long — line of BASIC

  • It was most likely published in a UK computer magazine such as BEEBUG, The Micro User, Acorn User, etc

  • The BBC version may not have been the original, as all the game required was a bitmapped screen and a single control key.

Update: if you have JavaScript enabled, you can try an emulated version here: http://scruss.com/cpc/6128s.html?stardoj.dsk/run%22stardoj2

  • Sounds like Caterpillar to me
    – Lars Beck
    Jun 28, 2018 at 12:41
  • not that, but thanks for pointing me to the type-in archive
    – scruss
    Jun 29, 2018 at 3:22
  • 1
    FYI - Your question inspired me to look for a "one-liner" archive site. I remember one of the magazines (I think Kilobaud but may have been Creative Computing or Byte) had a monthly contest for a while. I remember an entire ASCII text editor on one line! I was unable to find a comprehensive archive site :(
    – jwzumwalt
    Jul 1, 2018 at 2:32
  • 1
    I have an Apple II Beagle Bros book that has a whole bunch of AppleSoft one liners, but it's not what you're thinking
    – scruss
    Jul 1, 2018 at 3:51
  • acorn.huininga.nl ?
    – user8725
    Jul 2, 2018 at 9:46

1 Answer 1


Well, the folks from stardot came through! It seems it's called Asterisk Tracker, and was published in the December 1984 issue of Beebug magazine. The author was N. Silver:


This uses BBC BASIC's own special abbreviations, but expands out to:

   10 L=0
   20 REPEATL=L+3
   30   MODE4
   40   DRAW1279,0
   50   DRAW1279,452
   60   MOVE1279,572
   70   DRAW1279,1023
   80   DRAW0,1023
   90   FORI=1TOL
  100     VDU31,RND(32)+5,RND(31),42,30
  110   NEXT
  120   PRINT(L-3)/3
  130   X=0
  140   Y=512
  150   REPEATPLOT69,X,Y
  160     X=X+4
  170     Y=Y-(INKEY-74+.5)*8
  180   UNTILPOINT(X,Y)=1ORX=1280
  190 UNTILX<1280
  200 VDU7
  220 RUN

Here's the original running in an emulator: Asterisk Tracker

  • 3
    And by the power vested in me as a former Acorn owner I do hereby declare: hold the return key to go up rather than down, use the space key to start a new game.
    – Tommy
    Jul 5, 2018 at 2:44
  • Emulator?...I'm typing it in!
    – Brian H
    Jul 5, 2018 at 16:26
  • @BrianH the Beebug source article suggests you need to use *SPOOL and *EXEC to enter it
    – scruss
    Jul 5, 2018 at 23:03

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