Finders Keepers is a 1985 platform and maze video game written and developed by David Jones and published by Mastertronic. The game was ported to the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Commodore 64, and Commodore 16. Finders Keepers is the first game in the Magic Knight series. It was so successful on launch that it became Mastertronic’s second-best-selling video game ever. The only other title from the computer game company that surpassed Finders Keepers is BMX Racers.
Today, finding a playable version of this home computer classic is a bit more difficult than most well-known retro games. Websites like RetroGames.cz usually have playable versions of older games that players can access right on their browsers. Unfortunately, this website (and others like it), don’t have Finders Keepers in their library. There are a few websites where players can download the game for free, though. These websites include My Abandonware, Lemon64, and World of Spectrum. Before downloading any files, players should investigate their options to make sure they are comfortable downloading from their chosen source. That said, My Abandonware does have a large catalog of classic video games. Players can find other ’80s classics like The Rocky Horror Show (1985) and Thexder (1985) on My Abandonware.
At the time of release, Finders Keepers sold 447,000 copies. By today’s standards, this doesn’t sound like a lot, but in 1985 these numbers were incredibly high. In the ’80s, home computers weren’t in every home, and video games were emerging as a relatively new medium, so almost half a million copies are nothing to sneeze at. Zzap!64, a computer gaming magazine that ran from 1985 to 1992, called Finders Keepers a “little masterpiece” and praised Mastertronic for putting out another quality game. Today, the game still retains an overall positive rating. My Abandonware rates Finders Keepers a 4.5 out of 5.
Finders Keepers Premise
Many video games of the 1980s and ’90s didn’t have much in the way of complicated plots, character development, or overarching story arcs. Games during this era were much shorter and focused on the actual gameplay over most other aspects of the game. This was due to a lot of factors from being a new medium to technology limitations. Needless to say, gaming today is very different from gaming nearly 40 years ago. Many games did have a basic plot, just enough to justify what the player did in-game, and Finders Keepers falls into this category.
In Finders Keepers, players play as Magic Knight, a knight in the King of Ibsisima’s service. The King sends Magic Knight to the Castle of Spriteland in search of a gift for Princess Germintrude. If Magic Knight finds what the King wants, the King will consider him worthy of joining the “Polygon Table”, a famous group of prestigious knights. The “Polygon Table” is based on King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. It’s difficult to say that Finders Keepers is entirely based on this infamous legend, but it does take obvious inspiration from the tale.
Once the King gives Magic Knight his assignment, the player teleports to the Castle of Spriteland. The castle contains two types of areas players need to navigate and survive. The first type of environment is flick-screen rooms that players need to platform through and the second is scrolling mazes. As players explore, they can pick up items that can be sold for money or combined with other objects to make them more valuable. Magic Knight will come across many traders throughout the castle so he can sell items in his inventory.
In addition to collecting and selling items, players will also need to keep an eye out for dangerous enemies littered throughout the castle. If Magic Knight collides with these enemies, it drains some of his strength. If Magic Knight’s strength reaches zero, he’ll lose a life. Players have four lives before they receive a Game Over.
Finders Keepers Main Characters
As mentioned above, video games from this era didn’t tend to focus on developing plots or characters. Even the main character (MC) didn’t tend to get a lot of love, because they rarely got an elaborate backstory. Some games chose to let players control a vehicle, like a tank or a spacecraft, instead of an actual character. When it comes to characters, Finders Keepers does have a few notable characters, but none of them have much character development.
- Magic Knight: Magic Knight is Finders Keepers’ main playable protagonist. When the King of Ibsisima sends Magic Knight to the Castle of Spriteland, he takes off on an epic adventure to explore the castle in search of the perfect present for Princess Germintrude. During his journey, Magic Knight finds plenty of treasure to sell and combine, but he also needs to be wary of the enemies lurking inside the castle walls. If the King is pleased with Magic Knight’s results, he’ll get to join the Polygon Table, a prestigious group of knights. Magic Knight goes on to star as the main protagonist in the entire Magic Knight series.
- The King: The King of Ibsisima is the one who sends Magic Knight on his quest. Not much is known about the King outside his status, but without him, the game doesn’t happen. The King is distraught that he doesn’t have anything nice to give his daughter, Princess Germintrude, for her birthday. He promises Magic Knight a seat at the Polygon Table if he brings the Princess something she’ll love.
- Princess Germintrude: Princess Germintrude is the King of Ibsisima’s daughter and her birthday is rapidly approaching. Her father wants to impress her with a magnificent gift, so he sends Magic Knight to retrieve something for her from the Castle of Spriteland.
- The Merchants: The Merchants may not be the main characters themselves, but every one of them is important to Finders Keepers’ gameplay. One of the key aspects of the game is collecting, combining, and selling items Magic Knight finds in the castle. The Merchants are located all over the castle and without them, collecting all those items would be pointless.
Finders Keepers Titles in the Series
Finders Keepers spawned a series of Magic Knight games. In total, there are four games in the Magic Knight series spanning from 1985 to 1987. Most of Finder Keepers’ follow-up games are graphic adventure-style video games, but they do keep some of the platforming elements in the mix.
The Magic Knight Series:
- Finders Keepers (1985)
- Spellbound (1985)
- Knight Tyme (1986)
- Stormbringer (1987)
Finders Keepers Cheats & BASIC Commands
Many classic video games have a lot of built-in cheats or exploits to make the game easier. It became common practice for developers to give players ways to complete their games without struggling too much, likely due to how players needed to beat the entire game in a single sitting. Most games didn’t have a save function and those that did implement checkpoints would still erase progress if the player received a Game Over. Although many retro games consisted of simple mechanics and short levels, they could still be challenging to beat.
Unfortunately, Finders Keepers doesn’t have many cheat codes. There is only one code that grants unlimited lives, but it requires players to input BASIC commands to do it.
Unlimited Lives BASIC Cheat Code
Load or reset the game, then execute the following BASIC commands before running or restarting the program:
This should work for most versions of the game.
Finders Keepers Cheats FAQ
If players Google “Finders Keepers video game cheats”, a few FAQ results pop up, but none of them are relevant to the 1985 game. A few of the top results discuss Roblox, a 2006 online game that has nothing to do with Finders Keepers or the Magic Knight series. Most of the other questions are inquiring about the legitimacy of the Finders Keepers law. Likewise, just Googling “Finders Keepers video game” turns up no FAQ results.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©RZX Archive / David Jones / Mastertronic.