SB Recommends ZX Spectrum Games

adidas-adigame-zx-500-runner.jpg Read as Zed-Ecks Spectrum, affectionately called a Speccy. UK basement legend, hidden hero of the Russian Cold War.

After delivering the somewhat successful ZX81, Sinclair Research (led by the baldest men in computer history, Clive Sinclair) set into building a low-cost, household machine that could withstand “serious” activities like printing and color graphics. Available in both 16Kb and 48Kb memory sizes (with a kit available to upgrade), like every “serious” low-cost home computer in the mid-80's was quickly converted into a game machine. Reasons from this was a BASIC language anybody could learn, simple and easy-to-master hardware, and two-button joystick support. Oh, and rampant, unchecked piracy.

While several versions of the machine followed, none solved the characteristic screen display of the machine - color is lay out in 8×8 “tiles” across the screen, leading into what became known as attribute or color clash, seen by large blocks of color bleeding outside the moving sprites. This was worked around in many ways, but many Spectrum games will simply prefer a more monochromatic approach against competitor machines of the time. The strength of the machine seems to focus in puzzle/item collection with arcade-style gameplay, as well as ports of arcade machines. There was also a highly prolific IF sub-culture in Spain.

Further upgrades to the Z80-based hardware formula were the addition of a AY sound chip and extra memory (Spectrum 128), and alternative data loading schemes against the fickle tape loading mechanism (Spectrum +2 and +3).

  • Alien 8 (also on: BBC; CPC; MSX)
    • Bennett: In my view Rare's only true classic. A much cleaner design than Knightlore.
    • vision: the purest, loneliest terror on four legs.
    • Takashi: Athena is an arcade game that is mostly hated, but the graphics (1-bit Athena!) are rather cute. Also a Nice ditty tune
    • extrabastardformula: Novelty value does go to the port of Chase HQ
    • Takashi: If not for anything else, the three-voice music used in the 48K version is a technical feat, but the game plays pretty well with a neat “weight” to the car the arcade version lacks.
    • Takashi: This memorable game is what happens when coders are faced with making a movie-tie-in game, and in return deliver an outstanding parody. Sly here is a pump-muscled hero that headbuts things by default and has to fight insidious enemies like baby carts and rocket-launching women to rescue his girl. Genius buzzer music by Martin Gallaway, that was triggered in mid-game without interrupting the action. One of the best 48Kb titles.
    • vamos: brilliant game, Spectrum exclusive
  • Dizzy (series)
    • Lick Meth: earlier titles by the Oliver Twins preferably
  • Fairlight II
    • Bennett: Pretty amazing for 1986, even though it's sort of broken. Ultima VII seven years in advance, on a 48k Spectrum.
    • Takashi: Another good arcade port, that was actually one of the best in the 8-Bit category - mostly because the SMS version of this game is a unrelated isometric racer.
    • Takashi: F1 Racing Management/Pit Stop simulator with a 6 player mutiplayer (“hot-seat”) mode.
  • Gods (aka Olympus)
    • Takashi: While many-a modern game designer wet their feet by coding “generic single screen platformer #43” on a rubber keyboard, you have cases like Simon and Julia Barnsley that spent seven years creating Olympus, a fantastic game they never were able to publish (other than as a free game in a magazine).
    • Takashi: Escape from a WWII Concentration Camp. Some great ideas in this adventure game that were never repeated in the same way - the morale counter, the day-night cycle, how leaving you character alone for a few seconds triggers him to do his prisoner routine as normal.
  • Green Beret (aka Rush'n Attack)
    • vamos: one of the most enjoyable, playable ports. The C64 version has insanely good music, but the Spectrum one is far more enjoyable to play (for some reason I have tried nearly every port of this game and this is my favourite)
    • Takashi: Joffa Smith died earlier this year, and pretty much all the games he worked on have great gameplay.
    • RT-55J: objectively the best part of Donkey Kong 64
    • Laurel Soup: I've always took [the Speccy's] (many) versions of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy to be the definitive ones.
    • Takashi: A top down “racing” game that gives you no clues where to go other than pacenotes, and a gigantic (16384×16384 pixels) map to circumnavigate.
  • Saboteur
    • Bennett: But only if you're patient. Play the ZX spectrum version. One of the very few Spectrum games I would still consider playable.
    • Bennett: Movement is only possible by exchanging yourself with another object.
    • Takashi: Without being too facetious, the original Sentinel was for the ZX Spectrum and it's also the one with the faster scene rendering of all the 8-bit versions.
 sb/recommended/zx_spectrum.txt · Last modified: 2017/04/08 09:58 (external edit)
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