Monday, April 23, 2012

Speccy Bastard

Apparently the ZX Spectrum is 30 years old.

That makes me feel very old. I think the Spectrum was the third computer/games console I laid fingers on. The first was a BBC Microcomputer at primary school, and the second was an Atari 2600 (I think) owned by a friend. That was also the first time I played a game involving the Super Mario Brothers.

The same friend and his older brother also had a ZX Spectrum, and I remember watching them in 1987, sitting for what seemed like hours programming in a BASIC game. It was distinctly underwhelming.

It's almost strange that in today's modern society you can take computer classes for programming now.

But by 1988/89, I was desperate for a computer of my own, and Mither and Faither (or Santa Claus anyway) very generously bought Baby Brother and I a ZX Spectrum +3. Not only did the +3 boast 128k of RAM, but it had a built-in floppy disk drive, which was a revelation in the tape-dominated home computer market.

I actually broke our first Spectrum on Xmas Day, jamming the power cable into the back of the computer upside down and bending all the pins.

But we got a replacement, complete with a disk of six games that I still love to this day:

  • Gift From The Gods - based on Greek mythology, you float around a sprawling underground maze attempting to find stones that will unlock a gate.

  • NOMAD  - An armoured droid (NOMAD stands for something something Mobile Attack Droid) batters around a spaceship shooting stuff.
  •  Mailstrom - You play a postman in a post-apocalyptic England. Deliver the letters and futuristic violence. Dark humor persists.
  •  Daley Thomson's SuperTest - Follow up to Daley Thomson's Decathlon, the sports were more obscure, but the button-bashing was just as fun.

Those games would comfortably run on a modern mobile phone. But at the time, they were cutting-edge. Games on the Spectrum generally had very high playability - they had to, as the graphics and sound were so weak.

Days spent playing Chucky Egg, Dizzy, Footballer of the Year, the games above and hundreds of others are amongst the happiest memories from my childhood.

And now I've found all of the games above on an emulator site. That's my weekend sorted...


bigrab said...

I'm desperately trying to remember the game I spent endless hours playing on my ZX Spectrum through the wee portable telly we had when I was newly married. All I can remember was that the graphics represented vegetable gardens and the object was to "eat" all the vegetables.

It took months but I eventually got to the last stage.

The wee character yelled "yippee!" as it completed each stage.

Or maybe that was a dream........

Razor's Edge said...

I forgot all about Mailstrom and Gift From The Gods. Good times.