Two classic games, and both I managed to get further than I ever had before!
Prince of Persia is of course an absolute classic, originally released for the Apple II in 1989 it ended up being ported to pretty much everything around at the time - I myself owned it for the Master System for which it was released in 1992. The game was an absolute smash thanks to it's beautifully animated characters created using rotoscoping techniques.
On this stream I decided to play the arcade adventure game Spell Caster on the SEGA Master System.
Even More Character Sets is a collection of 20 fonts written by Steve Pittman that first appeared in Outlet magazine issue 135.
Having no storage options for the Mattel Aquarius I thought it might be a nice idea to livestream some type in games.
In this stream I played:
In this stream I played:
So today the ZX Spectrum turns 40! Even though I am only 2 days older than the ZX80 that still makes me feel old. I'm not going to go into the story of the Speccy itself here, you probably know that already. What I am going to do is attempt to share some of my (probably completely disjointed) memories of the machine that I owe everything to.
I do like to tinker with Sinclair BASIC every so often, here's 3 things I've made over the last 3 years.
Planets! An integral part of any space game I reckon, and possibly why I've constantly revisited their look in my game.
After two thousand years the Galactic Empire is a bit of a dump. Prisoners on the planet Aldertron have escaped and only one person can restore the peace! Take on the role of Commander Zelon onboard Force Fighter and destroy the dangerous aliens!
Bumper stream for New Year's Eve, many drinks and many games from both the Speccy and the Master System.
Many moons ago (around 2 years' worth) I had been playing SoloTrek II on the Amiga, thinking something like this would make a great Speccy game I started putting
pen to paper fingers to keys with ZXBASIC compiler being my weapon of choice. The first thing was to drop the Star Trek theme - the last thing I wanted was a visit from Temporal Investigations!
The Train Game is a train simulation game where you are in charge of the points on a railway line. There are 7 levels of play to contend with, each with their own sub levels giving you a total of 39 unique levels of difficulty. To progress to the next sub level you need to direct your trains to the various platforms and pick up 25 passengers.
Pacman - what can I say about Pacman that hasn't already been said? Well, not a lot to be fair! It was however inspiration for a very nice first person perspective 3D game on the Speccy.
ZXBASIC (not to be confused with Sinclair BASIC) is a compiler that targets the ZX Spectrum and ZX Spectrum Next. It expands the classic Sinclair BASIC syntax with modern features to give a familiar, yet powerful programming language. In this post I am going give a little introduction to it and how it is both similar and different to Sinclair BASIC.
This is a proof of concept showing a ZX Spectrum connected to a Raspberry Pi via GPIO sending the keystrokes over a TCP connection to another machine.
Since returning to the world of the Speccy I have been hankering for something closer to that original experience. I got myself a very nice "water droplet" style keyboard to give me that Speccy + feel, but it still wasn't quite right and with the prices on ebay sky high I had almost reserved myself to having to make do.
Char Bank is a collection of 32 fonts that first appeared on Italian magazine Load 'n' Run issue 34, and has been used quite regularly by the wonderful James O'Grady.
Anyone for tennis? Oh wait we're in lockdown. Ah well, a great excuse to stay in the house doing as little possible. If you're really missing
chasing an egg round a field hitting a ball over a net then International 3D Tennis is just the game for you!
This is NOT a game review! This is a game RELEASE! Yep, that's right what you're about to see has been made by me from an idea by the very lovely Daphne Blake.
The humble Speccy wasn't really known for it's graphical capabilities, it was after all meant to be a sensible machine for sensible uses like programming and... Other stuff. Despite this (and much to Uncle Sir Clive's annoyance) games took off in a big way, with the developers finding clever ways to get the most out of the little machine. There was one type of game the Spectrum did well though, and that was vector graphics; these are simple 3D shapes drawn with nothing but lines.
F'n Balls is the name of the game and was released for the 48K Speccy in 2019 by Andrew Dansby. Meet Bob. Bob is a ball who aside from looking like a decapitated Stig has made some enemies that wish to pop him. Your job is to guide Bob safely through 13 levels of danger.
The Tube released in 1987 by Quicksilva Ltd is an arcade shoot-em-up that contains not one, but THREE distinct play styles.
Web Runner, published as a type-in by Sinclair Programs in 1984 is a tiny game and is not in any way ground breaking but what did catch my eye was the contents of the ReadMe included in the zip file I downloaded:
Web Runner was written for the 16K Spectrum by Hugh Creed, aged 13, of Lancaster, Lancashire.
I, along with a friend of mine, was also making games in Sinclair BASIC at a similar age to Hugh so the fact he got one published really hit home with me (we sent a game on tape to Crash but never heard anything back!).
At some point in the Speccy's lifetime it suddenly became uncool to just stick to the gorgeous default font that was bestowed upon us in the ROM. If your game didn't have a fancy font it wasn't worth playing... Apparently!
Have you ever wanted to take on the role of Guy Fawkes and change the events of 1605? Well this Sinclair User covertape game is just what you need! Released in 1988 by Redwood Designs Gunpowder, Treason And Plot is an arcade adventure game where you have to explore old London town and collect all the bits and bobs you need to blow up the Houses of Parliament and then escape by boat to France.
What is it with the poor Speccy missing out on official versions of arcade games? Asteroids is yet another game that fits this category. Originally released in 1979 by Atari, it was out and about in plenty of time for the arrival of the Spectrum in 1982 - luckily as always the bedroom coder army was around to fill the void, and this time we have a type-in (yes a type-in!) from Ian M. Collier published in Your Computer magazine in 1985.
In the early days of the Spectrum if we wanted to see an arcade game on it, the chances are it would be an unofficial clone - and as we saw from Space Invaders there would often be a few!
Missile Command was an arcade game released in 1980 by Atari, unlike Space Invaders which did finally see an official port for the Speccy, Missile Command never did. Both of the clones I am looking at today were released in 1983 and required only a 16K Spectrum.
As a child who would rather stay at home and play games on his Speccy than go to arcades sometimes the significance of games would pass me by. One such game was Tempest, which to me at the time was just some game that appeared on a Your Sinclair covertape once.
Ah Space Invaders, perhaps one of the most influential games of all time. Despite this the humble Spectrum didn't receive an official version until 1991 in the form of Super Space Invaders which, is an update to the original game (and also released on other platforms) and required a 128K Speccy.
Take a look on World of Spectrum and there are plenty of unoffical clones, I've picked a couple and along with Super Space Invaders I shall take a look at them now! The interesting thing about the two clones are they both only require a 16K Spectrum.
Ahh type-ins.. A type of game lost to time. Most of them weren't all that good (as someone who wrote several crap games in BASIC I'm allowed to say that!), but they were invaluable for learning how to code - almost like an 80s version of Stack Overflow, only without the questions and the snobbery.
Everybody loves a good blast 'em up! And for the Speccy there were plenty! Top down, usually space themed just shooting the living hell out of whatever happens to get in your way!
Megablast! (a 128k only title) released by Your Sinclair on a covertape in 1993 takes a different spin on the genre. Firstly, you have actual objectives! Yes, you need to rescue 16 hostages from the carrier ships that spawn along the way - but be careful, getting carried away with the firepower and you might accidently kill the poor person floating around waiting for you to pick him or her up! It's not all scrolling up either, you can actually move up and down the current area (of which there are 16) as you track down those pesky carriers.
What makes for a great car game? A fast-paced racer with lots of twists and turns? Or how about a top-down shooter full of explosive action? What about a top-down.... well driver? No guns, just driving in a straight line.. Should be easy right? Well, Numb Cars released in 2001 by Russian company Triumph Game Labs puts that theory to the test.
So you've managed to get yourself an old Speccy, but it's 2019 and you no longer have a cassette player kicking around - what do you do?
PlayZX (by Baltazar Studios, LLC) turns your Android phone or tablet into a replacement cassette player, allowing you to load games into your Spectrum in the way Sir Clive originally intended: using a standard audio cable, you plug your phone into the EAR socket on your Spectrum just as you would a cassette player!
If you read my Action Fighter review you'll know that after the Speccy, I got a SEGA Master System. I didn't have many games for it, but one game I did have was Alien Storm! And just like Action Fighter, I never knew a Spectrum port existed until recently.
The Spectrum port of Alien Storm was released in 1991 published by US Gold, and as ports go it's rather bloody good.
Welcome to Journey's End! This epic RPG was released as a budget title by Games Workshop in 1985. This fantastic little game holds the prestige of being the first ever computer game I played!
The game is split into 3 parts and to discover more read on...
UDG Plop is a small simple application for Windows, Mac OS X, FreeBSD and Linux that allows you to easily create User Defined Graphics (UDGs) for use in a Sinclair ZX Spectrum program.
Released in 1987 by Mastertronic Added Dimension Voidrunner is a good ol' fashioned arcade shoot'em up, with one major difference... It'll give you a massive headache!
Sports.. What's the point? Why would you deliberately go and get yourself all sweaty and out of breath? Why are footballers paid so much? Why is a rugby ball shaped like an egg? These are all questions I couldn't give a monkeys about! The only sport I've ever enjoyed (and was any good at) was darts. Back in the good old days: in the pub with a fag in my gob, chucking 'arras from the oche, with my accuracy strangely improving the more pints I had!
Speaking of the good ol' days 180 was released by Mastertronic in 1986 is probably the definitive darts game. It's got round the clock, it's got 2 player and it's got a particularly challenging single player mode aswell - so challenging infact I don't think I've ever managed to get past the quarter finals!
Well, I knew the time would come when I finally had to take a deep breath and look at a platform game. I'm sure many of you are pondering why this is an issue, well the truth is: me and platformers - we never really got on. I don't know why this is but as a genre platform games didn't like me and I didn't really like them.
But what about platformers in the year of our Lord Bacon 2019? Well, one of the goals of this website was to showcase modern Speccy games aswell as look back at some forgotten oldies but a good chunk of games made since 2000 are platformers and a good chunk of those have the difficulty ramped up to 11! So, for my first platformer review I am going back to 1992 and taking a look at Turbo the Tortoise.
It may suprise you to find out that I have an older sister, and this sister had a boyfriend, and this boyfriend had a Mega Drive. Unlike my older brother who wouldn't let me anywhere near his ZX81 or Spectrum, this boyfriend was all too happy to let me have a go on his Mega Drive (aslong as I kept away from his Atari ST!).
This is all fascinating, but what has it got to do with Block-Dizzy I hear you cry! Well, one of the games he had on his Mega Drive was Columns - SEGA's answer to Tetris. And I found myself hooked on that little game. So much so, that fast forward to 2006 when I decided to get myself my very own Mega Drive from a popular auction website I made sure to pick up that game aswell.
What I never realised is that I could have played almost the exact same game on my good old Speccy! Block-Dizzy is a game inspired by Columns released by Your Sinclair in 1992. And it just so happens that Your Sinclair was my magazine of choice (which you probably guessed already by my chosen name) and I had the actual covertape this game came on (and possibly still do). So why didn't I play it? I don't have a clue! Well, 27 years later when I finally decided to go hunting for a Speccy version of Columns I didn't miss Block-Dizzy and will tell you all about it now.
Before things escalated into Streets of Rage in 1991, there was Street Hassle released by Melbourne House in 1988.
The streets are a mess, and armed with nothing but his bare fists our hero has decided to clean up wearing nothing but a pair of speedos and wellies!
Even though the Spectrum itself was discontinued in 1992 people have never stopped making games for it and today I am going to look at a game made in 2013.
Mazogs was originally released for the ZX81 in 1981. It's a fun game that still suprises me it managed to fit into just 16k of RAM.
So, what is Mazogs? Well, it's a maze game where you have to go and find the hidden treasure. However the maze is riddled with mazogs which can stop you in your tracks! Throughout the maze you will find swords which greatly improve your chances if you happen to find your path blocked by a mazog. Once you've got the treasure you've then got to make your way home - which isn't as easy as you think. The mazes are impressive in size and it is easy to get lost - luckily there are mysterious flashing eye things (which are actually prisoners - according to the instructions) that when approached will guide you on your way.
At some point in the early 1990s, my Spectrum +2 was mostly retired and I had instead a Sega Master System for which I only ever had a handful of games - going from £2.99 to £14.99 was a bit of a jump! Action Fighter was however one of the games I did get - what I didn't realise until recently was that Action Fighter was released on the ZX Spectrum in 1989.
How's that old brain of yours doing? If it's anything like mine, then you're probably starting to forget things at a worrying rate. Well nevermind, Master Brain is here to save you!