Gaming - Spectrum

ZX Spectrum

As modern gaming is celebrated Steve Taylor-Bryant remembers a childhood computer...

When you start to write for a celebration day on /G-f you are wracked with nerves and anxiety. Questions fill your head. What is expected of me? What will the readership want? What can I get past the editorial teams beady eye? These questions are especially important when some of the team at HQ are young enough to be your children, so what do you do?

1 - Play it safe, review a simple product that you know the readership will want or

2 - Commit journalistic suicide and write about something you can’t even buy any more therefore making it a useless review.

So here we go.... 35 odd years ago saw the release of the 8-bit personal home computer the ZX Spectrum. The 23rd of April 1982, St. George’s day, a day that should be in the thankful minds of all of us. The ZX Spectrum, the successor of the ZX81, pretty much single handedly launched the United Kingdom IT industry, an industry that is still growing and going well if I'm not mistaken. I'm sitting here writing this on a brand spanking new laptop and you will be reading this on your PC, iPhone, iPad or smart Android gadget.

The launch of the Spectrum by Sinclair Research Ltd led to a boom in start-up software companies all looking to get their projects out on this new media and see if they could mirror the success of the Commodore in the United States. I myself had an issue 2 48k with the rubber keys and would spend endless hours in awe of this greatness on the coffee table in our house. A small keyboard, a plug in cassette recorder and noisy colourful screens? What seven year old wouldn't be mesmerised?

Of all the Software titles available through the early 1980's only 3 really still stand out to me to this day. Football Manager by the now defunct Addictive Games, a game I still play 30 years on, only now it’s on my PC and with Sega's investment. Next was Hungry Horace which, simply put, was a clone of Pac Man the successful arcade game. Then came my all time favourite...... MANIC MINER!!

Written and developed for the ZX Spectrum by Matthew Smith for software firm Bug-Byte in 1983, it was the first game in the Miner Willy series. For its time the excellent playability and multi-coloured graphics of this platform game were unique, given the ZX Spectrum’s graphical limitations. The loading screen to my seven year old eyes was mesmerising, the words MANIC MINER moving about the screen each letter in a different bright colour, I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it.

For the ZX Spectrum this was also the first game with actual music. Blue Danube by Strauss replaced the usual beep-beats of other games. The game itself was endless hours of fun. Twenty caverns filled with bright flashing objects to collect and dispense in to a portal to move to the next cavern, whilst avoiding poisonous pansies, slime, spiders and manic mining robots while trying not to run out of air.

Anyone over the age of 30 please join me in wishing the ZX Spectrum a very happy 35ish birthday, those of you under the age of 30 please go and research this awesome machine and thank your lucky stars for Sir Clive Sinclair because without his vision you wouldn't have the bright and shiny life of gadgets you have now.

Image - Wikipedia.