Top#10 ZX Spectrum Games

1)  Elite

This one will appear in probably most lists of greatness. At the time, it was truly ground breaking. Really fast vector graphics, a sandbox world, a fantastic unboxing element to the packaging, it was about as close to perfection as one could get. I literally spent weeks on this one as a teen and clocked by the status of  “Deadly”. No doubt to get “Elite” I would have had to played it for a few months more but for me, I had drank deep from that well and it was enough for me. Trading, space dog-fights, near impossible docking, it sank hours of your time. When Eve-Online was launched a decade ago I mistakenly thought it was a homage to Elite, but sadly it was some complete other nonsense aimed at bean counters and spreadsheet compilers, a soulless affair for people that counted the contents of their wallet by candlelight. Then Elite:Dangerous was born, but sadly that also, seemed to be chasing something else other than the purity of the original product. The sad thing is this isn’t the sort of game now that you can replay with satisfaction on an emulator. You had to be there to part of it. Nevertheless, this one has some glorious memories for me and I will forever be trying to capture to sense of awe, wonder, exploration and magnificence that it provided oh so long back in the early 1980s.

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2) Sorcerer Lord

This one sank before trace really and it was by pure luck I even ended up playing it. I was always partial to hex based type strategy war games and this one was different in that similar games could be beaten, they typically had poor A.I’s and you could eventually find their weakness and ram it home and dominate the game, but by God this was a tough game. I think I only beat it once on Easy level. Playing at Normal or Hard and you’re be asking for a swift smashing and I’m fairly sure that due to bad game playability design its impossible to win on Hard. Nevertheless, a well put together game. I indeed on remaking this one at some point. Its on my very long to-do list. One day….

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3) Bounty Bob Strikes Back

I have never been a big fan of platforms.  Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy were to me, extremely dull affairs. I never really got them and found them tiresome. However this one caught my attention. It kicked around for a while before I could get off the first few screens but when I did, it really opened up and I spent more and more time on it. No POKEs, no cheating, just old fashioned hours burned on it and lo and behold before evening realising it I completed it by accident. The whole game, completely! On my own! With no help! Marvellous.

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4) Fred

I think this was the 2nd game I ever purchased. I thought I was Indiana Jones playing this one. Incredible fun. Me and my brother used to play this together and I never fell out of love with it.

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5)  Valkyrie 17

A text adventure game (or interactive fiction as they are now called) this was great fun. I always liked these text verb/noun type games but this one was special in that it had heaps of humours and really clever puzzles. The puzzles were logically so you could work it out with enough thought applied and not just random, like for example in the game The Hobbit, which was utterly diabolical. I always felt cheated by games that offered illogical puzzles but this one totally delivered. Great game and I have fond memories of playing this in my bedroom during dark winter months when the central heating was knackered in our council flat and I had to wear 2 sweaters.

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6) Fairlight

This game blew me away. Firstly, look at that loading screen! Pure art! The sound that came with it was pretty awesome also and I used to load it up just to listen to that sometimes! It was honestly that good! The loading screen was also a view into the actual gameplay area, it was meta! It was basically like a hint as to the map you would find yourself in during gameplay. The graphics were astounding also. There is little fault with this game. If I was perhaps being really truly pendantic, I would say the 2 second wait while it LDIR’d between screens during room movement was the only negative. I never completed this game but I played it lots and it filled me with a sense of actually exploring a castle and trying to solve a puzzle that wasn’t made clear; the instructions simply came with a brief story that was insensible, and yet for all that, you always felt that you were on the verge of a big breakthru’, if only you just explored that little bit more…

 

7) Bruce Lee

This was a great little platformer with a little of beat-em-up included. I played until I completed it and it gave me a real sense of achievement. It was not as difficult as the C-64 version I later discovered but it was a lot cuter and more accessible. I truly great game.

8) Tau Ceti

This was basically the War and Peace of the ZX gaming world. It was a real tough one to get into. You needed to spend a lot of hours on this one but once you grok’d it, it made you view everything else in a different way. It was huge and there was a lot to control (there were so many keys required to play this game you basically ended up using half the entire keyboard), I aim to one day (time permitting) boot up the 128K version and play it beginning to end. It certainly merits a replay and spending your hours thrown at this would be not a waste but a righteous quest.

 

9) Back to Skool

Probably on most peoples top ten, this was a great game and I spent a great many hours on this until I completed it. Great anarchic fun. A true British classic.

 

10) The Hulk

This was one of my first loves.. I think it was probably the 2nd text adventure I ever played ( i think the first was playing the original Crowther+Woods, “advent” game on the RM380Z machines at school, and I fell in love with text adventures there after. The pinnacle of which is the Infocom games. It forced me to think in a very different way to understand the mechanics and then the little reveals and tricks like the nonsensical map (if you ever bothered to try to map it that is) and the repetition of the rooms etc really made me more alert and keen to understand how to complete it. In hindsight.. its really simply. The graphics are still great but the parser and limited words make you sometimes fighting the game itself rather than the puzzles which can be deflating but nevertheless, this one was an icon. I solved it.. unaided.. and it took me perhaps 2 months to do so, but when I did, I felt I had basically level’d up my entire life.