ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Games

29 May 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Bruce Lee - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee was published for the ZX Spectrum by US Gold and produced by Ocean Software. It was released in May of 1985 and met with a lot of praise due to it's nice mix of platform, beat em up and classic arcade action.

Both US Gold and Ocean already had good reputations within the Spectrum's games market, and Bruce Lee enhanced those reputions further.

ZX Spectrum game Bruce Lee
The premise of the arcade game was that you (as the legendary Bruce Lee) had returned to the land of your forefathers to destroy a wicked wizard. Succeeding in this would reward you with vast of amounts of treasure whilst obviously freeing the land of the evil control of the wizard.

Starting on the surface, you had to locate the secret entrance that would grant you access to the wizards underground lair. The whole game was based around collecting lanterns from the various locations - the game was of the 'flick screen' platform variety. Collecting lanterns would open up walls, doors, secret passages and so on - so collecting them was essential to progress through the screens.

Bruce could move pretty well around the screens, running left or right and jumping. You could also climb up and down certain parts of the scenery (such as ladders) and could also execute powerful punches and flying kicks. You would need to use all of these moves on a lot of the screens.

Two enemies in this classic game harrased our Bruce constantly, the 'Green Yamo' (even though he was white and not green) and the Ninja. These guys could be despatched with relative ease by repeated flying kicks or punches, but in true South Park Kenny style would reappear almost as quicky as you had taken them out.

Bruce Lee ZX Spectrum It was not only the enemies that could kill you in the game, you also had to avoid large daggers, exploding plants (?) and electric charges which added more to the game than just jumping and brawling.

To complete the game you had to fight your way through all of the screens (20 I think in total), collecting the lanterns and hit a switch to kill the wizard. After that it was back to the start to do it all again. I always wanted to fight the wizard in true enter the dragon hall of mirrors style - but maybe that's just me.

One excellent feature of the game was that the game allowed the player to compete against either the computer or other human players. Apart from the first option of playing against the computer a second option allowed an opponent to assume the role of the Green Yamo. Alternatively a third option allows two players to take turns at being Bruce, against the computer or with a third opponent as Yamo.

This nice little mix and match of characters added longevity to the game.

On Release:
Bruce Lee on the ZX Spectrum was well received when it was released, collecting a score of 91% in Crash magazine. Gamers enjoyed the frenetic action, the mixture of platform puzzle and beat em up and the colourful backgrounds. This one was fun to play, easy to get into and was interesting when your friends played as the Green Yamo.

The test of time:
Well we here in the land of Spectrum games reckon that this easy yet classic game is worth another look. It is very simple, but running and jumping across the platforms and collecting the lanterns still holds some appeal. Doling out a good kicking to the two enemies is good for a laugh too. Easy to play, Bruce Lee is a good way to fill a spare 20 minutes. Not a bad little retro game at all.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Bruce Lee for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online. Chop chop!

GENRE: Beat em up arcade game
RELEASE DATE: May of1985
RELEASED BY: Ocean Software (Released by US Gold)
DEVELOPER(S): Ron Fortier and Kelly Day
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Bruce gains access to the evil wizards underground lair in Spectrum Games:

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

28 May 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Renegade - ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum Renegade
Renegade was a popular arcade game released by Taito in 1986. The ZX Spectrum conversion was released in September of 1987 by Imagine Software - and a fine conversion it turned out to be.

Imagine Software (a company who had famously gone bust before being completely re-invented under Ocean Software) had managed to release a few licensed titles already, most of which had been good games (such as Hypersports and Green Beret).

With this arcade game they were onto another winner.

Renegade - ZX SpectrumThe backstory to the game had you (as the 'renegade') moving across town to meet up with your girlfriend Lucy.

As soon as you step off the train a group of thugs decide to try and beat you to a pulp. You must fight off the attackers and move through five levels of action to reach your lady.

The five levels were:
The Station
The Pier
The seedy back streets
The main street
The meeting place

Your character was handily well versed in martial arts and street fighting, which gave you a chance when making your way through the levels. In each 'location' there was a different type of gang, from unarmed brawlers, hells' angels armed with chains, to whip wielding ladies of the night. Ahem.

Our hero could punch, kick, flying kick and even knee opponents to send them sprawling. In a slight difference to other beat em ups, it was possible to dish out more 'violence' than normal.

For instance you could grab an assailant by the shoulders and knee them in the groin repeatedly. Nice. You could also knock an attacker to the ground and get on top of them and punch them in the face over and over again. These touches in the game were a lot of fun and made the experience a bit different to other beat em up games.

The fact that moves like this were available to the player gathered some controversy - some people (mostly non-gamers) thought that this extreme violence was out of place in a computer game.

Battling on the subway in Renegade - ZX Spectrum
There was usually a 'boss' attacker on each level who you would have to defeat to progress to the next part of town. The bosses were way tougher than the normal gang members, Bertha being a hard one to take down as I remember.

The environments were well drawn and managed to capture the mood of seedy areas at night. The characters were nicely detailled and animated, throwing punches and kicks with conviction - they did look like it would hurt!

There was a nice variety of enemies to battle (such as hell's angels on bikes who would try and run you down), all requiring different tactics to fight them effectively.

The game was completed once you reached your meeting place with Lucy and defeated all of the enemies there. Presumably you then went for a nice pizza or something.

On Release:
The violence within the game stirred up some negative publicity towards this title on the ZX Spectrum - which of course helped it to seel more copies. Gamers enjoyed it due to the variety of moves, the gritty setting and the challenge the game offered. It scored a nice 89% in Crash magazine, and Renegade was an example of how to produce an official licensed arcade game properly. It was so popular that two sequels would be released over the next couple of years.

The test of time:
We here in the land of ZX Spectrum Games reckon that Renegade is a worthy piece to add to any gaming collection. It took the beat em up genre to a new level on the home computer, rather being a straight martial arts simulation the added element of streetfighting set it apart from the likes of Exploding Fist and Yie ar Kung Fu. This game is still fun to play with enough challenge to keeo you coming back for more. Nice theme tune too.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Renegade for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could and try play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Game (Beat em up)
RELEASE DATE: September 1987
RELEASED BY: Imagine Software (Under Ocean Software)
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Our hero doles out some punishment in some classic arcade action:

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

27 May 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Scuba Dive - ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum Scuba Dive
This classic game is yet another of our featured arcade games that was released by Durell software. One of their earlier efforts, this game remains (and even to this day?) one of the most original and innovative releases for the ZX Spectrum.

The developer of the game, Mike Richardson had already struck gaming gold with Durell's previous (and excellent) release Harrier Attack, and did so again with this arcade game based around yep you guessed it, Scuba diving.

ZX Spectrum Games Scuba Dive
The aim of the game was simple yet unique. Starting with three divers (lives) on a motor boat you were to drop into the deep blue and gather underwater riches such as pearls and treasure. Nothing like this had been released on the ZX Spectrum before, a game based around wet suit shenanigans was totally original.

Controlling your sprite was a little tricky at first, but once you got the hang of it you would be moving through the underwater caverns with the grace of Shelly Winters. Well nearly.

You could rotate your character clockwise or anti-clockwise then 'swim' in the direction you were facing. Acceleration to full speed took a couple of seconds (realistic) as did slowing down to a halt (again, realistic).

It was up to you to collect pearls from oyster shells (which would open and shut, timing to swoop in and nab the pearl was key), and to locate lost treasure (but only in the deepest parts of the underwater cavern).

There were hazards to avoid in the water such as sharks, jellyfish, eels and giant octupus. Colliding with any of these would take away one of your lives and lose all three and it was game over.

ZX Spectrum Scuba Dive
There were entrances to the lower caverns which were 'guarded' by a giant octopus which would move it's tentacles back and forth allowing you to slip by as long as you timed it right. Lower down there were different sea creatures to avoid, but the potential rewards were greater.

Straying lower and lower was dangerous however as you only had a limited supply of oxygen which could be replenished by returning to your motor-boat, or by finding the reserve tanks hidden 'somewhere' in the caverns.

There was no way to 'finish' the game, the aim was to amass as many points as possible. It may not sound it, but this game on the ZX Spectrum was utterly compelling and original.

On Release:
This classic game was well recieved when it was released in 1983. The totally original concept plus the fantastic graphics earned it the legendary 'Crash Smash' status. The full 360 degree rotation of your diver coupled with the brilliant animation of the sea creatures was a sight to behold back then (the sharks turning completely about was amazing). Even though the game had little traditional action, the excitement of gathering the treasure and swimming like crazy back to your boat before your air reserves expired was adrenalin pumping stuff. Durrel managed to cram plenty of arcade action into the game.

The test of time:
We here in the land of ZX Spectrum Games reckon that Scuba Dive should be remembered as a classic game. Really original and groundbreaking, the game is still playable and can cause moments of tension. Amazing for the time it was made - a round of applause goes to Mike Richardson. The only lacking element is the rather sparse sound - but we'll let it off with that. This is a fine retro game.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download this game for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

Stick on a bit of Jaws and get out your swimming goggles. Just don't go near Ben Gardners boat.

GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASED BY: Durell Software
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Richardson
PRICE: £5.50 - UK

We get moving in this classic arcade game:

Arcade Games, Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games

25 May 2009

ZX Spectrum game - Airwolf - ZX Spectrum classic game

ZX Spectrum Airwolf
This was another tv tie-in license by (yep you guessed it) Elite software. Elite managed to produce mostly decent licensed arcade games such as Space Harrier, Bomb Jack and Commando, but this game recieved a mixed reaction.

Airwolf the arcade game was released in January of 1984 and had been hyped up prior to it's release due to the popularity of the TV Programme. The great Spectrum magazine Crash awarded it an overall score of 90% - the desired 'Crash Smash' status. Now let me tell you, Crash was my favourite ZX Spectrum magazine but this was one of the few occasions that I did not agree with them.

ZX Spectrum game Airwolf
The aim of the game was to rescue five scientists who have been imprisoned in an underground base hidden beneath the Arizona desert. Only the destruction of the defence control boxes (strategically positioned within the bowels of the caverns) would allow you to descend into the heart of the base where the scientists were being held.

The action took place over several interlinked scrolling screens (starting with screens set 'above ground'). On the first two screens you were immediately faced with the defence fields; assembled boxes of blue which had to be shot away box by box with the Airwolf’s powerful front cannon.

The problem with this was the fact that the entire field regenerated itself within only a few seconds and you had to start shooting it all over again.

Gaining the passage took you along to the cavern entrance which was also guarded by a similar field. Now you had to shoot downwards to take out the blue boxes. Forgive me for being negative here, but shooting blue boxes is not great fun, and certainly never captured the spirit of Airwolf the TV programme.

From there on each cave was guarded by obstacles such as large guns and electric force fields, and the narrowness of the cavern passages made life VERY tough.

Airwolf ZX Spectrum
Airwolf was a state of the art helicopter and thus was difficult to handle. The machine had to be flown constantly to keep it airborne otherwise it would simply descend to the ground/cavern floor and crash.

It was a case of negotiating your way through the various screens, taking out the security controls (do disable force-fields, guns etc) and making your way to the screen where the scientist was being held. Once you picked the prisoner up, you had to backtrack all the way back out until you reached the screen from where you first took off.

You had to do this five times in total (only 1 scientist could be picked up at a time) to complete the game. Your humble reviewer here manged to rescue four way back in '84 and lost his last life on the way back with number five. Needless to say a few choice words were uttered in a 'loud manner'. The game was never loaded again.

This arcade style game was ultra difficult. Controlling the helicopter (which did not even resemble Airwolf!) was tricky, and flying, shooting boxes (yes boxes) in hard to reach places was never really that thrilling. You only had one weapon to fire too - the 'cannon' (which fired sort of star shaped projectiles - not satisfying). No mention of copperhead missiles here!

The game did well and plenty of copies were sold (perhaps many people who liked the show bought this game), and some found the game to be a good challenge.

Still, the fact that the helicopter looked nothing like Airwolf, had no choice of weapons, no turbo-boost and there was no mention of Stringfellow and Dominic annoyed some gamers. The fact that the famous theme tune had not been included was annoying too.

On release:
Opinions were split on this classic game and like Marmite, you either loved it or hated it. Some found it challenging, others found it frustrating. Still, it was released just as TV tie-ins were becoming more popular, and was still better than many other offerings (such as Night Rider and SreetHawk). Airwolf went on to do well and was a big hit. Most people did agree that the environment graphics were well drawn (the rocky caverns were effective) and created the right 'oppresive' atmosphere of being underground.

The test of time:
We here in the land of Spectrum games reckon you should play this classic game to remind yourself of how bloody hard it is. If you've got supehuman reflexes, co-ordination and patience you may just enjoy it. If you can complete it then celebrate as if you've won the lottery.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download this game for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: January of 1984
RELEASED BY: Elite Software
DEVELOPER(S): Richard Wilcox
PRICE: £6.95 - UK

Not even flying ace Major Lawrence Bartle Frere can overcome the obstacles in this ultra hard arcade game.

Arcade Games, ZX Spectrum Games and Classic Games

22 May 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Exolon - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Exolon
This classic game was yet another quality release by Hewson Consultants - who were becoming one of the leaders in pushing the limitations of the ZX Spectum further and further.

One of their previous game Technician Ted had been a great technical achievement, and this game with it's large colour graphics and smooth animation proved that more and more could be squeezed out of the humble ZX Spectrum.

Exolon was an arcade game with a difference.

ZX Spectrum Game Exolon
Exolon Loads Up
 The aim of the game was to fight your way (from left to right in classic arcade fashion) through four levels of 25 screens, making a grand total of 100 screens to conquer.

The alien world you were placed in was infested with rotund attackers released from 'birth pods', homing missiles, exploding mines, accelerating space lice and crushing hydraulic plungers.

For protection (and for killing!), your character carried a blaster to destroy the lesser thin-skinned aliens and the laser-beam barriers.

Exolon ZX Spectrum
Great use of colour in Exolon
You were also armed with homing grenades that were able to destroy stronger creatures, machinery, obstructing pieces of landscape and a pulse bomb that disrupted enemy security systems (rather like an EMP). It was all classic arcade game weaponry.

Blaster ammunition and grenades were replenished on the loss of a life, but extra ammunition could be collected from supplies that were lying around the landscape.

For additional safety and kill-a-bility, walking through a dressing unit 'clothed' you in an armoured exoskeleton, giving you have extra blasting power and protection against ground mines and even some aliens.

If you were wearing this suit on the completion of a level your bravery bonus was decreased. It was worth it for the fun to be had in this 'super suit'.
Teleport pods were also dotted around the screens allowing you to 'jump' to higher ledges and collect various items. This also made for more than one route through some of the screens - it was up to you to find out which way was the easiest.

With 100 screens to fight through, this title was a tough nut to crack... A classic arcade game.

On Release:
Exolon was praised highly when it came out in July 1987. Gamers marvelled at the large and well animated main character and the colourful and imaginative landscape. The homing 'fire and forget' grenades were pretty cool too, and the optional exoskeleton you could use was brilliant. It was awarded a Crash Smash award which usually helped games to sell more copies. Fans of shoot em ups and arcade games loved it. The price of £7.95 was more than reasonable for a game of this quality.

The test of time:
Here in the land of Spectrum games we reckon that this game should be regarded as a classic ZX Spectrum title. It is still playable, and firing the homing grenades almost brings out the same level of amazement from when you first saw it. The varied colours (with little attribute clash) are a site to behold. Raise a toast to Hewson and Raffaele Cecco.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a Spectrum emulator and download Exolon for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
Give it a go, it is Exol-ent

GENRE: Platform Game (Arcade Game)
RELEASED BY: Hewson Consultants
DEVELOPER(S): Raffaele Cecco, Nigel Brownjohn, Nick Jones
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Our man blasts through the alien world in this classic arcade game:

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Game - Dynamite Dan - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Dynamite Dan
In the mid 1980's platform flick screen adventure arcade games were all the rage, and Dynamite Dan by Mirrorsoft (who released other good games on the ZX Spectrum such as Sai Combat and the excellent flight simulator Strike Force Harrier) was one of the better ones.

Released in July of 1985 for the ZX Spectrum, Dynamite Dan scored the coveted Crash Smash award and was one of the more succesful arcade games of the year.

ZX Spectrum Game Dynamite DanThe whole premise of the game was that a mad professor (Doctor Blitzen) has some secret plans locked away in a giant safe inside his huge mansion. These plans are for the ultra destructive 'mega ray'. You arrive as Dynamite Dan via an airship, landing on the roof of the mansion aiming to nab these plans from the safe.

In true platform arcade game style, Dan explored his surroundings by moving left and right and jumping over obstacles and up onto ledges, stairways and so on. There were a total of 48 screens to be explored, and the whole mansion 'wrapped around' itself, so moving left continuously would eventually bring you back to the right-most room of the house. Nice.

The usual bizarre nasties inhabited the house, bouncing darts, mutants scorpions and alien creatures. You began the game with ten lives - each life having an energy level. This energy level could be topped up by eating the plentiful food that littered the mansion.

Contact with a nasty or a fall from a great height would take one of your lives from you - and some screens were very tricky to negotiate. It was possible to gain extra lives by collecting test tubes - don't ask us why!

ZX Spectrum Games Dynamite Dan In Game Screen
To make the game a bit different items such as trampolines could be jumped upon to achieve a 'super jump' and tightropes could be carefully negotiated. These added a certain element of fun and strategy to the proceedings.

To complete the game, eight sticks of dynamite had to be collected (so you could blow the safe and gain access to the plans) but remember, you only had to blow the bloody doors off!

If you lost all of your lives then you were treated to a cut scene of Dan being 'zapped' by the mad professor - very reminiscent of Manic Miner or Jet Set Willy.

The game made you want to explore in the usual way for platform arcade games, and the in-game graphics and sound effects created the right atmosphere.

On Release:
Dynamite Dan was well recieved when it was released for the ZX Spectrum, with many praising the large and colourful graphics and nice menu music. It was probably Mirrorsoft's best game to date, and people enjoyed it enough that a sequel would be made a year later. It was by far from an original concept (borrowing heavily from Jet Set Willy) but it did surpass previous platform games, and this game coupled with Technician Ted set a new level of quality for flick screen games. It was good value for money at only £5.95 too.

It should be noted that Mirrorsoft also offered the first person to phone them with name of the music that played on completion of the game would be awarded with a ride in an airship. Not a bad prize eh?

The test of time:
We here in the land of Spectrum games reckon that Dynamite Dan still holds appeal. The house is nicely drawn and the touches such as the tight ropes and trampolines make it slightly different from other games in this genre. The playability is still there - but beware it's by no means easy. A very difficult yet classic game.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware, but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Dynamite Dan. Alternatively you could try and play it online. Maybe it'll blow your socks off.

GENRE: Arcade (Platform) Game
RELEASED BY: Mirrorsoft
DEVELOPER(S): Rod Bowkett
PRICE: £5.95 - UK

Mart struggles to roll back the years in Dynamite Dan for Spectrum Games:

Classic Games and Arcade Games

21 May 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - 3D Starstrike - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum 3D Starstrike
3D Starstrike was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1984 by Realtime Software, who were becoming known as 3D specialist games developers.

3D titles really captured the imagination of gamers back in the early 80's, and Starstrike was a superb effort. Inspired by the arcade game 'Star Wars' - this game 'borrowed' heavily from it to bring an exiting and playable version into the home.
ZX Spectrum Games 3D Starstrike
Realtime had previously released a game called 3D Tank Duel on the ZX Spectrum (which was a fine version of Battlezone) and once again they proved to be masters of 3D gaming. This game proved that fast and colourful vector graphics could be produced effectively on the humble Speccy.

Star Wars had been a phenomenon in the arcades, and the existing fan base of this game helped to ensure that 3D Starstrike was a hit.

The game was basically divided into three sections (similar to Star Wars) which were linked via a 'tactical display' showing you what was coming next.

In the first stage you were placed in the far reaches of space and had to dog-fight numerous alien space craft (which resembled TIE fighters).

These enemy craft would hurl powerful plasma bolts at you which would drain your shields if they hit. To get through this section it was a case of destroy as many of the enemy as possible by firing your twin lasers at them, and to destroy any incoming plasma which could also be shot down with your lasers.

The fighters would spin and tumble round the screen, and on later levels would release vast volleys of plasma bolts at you.

The second stage took place over the surface of a planet which was covered with a variety of towers. Some of these towers were armed, and would hurl plasma bolts at you as you flew past. Here you could dive and climb as well as banking left and right. You had to take care and not crash into any towers or the surface of the planet.

On later levels, the tall towers would have 'yellow tops' and these tops could be shot off by accurate pilots. Destroying a certain amount of tower tops yeilded a big bonus, but was not essential in completing the stage. Perseverance and good flying would get you through.

Skimming the surface in 3D Starstrike
The third stage was similar to the trench run in Star Wars. You would have to fly along a 'trench' avoiding catwalk beams spanning it and of course avoiding the deck. Laser points dotted each side of the trench too and would take pot shots of plasma at you as you streaked along.

Good reflexes were required as you weaved along, rising and dipping to avoid the obstacles whilst shooting down any plasma bolts coming your way. If you made it to the end of the trench a protective forcefield would be covering the (exhaust?) port through which you had to fly.

Disabling the field was a matter of taking out the two rotating cubes on either side of the port. If you fell at the final hurdle and failed to lower the field then you would forced back into the trench once more.

Success would see you move to a safe distance from the planet, which would then explode nicely before your eyes. With barely a moment to sit back in satisfaction and gloat over your flying skills you would be warped into deep space to repeat the entire process again. The difficulty would be cranked up each time too.

On Release:
This title gained publicity prior to release due to the comparisons to the arcade game Star Wars. When it was released people realised that it was a very good game, and Crash magazine awared it a whopping 93% (Crash Smash status) praising the fast wireframe graphics. Starstrike sold plenty of copies and gamers marvelled at the fast and colourful 3D vector graphics. The nicely drawn cockpit of your own fighter completed the picture nicely, and the tactical screens between stages added a bit of atmosphere to the game.

The test of time:
Starstrike represents a time when 3D graphics were impressive and almost mystical. The game is very simple by todays standards and has little depth, but the playability is still there and it's still enjoyable if you're looking for a quick blast on something. For a time, Realtime Software really were the ZX Spectrum's exponents of 3D graphics. Nice one Realtime.

(Starstrike is so popular that it has been remade for the PC)

3D starstrike is definately worth another look after all these years - a fine example of a vector graphics classic game.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download an emulator and download 3D Starstrike for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Vector Graphics Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: End of 1984
RELEASED BY: Realtime Software
DEVELOPER(S): Ian Oliver, Andrew Onions and Graeme Baird
PRICE: £5.95 - UK

Luke Daycrawler wimps out and plays on Easy level...

Arcade Games and Classic Games

ZX Spectrum Game - Harrier Attack - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Harrier Attack
Harrier Attack was an earlier right-to-left scrolling arcade game probably inspired by the arcade classic, Scramble. This game achieved cult status and put Durell Software on the Speccy games map.

The developer Mike Richardson would go on to create many more quality titles for the ZX Spectrum during the 1980's (such as the quirky and original Scuba Dive and the excellent battle simulation Combat Lynx also released by Durell)

On load-up the loading screen picture was simply animated and the front most harrier would launch a few rockets before you were taken into the games menu. Once you had selected your controls it was into the game proper.

Harrier Attack ZX Spectrum
The aim of this classic arcade game was very simple - take control of a Sea Harrier jet to bomb enemy ground installations, ships and also defend yourself from opposing fighter jets.

Starting on an aircraft carrier you would take off and increase speed, and the sea (and clouds) would scroll past from right to left. It was possible to 'stay low' over the sea to avoid radar, but you would run the risk of being shot down by an enemy destroyer.

You would soon be flying over land where flak batteries would pepper the sky and enemy fighters would swoop in to try and take you out.

You could drop bombs onto the ground targets and you were also armed with air-to-air missiles to defend yourself against the enemy aircraft. These missiles were short range and were guided by your flight path.

If you fired then made your harrier climb, the rocket would also climb with you. This made for interesting tactics when shooting down any enemy planes. It was also possible to fly above the planes and drop a bomb onto them and destroy them this way - not the most realistic of scenarios eh?

ZX Spectrum Harrier Attack
If you made it to the end of the 'island' then you would fly over the enemy 'base' (which happened to look like a load of seafront hotels) and you would pick up the majority of your points as you unleashed your remaining payload onto the installations. Once past the base you would return to your carrier and land (carefully - otherwise you would put your harrier down too hard and destroy it)

There were simple indicators in the game showing your airspeed, fuel and remaining ammunition. You would need to land on the carrier before your fuel ran out to succesfully complete the mission.

It was also possible to 'bail out' and your pilot would parachute to safely as your harrier plummeted into the sea or ground. It was better than crashing if you ran out of fuel and was a cute little touch to the game too.

One thing should be noted with Harrier Attack was the fact that it was possible to bomb your own ship as you took off from it. If you did bomb it, then when you made it back it would no longer be there (presumably having sunk) and being unable to land on it your plane would just continue flying until it ran out of fuel and crashed, or you bailed out.

Nice attention to detail there by Mike Richardson.

On Release:
The game was an early release, but was generally given high accolades. It was probably the best side scrolling arcade game available for the Speccy at that point in time. Gamers enjoyed the fast paced action, the bombing runs and the five skill levels. The fact that it was available for a 16K Spectrum ensured it had a wide fan base. The quirks in the game (such as flying 'behind' clouds, bailing out of your plane and bombing your own ship somehow seemed to make the game even better).

The test of time:
Let's be honest here, this game is extremely simple. There is little depth and the action is repetitive. But you know what? It's still fun, and it represents the early days of home computer gaming. Remember a full scrolling arcade game was *squeezed into a 16K Spectrum - a minor miracle. If you've got 15 minutes to spare you could do worse than having a quick go on Harrier Attack - a fine retro arcade game.

*Good old Mike managed to get the executable size down to just under 9KB, which allowed for a fast loading time from cassette. The game is rumoured to have sold roughly a quarter of a milltion copies in total. Some going.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Harrier Attack for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online. Fly fly fly!

GENRE: Scrolling Arcade Game
RELEASED BY: Durell Software
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Richardson
PRICE: £6.95 - UK

Flying ace Major Lawrence Bartle Frere shows he is still an ace when it comes to classic arcade game action...

Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Game - Combat Lynx - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Games Combat Lynx
ZX Spectrum Combat Lynx
Our last review (Chequered Flag) was on what was the first proper driving simulation on the ZX Spectrum, and this classic game was probably the first proper helicopter style simulation on our lovable Sinclair machine.

Released in November of 1984 by Durell Software, who were already famous for games such as the simple but effective Harrier Attack, and the superb Scuba Dive. In fact, Combat Lynx was not just a helicopter sim, it was also a battle simulation, with you taking control of a Westland Lynx helicopter.

The devloper Mike Richardson really went to town here with attention to detail and accuracy. This game (and previous releases) established Durell (and Mike Richardson) as a formidable developer of all types of games for 8-bit machines.

Combat Lynx had picked up a bit of publicity prior to it's release as it certainly represented something new and different for ZX Spectrum gamers. The publicity was justified as it was awarded the badge of honour (a crash smash) in the hallowed pages of the popular Spectrum magazine, Crash.

On first loading you knew that you were in for something special, as the loading screen (a lynx helicopter hovering above a road) 'came alive'. The rotor blades started spinning and the helicopter launched a couple of rockets towards a nearby tank, destroying it. These sort of touches were pure quality.

The aim of the game was pretty simple (defend your bases against enemy air and ground attacks), but the actual playing of the game was quite complex.

Picking your skill level (there were four to choose from), would determine the amount of bases you had in total. Base 'zero' always had an endless supply of fuel and amunition, and could also instantly heal any injured ground personnel.

You would begin the game at Base 0, and would choose how to arm your trusty chopper. Weapons included strafing rockets, cannon and machine gun pods, all of which fired in the direction the helicopter was facing. There were also the excellently named HOT weapons, which were wire guided anti-tank weapons, heat seeking anti-aircraft missiles (which could be fired without the need for aiming), and finally mines which could be deposited around your base perimeters to form a nice ground defence.

You could also carry inured and uninjured troops - it was a case of balancing your weapons and fuel against the maximum load you could carry. Already the attention to detail and accuracy was apparent within the game; it would require strategy and planning as well as good reflexes.

It was now time to take off, and remember even Jan Michael Vincent would have been overawed by the playing screen at first.

The main area of the screen was the 'view' - where your combat lynx would be shown in the surrounding landscape. The bottom area displayed navigation, weapons details and any immediate threats. To the left you would see your choppers height and any message alerts.

Flying would take a while to get the hang of as you would need to rotate your lynx then move in that direction. Turning through a ninety degree angle would make the screen 'flick' and you would now be viewing the landscape from that new angle.

It was disconcerting at first, but once you got the hang of it then you could really get stuck into the game proper. Nice contour lines over the hills added to the sense of movement once you began flying. All in all you could describe it as having a sort of 'remote cockpit view'.

Anyway, now that you were armed and off, you could decide what you wanted to do. There were no hard and fast missions, and it was up to you decide what to do first. Do you want to lay mines around your base as a first line of defence? Do you want to get to another base and drop off some supplies there? The open ended nature of the game really set it apart as something special.

The balance between strategy and arcade action was excellent. Before long enemy ground forces would be taking pot shots at you and enemy jets and helicopters would fly by and some of them would attempt to blow you out of the sky.

Instant fun could be had trying to shoot down enemy aircraft or destroying enemy tanks. Different weapons were also more effective against certain targets - but the more you played the better your aim would get. Due to this the game got you into the action quickly, but once you got stuck into the game properly then the depth of it really became apparent.

You could play for hours (if you were any good!) transporting troops and supplies to your bases around the map, creating minefields and watching in satisfaction as enemy vehicles drove into them and met their doom. This type of gameplay gave the game a lot of longevity.

On Release:
This game was well received when it hit the high street. It was unique when it was released as there was nothing else close to it in terms of detail regarding helicopters and weapons. The 3D effect was convincing, and when you got your chopper up to full speed the hillsides, houses and enemy units whizzed by giving a nice sense of speed and perspective. The fact that you had to watch your engine revs, height, fuel etc appealed to those who craved some realism within their games.

The test of time:
Well we here in the land of Spectrum Games reckon that Combat Lynx has stood the test of time pretty well. It still has a degree of playability and the different enemy units and weapons you can choose provide a good challenge and varied gameplay. By todays standards it is a simple arcade/strategy game, but Combat Lynx really paved the way for further real time strategy titles. Little touches like the cross section views of your helicopter enforced the realism that had been put into the game. Raise a toast Durell and Mike Richardson folks!

So - grab your joystick, ,get some leather flying gloves and GET TO DA CHOPPAH. You'll soon be experiencing 'The Lynx effect'.

This classic arcade/strategy game for the ZX Spectrum is definately worth another look after all these years.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download an emulator and download Combat Lynx for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Strategy Game
RELEASE DATE: November 1984
RELEASED BY: Durell Software
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Richardson
PRICE: £7.95 - UK

Flying ace major Lawrence Bartle Frere shows us he is all about planes in this fine classic game in Spectrum Games - Combat Lynx:

15 May 2009

ZX Spectrum Game - Frank Bruno's Boxing - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Frank Brunos Boxing
This was yet another official license from Elite Software, who seemed to nail nearly all TV and personality tie-ins (such as Airwolf) for ages during the 1980's. This boxing arcade game was released in July of 1985 and went on to be a big hit.

Frank Bruno, or 'Big Frank' as he was known was very popular in the UK during the 80's and 90's. Getting him to endorse a boxing computer game was a smart move.

ZX Spectrum Game Frank Bruno's Boxing
This one was based loosely on the classic arcade game Punch Out, taking a similar graphical viewpoint and use of moves. Elite software managed to create a decent and playable boxing arcade game with varied characters who had different ways of fighting.

The aim of the game was to fight your way through eight different characters to become the champion. All of the characters were cartoony and non-serious - the first opponent you took one was the 'Canadian Crusher' - a big bearded bloke dressed in dungarees.

The viewpoint of the game was sort of behind big Frank looking towards your opponent, with the ring-ropes and crowd behind whoever you were fighting. The top portion of the screen displayed your opponent, time left in the round and both characters energy bars.

Big Frank takes on the Canadian CrusherThe usual moves were included such as head shots, body shots, bob left and right, uppercuts, hooks and so on. You could also raise and lower your guard and even duck (useful for dodging powerful attacks).

Each opponent had equivalent shots to you - and each opponent had a special move (such as a head-butt, a flying kick etc). These special moves could only be ducked otherwise they would put you down in one go.

Big Frank also had a special move. As you landed each blow, a meter would rise and rise, and as long as you did not take a hit, making it rise enough would signal the KO sign to flash. Once it was flashing you could unleash Franks powerful right handed knockout blow which was unstoppable and could floor your opponent in just a few hits. You know what I mean!

The game was quite tough and each fighter you faced required slightly different tactics to defeat them. Movement around the ring was all computer controlled and was not really part of the game.

On Release:
Our Frank was a popular figure in the UK which helped sales along nicely. Many gamers were familiar with the arcade game Punch Out which also aided the selling of the game. This title also recieved a good score in Crash magazine (86%) and it was probably the best boxing game of this type that was available on the ZX Spectrum.

The Test of Time:
We here in the land of ZX Spectrum games reckon that this arcade game is actually okay! It's very simple and doesn't quite manage to eclipse boxing on the Nintendo Wii, but the funny characters remind us of the era in which it was made. Landing the KO blows is still good for a laugh too.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download this game for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

Gonna Fly Now!

GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: July of 1985
RELEASED BY: Elite Software
DEVELOPER(S): Andy Williams and Trevor Perks
PRICE: £6.95 - UK

Big Frank shows his power against the Canadian Crusher in more classic arcade game action:

Arcade Games, Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games

13 May 2009

ZX Spectrum Games - Technician Ted - ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum Technician Ted
Technician Ted was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1985 by the proffesional sounding Hewson Consultants, who were well respected for previous releases such as 3D Sieddab Attack, 3D Lunattack and Avalon.

In the mid 80's the platform games (and arcade games) genre was going strong, and Technician Ted was a superb example of a flick screen platform adventure.

ZX Spectrum Games Technician Ted
Technician Ted was obviously inspired by the seminal classics Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, and took this style of arcade game to the next level.

Hewson's earlier efforts had on the whole been good games (3D Lunattack being probably their best up until this point), and the arrival of Technician Ted heralded them as major players in the ZX Spectrum games market.

As soon as you began loading 'Ted' you knew you would be in for a treat. In a change from most other games, there was no loading screen drawn in 'line by line'. Oh no. Here you had lots of little 'Technician teds' running from side to side of the screen, each one at a different speed.

Meanwhile, a counter in the bottom right hand corner began counting down to zero so you knew how long was left before loading was complete! This must go down as one of the all time technical achievements on the ZX Spectrum.

Once the game was loaded, the level of polish stayed high. A nice little image of the 'chip factory' (the game's setting) was drawn whilst a lovely rendition of 'The Blue Danube' played. Whilst the music was playing the games title dropped into the screen letter by letter. The wow factor was up, and the game did not disappoint.

First of all, completing this (classic game) was very, very tough. There were fifty odd screens to be explored, and some tasks could only be completed in a certain order via a certain route.

The whole premise of the game was that you (as Ted) worked in a Silicon chip factory and began the day at 08:30 am.Your boss has set twenty one tasks that have to be completed before 5:00 pm, or poor old Ted would be given the boot.

Completing tasks usually involved visiting a room (such as The Silicon Slice Store) and jumping into a flashing box. This would activate another 'flashing box' on another screen which you would then have to find and hit.

This would the completion of one task. Working out all of the tasks and which ones were linked together was no easy feat - and not many gamers managed to finish the game without POKES.

Technician Ted ZX Spectrum
The gameplay was familiar to most, moving Ted left and right and jumping across platforms, avoiding bizzare nasties such as mutant floating potted plants, rogue fire extinguishers and disembodied floating heads. There were also stationary objects (such as coat hooks) that would take one of your thirty (yes thirty) lives if you came into contact with them.

What was instantly apparent was the smooth animation of the nasties and Ted, and also the pixel perfect (and supremely accurate) collision detection within the game. No other platform game before had displayed moving graphics so smoothly (with so many frames of animation per object) or had allowed the player the option of such fine movements when timing drops, jumps and so on.

On top of this good in game music played whilst you went about the screens which never seemed to suffer from 'slow down' despite the amount of action on the screen. The music could be turned off if you wished too. Technician Ted was a very well developed arcade game that was addictive and playable.

The game tried to help out by giving you those whopping thirty lives to play with - and you did need them. Once all of your lives were gone then a short animation would play (very reminiscent of the Manic Miner foot squash) showing the boss booting Ted out of the factory and into a trashcan. It would be back to square one and time for another go.

On Release:
This title gained some publicity prior to release, but nobody expected it to be quite as good as it turned out to be. When it was released people were amazed at the loading screen and the pixel perfect graphics. Most players had fun by simply exploring the chip factory and attempting to reach new screens. It was highly challenging but most people never thought the game was unfair. It's reputation put it up there with Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy - an accolade well deserved. Crash magazine awared it a Crash Smash rating and overall score of 96% which was one of the highest ever ratings.

The test of time:
The genre of the platformer is certainly dated, but Technician Ted is a true classic game in this field. The game is very simple, but the playability is still there and completing it will still test the hardiest of gamers. The off the wall nasties and room names still raise a chuckle too. The developers Steve Marsden and Dave Cooke really pushed the level of technical programming with this game.

Technician Ted the Mega-Mix was realeased a couple of years later for the Spectrum 128 which featured twice as many rooms, tweaked gameplay and true three channel music. It was nice to see a company putting in real effort into a remix of a classic game.

All in all, Technician Ted is definately worth another look after all these years.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download an emulator and download Technician Ted for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Platform Game (Arcade Game)
RELEASE DATE: Early 1985
RELEASED BY: Hewson Consultants
DEVELOPER(S): Steve Marsden and Dave Cooke
PRICE: £5.95 - UK

Mart struggles to roll back the years in classic arcade game Technician Ted...
Arcade Games, ZX Spectrum Games and Classic Games

12 May 2009

ZX Spectrum Games - Saboteur - ZX Spectrum retro game

Spectrum Games Saboteur
Our last review was of the Durell classic game, Combat Lynx. This review is of another great and classic game from the same company, Saboteur.

Saboteur was released for the ZX Spectrum at the tail end of 1985, and Durell now had a glowing reputation as a premier developer of games for the Sinclair Spectrum.

Spectrum Games Saboteur
This game was yet another quality title from the Taunton based company, and yep you've guessed it, Saboteur received the coveted Crash Smash award in the christmas edition of the great games magazine.

The games author, Clive Townsend was becoming a household name in the arena of ZX Spectrum games, and this fine retro game did no harm to his reputation at all. Anyway, onto the game....

The aim of the game was to stealthily gain access to a remote warehouse and steal a computer disk and plant a bomb to blow the place sky high before making good your escape. All done against the clock of course. The whole place was guarded with attack dogs, guards, security cameras and remote laser guns.

Luckily your saboteur has been well trained in martial arts and was also pretty handy when throwing objects at people! Your character was a rather cool one. Clad all in black (resembling the classic 'SAS' or 'Ninja' look), you would start outside during the night in a rubber dinghy, leaping out and clambering up the dock to the warehouse. It was time for a bit of sabotaging!

Your character also began the game equiped with a throwing star (or shuriken) - which would instantly despatch any guard (human or dog) you may come across. Items were also strewn around the complex, such as bricks and pieces of lead pipe. These could also be thrown at an enemy with deadly accuracy.

The saboteur was quite athletic on the ZX Spectrum
You could also dispatch enemies with a well placed jumping kick or a punch. Each human guard taken out earned your saboteur more cash, but the big bonus was paid to you on completion of the mission.

The complex was quite large, and contained a sewer and underground rail system. These areas would also need to be negotiated to complete the mission. There were plenty of ladders to climb, platforms to negotiate and rooms to explore in classic arcade game style.

It was also possible to 'sneak up' on enemies by moving slowly behind them before taking them out. The mission would be complete once the disk was stolen, the bomb planted and you made your exit via the handy helicopter that was parked up on the roof of the complex.

On Release:
This game was well recieved, and ZX Spectrum gamers marvelled at the large and well animated saboteur that you controlled. The backdrop graphics were well drawn and added atmosphere to the game. The mix of stealth, arcade action and platform elements was a nice mix of genres that worked perfectly. Not even the high price of £8.95 could put buyers off. This game was an instant (and deserved) hit.

The test of time:
Well we here in the land of Spectrum Games reckon that Saboteur has stood the test of time pretty well. It still has a bit of atmosphere and finding your way around the warehouse (and especially to the roof) can take a little bit of working out. Of course today it is a simple game, but this classic arcade game really helped to create a genre of stealth/action games. Raise another toast to Durell folks!

So - grab a balaclava, put on a black roll neck sweater and watch any of the classic Sho Kosugi movies before giving it a go.

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware - but if not then download an emulator and download Saboteur for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Arcade Game (Stealth)
RELEASE DATE: Tail end of 1985
RELEASED BY: Durell Software
DEVELOPER(S): Clive Townsend
PRICE: £8.95 - UK

Martial arts exponent Bri uses his mastery of the deadly arts in the retro stealth and action game:

Classic Games, ZX Spectrum Games and Arcade Games

ZX Spectrum Games - Missile Defence - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Missile Defence
Our last review (Space Harrier) was of a later arcade conversion developer by Keith Burkhill and this game is yet another great conversion by the same programmer.

An earlier release for the ZX Spectrum, Missile Defence was released in 1983 by Anirog software - and remains probably the best (and unofficial) version of Missile Command available for the Sinclair machine.

ZX Spectrum Missile Defence
The arcade game of Missile Command was originally released by Atari in 1980. Players loved the simplicity of the game and the novel trackball method of controlling the cross-hair.

Needless to say, as well as Space Invaders and Galaxians, Missile Command had to be converted to the home format, and Missile Defence was one of many conversions.

This retro arcade game involved defending a group of cities against ariel bombardment from incoming ballistic missiles and smart bombs. Your six cities (although in this version it seems that you are defending large vehicles) were dotted along the bottom of the screen and you had three missile silos of your own with which to mount your defence.

Each silo contained ten surface to air missiles giving you thirty missiles in total. A cross-hair was displayed on the screen showing where your missile would detonate when fired. As the enemy missiles rained down you would have to position your cross-hair at the nose of each one to destroy them in mid air.

Your surface to air missile would explode and expand out nicely, taking out any missiles which came into it's 'detonation cloud'. It was possible to destroy multiple inbounds that were converging on each other with one well placed shot.

As well as the incoming missiles, aircraft would also fly across the screen dropping even more missiles and sometimes smart bombs. The smart bombs were difficult to destroy and required a direct hit on them to take them out, otherwise they would 'bobble' above your own missiles detonation cloud before continiuing to drop towards the ground.

Missile Defence - ZX Spectrum
As you progressed through the game, each level increased in speed with the enemy missiles raining down on you more quickly and in greater numbers than before. Once you got to level 9 the speed of the game was incredible and you would be doing well to survive it at all.

Bonus points were awarded at the end of each level for each 'city' still intact and for any spare ammo you had left over. Bonus cities were awarded for a certain amount of points too, but you were only awarded with one if at least one of your current cities had been destroyed.

Players also had to ensure that their missile silos were not taken out too, otherwise you would have nothing to shoot with and would watch helplessly as the ariel bombardment rained down and wiped out everything on the ground.

Controlling the game was one issue which may have put ZX Spectrum gamers off. Keyboard control was with the dreaded cursor keys (although your trusty reviewer here never had a problem using the cursors) and keys 1,2 and 3 to fire from silo's 1,2 and 3 respectively. Joystick control was somewhat easier, but you always fired from the central silo (number 2) with this particular silo being re-stocked from silo's 1 and 3.

This could leave you at a disadvantage sometimes depending on what area of the screen you were shooting at - so using the keyboard really was the best option for high score seekers.

The game could never be 'completed' and just kept going and going until your poor old trigger finger couldn't keep up anymore. Anything past level 9 on Missile Defence was insanely difficult - it was a case of laying down a blanket of fire and hoping for the best!

On Release:
This arcade game was pretty well received, but 1983 was still the early days for Spectrum gaming. People who did pick it up marvelled at the fast gameplay, the good sound effects, (the missile zapping sound, the explosions and even the 'extra' award were suitably 'arcadey' (and really captured the spirit of the original) and the addictive qualities. Anyone who liked Missile Command would keep coming back for more - it definately had that 'one more go' factor. At £5.95 it was properly priced, and for 16K Spectrum owners it was one of the best titles they could obtain.

The test of time:
Well here in the land of Spectrum Games reckon that this is the best Missile Command conversion for the Spectrum that you can play. It is still very playable and on the later levels is a real challenge. The speed of the game is impressive, and it suffers from very little slowdown at all. The sound effects are great, especially considering the year the game was released. The fact that it could run on a 16K Spectrum makes this game (in our book) a true classic arcade game. Well done to Keith Burkhill and Anirog software.

This classic game (unofficial) is worth another look after all these years.

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Missile Defence for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

Please see our other ZX Spectrum games reviews and programmer interviews - all links are in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.

GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASED BY: Anirog Software
DEVELOPER(S): Keith Burkhill
PRICE: £5.95 - UK

Mart shows he is still a dab hand with the cursor keys and puts up a valiant fight against the enemy in an excellent version of the classic arcade game:

Arcade Games and Classic Games

ZX Spectrum Games - Chequered Flag - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Chequered Flag
The first proper driving simulation on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum which pushed the quality of driving games up a significant notch. The driving simulation era was born.

Perhaps inspired by the arcade game 'Pole Position' by Namco, Chequered Flag (or Flag as it would later become known) was released in 1983 by Psion Software, who had previously been famous for releasing games such as Flight Simulation and various titles for the Sinclair ZX 81.

This game (and Flight Simulation) established them as a formidable developer of accurate simulation games that were based more on reality than arcade style action.

ZX Spectrum Games Chequered Flag
This game had been highly anticipated during the run up to it's release, as there had been no accurate driving simulations on the ZX Spectrum up until this point. A driving game that really launched the genre of driving simulation, Flag had the polish and the vroom to make it a reasonable seller.

It was awarded a good score of 71% in the hallowed pages of the popular Spectrum magazine, Crash.

The aim of the game is pretty simple: Pick your car (there were three to choose from), pick your circuit (there were ten to choose from), pick the number of laps you want to complete, and get yourself onto the starting grid.

The ten tracks were based on real life formula one tracks (such as the UK's Brands Hatch, the circuit at Monaco and so on) adding a sense of realism to the game from the off. The three cars had differing degrees of speed and handling, giving the player a broader range of challenges.

There was the crappily named 'McFaster Special' which had an automatic gearbox, low revs and was easy to handle. The mid-range car was the equally badly titled 'Psion Pegasus', and the most difficult car to master was the uber-powerful Feretti Turbo. At least it had a decent name. Anyway, onto the 'racing'.

Racing in a traditional sense was not in this game as there were no other cars to race against. The challenge was to beat the clock.

Sitting in the cockpit of your car was (at the time) quite exciting. You could see the rev counter, speedometer, fuel gauge, temp gauge and of course, the steering wheel. Looking over the nose of your car you could see your front tyres. The traffic lights would turn from red to green and you would be off.
Formula One Action in Chequered Flag
Your jaw would drop as you accellerated forward and came towards the first corner on the track. As you turned (you could even turn gently or sharply) the steering wheel of your car would actually turn too. Amazing!

Hurtling forward, you would speed your car over the tarmac, up and down hills (nicely represented by the horizon lowering and raising), and throw it around sharp bends. To make your drive more difficult, hazards such as broken glass, rocks (rocks on a race track?), water spills and oil slicks would be strewn around the circuit - and were obviously best avoided.

Running over these items could burst a tyre, damage the underbelly of the car causing fuel leaks and so on. In keeping with realism, your cars performance would be hindered by damage, and you would have to make a pit stop to get the damage repaired.

The game was over when you either completed your lap(s) or your car was too damaged to go any further. Crashing off the side of the track would instantly bring your race to an end. It was now up to you to race again and beat your lap time.

On Release:
To be fair this game was never a must have title, but it was unique when it was released as there was nothing else close to it in terms of realism. The 3D effect was convincing, and when you got your car up to full speed the roadside items did whizz by giving the player a nice sense of speed. The fact that you had to watch your engine revs and tyres sat well with formula 1 enthusiasts. The real drawback of the game that prevented it from being a true classic game was the fact that there were no other cars to race against. Otherwise it represented a solid (and realistic for the time) driving experience.

The test of time: Well we here in the land of Spectrum Games reckon that this game has stood the test of time pretty well. It still has a degree of playability and the different cars and tracks provide a stern challenge. By todays standards it is a simple driving game, but this title really paved the way for further driving simulators such as the legendary Formula 1 Grand Prix by Geoff Crammond, and games such as Jaguar XJ220. Little touches like your your final report on completing your race such as 'car in excellent condition - give your mechanics the day off' highlighted the effort to capture realism that had been put into the game. Psion have a nice classic game here.

So - catch the Formula 1 on a Sunday, stick on a bit of Radar Love, grab your leather driving gloves and give this one a go. You'll 'lap' it up.

This classic driving game for the ZX Spectrum is definately worth another look after all these years.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a Spectrum emulator and download Chequered Flag for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Driving Simulation / Arcade Game
RELEASED BY: Psion Software
PRICE: £6.95 - UK

The Speccy itself shows us how it's done in the classic game:

Arcade Games, Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Games - Daley Thompsons Decathlon - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Daley Thompsons Decathlon
We have covered some ZX Spectrum shooters and ZX Spectrum beat em ups, and now it is time to pay homage to the ultimate retro Joystick waggler, Daley Thompsons Decathlon.

This title for the ZX Spectrum has achieved cult classic status not only for it's gameplay, but also for it's ability to completely destroy joysticks and keyboards.

ZX Spectrum Games Daley Thompsons Decathlong
This game was probably the first good sports simulation released on the Spectrum, and it raised the bar forcing other companies to release good quality sports games such as Hypersports and Match Day.

Inspired by the arcade classic Track and Field by Konami, Daley Thompsons Decathlon was released in 1984 by Ocean Software.

This game established Ocean as a fine gaming company who went on torelease other well recieved titles such as Rambo, Match Day II, Cobra and Head Over Heels. Ocean still exist to this day, and are now known as Atari Games UK. Anyway, Daley Thompsons Decathlon was a big hit and sold well on release.

The aim of the game is unsurprisingly to compete in the Decathlon (over a two day period) and to qualify for each event. As Daley, you must participate in each event of the gruelling decathlon.
You had three atempts at each event, and in at least one attempt you had to achieve the minimum qualifying criteria - such as completing the 100 metres in 13.5 seconds or less. Failure to qualify in an event would mean the loss of one life - you began the game with three. As long as you met the criteria you would move to the next event.

There were five events on day one, and five on day two.

ZX Spectrum Games Daley Thompsons Decathlon In Game Screen
The events were as follows:

Day one: 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 metres
Day two: 110 metre hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, 1500 metres

The basic premise of the gameplay was similar on each 'event'. Using either the keyboard or joystick - hit the left and right keys in quick succession or waggle your joystick from left to right as quickly as possible to build up speed.

In most events you would also need to press the fire button to trigger an action, such as jumping over a hurdle or throwing a javelin. For events such as the hurldes it was all about speed and timing, and for events suich as the javelin it was about holding the fire button for the optimum time to hit the desired angle of 45 degrees.

Getting more speed and better angles would result in longer throws, longer jumps and so on. The 100 metre sprint was simply a case of getting to the finish line as quickly as possible.

The one event that required less brawn and more strategy was the 1500 metres. In this event you would set Daley's speed and watch him go. It was down to you to balance between speed and stamina to finish the race in the best possible time. If you ran too fast poor Daley would be cream crackered and would struggle to make the finish. Too slow and of course Daley would finish the race but you would not have a good enough time to qualify.

In any event, if you qualified then Daley would wave his arms and the crowd would give you a nice polite round of applause. If you did not qualify then poor Daley was left scratching his head. Both were nice touches that added a bit of humour to the game.

In the end if you achieved a certain amount of points then you would be standing atop the winners podium as a nice rendition (for the single channel beeper of the ZX Spectrum) of chariots of fire played.

It would now be back to the start of day 1 again, except the minimum qualifying criteria would now be more difficult to achieve.

Some of the events were more tricky than others - the high jump springs to mind here! Once you had been round all of the events three times then the qualifying criteria did become tough. These factors did add a certain amount of longevity to the game.

On Release:
This game was well thought of when it was released. It did not quite achieve a Crash Smash award from the great magazine, but it did score highly (88% overall I think). One issue that the game became known for was ruining your joystick or keyboard. The furious action employed by many to squeeze the last ounce of speed on a sprint could break the leaf switches or micro switches in your trusty controller. I found myself that the 'm' and 'n' keys on my trusty rubber keyed 48K packed in after many hours of playing this game. One good technique to gather ultimate speed could be employed if you had a Quickshot 2 joystick. Players found that they could hold the base of the controller and 'vibrate' it which caused the stick to waggle back rapid style. You could achieve 100 metre times using this method that Usain Bolt would be proud of!

Still - despite it's destructive properties the game was very popular and went on to spawn two sequels which were Daley Thompson Supertest and Daley Thompsons Olympic Challenge. Both games were decent but failed to capture the magic of the original.

The test of time:
Well we here in the land of Spectrum Games reckon this game has a certain amount of retro appeal. The playabilty is still there some of the events are still challenging. It is also the only game that my Dad could ever beat me at - a fact that still niggles me to this day!

Go on, put on a pair of running shoes, drink some lucozade and give it a go. Just keep yourself a spare keyboard and joystick handy!

This fine classic sports game for the ZX Spectrum is definately worth another look after all these years.

We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Daley Thompsons Decathlon for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

GENRE: Sports arcade game
RELEASED BY: Ocean Software
DEVELOPER(S): Paul Owens and Christian F. Urquhart
PRICE: £6.90 - UK

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