ZX Spectrum Games

ZX Spectrum Games

16 Dec 2009

Spectrum Games - Programmer Interview - Jim Bagley

Jim Bagley
Jim Bagley worked on Spectrum Games for companies such as Ocean Software, US Gold and Melbourne House during the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Some of his games include the excellent conversions of classic arcade games Cabal and Midnight Resistance, playable movie tie-in Hudson Hawk, graphical adventure Throne of Fire and the seminal golfing simulation classic, World Class Leaderboard.

Cabal was developed by Jim Bagley
Jim was more than happy to take us through his days of coding on the ZX Spectrum, his thoughts on current games and his views on the booming retro gaming scene.

1: What was the first computer you ever programmed on? And how old were you at the time?
The first computer I ever programmed was a Sharp MZ80K. When I went to high school at 12 years old they had about 6 Sharp MZ80Ks, 1 BBC Model B and a research machines RM 380Z :)

In the dinner time break and after school, everyone was around the BBC playing classic games like Pacman, Chuckie Egg and Defender etc, so I decided to have a play on the MZ80Ks as they were always easy to get access to lol. They also had a basic programming book that the school had with the Sharps, I used to type out the programs in the book, so I could see how it worked, changing things here and there, to see what affect it had on the program.

At the time, the computer teacher was a converted maths teacher, ie, they probably said you know maths, you can teach computers to the kids lol, but I was teaching myself faster than he was able to teach himself to teach the kids :) guess I was a natural to it, more so than he was at least lol. I then started to create my own basic programs, like the scrolling road driving type games. I obviously would still queue up to play games on the BBC, after all this was why I liked programming the Sharps, so I could learn how to program my own games.


2: How did you get into developing games? Did it start with BASIC programming before you moved into assembler?
I got into developing games by writing in basic back on the MZ80Ks, then my mum realised my thirst for knowledge of computers and got a loan to buy me a ZX81+16KB ram-pack.

I was writing more and more games (still in basic) then our school got about 10 BBC model Bs in, so I did Sinclair ZX81 basic at home, and BBC basic in school break times. They also got a machine code tutorial package for the BBC, which was very well and very simply done.

You had 256 boxes 16x16 and each box could have an instruction in, or data, you could then enter your data into each box, then run it, this was brilliant, as I could now teach myself simple assembly programming, or more importantly, what the instructions actually do.

I then started to write little assembly routines on the BBC, as BBC basic had a built in assembler :D

I then ended up writing a 3-channel music player, then I learnt about interrupts, and had it playing under interrupts :D Anyway, by this time my mum had upgraded me to a spectrum 48K and the world was now my oyster. Not only did I have colour, but I had 48KB - that was loads of memory back then lol, and now that I knew 6502.

It was only a matter of time to teach myself Z80 thanks to the Spectrum manual having the instruction set (plus more importantly the byte values for each instruction) in it, I could now type that into a data statement, and poke it into ram, and call it from basic.

I started out with a beep sound, and explosion sound in assembly, then I moved onto drawing things onto the screen, ie maps and sprites. By this time I was 16 and it was time to leave school and head out into the big world, so I headed to my favourite computer game shop, MicroByte in Liscard Village, (where I spent a lot of my weekends while at school looking at and buying games when I could).

I guess I was a regular lol, and therefore when it came time to leave school, I asked them if there was any local games companies, and if any of them came into the shop, or they had details of - and to my surprise there was (quite a few I found out later lol) but for now Consult Computer Systems was local and came into the shop often, so he got their details, and I got an interview, and that's where I started into the games industry.

3: You seemed to start Spectrum game development at the crest of the 'boom' years of the mid-eighties with games such as Throne of Fire in 1987. How was it working with 8-bits on into the early 90's as the 16-bit machines really took hold of the home market?
Yes, I started at the crest of the 'boom' years in the mid-eighties, starting with Throne of Fire.
I loved working on the 8-bits, it was just you and your abilities to get what you needed to draw on screen fast enough, thinking about how you did things, and what optimisations you could do.

Yes, it would have been nice to have a fast 16-bit processor, and LOADS of memory in comparison to 48KB, but I loved and still do love the spectrum, it's where I got started in the games industry.

I have so many many memories of playing and making Spectrum games - even to the point of doing remakes of some Spectrum games recently, as you can probably guess I'm a big retro computer game fan also.

I did however eventually get myself an ST to play on, and learn to code as at work, we already had ST and Amiga coders, and since we were a small company, doing one game on many platforms, I didn't need to code the ST officially, except to do the map making tools for the Spectrum and Amstrad and C64 etc games.

4: What did you like about developing on the Spectrum?
What I loved about developing on the Spectrum (which may sound strange) was the fact that it didn't have hardware sprites, it was just down to you and your creative thinking to get as close to an arcade game as possible on a Spectrum.

I loved the challenge I guess, dating back to when I started teaching myself, learning new ways of doing things, tweaking and changing things. Also I made myself start each new game I wrote from scratch, so that I wasn't getting held back by legacy code, nor was I having to spoon each new game into the way an older one was written, which also meant each game could advance from the last, with better ways of doing things that I'd maybe thought of after making the previous one.

A lot of the retro games I make now in what little spare time I have are based on a Spectrum display, and done on a microcontroller called the propeller from parallax.

5: Conversely, what did you not like about programming the Spectrum?
The only thing about the Spectrum, was it didn't have a SID chip lol, that just sounded and still does sound fantastic even to this date. I know a few people who have emulated the SID chip on a microcontroller, and I use their emulated SID chip in some of the retro games I make.

6: Did you work on any of the other 8-bit or 16-bit machines during the 80's and 90's? If so - was any particular machine easier to develop on?
During the 80's and 90's I worked on lots of computers.
I got myself a C64 so I could learn how to code that too, (not that I needed to as we had C64 coders) but because I wanted to know how to code on the C64s, especially since I knew 6502.

I also got a CPC6128, and then got collared into doing Spectrum and Amstrad versions of the games I wrote, since a lot of the CPC games used the same spectrum graphics, and a lot of the same game logic code as the Spectrum version.

As I stated earlier, I also got an ST to teach myself, and ended up using that to create tools for map editors etc.

I did like the ST more than the Amiga, yes, the Amiga looked better, and had better games because of the stupid way the ST screens video RAM was laid out in bitplanes, but like the Spectrum the ST didn't have any sprites hardware. It all had to be done in software, so I think because of this, it's why I prefered the ST to the Amiga, because you don't get time to be a lazy coder, since you have all the hardware do everything for you.

You had to think about how exactly you were going to get your sprites to screen, or how you were going to scroll it etc, and yes, it was much easier to code on the ST, and Amiga for that matter, because of the fact you had a floppy drive, (or later hard drive) which meant you didn't have to wait til you'd loaded the assembler etc, then loaded the files for where you were up to.

Floppy drives were great for speed, especially compared to tape drive, and the not so reliable Spectrum microdrive lol

7: Were you given 'free reign' to develop games, or did other people come up with gaming and coding ideas too?
Unfortunately I wasn't given free reign, as, as I was finished the game I was doing they were already sorting out organising the next game for me to do.

This was a shame, because when I was doing hudson hawk, on the original GameBoy (IIRC) I also wrote a space invaders clone, and said could we do this in a game pack, with space invaders and scramble etc, but my boss at the time (Paul Finnegan) said no.

A few months later, Space Invaders came out for the GameBoy and was #1 in the GB charts for about 12 weeks, which I wasn't overly happy about :( as that could have been my game!
(That must have been frustrating)

8: Which other games developers or software houses impressed you at the time?
In the days of the Spectrum, Joffa Smiff, and Matthew Smith were both legends, and I thankfully got the chance to work with Joffa for a good many years.

I also met Matthew a couple of times through another work mate, called Peter Leyland, who knew him, oh and of course in the early 90's there was ID and Wolfenstein, oh, and before that, I must add Malcolm Evans.

I have paid retro homage to all these guys by doing remakes of their work, on the microcontroller I told you about earlier, the Propeller.

I've done 3D Monster Maze, and Manic Miner, and even A Wolfenstein ray casting demo with textures :D and Joffa's mag game Hyper-Active clone was done on GBA many moons ago.

9: Do you have any favourite Spectrum games (your own titles and games by other coders or software houses)?
My favourite Speccy games, (yes games, there are a few! lol), with mine first for biased reasons lol Cabal and Midnight Resistance.

I also loved... Bruce Lee, Manic Miner, Jet Pac, Hyper-Active, 3D DeathChase, ZZoom (don't ask why, but there was something gratifying about mowing down the little men :D muwhahahaaaaa lol ) - (Yes, there was!), Head Over Heels.

10: Do you currently develop games software on modern consoles or PC?
I am currently developing a game at work for the PS3/Xbox360/PC, but also in what little spare time I have developing freeware games for my Propeller based retro style console :)

11: How do you think todays games compare to those from the 8-bit era?
Some of todays games seem sparce in comparison, there was always some sort of peril on screen all the time, nowadays you have to go find it, there are the odd title which keep spawning baddies close, but not many, I guess thats why I still enjoy the retro classics :)

12: What was development like during your time at Ocean and Special FX?
During the Ocean/Special FX years, it was great in the fact that we got some great games to convert, like Cabal and Midnight Resistance, but we also got some bad film conversions to do, like Hudson Hawk, which not only was it a flop in the movies, but Bruce Willis didn't want us to have his face on the sprite, as it supposedly couldn't do him justice lol.

It's a shame the film was such a flop, as I quite liked playing the game on the GameBoy :)

13: The retro gaming scene is really growing. Any chance you could assemble another game on the Speccy? - I'm sure it would be met with a lot of enthusiasm!
Yes, the retro scene is growing, and I've been enjoying it for years lol :D

Doing a game on the Spectrum? hmmmmmmmm, there's a posibility, but I'm no good at art, so we'll have to see, maybe I could do a puzzle game, those graphics are easy enough for me to do :D

14: Can you tell us some of the classic games you have re-written?
I've remade Bruce Lee for GP2X and GBA (both freeware), and for my propeller Hybrid board.

I've done 3D Monster Maze, Manic Miner, Jet Pac, Frogger, Scramble, Dragon's Lair, Head Over Heels (still making, there's lots of rooms), Atari 2600 HERO (still making - again lots of rooms), A Wolfenstein 3D Textured maze demo - and many other games.

Once again many thanks to Jim for taking the time to talk to us. We will be checking back at Jim Bagley's Game Site to see how Head over Heels and HERO are coming along!

Arcade Games, ZX Spectrum Games and Classic Games

Spectrum Games - Cabal- ZX Spectrum retro game

Spectrum Games Cabal Cabal ZX Spectrum
Cabal was released on the ZX Spectrum by Ocean Software in 1989 - in time for the Christmas rush in the UK.

I must admit that this classic arcade game is one that slipped my by twenty odd years ago -but on playing today it I realised tha I missed out on a good and playable shoot em up. Once again Cabal turned out to be a good conversion of an arcade original.

The game did have a back story which went along the lines of:
A foreign country was causing a bit of aggro 'somewhere'. To avert a full-scale war our lad is sent in to dish out machine gun led justice and destroy the enemy on their own turf.

In the usual arcade game style, you were armed with a gun which was supplied with unlimited ammunition plus a limited supply of grenades. Grenades could be used to destroy tanks, helicopters, walls and groups of troops (always satisfying!), whilst the standard machine gun mowed down the enemy soldiers very nicely indeed.

You had to fight your way through twenty single screen levels. Our hero could move to the left and right across screen, whilst the gun and grenades were aimed with a cursor gun sight. Blasting larger targets occasionally awarded icons which when collected bestowed bonus points or a nice weapons powerup. If you were killed your powerup was lost though.

Cabal on the ZX Spectrum
With each enemy on the current level killed a bar at the bottom of the screen slowly crept from left to right, changing from blue to red. Once it had reached the right hand side you had completed the current level and moved on to the next.

Each screen was different from the last, and usually had a 'war torn' feel to it. There was usually a half demolished wall or walls that offered you some protection from enemy fire, and tanks and soldiers would appear from behind bombed out buildings which were 'further away' from your viewpoint.

The game was completed once all twenty levels had been conquered - and the enemy were sent packing with their tails between their legs.

On Release:
Pure arcade games like Operation Wolf and Operation Thunderbolt were still really popular in 1989 - and this game was certainly of that type of shoot em up. Although released late in 1989 games like Cabal proved that the humble Spectrum still had plenty of life left in it and wasn't quite ready to lay down for the likes of the Commodore Amiga just yet. Cabal was well received (grabbing the coveted Crash Smash award) and was yet another big hit for Ocean.

The test of time:
Well here in Spectrum Games we only just played Cabal for the first time (how I missed it back then is anyones guess!) The game is pure blasting simple fun and plays well and is pretty addictive. It took a few goes to get the hang of it - and it's a good way to pass a spare half hour. It doesn't seem to suffer from any busy screen 'slow down' either which did occur in Op Wolf (a little). Got to say I love the title music and menu too - very funky and nice to look at!

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

Try a three way gaming marathon with Op Wolf, Commando and Cabal.

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

GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: End of 1989
DEVELOPER(S): Jim Bagley, Keith Tinman and Charles Davies
PRICE: £8.99 Cassette or £14.99 Disk - UK

I have a go but realise I'm not very good at Cabal - Spectrum Games:

Classic Games and Arcade Games

15 Dec 2009

Spectrum Games - Programmer Interview - Jonathan Cauldwell

Jonathan Cauldwell Interview
Jonathan Cauldwell has had over 50 titles published for the ZX Spectrum. Many of you will know the classic Egghead games and utilities he has developed over the years.

Many of his titles are still available to purchase for the Spectrum - and he still develops games for our favourite 8-bit machine. It's fair to say that Jonathan really helps to keep the classic games scene going with his modern arcade games created with 48K of RAM or less.

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Jonathan over the festive period who was more than happy to share with us his views on development for the ZX Spectrum.

Egghead In Space - ZX Spectrum
1: What was the first computer you ever programmed on? And how old were you?

I played around on friends' ZX81's back in the early 80s, but don't remember doing much programming on them. The first time I remember actually being interested in programming was probably back in 1983, shortly before I bought my first Spectrum. I remember copying program listings from books in the school library, then studying the listings to see if I could make sense of them. Of course, I didn't learn much until I typed them in and played around with them to see what would happen if certain things were changed. A friend gave me his stash of old Sinclair Programs listings, and I particularly remember looking for the ones with machine code routines because machine code could do so much more than BASIC.

2: How did you get into developing games? Did it start with BASIC programming before you moved into assembler?

Yes, for a while. It was simple enough to understand, although the results were not very good. The main issue with BASIC was the lack of speed, so it isn't the sort of language you can really use to write an arcade game. You could just about manage TRON, and I knocked up a Frogger clone with it the other year, but there's not much else you can do with it aside from strategy games. In 1985 I started to learn machine code, which was a bit of a shock. It was like learning to program all over again, because the techniques required were so radically different to those for BASIC.

3: You seemed to start Spectrum game development a little after the 'boom' years of the mid-eighties. How was it working with 8-bits just as the 16-bit machines were taking over as home gaming computers?

Well, I had an Amiga myself, and a few friends of mine had Atari STs. To tell you the truth I was a little disappointed by the games that were available for the 16-bit machines at the time. Programmers had been getting the best out of the 8 bits for many years, but were still finding their feet somewhat on the new formats. The games just weren't as playable as their 8-bit counterparts. I kept the Spectrum, because the games were better, and also because I was starting to write my own games. Unfortunately, software houses were starting to pull out of the Spectrum market as sales dwindled. One of my games was cancelled after the contracts were signed and the artwork completed. I even received the advance - but then the publisher, GTi, decided not to go ahead with it. Still, at least magazines were still publishing bedroom programmers' games. There may not have been much money in it, but I was only writing games for kicks anyway. Getting paid was just a bonus.

4: What did/do you like about developing on the Spectrum?

Its simplicity. Everything is there, everything is accessible.

5: Conversely, what did/do you not like about programming the Spectrum?

Its simplicity. You have to do everything yourself and it can be hard work. It's not so difficult when you've been programming the machine for a couple of decades and have built up a vast library of routines to do just about everything, but it can be a nightmare when you're just getting started.

6: Did you work on any of the other 8-bit or 16-bit machines during the late 80's and early 90's?

I dabbled in 68000, and wrote a point-and-click card game for the Amiga. I have no idea what became of it, though.

7: Were you given 'free reign' to develop games, or did other people come up with gaming concepts too?

I had free range, more or less. Beyond Belief did ask me to do a conversion of a C64 game once, a top-down racer which was to be called Jimmy's Grand Prix. So I wrote a Spectrum game based on a spec I was given over the phone, and sent it off. In the end, Beyond Belief went belly-up before either the Spectrum or C64 versions were published. You'll find Jimmy's Grand Prix on the Games that Weren't website for the C64, so it doesn't look like it survived. As for the Spectrum version, it was tweaked a little to become Grand Prix Drivers and released on my Bumper Boogie Pack compilation in 1993. Retro-Soft have the rights to distribute the game now so you might find it one one of their compilations.

8: Which other games developers or software houses impressed you at the time?
Mike Lamb always did a very good job, as did Joffa, and ACG of course. I always liked John Gibson's games too. Jon Ritman was a hero, and I liked some of Pete Cooke's early stuff.

9: Do you have any favourite Spectrum games (your own titles and games by other coders)?

Halls of the Things is my favourite game of all time, on any system. There are other games I play from time to time, mostly those with quirky designs. Skool Daze is brilliant, obviously, but there are others like Escape from Krakatoa and Rocket Raider which seem to have passed most people by.

10: Do you currently develop software on other platforms?

I've been working on a CPC conversion of Fun Park for some years now, but that's still some way off. Nicholas Campbell converted my Area 51 minigame to the Amstrad, and then there's Christopher Dewhursts' eggsellent conversion of Egghead in Space for the Beeb. Other than that, it's all Spectrum. I would like to do more CPC games though.

11: How do you think todays games compare to those from the (classic gaming) 8-bit era?

Don't get me started on modern games - they're all graphics, and little gameplay. It seems attention is lavished on the story, and the actual game bit gets included later somewhere along the way, if you're lucky. It's completely the wrong way round. You have to approach a game from the gameplay perspective, "grow" your design slowly and organically, and let it take shape that way. Only at the end should you think about trying to come up with a story to fit the action. Personally, I think the story is irrelevant 90% of the time anyway.
Back in the 8-bit era nobody was trying to produce interactive movies, the gameplay was what made a game immersive. That's how I like my games. (We agree)

12: Keeping with modern versus retro games - it seems that coders during the 8-bit and 16-bit era really pushed the machines way beyond their capabilities. How did you manage to squeeze more and more out of the humble Speccy?

The only way is through efficiency, of one sort or another. You have to find new ways of doing things to squeeze as much into the 40-odd K of available RAM, or to get the kind of speed you need to bounce lots of sprites around at 25 frames per second. Some things are more efficient than others - program code is usually very efficient, graphics eat up memory like you wouldn't believe, and text can sometimes be expensive. When you're trying to cram a Civilization clone into less than 4K you need to keep graphics and text to an absolute minimum, and write very efficient code.

Once again many thanks to Jonathan for taking the time to do this!

Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games

Spectrum Games - Bombjack - ZX Spectrum retro game

Bomb Jack ZX Spectrum
Elite software, who won so many 'tie in' titles, created one of the best ever arcade conversions (one to rival Commando) on the ZX Spectrum with Bomb Jack in April of 1986.

Tehkan (now Tecmo) had created the popular arcade game in 1984 so a home computer conversion was always on the cards.

Spectrum Games Bombjack
In this retro arcade game you controlled Jack - a 'superhero' who could leap incredibly high and gracefully glide to the ground. He could diffuse bombs too by simply touching them - I suppose that's why he was called Bomb Jack.

Anyway - in Bombjack a load of bombs (the cartoon style black 'balls' with a fizzing lit fuze) had been placed in famous locations all around the world. I'm not sure why!

The locations were:
The Sphinx and pyramids
The Acropolis
Neuschwanstein Castle
Miami Beach
Hollywood (LA)

The object of the game was to 'diffuse' the bombs and defeat the various enemies on each screen - each screen being one of the famous locations.

Each of the screens usually had platforms on it too - you couldn't jump through these platforms but you could land on them and walk over them if you wanted to.

Various baddies populated each screen such as robots, birds and deadly snails (yep, deadly snails!) which would take one of your three lives on contact with you. You had to manouver Bombjack around these nasties by leaping and 'floating' around the screen, you could also change direction in mid-air which was pretty cool.

Bombjack on the ZX SpectrumOnce you had collected/diffused your first bomb (they never exploded, no matter how long you let them fizzle!) another one's fuse would ignite. You could collect all the bombs in the order that the fuses beacame lit - but it didn't really matter if you didn't bother. If you did collect them all in order a bonus was put your way. Collecting all twenty three bombs in the active state resulted in a whopping 60,000 bonus points.

Either way - once all the bombs on screen had been collected, Bombjack moved on to the next screen

Every so often a disk bearing the letter P arrived - collecting this immobilised the enemies and turned them into stationary smiling faces (for a few seconds - Pac Man style)which could be collected for yet more points.

An E disk added an extra life, while a B disk added points and increased the value of any subsequent bombs collected. Nice.

Once you had visited all of the screens you were whisked back to the beginning - with the platform layout altered and the nasties even nastier.

On release:
Well the arcade game of Bombjack had been relatively popular down yer local arcade - and the style of gameplay was ripe for a conversion. Andy Williams and Paul Holmes really did the original justice and Bombjack was a top version. Spectrum gamers loved the game and it was a huge and deserved hit.

The test of time:
Well you know what, I've played 1000's of Spectrum Games and this is one I come back to now and again. The gameplay is sooo simple yet still pure. It doesn't rely on flashy graphics or even immersive music to draw you in. Bombjack on the Speccy is still hugely playable and fun - a true arcade classic.

You've got to play Bombjack and appreciate it - it's da bomb!

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair ZX Spectrum hardware, but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Bomb Jack. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

Please see our other ZX Spectrum retro game reviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.

GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: April 1986
RELEASED BY: Elite Software
DEVELOPER(S): Paul Holmes and Andy Williams
PRICE: £7.95

The colourful menu screen in Bombjack:

Our hero clears the first two screens in Bombjack - Spectrum Games:

Classic Games and Arcade Games

10 Dec 2009

Spectrum Games - Pud Pud (in Weird World) - ZX Spectrum retro game

Pud Pud ZX Spectrum
I've been busy lately, these bods at work have had me... working. Pah!

Anyway. Pud Pud was (I think) the first game to be released for the ZX Spectrum coded by legendary programmer Jonathan Smith (or Joffa Smith as he became known).

Ocean unleashed Pud Pud (and Jof) onto the ZX Spectrum gaming public early on in 1985 - and it was generally a well met title.

Pud Pud (in weird world) was a platform flick screen arcade adventure which featured nicely detailled sprites - some of which were a little weird (hence the name Weird World). Already we were being given an insight into Joffa Smiths sense of humour!

Spectrum Games Pud Pud
The aim of the game was simple: Guide Pud Pud around Weird World to find and eat the 10 hidden puddings. Once eaten he could escape from Weird World and presumably go back to Normal World or Pud World.

Pud Pud himself looked a bit like Pac Man with flappy ears/wings which enabled him to fly around the screen. The levels were littered with other creatures, some of which could be eaten to boost your energy, some of which would kill you. It was up to you to find out which creatures had what effect.

One thing was sure: a kiss from Mrs Pud Pud was deadly - and what she was doing in Weird World will forever remain a mystery.

The landscape was certainly different from any other platform game on the Spectrum: It consisted of headstones, parts of broken ZX Spectrums and even bits of the statue of liberty!

Pud Pud in Weird World - ZX Spectrum You began the game with three 'Puds' and each life had a energy level. Running out of energy caused you to lose a life (or Pud) and our rotund hero would explode into a multitude of colours before sinking into the ground - I told you it was a bit bizarre!

The game was quite tricky as the instructions provided gave little insight into what to do - it was up to the player to figure it out.

The locations of all ten puddings was set randomly at the start of the game - the puddings could be collected (and eaten) in any order.

Because the puddings were randomly generated each time you played the game it made Pud Pud a toughie to complete. In a novel twist screens would sometimes change colour - so when you exited a screen then went 'back' onto it the colour scheme would have changed. A Weird World indeed!

On release:
Well Pud Pud was quite well recieved back in the day. Gamers enjoyed the surreal setting, detailled and off the wall sprites, changing colours and the funky music. Pud Pud was something different and something totally new to come from Ocean Software. It went on to do quite well.

The test of time:
Well, if you're a retro gamer who enjoys retro platform games then you could do a lot worse than Pud Pud. It's quite fun to play and does give you a chuckle. It must go down as a memorable Spectrum Game due to it being different from any other platform game on the machine.

Go on - Pud it on. After all, it's the season for 'Pud' ings.

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

Please see our other ZX Spectrum retro game reviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.

GENRE: Arcade adventure game
RELEASE DATE: Early 1985
RELEASED BY: Ocean Software
DEVELOPER(S): Jonathan (Jof) Smith, Christine Smith
PRICE: £6.95

The funky title music in Pud Pud:

Pud Pud wanders in Weird World - Spectrum Games:

Classic Games and Arcade Games

2 Dec 2009

Spectrum Games - Bobby Bearing - ZX Spectrum retro game

ZX Spectrum Bobby Bearing
Ball and marble games were all the rage for a while (look at the arcade classic Marble Madness) and Bobby Bearing by The Edge was a pretty cool game.

It was released in the summer of 1986 for the ZX Spectrum and turned out to be a pretty big hit - and as clones of 'marble madness' go this one wasn't bad.

ZX Spectrum Games Bobby Bearing
The inevitable back story to Bobby Bearing went along the lines of...

Bobby’s family lived in Technofear - a land of the future made from steel and inhabitated by things of steel. Bobby and his brothers had been warned on many occasions not to venture into the Metaplanes outside their home, and generally they had been pretty good about it. One day their maverick cousin paid them all a visit - and he led them on an adventure into the metaplanes...

Now Bobby had to venture into the dangerous metaplanes and rescue his brothers (one at a time) from the evil beings that lived there. Once the four brothers had been brought back to safe haven the cousin could be rescued (not that he deserved it!)

This classic game boasted a neat graphical engine called 'Curvispace 3D' - which allowed the games characters (Bearings) to actually roll over uneven surfaces with realistic physics.

It was a case of solving puzzles and routes, some easy, some fiendish, some almost impossible.

Bobby Bearing ZX Spectrum
You began the game outside your 'home' - and your brother bearings had to be brought back here. As you travelled around the large flick screen playing area (arcade adventure style) you would come across magnets which could be switched on and off, areas of the surfaces with hidden switches and air ducts. Some hidden switches activated lifts and platforms etc.

This puzzle game was played against the clock which would increase in countdown speed as you hit various obstacles. Apart from the evil bearings you also had to watch out for slabs of concrete which would crash down on top of you and descending blocks sent our Bobby into a spin.

Falling off a ledge also caused the countdown clock to speed up - the game could be frustrating (but in a good way).

On release:
This arcade puzzle game was compared to the likes of Spindizzy and Marble Madness (as you would expect) when it was released in the summer of 1986. Gamers enjoyed the ballbearing physics, puzzles and locations to explore. For anyone who liked games of this ilk, Bobby was an essential purchase.

The test of time:
Well it's a little dated but it's still not bad! As the game never relied on graphics or fancy garnish - it's still got a decent amount of playability. As far as this type of game goes, Bobby Bearing was one of the best on the Spectrum. Nice scrolling message whilst loading too.

Give it a go. Patience is worth it in this game.

We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair ZX Spectrum hardware, but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Bobby Bearing. Alternatively you could try and play it online.

Please see our other ZX Spectrum retro game reviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.

GENRE: Arcade puzzle game
RELEASE DATE: August of 1986
DEVELOPER(S): Robert and Trevor Figgins
PRICE: £7.95

Bobby gets his Bearings in a classic arcade game:

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