The Most Popular ZX Spectrum Games

arcade-gamesAvailable from 1982 to 1992, the ZX Spectrum personal computer was the host of well over 1,000 8-bit games. While not always included in modern conversations of historical video games, there’s no denying the platform’s importance place in their lineage. To celebrate its impact on gaming, it’s a distinct pleasure to provide a look back at some of the most popular ZX Spectrum games.

1 – Deathchase

Once named the best ZX Spectrum game ever by Your Sinclair magazine, Deathchase offers programmer Mervyn Estcourt’s best approximation of a 3D, 1st person view in the midst of a motorcycle chase. It’s a scene not uncommon in modern games, and here it is laid out in perfectly riveting 8-bit form. For a 1983 release, this 2-wheeled racing gem will always have a rightful place atop any list of this kind.

2 – Fairlight

Released in 1985, Edge Games’ Fairlight is an isometric adventure title wherein the protagonist Isvar hunts down the Book of Light throughout various castle settings. Though often displayed in monochromatic colour, the environments were immensely detailed. There’s also an impressive display of early game physics here given the realistic way that various objects interact with one another.

As with Deathchase, Fairlight displays many elements that would wow gamers much later on, not the least of which is access to secret areas that reward exploration.

3 – Head Over Heels

Head Over Heels is another classic isometric adventure. Released in 1987 by Ocean Software, this title features another early example of a game mechanic that still seemed amazing many years early; you actually control more than one character.

Each of your characters (which are amusingly named after the title itself) has different abilities, leaving you to delegate tasks between them in order to advance. The game has been considered a classic ever since its original release.

4 – Knight Lore

The conversation about which ZX Spectrum games were the best is never complete with Knight Lore, and it’s actually one of the earlier releases.

In November of 1984, Tim and Chris Stamper from Ultimate Play The Game unveiled the title, and it immediately took off from there. The riveting gameplay thrusts the player into a dire situation where you must come up with a cure for a werewolf curse within 40 in-game days.

The puzzle solving and overall tone went on to influence many games in the future, particularly those in the role-playing genre.

5 – Manic Miner

1983 saw the release of Bug Byte’s Manic Miner. This is an early platformer with memorable music and visuals.

Despite its age, it was already pushing what could be done on the ZX Spectrum from a technical standpoint. Its design work is especially impressive, and it retains something of a retro charm even today.

The colourful graphics are truly a standout, especially given the frequency in which other games on the platform utilised more monochromatic pallets. Though this game is often ignored these days, Manic Miner is a classic through and through.

ZX Spectrum – The Awesome Golden Age

a picture of the ZX Spectrum keyboardThank you for your patience, we are currently undergoing a site re-design and will be back up shortly with some great info on the much loved Sinclair ZX Spectrum from the 1980’s.

Being an owner myself, I remember the day when my father brought me home my very first computer, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1988. I was so pleased with the gift that I invited my friends round to play my favourite games at the time, which were R-Type, 1943 – The Battle of Midway and Street Fighter.

Wow, how things have advanced since then!

The ZX Spectrum was back then sold in eight different versions, the lowest level being the 16 KB RAM model, which was released in 1982. In 1987 the ZX Spectrum was released in a staggering (at the time) 128 KB RAM version. Although the 128 KB RAM is laughable by todays standards, it was actually quite the thing to have in the late 80’s! Across the eight variants of ZX models, they were so popular and sold millions of copies all over the world.

Being one of the first home computers released primarily for the UK market, it’s main competitor was the American Commodore 64, which was fairly similar on several levels.

It is amazing to think that one machine revolutionised the face of the information technology industry and ushered in a new era of hardware and software companies that have together changed the face of technology forever.

I leave you now with this piece of nostalgia from the 1980’s with this great video of 100 of the top ZX Spectrum games. Enjoy!