By Nico Kaiser from München, Germany (Sinclair ZX Spectrum) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Nico Kaiser from München, Germany (Sinclair ZX Spectrum) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

For lovers of high-quality coffee table books or those who are interested in the origins of home computing the ‘ZX Spectrum Compendium’ is well worth space on the bookshelf.

The rise of the iconic ZX Spectrum in the 1980’s is covered in glorious colour in this high-quality release from well-known publisher Bitmap Books. Bitmap Books has published two previous titles covering two of the best-known (and best-selling) 80’s home computer systems – the Commodore 64 and the Amiga system.

Lovers of 8-bit retro gaming will appreciate this Kickstarter-funded book from cover to cover. In fact, the cover itself is a work of art, with spot varnish making the cover shine and almost inviting the reader to explore the wonders of gaming on what was one of the best selling gaming computers ever to take the British public by storm.

Although the Spectrum wasn’t as successful in the United States, the iconic nature of the more than one thousand games that found their way onto the perky little Spectrum is covered in enormous detail in this fabulous compendium.

Although the writing itself is extremely good it is the images which steal the show. The publishers have gone out of their way to make sure that the book remains as true to the excitement of the games that were part and parcel of the ZX Spectrum experience.

By using special inks Bitmap Books has ensured that the colours used in the printing of the ZX Spectrum Compendium are representative of the delightful graphics that characterised the Spectrum gaming experience.

In fact many of the inks used for the graphics in the book were specially selected to mimic the limited colour palette that Spectrum game designers used to bring the games to life.

The visual content is presented in a double-page format with short reviews of the games making it an easy, but absorbing read.

For those who want more insight into how the ZX Spectrum became a favourite with many early adopters there is also content by such personalities as Rick Dickinson who was the lead designer of the ZX Spectrum.

Dickinson does an excellent job of describing how Sinclair managed to juggle price and specifications to hit the sweet spot of making the ZX Spectrum the value for money purchase that set it apart from the competition.

The compendium covers 120 of the best loved games in the ZX Spectrum library in glorious color. Combine the graphic content with a series of memoirs from people who were intimately involved in designing and bringing to life the ZX Spectrum experience and you have a recipe for a fascinating read.

This is a book that reaches out and tickles the nostalgia bone of anyone who owned a Spectrum or is simply interested in how home gaming had its genesis (no pun intended). The quality of the presentation is top notch, and the format allows readers to dive in – it doesn’t require front to back cover reading, in fact opening the compendium to any page is a highly rewarding experience.