Here’s a quick list of my Top 5 Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games
My first love in retro gaming is no secret. It’s my Sinclair ZX Spectrum. I thought I’d share my Top 5 Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games with the world.
I had my first Spectrum back in 1986 when I was 10 years old. It was the Spectrum +2 with the built-in tape deck, the grey version. Actually, that’s not entirely true. My Dad initially bought me the 128K “Toast Rack” but it fried within 5 minutes of powering it up, consequently I didn’t even get to load a game on it. We returned it to Dixons (that’s a shop we used to have kids) and they had no more of that model in stock; so my Dad got me the +2. It’s the computer that set me off on my path to becoming a geek.
Here’s my Top 5 Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games
5. Back to Skool
Back to Skool is the sequel to the Microsphere classic “Skool Daze” released in 1984. Skool Daze saw you trying to steal your report card from the school safe. In order to do this you had to disorientate teachers into giving away their part of the combination. Back to Skool continues on from this by seeing you replace the report card with one you’ve forged during the term holiday. Back to Skool extends on the original by adding in a girls school next door as well as adding in additional tasks to complete to return your report card to the safe.
Like the original you can rename the teachers and classmates (back in 1987 it was customary to name them after the teachers at school). You still get lines if you get caught doing things you shouldn’t but an addiitonal feature is being able to kiss your girlfriend (who conveniently attends the girl’s school next door) and having her take some of your lines for you.
4. Robocop 2
Another sequel. I’ve played Robocop 2 on a variety of platforms over the years but the Spectrum version is still my favourite. Released by Ocean in 1990, Robocop 2 sees you following the story of the film of the same name. The game offers a mix of elements and includes platform, puzzle and an Operation Wolf style shooting gallery.
Playing as Robocop your objective is to work your way through the levels to eventually defeat Robocop 2 (Kane). To do this you find a route through several platform style levels, shooting and arresting villians. You must repair your memory chips to reclaim your lost human memories, including your own identity and that of your wife. You will test your shooting skills on the shooting range after you’ve taken a beating. Lightgun compatibility would’ve been the icing on the cake for that part but alas it didn’t happen.
Ultimately you find yourself in the OCP building hunting down Robocop 2 for the final battle. I remember getting my ass handed to me countless times here before I eventually beat the game. You can’t miss an energy power-up or else one of the enemies or automated security missiles will soon turn you to scrap.
Krakout plays identical to its C64 version I reviewed here. My Dad and I enjoyed taking turns playing through the levels on this one. Krakout is a 1987 breakout clone from Gremlin Graphics but with an horizontal perspective. The gameplay is the same basic premise though, hit the ball to break the bricks, collect bonuses and make sure the ball doesn’t go out of play. There’s plenty of on-screen action to keep you busy in the form of “enemies” deflecting your ball, or sometimes eating it. A nice touch is the ability to switch the side your bat is on for left-handed players. The intro music is nicely done, the colours are good, and it has an addictive quality that’s kept me going back for 30 years.
2. Bomb Jack
The Tekhan arcade classic brought to the Spectrum in 1986 by Elite. Bomb Jack is about as simple as it gets, collect the bombs, preferably in ‘sparking’ order, avoid the enemies, and collect the bonuses that appear on screen to get as high as score as you can. The only problem I have with Bomb Jack is it goes on and on and on, there’s simply no end. Eventually it becomes too repetitive and gets boring. Still, I had many hours of fun playing when I was younger, it was also my Dad’s favourite Spectrum game and it’s one I always come back to.
1. Target: Renegade
Yes, another sequel at number one. Arguably the best beat ’em up on the Spectrum. Released in 1987 Target: Renegade is the sequel to the arcade conversation Renegade and plays much the same way except that Target: Renegade is a scrolling affair.
Like Bomb Jack, Target: Renegade goes on but it likes to shake things up a bit by altering enemy fighting patterns as you play through each loop of the game. Learning your moves early on is key to playing later, especially the back-kick and crouching punch. Without these you’ll quickly run out of time in later loops.
I can’t fire up my Spectrum without loading Target: Renegade. It’s been a main stay with me for over 30 years.
I feel I should make some honourable mentions: –
- Magicland Dizzy: Code Masters
- Skool Daze: Microsphere
- Star Raiders II: Electric Dreams Software
That’s my Top 5 Spectrum games. I’m interested to know what yours are or if you agree or disagree with any of mine? Let me know over on Twitter.
“Munky” is a computer engineer with over 20 years experience. He has worked in both public and private sectors, mostly in the education sector, specialising in operating systems and mobile technology. He has carried out work for IBM, RM, Carillion, Capita, Click and Birmingham Metropolitan College as well as running his own I.T. Services business. He is a retro gaming enthusiast, especially when it comes to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. He is a parent, a grandparent, and a bit of a child at heart.