• Graeme Mason

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Fans Finally Admit Commodore 64 Is Better

In a shocking turn of events this week, dedicated fans of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum have been

contradicting years of vibrant worship and declaring its great rival, the Commodore 64, as the

superior computer. The revelations have been sending shockwaves throughout the

retrogaming community.


During the Eighties, the ZX Spectrum was pitched against the Commodore 64, a rivalry that

brought countless bitter disputes and broken friendships, particularly in the UK. By 1986, a

Spectrum owner couldn't be friends with a Commodore owner unless an Amstrad owner was

present for them both to laugh at.


But today, in what many observers are calling an outbreak of mass hysteria, the years of

criticism and abuse of the Commodore machine appears to have ceased as Spectrum fans all

over the country finally admit that their pathetic little machine pales in comparison to the

mighty C64.


One such fan is Mark Howlett, an Essex-based Spectrum enthusiast who runs a popular

Sinclair fan site called Arse Lord. "I first saw the Speccy in 1982 at a micro show in

London," he remembers. "I was only two-and-a-half years old, but I instantly knew that this

was a marvellously British piece of technology that would hugely impact the games

industry."


Soon Mark would be enjoying the Spectrum's vast range of virtually-identical platform

games. "I've always had a fondness for the plucky underdog or a cheap and vastly inferior

piece of technology," he admits. "So, the Spectrum was right up my street."


Thankfully, other than switching his loyalty to the Commodore 64, erstwhile Spectrum fans such as Mark Howlett remain completely normal.

Martyn Carroll, the editor of the UK's premier retro gaming magazine, Atavistic Gamer,

recalls the first time he touched the Spectrum's fabled rubber keyboard. "It felt so soft and

formless, and it made it feel like you were playing Jet Set Willy on a row of warm Opal

Fruits. But I loved it, and I always make sure that there are at least five articles about the

Spectrum in every issue of Atavistic Gamer. It's the least I can do."


As you can see from this picture, Spectrum games are actually quite diverse and not all Jet Set Willy clones.

Meanwhile, Speccy fan Retro Hitch has made his name streaming Spectrum games, his

legion of fans enjoying his weekly streams of virtually-identical platform games. "There's no

doubt about it; the ZX Spectrum is the best computer ever, despite its painful lack of memory, pathetic sound, messy attribute clash, terrible keyboard, and a general lack of the

kind of frills we expected even back in 1982,” he says.


Spectrum super fan Retro Hitch before and after he switched his faith from the ZX Spectrum to Commodore 64.

Yet these three fans, along with many other Spectrum devotees, today find themselves falling

in love with the umber charms of the Commodore 64. How has this dramatic event

happened? "I simply woke up one morning and suddenly realised that the C64 doesn't just

have a brown display," reveals Mark. "It can also do beige, tan, auburn, bronze, brunette,

buff, hazel, mahogany and my favourite, burnt sienna." Atavistic Gamer editor Martyn

Carroll has had a similar shocking epiphany. "The Speccy may have been idiosyncratic,

iconic and impressively compact. But one day, I just recognised that what I needed was

something more soulless, utilitarian and nondescript. That's when I realised the Commodore

64 was the computer for me."


As you can clearly see from this screenshot from a popular game, it’s a myth that all Commodore 64 games are brown.

For Twitch streamer Retro Hitch, the graphical charms of the C64 have converted him. "It

was like that blaze of sharp and finely-tuned pixels had been surpassed by these large,

unwieldy and unsightly blocks," he notes. Like the others, Retro Hitch has become a

dedicated Commodore 64 fan and now streams its sepia-toned games on his Twitch channel.

"I do miss streaming virtually-identical platform games, and now everyone's really serious

and boring,” he admits. “But the Commodore 64 is undoubtedly the technically superior

computer, and that's what counts."


With the cause of this dire epidemic still unknown, Spectrum fans across the country

continue to pledge allegiance to the bland breadbox that is the C64. Finally, after 40 years of

petty arguments, falling outs, strife and acrimonious quarrels, it appears that this particular

videogames battle can finally be settled once and for all: the Commodore 64 is better than the

Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

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