• Graeme Mason

Super Six: Sinclair ZX Spectrum

This month, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer proudly celebrates its 40th Anniversary. Last

week we brought you the story of this distinctly British micro; today, it's the turn of what we

all used the Speccy for, playing games! There are currently 345 Spectrum games available to

play on Antstream Arcade – we pick out six of the finest in this very special Super Six.


Skool Daze – Microsphere, 1984

Few games capture the Eighties' spirit like Microsphere's Skool Daze. Set within a modern

boys' school, Skool Daze stars loveable rogue Eric on a mission to retrieve his incriminatory

report from the school safe. In his way are Einstein the swot (always looking to grass him up)

and Angelface, a brutish bully who's handy with his fists. There's also a diverse quartet of

teachers to watch out for, each one – especially headmaster Mr Wacker – keen to hand out

lines to naughty schoolboys. Accrue too many and its expulsion; try explaining that one to

your parents, Eric!


Myth: History In The Making – System 3, 1989

The Spectrum was home to many excellent arcade adventures over the years, and this System

3 game from 1989 is one of the finest. The evil god Dameron, determined to dominate the

world as all evil Gods tend to, has captured mythical creatures from history and is using them

to enslave humanity. Only this modern-day man, thrust back into the past, can save us from

total servitude. Beginning in a demonic underworld, before warping to ancient Egyptian

times and a Viking longboat, Myth is an unbelievable game, full of action, puzzles and some

of the most beautifully animated skeletons seen on an 8-bit computer.


Cybernoid – Hewson, 1988

Shoot-'em-ups were a perenially popular genre back in the Spectrum's prime, and this game

from ace coder Raffaele Cecco is widely regarded as the pinnacle of Speccy shooting. A band

of dastardly space pirates have raided the Federation's supply depots. You're a combat

mercenary hired by the Federation to infiltrate the pirate base and destroy as many of them as

possible, collecting the bounty they drop. The Cybernoid craft has a helpful laser cannon and,

during the mission, can deploy extra weaponry such as bombs, mines and a homing missile.

Unfortunately, dozens of deviously-plotted screens and hundreds of slavering brigands stand

in your way!


Saboteur – Durell, 1985

This Durell classic, created by Clive Townsend, succinctly proves that the Spectrum was

more than capable of producing large open-world games in the hands of a talented developer.

As in Cybernoid, you play a mercenary charged with infiltrating a warehouse, a well-

disguised central security building. Once inside, it's a race against the clock to retrieve a

valuable disk before escaping via a helicopter on the roof. Naturally, the building is far from

empty; numerous security guards and aggressive attack dogs await this karate-kicking

saboteur. It's a mission against the odds and another excellent game for the ZX Spectrum.


For more information on Saboteur, check out the making of this ground-breaking

game: https://www.antstream.com/post/the-story-of-saboteur.


The Great Escape – Ocean, 1986

The Great Escape is another marvellous open-world game for the Spectrum – albeit one that

takes place at a slightly more sedate pace than Saboteur. As the name suggests, you are a

WW2 prisoner imprisoned in a remote German POW camp. As a proud soldier, it's your duty

to try and escape and rejoin the fight against the Nazi menace. Fortunately, previous inmates

have dug a set of tunnels beneath the camp, which can be used to get around undetected and

store contraband items. There are several ways to escape, and many objects can be 'acquired';

to help, such as wire cutters, a guard's uniform and a compass. Just watch out for the guards –

should they catch you somewhere you're not supposed to be, it's a morale-sapping spell in

solitary confinement.


Way Of The Exploding Fist – Melbourne House, 1985

While it may have originated on the Spectrum's rival, the Commodore 64, this one-on-one

beat-'em-up is so fun and broadly iconic that we had to include it. Of course, there were

plenty of fighting games on the Speccy, and what makes Exploding Fist stand out is its range

of assorted moves and the strategies the player can employ, at odds with the button-mashing

endeavours of its peers. In one-player mode, the player takes on a series of computer-

controlled opponents as they proceed through the ranks of Dan, and it’s even more fun

against a mate! Boasting sharp graphics and some crunching sound effects, Way Of The

Exploding Fist is the supreme beat-em-up choice on the ZX Spectrum.


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