Spectrum Addict film cover art by Oliver Frey revealed
Jun09

Spectrum Addict film cover art by Oliver Frey revealed

The upcoming film by Andy Remic – Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict now has an amazing looking cover, produced by none other than the renowned artist Oliver Frey, famous amongst gamers of course for his Crash and Zzap! 64 magazine artwork. We think it looks amazing and really captures the look and feel of those iconic 80s Crash magazine covers. There are still a couple of days left to get your own name in the film credits so head on over to remicmedia.com/speccyaddict/ and order a...

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Spectrum Vega+ hands on – video and mini review
Apr09

Spectrum Vega+ hands on – video and mini review

Playing Halls of the Things Playing Halls of the Things The Spectrum Vega+ on top of an original Spectrum for size comparison Ant Harper surprised at how small the Vega actually is Will thought the size about right Will plays with a Vega+ This report was written by Will Woodvine, photography and video by Ant Harper. Disclosure: I backed the Vega+ Indiegogo campaign but requested and received a refund over the Christmas period. I asked for a refund due to what I perceive to be the appalling lack of information provided to backers. The opinion below is my own and is not influenced by inducement or coercion by any parties. It is written as a fan of the ZX Spectrum. I attended the Dizzy event with no knowledge that the Spectrum Vega+ would be present, so was unprepared. Like any true retro-gaming fan I spent Saturday 8th April, the sunniest and warmest day of the year so far, in a darkened room with no windows looking at computer games. The event was the Dizzy 30th anniversary in Nottingham. This took the form of a presentation by the Oliver Twins which covered their early years, mentioned the ZX81 (huzzah!) and gave me a greater insight in to the Dizzy world. At the start of the presentation a gentleman (who I think was Lee Fogarty) came down to the front and handed one of the Twins a white box. Inside was a Vega+. This was shown to the crowd, causing a slight stirring, and then placed on the podium. At the end presentation the Vega+ was left unattended so I took the opportunity to grab it and have a close look. At no time was there any interference from anyone or any attempt made to stop me from using it or Ant Harper, Simon Williams or Simon Osborne from using, photographing or videoing the device. I believe the device to be the pre-production device that has been seen previously. The hardware The device feels good in the hands, fitting well – I have medium sized hands. I gave the unit a torsional twist and the unit did not flex, which reinforced the positive feel of the device. The screen is bright and clear, easily read by someone who normally needs glasses to read and wasn’t wearing them. The buttons were an issue being unresponsive – you have to press them precisely for them to react. This maybe the “switch re-design” referred to by RCL. Simon Osborne has reported that he used a corrected production unit and the buttons were much more responsive. The spectrum flash is a sticker (peeling now) and...

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The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games by Chris Wilkins – review
Sep23

The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games by Chris Wilkins – review

I will start out with a confession – that here at Retro Games Collector we are unashamed fans of the work of Retro Fusion Books. Their publications hit the sweet-spot of quality, content and price and it shows with The ZX Spectrum in Pixels trio, Commodore 64 in Pixels and The Story of US Gold books, all scoring an unprecedented top mark of 5/5 in our reviews. This latest book – The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games – combines a selection of the games covered in The ZX Spectrum in Pixels books, plus a few new ones – in a small, neat, hardback format which Chris based upon the popular Ashens book; Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of. The book itself measures 162 x 162mm making it Fusion Retro’s smallest book yet. Inside the book As already stated, The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games is small and square in format with a nice matte black finish to the hardcover giving it a compact, classy feel. Within those covers there are 144 pages with a whopping 1oo games covered, interspersed with a foreword by Chris, images of the ZX Spectrum range of computers (from the 16K rubber key original to the +3) and Oliver Frey’s amazing magazine cover artwork. The games secreted within are now broken up intro genres; Sports Games, Arcade Adventure, Arcade, Adventure, Strategy/Puzzle, Fighting, Racing and Platform – with every game nicely indexed on the last few pages. Each game is given one page, with the synopsis underneath a screenshot of the game in question and a Crash magazine review score (if applicable) listed alongside. What is striking about Fusion Retro’s diminutive new offering is its overall feel of quality. The paper used is 150gsm which in non-printer speak means they are thicker than the norm, helping toward the quality feel that permeates throughout this title. The print quality is also noteworthy, with the screenshots bright, crisp and colourful, just like Spectrum graphics were… once we tuned our tellies in anyway. In Summary Another fantastic addition to the Fusion Retro Books stable. Absolutely perfect as a present for the Speccy-phile in your life (or for yourself!) especially with Christmas just around the corner. Even if you have the ‘in Pixels’ books already, this is still a must-buy with its handier ‘pocket’ size, great quality printing and extra reviews. No surprise then that this book also gets full marks from us. Pre-order your copy of The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games...

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ZX Spectrum Games Code Club by Gary Plowman – review
Sep06

ZX Spectrum Games Code Club by Gary Plowman – review

Gary Plowman (AKA Gazzapper Games) sent me the ZX Spectrum Games Code Club to review quite a while back now. Unfortunately for him I have been building my upcoming (yes, and it is close!) retro gaming store and that got in the way of my penning this review. What I did make time for however, in between sorting, scanning and listing software titles, was a thorough read of the book in question. I often reminisce about those early home computing days back in the 80s, when I would spend hours hunched over my ZX81 or Spectrum and a copy of Sinclair Programs, painstakingly typing out listing after listing and carefully saving the resulting program to tape. Often there would be a mistake in the listing itself, or you would type something incorrectly meaning you would have to spend another few hours or so fixing it. The term debugging was rarely used by schoolboys on their Spectrums in front of the living room TV back in the 80s, but debugging was exactly what it was and it taught us plenty. Many of us have gone on to have successful careers in computing and have found the lessons learned back then invaluable and often transferable to modern day programming languages. Fast forward to the present day and ZX Spectrum Games Code Club by Gary Plowman uses program listings in the same BASIC language we used back then as a tool for teaching yourself the rudimentary skills needed to code, using – and here is the best part – an actual ZX Spectrum or a Spectrum emulator. And this is why I am so enthused about this book. In essence it takes us back to the roots of games design. Back to a time when every byte counted and 16 or 48K was often all you had to play around with. A time of programming without waste. Inside the book As stated in the introduction, the book is primarily written to teach you how to program in Sinclair BASIC. This is achieved through a series of games listings which you need to input into your chosen ZX Spectrum (or Spectrum emulator). Firstly though, you are taken through some of the more basic commands, an explanation of Spectrum-specific features, emulator keyboard mapping, how to save your work – either to good old cassette or microdrive – and some tips to make typing in code a whole lot easier. There are 20 games listings in total, each followed by a comprehensive run-down of the programming techniques used and what they achieve. You are encouraged to experiment, modify and extend the listings yourself at every...

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Sinclair Spectrum Vega plus – first thoughts
Feb19

Sinclair Spectrum Vega plus – first thoughts

As many of you are aware, I was less than impressed with the first Spectrum Vega offering from Retro Computers Ltd (a partnership of Sir Clive Sinclair, Chris Smith, Dr. David Levy and Paul Andrews). It looked cheap and ugly and the whole concept of replacing a Spectrum with what was nothing more than emulation via a plasticky plug-in TV game really didn’t appeal. Enter the Sinclair Spectrum Vega Plus. Pedigree is important. Especially to die-hard Speccy fans. This time the concept designs (seen below) have been produced by Rick Dickinson – the industrial designer responsible for a host of Sinclair projects including the ZX80, ZX81, QL, original ZX Spectrum computer and Sinclair flat screen TV amongst others. The result of Rick’s input is a beautiful looking handheld, this time with a built-in LCD screen. There is still the option to plug your + into a TV via an AV cable and extra games can be loaded via an SD card slot in the top of the unit. One thing that still baffles me about the whole re-release of the ZX Spectrum thing is Uncle Clive’s involvement in what is essentially a games machine. I mean, this thing may even have Jet Set f*cking Willy on it. Perhaps he needs the funds to further his A-Bike project, or a new C… no let’s not go there. Whilst this still isn’t everything I was looking for in a modern Spectrum (keyboard anyone?) I will be backing this one to the hilt. Expensive for what it is? Maybe. But designed and produced in Britain, looking gorgeous and branded with Sinclair. What else is there not to like? What do you think of the Spectrum Vega+? Let us know in the comments...

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum: A Visual Compendium by Bitmap Books – review
Feb01

Sinclair ZX Spectrum: A Visual Compendium by Bitmap Books – review

A third Visual Compendium book; Sinclair ZX Spectrum: A Visual Compendium has now been published by Sam Dyer at Bitmap Books, following another highly successful KickStarter campaign. It follows on from two other successfully funded books covering the Commodore 64 (see review here) and the Commodore Amiga, but now covers my personal chilhood hero; the ZX Spectrum. In honour of this, the book colour has changed to black and looks great for it. I also pledged for the ‘capsule’ perk which sees my copy packaged in a polystyrene block with a cardboard sleeve, supposed to mimic the original ZX Spectrum 16/48K packaging (more on this later in the review). The beautifully printed dust jacket in all its glory. Black looks best. In our opinion anyway! The polystyrene ‘capsule’ and sleeve. Great photography throughout. Never complete without Oli Frey artwork. Special bright inks are used throughout. A lot of stretch goals were reached. Resulting in a lot of goodies bundled arriving with the book! Comparison of the new poly ‘capsule’ and the original packaging. Hmmm. Not really doing justice to the John Harris original. Inside the Compendium Designed by Sam Dyer, Edited by Steve Jarratt and published by Bitmap Books (bitmapbooks.co.uk), the Sinclair ZX Spectrum: a visual compendium is the third in a series of books that concentrate on visuals rather than the written word for the crux of their content. From the beautifully printed matt black spot varnished dust jacket to the bright and colourful graphics depicted within, the book delivers this ‘visual’ concept in a very appealing way. Oozing a quality that has become the norm for a Bitmap Books publication, Volume 3 hits the floor running when it comes to content. Special inks were used to great effect, highlighting the ZX Spectrum’s bright and colourful display. The foreword by graphic artist Ste Pickford tells of the difficulties Spectrum artists had when it came to the limited colour palette and infamous attribute clash the Spectrum endured, yet how they then overcame the limitations to produce some of the most iconic graphics and artwork of the 80s. This is followed by a short piece by Rick Dickinson – designer of the ZX Spectrum and other Sinclair computers. He tells the story of the design of the Spectrum and how Sinclair managed to compromise on specification to produce a microcomputer that was half the price of the competition at launch. The main content of the book follows the same format as the previous volumes – double page spreads featuring graphics from popular games, each with one or two short reviews. These are interpersed with interviews and pages of short memoirs...

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