Thursday, 26 May 2011

We have the power: Sinclair Spectrum +2/+2A

Christmas 1986, and being 4 years old, was very excited at the prospect of getting my very first home computer. So, Christmas Day came, and when the wrapping paper came off to reveal a grey box with the words 'SINCLAIR SPECTRUM +2' on it, and bundle tapes containing Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Konami Arcade Classics and Screen Heroes, each containing a variety of games from sport, to movie/tv licenses, to arcade conversions, that range from great (Green Beret), to good (Street Hawk), to bad (Miami Vice) to downright shit (Highlander). But, being 4 years old, I had a bit of knowledge to figure out what to do (mainly with some help from my older brother), and was very excited, so I didn't care if they were crap. I got some enjoyment (and frustration) out of them.

So, fast forward a few years, and I'd amassed quite a collection (the price helped, what with some games costing as little as £1.99! Those were the days!!), but there were some excellent wheat among the chuff. Bomb Jack, Airwolf II (which I seem to be the only person to like it), Klax, Escape From The Planet of the Robot Monsters, Italy 1990 and Strider (which is a very competent port, I might add). Unfortunately there was a considerable amount of chuff, like Podder, type in text adventures like Murder and Desperado, Top Gun and Jack The Nipper (everyone seems to like this, but I hated it). One software house seemed to dominate in the 80's, and into the late 90's....

Ocean seemed to have a hand in nearly everything and anything. After aquiring Imagine after their spectacular downfall, sadly documented in Commercial Breaks (Xmas 1984), their output was, roughly, 35% of all games released (it might even be more), with them releasing movie tie-ins, arcade conversions, and even publishing. Some of their notable games games were their conversion of Chase HQ (which I've also wrote about, and love to pieces), Operation Wolf and its sequel Thunderbolt, Head Over Heels (by Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond), Match Day and Match Day II (both also by the aforementioned guys) and Rambo. Again, there was quality there, but also crap (Highlander again, and Knight Rider), but then, you always get that, even nowadays, with budgets of £25 million and staff of 100 people, as opposed to £25 and 2 guys in their mate's bedroom.

But, even still, it was and still is, my favorite of the 8-bit micros (and I've only had a C64 for about a year and a half, but I still find myself loving the Spectrum more). The games were plentiful, at the right price, and as mentioned, some were of such high quality, you'd easily mistake the £1.99 games for £7.99 games. And, even though it's considered by some as a 'bastard child' of Sir Clive Sinclair's successful original, I still find it a great computer. But, as always, that's only my opinion.

"Our work here is done!" - Your Sinclair 'Big Final Issue', 1993.

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