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Re: Best UK-made 8-bitter, games-wise

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:33 am
by psj3809
madcrow wrote:As a clueless American, I've long been interested in the "strange" world of UK home computers. While from a technical standpoint, both the Amstrad CPC and the Acorn BBC Micro both appear to have FAR outclassed the ZX Spectrum, lots of folks (including many writers for your fine magazine) seem to have had the fondest memories of the Spectrum. My question is simple: which of your three "homegrown" systems actually had the best games available and what were those games?
Oh god not this chestnut !

The BBC wasnt great for games compared to the Amstrad/C64/Speccy, never was in the top 3. The BBC was bought by lots of parents as it was the computer for schools. 'Most' kids though just wanted a computer for games back then.

The C64 was very popular but a bit high priced, NOT that parents were poor (Like some idiot german guy said here a year ago), its just computers were so new it was probably the most expensive Xmas present for a 9 or 10 year old back then and some parents probably thought it was a 'fad' which might not last.

Plus when your friends started getting a computer you often followed, all my friends had a Speccy so i got one and was happy as anything.

The Amstrad was very good but seemed to come in a bit too late as the Speccy/C64 dominated everything. There were tons of great games out in the 80's, very original games, arcade conversions, adventure games etc. Just so much. Of course tons of kids did copies of games from their friends so piracy was huge.

The Speccy on paper might have seemed quite weak but the games people created for it were amazing. The C64 had better colour (but chunkier graphics) and sound but Speccy games had more defined graphics and being from the UK seemed to have got a very loyal following.

The best Speccy site is , click in the archive there and you can see tons of games listed, can even click on reviews from the mags at the time. Or go to , an online emulator which saves scores and you can see some of the famous games.

To me it was all about playability (still the same today) and sooo many Speccy games were playable, great little machine which i'm sure has helped many of us in a career in computers to this day (Has with me personally).

I love trying emulators of machines i never had (PC Engine, NES, MSX etc), you should get a Speccy emulator and try the games.

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:35 am
by psj3809
madcrow wrote:Well, now that the question of "what" seems to be settled, the question becomes "how". Any emulator suggestions? Is Fuse any good or would folks reccomend something else. I mainly live in Linux (or more accuartely, in emulators running on top of Linux) but I can do the Windows thing too...

Good list of emulators there, FUSE is very good, Spectaculator is good (but have to pay for after the trial), theres a fair few Linux emulators on that list.

Enjoy !

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 am
by Matt_B
Alternatively, go to and you can play online using a Java emulator and compete against other people for high scores on a whole bunch of Spectrum games.

Re: Best UK-made 8-bitter, games-wise

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:49 am
by Bub&Bob
psj3809 wrote:NOT that parents were poor (Like some idiot german guy said here a year ago

Yep, the ZX was the most popular - The CPC had the power to p*ss on everything the ZX did but most of the time all it got was lazy Spectrum ports.

It pains me to say it but the Speccy is a pretty amazing machine, considering its low specs - perhaps the most impressive thing was the number of arcade conversions which were pretty close.

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:57 am
by psj3809
Was that idiot hungarian ? Apologies !

At the end of the day IF my parents bought me a C64 i'm sure i would have loved that just as much. IF the Amstrad came out a year or two earlier then that might have won the race hands down.

I'm quite jealous when i heard some kids had a Speccy and then moved to a C64 or vica versa. Christ back then in the 80's theres no way i could have had another computer a few years later ! My parents werent skint but a computer was the most expensive present for me back then !

But also if all your mates had a Speccy or a C64 then you often followed as you knew you would have an endless supply of games !

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:01 am
by Bub&Bob
psj3809 wrote:Was that idiot hungarian ?
Oswald - the C64 fanboy I believe, say anything negative about the C64 and he was practicaly on the next plane over to stab you!

Funny but when I was a kid I had virtually no exposure to the spectrum or the CPC.

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:37 am
by ToxieDogg
It all boils down to the games, as usual....CPC/C64 fanboys can criticise the Speccy all they like but it still had the best selection of games which appealed to the most people. The trend of a lesser powerful system dominating sales because of it's superior games continues even today (yeah, even the can't deny that Wii Fit has a much broader appeal than Gears Of War whatever you may think of it).

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:11 pm
by Mort
I had both the spectrum and a 64 during the 80`s and the spectrum had the more original games (well atleast if you didn`t included all the disk games from the states for the 64 but the drive was one expensive add on at the time !)

For me the Spectrum was the king of the Uk 8 bits, the BBC never impressed me apart from the nice keyboard but was priced out of the market from the beginning and the Amstrad was to little to late.

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:24 pm
by Von Paulus
Like Mort I had both ZX Spectrum and a C64 (and also a 800XL for a couple of months).
In my country, Portugal, Speccy was the only computer really affordable at the time. There were a lot of games with a good playability, that also helped to establish the sells.
Like in England, this was the computer that started a lot of future computer related careers. We loved the little bastard.
None of the Acorn machines had great success in Portugal.
As for the CPC it only came later, over priced, so it was never a match for the Speccy and later machines +2 and +3.

While I've sold all my computers to buy another one, I've always kept the Speccy (and a Amiga 500 to be honest) all these years.

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:24 am
by TheDude18
Just to be diffrent I'm going to go for the Amstrad CPC!

What's that? Go to the naughty step as you think a CPC is better that spectrum? Ok then.

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:31 am
by batman877
Fence sitting time...

Although I've always favoured the Amstrad, I think as someone who enjoys retro you're really missing out if you don't sample all of the UK 8-bit machines... :P

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:48 am
by CrookedMouth
Scapegoat wrote:While the Spectrum was the lesser computer on paper, it had some genius programmers making games for it. The Amstrad at seems consisted of a lot of ports from the Spectrum rather than software made from the bottom up to play to it's own strengths.

The BBC had a few killer apps, but was too expensive to hit the mass market.
Didn't the Spectrum ZX have the fastest CPU speed at a true 3.54mhz?

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:43 am
by TMR
CrookedMouth wrote: Didn't the Spectrum ZX have the fastest CPU speed at a true 3.54mhz?
No, the CPC pulls 4MHz on the same model of CPU so of the three being discussed it was the fastest; what slowed it down as far as moving graphics around was that the display RAM was over twice the size of the Spectrum.

Re: Best UK-made 8-bitter, games-wise

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 5:06 am
by TMR
psj3809 wrote:The C64 was very popular but a bit high priced, NOT that parents were poor (Like some idiot german guy said here a year ago)
i'd have said that price was a huge factor myself; we're talking about a pretty bad period economically for the UK for a starter and a lot of families couldn't afford a lot of cash for a computer, then there's that old chestnut about getting what your friends had so you can copy games which is again cost related.

i know that the school i attended had "rich kids" with C64s, CPCs and a solitary BBC (the same kid had an Oric Atmos too) and less well off ones (stopping just short of using the word "poor" there...) with Spectrums and a few VIC 20s and Atari 800XLs that were stock dumped onto Dixons when Atari were clearing the shelves for the XE range; i fell into the latter camp, first machine was a VIC and then an 800XL and the only reason i got a C64 was that it was £50 and had previously belonged to a bunch of chain-smoking software developers; i had to do some surgery to re-seat the chips (in particular the VIC-II which in it's loosened state had the weirdest fault i've ever seen on a C64) and get the keyboard to respond fully, then use the PSU and tape deck from my VIC to get it going but i'd never have been able to afford it otherwise.

Re: Best UK-made 8-bitter, games-wise

Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 5:50 am
by Matt_B
Price was certainly a factor. In 1982 a 48K Spectrum cost £175, and the Commodore 64 and BBC Micro were around £400. Even the VIC-20 cost around £200 and that was for a machine with 5K RAM and very limited graphical capabilities. The Commodore 64 came down in price over the years and picked up a following in the process, but the BBC Micro didn't. Acorn did introduce the Electron at around half the price, which did pick up a fair share of the market for a year or so, but that was too cut down and incompatible so it never really took off; Acorn cornered the education market, but lost the home market in the process.

I don't think the Amstrad CPC was overpriced at all though. The CPC6128 was certainly the cheapest complete system including a monitor and disk drive you could get in 1985 when I got the whole shebang for about £300. Getting the equivalent setup with a BBC or C64 at the time would have cost at least twice the price, and the Spectrum only had unofficial support for disk drives until 1987. For those who just wanted something to plug into their own tape deck and TV set to play games on, the Spectrum was always the cheaper (and better!) option though.