Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

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paranoid marvin
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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by paranoid marvin » Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:57 pm

Don't forget as well that the CPC only came out in 1984. For other kids you would hang around with (usually your year and the one above) would already have had Christmasses 1982 and 1983 to get computers. By this stage we pretty much all had got Speccies and C64, so by the time Christmas 1984 came around it would be the younger, first time computer owners who would be getting CPCs. Why would anyone who already had a Speccy or C64 and a catalogue of games want to trade it in for an Amstrad? So most of the people I knew at school didn't have CPCs, but maybe younger kids in junior school/years had these machines, but I didn't know as I didn't associate with them. SOMEONE was buying them!

Also by Christmas 1984 the 48k Speccy was down to about £80-£90, the C64 about double that. That still made the CPC almost double the price of a C64 and quadruple that of a Speccy. The 80s were hard times for many parents and £350-£400 for a CPC was simply beyond their reach.

As I mentioned above Dixons always seemed to be pushing the CPC. I guess it was easier to demonstrate than other machines because it was all in one and didn't even a monitor to be hooked up to it, it was all there out of the box. From a salesman's point of view it was a 'goto' machine to direct parents towards. Yes it wasn't cheap but credit was there at only £9.99 a month for the next 5 years!
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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by gunbladelad » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:31 pm

I personally had a CPC - but I'll quote something that was in one of the later issues of Amstrad Action.

Alan Sugar made a machine that was better than his competition's (Clive Sinclair's Spectrum) - then bought his competition and re-released their product...

If memory serves me correctly, one of the issues of Amstrad Action also reported that Amstrad was one of the interested companies when Commodore went bust. I guess in terms of business world of finances, there was only one winner in the end. :lol:
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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by Matt_B » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:18 am

gunbladelad wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:31 pm
I personally had a CPC - but I'll quote something that was in one of the later issues of Amstrad Action.

Alan Sugar made a machine that was better than his competition's (Clive Sinclair's Spectrum) - then bought his competition and re-released their product...

If memory serves me correctly, one of the issues of Amstrad Action also reported that Amstrad was one of the interested companies when Commodore went bust. I guess in terms of business world of finances, there was only one winner in the end. :lol:
Yeah, the big mistake Sinclair and Commodore made was obviously not going into the settop box business. :lol:

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by batman877 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:22 am

These sort of threads are quite difficult to read/get involved with these days. I've been around on this forum for many years and many of you will know that I've always sided with the Amstrad. We've had so many interesting discussions over the years (particularly through the '8-bit comparison thread') but you really do get to the point where you've nothing fresh to say anymore!

The Amstrad CPC 6128 was my first ever computer in 1985 and I collected over 500 games for it up to about 1994.

Fast forward to 2018 and like many of you I now love (and collect for) the Amstrad, Spectrum and C64 (and let's not forget the BBC either). I'm not trying to sit on the fence here, but I genuinely love all 8-bit computing now. Of course I always have a favourite version of a game (e.g. Enduro Racer on the Spectrum, Boulderdash on the C64, Chase HQ on the Amstrad) but I love trying every game on each format.

The only advice I can give is try to sample each and every version of a game before blindly championing one format.

Happy gaming! :D
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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by Matt_B » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:57 am

paranoid marvin wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:57 pm
Also by Christmas 1984 the 48k Speccy was down to about £80-£90, the C64 about double that. That still made the CPC almost double the price of a C64 and quadruple that of a Speccy. The 80s were hard times for many parents and £350-£400 for a CPC was simply beyond their reach.
You're way off with the prices there. The CPC464 launched in July 1984 at £249 with a green monitor and £359 for the colour one. For comparison, the Spectrum Plus launched at £179 at around the same time, and the C64 was selling at £199 at that stage, because Commodore were still trying to flog the C16 and kept the price artificially high. The rubber key 48K Spectrum was still significantly cheaper at £129 but that looks more like a factor of two than four to me.

Anyway, I can see how you'd have such a low opinion of the Amstrad if you really did think it cost that much. However, the reality was that the price for the most basic model was pretty much always within £50 of the C64, and about £70 of the most expensive Spectrum model. I'm sure we can all agree that the rubber key Spectrum always represented exceptional value for money though.

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by JamesC » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:45 am

Matt_B wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:57 am
paranoid marvin wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:57 pm
Also by Christmas 1984 the 48k Speccy was down to about £80-£90, the C64 about double that. That still made the CPC almost double the price of a C64 and quadruple that of a Speccy. The 80s were hard times for many parents and £350-£400 for a CPC was simply beyond their reach.
You're way off with the prices there. The CPC464 launched in July 1984 at £249 with a green monitor and £359 for the colour one. For comparison, the Spectrum Plus launched at £179 at around the same time, and the C64 was selling at £199 at that stage, because Commodore were still trying to flog the C16 and kept the price artificially high. The rubber key 48K Spectrum was still significantly cheaper at £129 but that looks more like a factor of two than four to me.

Anyway, I can see how you'd have such a low opinion of the Amstrad if you really did think it cost that much. However, the reality was that the price for the most basic model was pretty much always within £50 of the C64, and about £70 of the most expensive Spectrum model. I'm sure we can all agree that the rubber key Spectrum always represented exceptional value for money though.
No one wanted to use a green screen monitor for games though. When people are comparing games across systems it's the colour version of Amstrad games people are looking at, not the monochrome.

I had a Speccy myself (actually it was my older brother's) and adored it. Later I had a C64 and never warmed to it in the same way. I had a couple of mates with Amstrads and enjoyed playing Bomb Jack and APB on them which both seemed like great versions. The only game I can think of which was noicably bad on the Amstrad was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which seemed to have a bug meaning it was impossible to get past the first level (I had the C64 version which was good).

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by Matt_B » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:28 am

JamesC wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:45 am
No one wanted to use a green screen monitor for games though. When people are comparing games across systems it's the colour version of Amstrad games people are looking at, not the monochrome.
You didn't have to use the green screen for games. If you wanted to plug a CPC into a colour TV set in the same fashion as the C64 or the Spectrum there was a modulator you could use that was frequently bundled with the mono models including the one I had. It was completely useless for any serious work as Mode 2 text was unreadable on it, but it was all right for games.

On the other hand, if you specifically wanted a colour monitor, look at what Commodore were charging for theirs.

Also, it's not like every household in the early 80s had a spare colour TV set lying around either, and the chances are that if you did you wouldn't be in the sort of family that was scrabbling around for a sub-£100 computer. For what it's worth, my Spectrum spent most of its first couple of years plugged into a black and white portable, with only the occasional use on the colour TV in the living room before getting it full time when we bought a much larger one. The machine was even designed with an eye towards this as every colour gave a different greyscale value.

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by JamesC » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:06 am

Matt_B wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:28 am
JamesC wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:45 am
No one wanted to use a green screen monitor for games though. When people are comparing games across systems it's the colour version of Amstrad games people are looking at, not the monochrome.
You didn't have to use the green screen for games. If you wanted to plug a CPC into a colour TV set in the same fashion as the C64 or the Spectrum there was a modulator you could use that was frequently bundled with the mono models including the one I had. It was completely useless for any serious work as Mode 2 text was unreadable on it, but it was all right for games.

On the other hand, if you specifically wanted a colour monitor, look at what Commodore were charging for theirs.

Also, it's not like every household in the early 80s had a spare colour TV set lying around either, and the chances are that if you did you wouldn't be in the sort of family that was scrabbling around for a sub-£100 computer. For what it's worth, my Spectrum spent most of its first couple of years plugged into a black and white portable, with only the occasional use on the colour TV in the living room before getting it full time when we bought a much larger one. The machine was even designed with an eye towards this as every colour gave a different greyscale value.
I didn't realise you could still use it with a TV. But then, if you're buying it primarily as a games machine you're paying for a green screen monitor you're not going to use, which doesn't seem ideal either.
I think the home computer plugged into the front room telly was pretty much the norm in my circle. It was few years before TVs in bedrooms started to become more common - and those were often second hand and took time to warm up!

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by Matt_B » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:04 pm

JamesC wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:06 am
I didn't realise you could still use it with a TV. But then, if you're buying it primarily as a games machine you're paying for a green screen monitor you're not going to use, which doesn't seem ideal either.
I think the home computer plugged into the front room telly was pretty much the norm in my circle. It was few years before TVs in bedrooms started to become more common - and those were often second hand and took time to warm up!
You'd have used the monitor a lot, trust me on that. It'd sure beat arguing with the rest of your family for the use of the TV set in the evening, and even if you had a spare colour TV - as I did - there'd still be a lot of games that'd look better in clear monochrome than fuzzy colour.

Our ZX81 started out in the living room but lasted about two weeks there before being relegated to the bedroom. The Spectrum never got much of a look-in.

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by paranoid marvin » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:41 pm

Matt_B wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:57 am
paranoid marvin wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:57 pm
Also by Christmas 1984 the 48k Speccy was down to about £80-£90, the C64 about double that. That still made the CPC almost double the price of a C64 and quadruple that of a Speccy. The 80s were hard times for many parents and £350-£400 for a CPC was simply beyond their reach.
You're way off with the prices there. The CPC464 launched in July 1984 at £249 with a green monitor and £359 for the colour one. For comparison, the Spectrum Plus launched at £179 at around the same time, and the C64 was selling at £199 at that stage, because Commodore were still trying to flog the C16 and kept the price artificially high. The rubber key 48K Spectrum was still significantly cheaper at £129 but that looks more like a factor of two than four to me.

Anyway, I can see how you'd have such a low opinion of the Amstrad if you really did think it cost that much. However, the reality was that the price for the most basic model was pretty much always within £50 of the C64, and about £70 of the most expensive Spectrum model. I'm sure we can all agree that the rubber key Spectrum always represented exceptional value for money though.
Sorry yeah you're right, I was thinking Christmas 1985 prices. No doubt Sugar was astute selling machines with everything bundled in, appealing to parents , esp those who knew little about the computers and what was required to run them properly. Did you really want that nightmare scenario where little Johnny got his C64 or Speccy, but a lead or peripheral was needed to play the games? Better to get an Amstrad and know there'd be no issues. Quality and variation of games were immaterial- after all, a games a game?

As for portable tvs, as home computers fpubd their way into living rooms and started taking over the main tv, surprisingly parents suddenly found the cash to get a portable for the games machine (usually in our bedrooms) and everyone was happy again. As for a choice between a portable or a monitor you couldn't watch late night tv on? No contest!
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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by outdated_gamer » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:47 pm

I honestly didn't know the Amstrad CPC existed before I got internet access and became interested in retro computers. I find the system interesting though, the saturated colours and the keyboard design look nice to me. Shame about the terrible framerates in many games though. It kind of reminds me on the N64 - came late to the 8-bit party, had some better colour capabilities and whatnot, but let down by poor framerates and poor ports from the Speccy.

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by Matt_B » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:08 pm

paranoid marvin wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:41 pm
Sorry yeah you're right, I was thinking Christmas 1985 prices. No doubt Sugar was astute selling machines with everything bundled in, appealing to parents , esp those who knew little about the computers and what was required to run them properly. Did you really want that nightmare scenario where little Johnny got his C64 or Speccy, but a lead or peripheral was needed to play the games? Better to get an Amstrad and know there'd be no issues. Quality and variation of games were immaterial- after all, a games a game?
You're still way off the mark if you're thinking about Christmas 1985 as the CPC464 had been cut to under £200 by that point. The other machines had seen price cuts too, so there was still a bit of a gap but when the 128K Spectrum was launched the following January, we finally had the situation where all three machines were within £50 of each other and that's pretty much how it stayed for the rest of the 80s.

As for the quality and variety of the games, it really wasn't that bad at all. In the run up to Christmas that year the CPC games I bought were Sorcery Plus, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Yie Ar Kung Fu, Skyfox, 3D Grand Prix and Marsport all of which were great; I still play some of them to this day. There were obviously a bunch of goddawful ports released too, but nobody had to buy them and it wasn't like there weren't plenty of good games to go around as well.
As for portable tvs, as home computers fpubd their way into living rooms and started taking over the main tv, surprisingly parents suddenly found the cash to get a portable for the games machine (usually in our bedrooms) and everyone was happy again. As for a choice between a portable or a monitor you couldn't watch late night tv on? No contest!
If that's your roundabout way of agreeing that it was a false economy not to factor the price of one into the ownership costs of a home computer, I won't argue with it.

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by paranoid marvin » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:05 pm

Matt_B wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:08 pm
paranoid marvin wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:41 pm
Sorry yeah you're right, I was thinking Christmas 1985 prices. No doubt Sugar was astute selling machines with everything bundled in, appealing to parents , esp those who knew little about the computers and what was required to run them properly. Did you really want that nightmare scenario where little Johnny got his C64 or Speccy, but a lead or peripheral was needed to play the games? Better to get an Amstrad and know there'd be no issues. Quality and variation of games were immaterial- after all, a games a game?
You're still way off the mark if you're thinking about Christmas 1985 as the CPC464 had been cut to under £200 by that point. The other machines had seen price cuts too, so there was still a bit of a gap but when the 128K Spectrum was launched the following January, we finally had the situation where all three machines were within £50 of each other and that's pretty much how it stayed for the rest of the 80s.

As for the quality and variety of the games, it really wasn't that bad at all. In the run up to Christmas that year the CPC games I bought were Sorcery Plus, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Yie Ar Kung Fu, Skyfox, 3D Grand Prix and Marsport all of which were great; I still play some of them to this day. There were obviously a bunch of goddawful ports released too, but nobody had to buy them and it wasn't like there weren't plenty of good games to go around as well.
As for portable tvs, as home computers fpubd their way into living rooms and started taking over the main tv, surprisingly parents suddenly found the cash to get a portable for the games machine (usually in our bedrooms) and everyone was happy again. As for a choice between a portable or a monitor you couldn't watch late night tv on? No contest!
If that's your roundabout way of agreeing that it was a false economy not to factor the price of one into the ownership costs of a home computer, I won't argue with it.
Well, I got my Spectrum+ for Christmas 1985 and it only cost about £90 from Asda. The Amstrads in the mail order catalogues where still £300+ with a colour monitor, but maybe that's not a fair comparison as often (always?) they were at inflated prices.

I don't doubt there were some quality games for Amstrad. When I previously did some 8 bit comparisons , in some cases the Amstrad did really well. Gryzor , Trantor, Antiriad, Barbarian, Prince of Persia and most Infogrames titles like North and South, Hostages etc were all brilliant games for the Amstrad. Renegade I still prefer the Speccy version.

Overall I think the Amstrad got a pretty bum deal from software companies as it would often get a version of a game far inferior to what the machine was actually capable of - and the games often still cost more. It must have been infuriating to see games like Enduro Racer that looked just like the Speccy but with far worse gameplay. Any machine capable of high speed racing games like Chase HQ could have easily done a better version.
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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by Matt_B » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:07 pm

paranoid marvin wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:05 pm
Well, I got my Spectrum+ for Christmas 1985 and it only cost about £90 from Asda. The Amstrads in the mail order catalogues where still £300+ with a colour monitor, but maybe that's not a fair comparison as often (always?) they were at inflated prices.
The main reason it's not a fair comparison is because it's got a colour monitor! That's a premium addition that'd put £200 on the price of a C64 and would do the same for the Spectrum when there was finally a model that could connect to one. The same goes for models with the disk drive, so if you're trying to compare like with like it's really the price of the green screen CPC464 you should have been looking at.

You did well to get a Spectrum Plus for £90 too because that was about £40 below the RRP at the time. I dare say that some retailers might have been dumping stock in preparation for the arrival of the 128K model in the new year, which was going to be priced at twice that. Anyone who'd bought the CPC464 on the eve of the release of the 6128 could have reaped a similar discount, or the C64 just before the C128 came out, but these things don't usually last because stock can only be sold below cost for so long.

If you wanted a really cheap machine for Christmas 1985 you could have probably had an Atari 800XL or a Commodore Plus/4 for even less than that Spectrum. You might have been a bit short of games for them a year or two down the line though. :P
I don't doubt there were some quality games for Amstrad. When I previously did some 8 bit comparisons , in some cases the Amstrad did really well. Gryzor , Trantor, Antiriad, Barbarian, Prince of Persia and most Infogrames titles like North and South, Hostages etc were all brilliant games for the Amstrad. Renegade I still prefer the Speccy version.

Overall I think the Amstrad got a pretty bum deal from software companies as it would often get a version of a game far inferior to what the machine was actually capable of - and the games often still cost more. It must have been infuriating to see games like Enduro Racer that looked just like the Speccy but with far worse gameplay. Any machine capable of high speed racing games like Chase HQ could have easily done a better version.
To be honest, the situation wasn't that much different to what happened when C64 games were ported to the Spectrum and vice versa; very few were going to improve in the process and you'd have a pretty good idea of how it was going to go when you knew who was handling the conversion. And let's face it; most arcade ports to the Spectrum were rubbish too; people like to wax lyrical about the relatively small number of good ones nowadays, but you learned pretty quickly to wait until the reviews were in before buying them back in the day.

I'd still think that with all these 8-bit computers whether a game was any good or not had far more to do with the talent of the developers than the hardware they were working on, and there were plenty you could trust to deliver the goods on the CPC.

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Re: Discuss: Spectrum vs Amstrad Gaming

Post by gunbladelad » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:51 pm

On a little side-note here, I was browsing the (now defunct) CPCZone site and had a look around the cheats section to see if there were any cheats for some of the games I used to play - and they've actually listed a type-in I must've done back around (if not before) the millenium to search the memory for a sports management game to check the character names & stats - it even has my real name in it.

I'd actually forgotten I'd ever shared that type-in and the tape the original was on is long gone.
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