Manic Miner was based on Bill Hoag's Atari classic "Miner 2049er". It inspired Matthew Smith to write his blockbuster game "Manic Miner" which was launched in 1983. It introduced the platform game to the Sinclair Spectrum. Great graphics, and soundtrack combined with the "just one more go" factor ensured you would play this for hours, if not for weeks and months to come. A memorable "monty python" boot that would squash the player when they had lost all of their lives further enforced the frustration to the game, which accompaned the "Game Over Sequence". This was the first Sinclair Spectrum game I ever saw. It was so revolutionary, it even featured the first animated loading screen which was cleverly executed by the use of flashing attributes on the loading screen. Anyhow, you can read about what Matthew has been doing since by reading about the the the author, on my web page !
|Jet Set Willy
I was first introduced to Jet Set Willy quite later on in my Spectrum gaming experience. That is not to say, that it should be rated in second place to the best computer game of all time, only that nothing could beat "Manic Miner", for it was the best Sinclair Spectrum platformer! It is because of this very reason that 'Jet Set Willy' was Matthew Smith's sequel to Manic Miner for he was the hippy programmer much like the webmaster. Anyhow, the story is that "Miner Willy" holds a huge party at his mansion, probably complete with lots of alcohol and substances. He is quite stoned, and must clean his mansion before he may go to bed. Okay, that last sentence I made up, but it sounded a laugh. Anyhow, whereas Manic Miner was single screen based, and the player had to complete a single screen before the player could progress to the next level, in 'Jet Set Willy', the player has to navigate through hundreds of screens cleaning up the mess left behind by the many party guests before Maria (his wife) will let Miner Willy go to his bed. Despite the cool storyline, Jet Set Willy also produced a new breed of "hacker", that wanted to hack the game to bits, and find how to beat it without the many months of sleep loss, as well as fix some of the games many bugs which slipped into the game before shipment.
The best dart simulator ever produced, par none. I mean that too. Pure value and playability at the £2.99 price tag. It even featured synthesized speech! It may of been a budget game, but it incorporated a two player mode, together with some great music on the 128k Spectrum. I also loved the way the cheeky dog would go for a pee against the pub bar. Pure magic. The two player mode further adds to the games appeal, which is best enjoyed with plenty of beer and double vision for maximum realism. It is this one reason why the webmaster has withdrawn symptoms when he looks forward to the the yearly darts championship to appear on his television. If only they would give him free beer... Doh!
A conversion of Andrew Braybrook's Commodore 64 classic. Dominic Robinson ported it to the Sinclair Spectrum in 1986, at the young age of 21. Although it did not feature the sound or music of the Commodore 64 version, it made up for it due to the fact that the Speccy conversion had super smooth 25 frames per second scrolling and great playablilty. A fine conversion. A later sequel named "Uridium II" appeared on the Amiga much later, but it was Andrew Braybrook's last programming appearance... another programming hippy who bit the dust...
|Head Over Heels
The cutest game to EVER hit the 8 or 32 bit micro's. Even female gamers would become doe eyed (like a female rabbit with dylated pupils) and fall in love with the cuteness of this game. The game featured two heroes: for they were called 'Head and Heels' and were depicted as a dog and a puppy. I only assume "Head" was the male dog, and "Heels" was the female. Hence, they appealed to both sexes. This game was indeed the "finest" isometric 3D adventure game to ever grace the 8 or 32 bit micro's of the early 1990's. What is most interesting is that "Head" and "Heels" possessed their own skills and weaknesses. They had to work together to solve the many puzzles. An example of this is one character could fire doughnuts via his doughnut gun, but the other could run faster, jump higher, and carry objects. Such strengths and weaknesses when looked at individually could be compared to be a weakness. This however, was not so, since they could combine their powers, much like a "close" human relationship. In fact, I will even go as far as to say, that this was the greatest 3D isomoetic adventure to ever appear in the history of 21st century of home computing. The "Sims" game may of introduced family life between male and female, but trust me, "Head Over Heels" was way ahead, for it was some twenty years in front of such competition! Head Over Heels also featured different worlds, a radio controlled Prince Charles' (complete with big ears), bunnies, heat seaking robots, wiggling fish, and cowboys and many books. In fact, the bookworld leads me to think the programmers were book worms in a past life... hehe. Good on 'ya Bernie and Jon... for you programmed a fine classic!
Not exactly the greatest game, but certainly fun to play for a bargin price of £1.99 on the Mastronic budget label, for these day's you cannot buy "diddly squat" for such good value. The game featured the player having to navigate around the inner circuits of the Sinclair Spectrum and avoiding the short circuits, all to a great classical music soundtrack.
Is that all I hear you ask? Well, not exactly, this was the first game the webmaster ever purchased. He also cycled some five miles home from school in the pooring wet rain during a cold December winter to hand over his pocket money to buy such a fine piece of Spectrum software. If that hasn't bought a tear to your eye, it definitely should...
Cool beat 'em up programmed by Mike Lamb for Ocean software. Great fun to play, and the best sound effect for any Spectrum game due to the 'eye watering' crunch you heard when kneeing your opponents in the knackers. Enough to make your eyes water... much like a 1980's confectionary called "Opal Fruits". That was until some stupid company named it Starburst. Probably some dumb american company methinks...
The sequel to Renegade, which saw the introduction of a two player mode. The simultaneous two player mode bought this classic into a new realm of team work and the "two player" beat 'em up genre. Only it was also a laugh to wack the crap out of your buddy with a snooker cue. It was followed by such rip off's as Taito's "Double Dragon". Programmer Mike later went to the United States to do other things.
The Mad professor tries to destroy the world. Great budget game with lots of variety, from a simple car chase, to a beat 'em up, to flying a helicopter in the north sea. It also featured some great 4 channel music curtosy of the musical wizard, Tim Follin. A great gaming experience. It was released for £1.99 on the Mastronic label.
A great coin op conversion of the original arcade machine. The original coin-op featured a fully moving rostrum. The player had to literally lean into the corners and steer to navigate the entire course for each level. The speccy conversion was just as good as the arcade machine: it may of lacked colour, but it made up for this limitation in the sheer speed of scrolling.
Best platformer: Manic Miner
Best platformer sequel: Jet Set Willy
Best Sports Sim: 180 Darts
Best Shoot 'Em Up: Uridium
Best Isometric 3D Adventure (ever!): Head Over Heels
Best Arcade Adventure: SpecVenture
Best Beat 'Em Up: Renegade
Best Two Player Beat 'Em Up: Target Renegade
Best Varied Budget Game: Agent X
Best Racing Game: Enduro Racer
Best programmer: Matthew Smith
Best musician: Tim Follin
Best cutest character in a computer game: Head and Heels (From Head Over Heels).
Winner for best programmer and the best remembered game (and platformer) of all time: Matthew Smith for his creation of Manic Miner.
And so that hereby concludes the webmaster's top 10 most favourite Sinclair Spectrum games of all time, and if you disagree, then I suggest you follow the Sex Pistol's "John Lydon" for he has a modern phrase of expression which is known as "tough titties". An acronym meaning "If you do not like my choice's, then feck off!", only in a much more polite way of expression.