No news story speaks as much about the final closure of an era as the death of Sir Clive Sinclair, one of the most important personalities in the history of microcomputers. Sinclair not only invented the machine that revolutionized the microcomputer market of the eighties, the ZX SpectrumInstead, he was a singular designer who conceived gadgets such as the Sinclair Executive -the world’s finest pocket calculator-, the Sinclair C5 one-person electric vehicle or the very strange A-bike, an ultra-folding bicycle.
Still, let’s not fool ourselves: it is because of the Spectrum microcomputer line (which, still at the peak of its success, in 1986, had to be sold to Amstrad to cover the expenses that the C5 disaster had plunged it into) that that Sir Clive Sinclair Spectrum will go down in history. Computers very cheap, technologically affordable and with which half of Europe introduced a computer in their homes –and the other half started programming. Countries such as Spain or the United Kingdom became the first great video game powers before the NES swept everything away, and 8-bit computers coexisted with luxurious arcade machines at a time when technically they were not even remotely comparable.
To pay tribute to Sir Clive Sinclair, at that time when brands such as Commodore, Amstrad and the MSX standard also shone, but above all, to the ZX Spectrum, the Spectrum 48k and their endless catalogs of games, we have selected some of their classic titles. If you don’t have a rubbers of the time, remember that in sites as the Internet Archive you have emulations of all these titles and many more.
‘Lords of Midnight’ (1984)
An absolute surplus for 1984 (!!!!), which allowed choose between different moral options, recruit an army to accompany you or attack fortresses enemies in a curious precedent of strategy games. All accompanied by evocative and colorful graphics (which are repeated like garlic, yes), in a game that today continues to amaze by its ambition, its duration (well over five hours of gameplay) and for not being considered a total classic of the genre.
‘Manic Miner’ (1983)
We do not know if the best platforms of all time, but certainly one of the most desperate and addictive. His quirky imagery, halfway between Monty Python’s Flying Circus and a terrifying BBC fantasy TV movie, hasn’t aged one iota, and his cheap tricks to drag the player into a deep psychotic break still work perfectly. A classic of the most evil and Machiavellian ingenuity and of absolute pixel perfection. Its continuation is also essential, already in a directly open world to send you to the madhouse: ‘Jet Set Willy’
We use the term “masterpiece” or “revolutionary” very lightly, but the truth is that ‘Elite’ sometimes seems like a thing from (literally) another galaxy. An open and 3D universe at your disposal, where both an action and a strategy approach fit, with multiple possibilities to face the game, giving the possibility that we face enemies, that we trade in ports, we mine asteroids, we improve the ship, we move with hyperspace … a panoply of possibilities so astonishing in the original BBC Micro where the game was born as in this magnificent port.
‘Knight Lore’ (1984)
Although the similar ‘Head Over Heels’ is also on this list, we cannot fail to mention this Ultimate diamond, responsible for absolute classics of the platform such as ‘Jet Pac’, ‘Saber Wulf’ or ‘Atic Atac’, although the top They achieved their prestige with the Filmation technique that shines in several games, but especially in this one. A way to visualize the three dimensions with the very limited technical possibilities of the Spectrum, and that here serves to propose a unique macabre atmosphere. The monster transformations, the time limit, the luscious monochrome, the mix of puzzles and exploration, all gave rise to a timeless classic.
‘Skool Daze’ (1984)
Technically primitive, but with a remarkable complexity in its approach thanks to a concept that does not age: the ultimate goal of the game is to steal the notes from the safe of a classic British boarding school, but the genuinely fun thing is walking around the school grounds doing the ass and wreaking havoc. A total legend of exploration and puzzle adventures, and one of the first proofs that games could portray the everyday and the vulgar (a veritable mine for British playful soft, on the other hand).
‘Head Over Heels’ (1987)
Of the plentiful crop of isometric games of the time, perhaps the holy trinity are ‘Batman’, ‘Knight Lore’ and this one. But without detracting from the chubby vigilante or the Ultimate classic, the two-character mechanic introduced by ‘Head Over Heels’ was revolutionary. One could jump higher and shoot, another could run faster and carry items, and one could switch control from one to the other of choice, and that was all it took to nail a perfect game. A true masterpiece, with puzzles of a sophistication never seen before.
‘The Abbey of Crime’ (1987)
Although it is not the best of the versions of the game (honor that corresponds, in 8 bits, to the incredible Amstrad version), the truth is that This ‘The Abbey of Crime’ that needed to use 128Kb (there is no 48Kb version) is a miracle technical. The most emblematic game of the eighties in Spain is still a highly complex graphic adventure that benefits from its elegant and curious monochrome graphics, which fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the game. With all its technical lameness, an indisputable milestone of our video games.
‘Mad Mix Game’ (1988)
This Spanish version of Pac-Man is still a hilarious arcade game that moves like angels and injects a series of novelties to the simple and immortal original mechanics that give it a unique personality, already from the memorable cover of Azpiri. The music of Gominolas rounds off this Topo product where there are hippos that sink the balls, the possibility of mutating the spherical hero, hatches and hinges, in a great Spanish classic that caught the attention of Pepsi to make it his.
‘Chase HQ’ (1989)
Absolutely spectacular conversion of a mythical driving arcade, which starts with a music that borders on the impossible that has been composed on a Spectrum, and continues with a hilarious chase game with effects to emulate unusual speed and movement at the time. Very tasteful in the monochromatic color palette and the delusional rhythm.
Already in a time of transition to 16-bit and more powerful personal microcomputers, Dinamic’s conversational adventures kept the type also as old genres trying to keep up with more sophisticated genres whose advent was inevitable. This was the start of the Ci-U-Than trilogy, which would continue with ‘The Sacred Temples’ and ‘Chichen Itzá’, adventures with exotic hues where exploring ruins and facing dangers from other eras was the order of the day.
‘Valley of Ruins’ (2019)
We did not want to abandon this tiny and incomplete selection without paying a small tribute to the very fruitful and combative scene of the current Spectrum, and which results in absolutely visually stunning games like this ‘Valley of Ruins’. Huge, colorful graphics and a scroll parallax that simply seems impossible, in an adventure that recovers the best of the feral settings of the titles of the eighties.