Could We See Speccy Games on the EXP/VS?

Feeling a Bit Left Out! 😔

BLAZE'S Evecade consoles have quite the expansive library of game carts now. I just bought cart No. 22 and I don't think that's close to how many there actually are. BUT...

While a lot of retro console and computer platforms are represented in the Evercade range there are two that haven't been so far, and - frustratingly - they are the two platforms that I owned in my younger days... Sinclair Spectrum 48k and Atari STe.

Now, while the Atari is a bit more difficult to round up STe specific games (not impossible) most of it's games were shared ports with a certain other competing computer - the Commodore Amiga. 😒

However, the 'Speccy' - on the other hand - was a huge source of innovative and classic exclusive titles. So, why BLAZE has left off adding some of the most fondly remembered games from this legendary home computer is a bit of mystery (my only thought is - as happens with some games it wants - it may be issues with licencing. But, there are so many Speccy games that it is an issue that surly can't effect them all!)

Anyway, were BLAZE to eventually decide to produce a Spectrum Cart Volume 1, here's what I would chose to go on it...

5. Skool Daze(Microsphere, 1984)

You really could NOT make a game like this in these woke times! There would be uproar. But Skool Daze really is a slice of the 1980s and what it was like to be a 'non-conformist' kid in those post-Punk years. 

Here's a peak and explanation (sorry about the volume of this guys' video)...

In a way, you can say that Skool Daze was a pre-cursor to games like GTA4 or Red Dead in it's sandbox approach to role playing, albeit in a pretty rudimentary way. But what you have to remember is that, back in 1980, this was a virtual as it needed to be as kids then had what we called 'an imagination'!

Despite this being a flag bearer of alternative anarchistic culture at the time this one of the Guardian Newspaper's 30 greatest British video games! Which just goes to show how those scruffy irrelevant teenagers of the '80s grew up to be solid cardigan-wearing drones of the establishment. Ironic. Anyway...

After a day at art college I liked nothing better than coming home, having a plate of Findus Crispy Pancakes, tuning into the BBC to watch 'The Young Ones' and playing some Skool Daze on my Speccy. Ah, how simple life was!

Above: If the 1980s was a taste, this is what it would be.

4. Jet Set Willy (Software Projects, 1984)

I felt I would have to include JSW in any compilation cart that Evercade might do of Spectrum classics, even though I wasn't a huge fan myself. I did play it, mostly as I think it came with the Speccy bundle I bought, but it was kinda a right of passage for Spectrum gamers, like Horace Goes Skiing. You had to play it at least once or you weren't a member of the club!

Here's a overview, and - again - I dunno what is wrong with YouTubers who make videos about Spectrum games, but the audio is crap! I can only assume that they have been listening to far to many 8bit beeps and clicks and that their ear drums are in tatters...

Anyway, the other reason I include this game is that it highlighted just how low our expectations were as a home computer gamer at the time, or how easily we were pleased. It's easy to look back now and say how rubbish a game like JSW appears to be by todays standards, but when you consider that you are talking about THE FIRST generation of computer gamers who were not long ago flipping their lids over 'PONG' then you will understand how JSW was like the 'next gen' to them!

If you think of an Evercade retro cartridge as being a sort of little museum of what a particular gaming platform was like, then Jet Set Willy really needs to be on one as a snapshot of the 'Speccy scene'. And as much as I wasn't a fan, about a million cassettes of this game was bought, so that does say something about it!

3. The Hobbit (Beam Software, 1988)

Above: You mean I have to type in TEXT? LOL

Now, including The Hobbit on an Evercade cart collection is a bit of a quandary. There is no question it should be there, but - on the other hand - are Evercade uses:

A. Ready for a TEXT adventure, and...
B. Would EXP owners be able to play this on their tiny screens? 😆

This, in fact, is one of my problems with the idea of a 'representative' compilation of Spectrum games for a Evercade. A lot of the games I liked, back in the day, were - surprisingly - text and menu heavy!

Here's teaser...And YAY! It has reasonable audio...

I liked strategy and war games, some of which required you reading through lengthy scrolling text OR had tiny little icons representing units that even on a 14 inch TV were a bit hard to make out!

Of course both the Evercase VS and EXP has the ability to be connected to a big TV screen so size of graphics and text perhaps isn't an issue, but even so, I kinda think that the majority of retro gamers prefer the simplistic easy of interface - with not a lot of controls or reading of menus - that games like The Hobbit would confront them with.

Good Lord, the idea of having to read a manual is so un-Evercade! So, - sadly - there are a lot of games that I would like to include on my list that I simply feel I can't because that would not be well received by the majority of Evercade owners! (God, CCS's excellent 'Arnhem' war game [1985] would freak out the average Evercader!) 😕

Anyway, all that said, there is a big case for the inclusion of The Hobbit on a Evercade Speccy compilation, even if it's just to prove that all home computer games of that era weren't platformers or side-scrolling shooters! And on top of that, it's actually a brilliant game!

In a way, The Hobbit was to the Spectrum what the 'Oregon Trail' was to the Apple II. It almost has a legendary status when talked about by veteran gamers.

2. Super Hang-On (Electric Dreams Software (UK), 1987)

To this day, one of my guilty little gaming secrets is that I love driving games. In fact, this is the one reason that I have held onto my old Xbox 360, that I love to just tune out and relax to a easy to get into, easy to put down again session racing game.

Back in the Spectrum days, for me, there were a handful of excellent racing games - like 'Turbo Espirit' and 'Chase HQ' - but something a little different which really captured the excitement of speed was a motorcycle racing game, Super Hang-On.

The main thing for me was the smooth (for a Spectrum) animation of travelling through a scrolling course which was a little more varied - and so unpredictable  - that the some of the more boring tracks in Spectrum driving games. And the undulations of the hilly sections really did give a reasonable sense of a fast ride.

Additionally, for once, the leaning motorbike style of driving was actually nicely simulated using the dodgy old squishy Kempson joystick! 😆

1. Knight Lore (1984)

I tremble when I think of this game as, in your computer gaming life you always remember that one game that took you to another level of obsession... This was Knight Lore for me.

Admittedly, the initial novelty of this game was the faux-3D nature of the isometric graphic in a world of 2D side or vertical scrolling shooters or platformers. The addition of the illusion of being able to move in the 3rd dimension was - at the time - a real 'wow'. And, again, probably tells you a lot about how easily pleased we were in the early 1980s BUT it was genuinely a real step forward (or sideways LOL) for game design.

I'll admit that, looking back now, Knight Lore was not - eventually - the very best of the isometric platform puzzle games - that title probably goes to 'Head Over Heals' - but, as often is the case, you tend to remember the first time a game did something special rather than the later variations or improvements that came out after that.

For me, though, it was that fantastic mechanic where - in time with the moon's phase - your character turned into it's werewolf persona which altered your abilities. This was done with a fantastic animation and sound clip which all players of this game with always remember with fondness!


Well, there you go, five Speccy games I'd love to see on a Evercade cartridge collection. Obviously, these are my choices, other Spectrum fans will point out that some of these are not what are considered the best games (there's a couple that would struggle to get into a Speccy Top 10)!

Also, as I mentioned briefly, this collection does not include a whole genre of Spectrum games that I played a lot - strategy and war games. I've left those out simply because, while Evercade VS console players would play these happily connected, as they are, to a big screen TV, Evercade EXP handheld players would probably need a magnifying glass to see soe of the tiny icons used in these type of games...

Above: Unfortunately, I cannot see some of my very favourite Speccy games, like
'Vulcan' coming to a Evercade cart as this would be a no-no for EXP players.

Still, despite that sad exception, there are an enormous amount of cracking games to be cherry picked from the Spectrum library, with some really unique exclusives or games that appeared on the Spectrum first.

I really do hope that BLAZE will be bringing some Speccy goodness to the Evercade consoles this year as their omission of this legendary platform so far has been somewhat perplexing (too many C64 fan-boys in the company I reckon)! 😏

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