Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jet Set Spectrum

In times gone by I may have mentioned things about my past, things I've done, seen or heard. Well this is going to be one of those threads. Having seen a bit of a show on television over Christmas about the best Christmas toys ever, I was taken back to times gone by. The Rubik Cube was shown on the clip I first saw, and wow that grabbed me something rotten. I had a cube one year, I'm not sure it was a Christmas present, but could I do the bloody thing? No I couldn't. For years all I could contend myself was first getting 2 sides and then 3 sides done. Not once did I ever peel the stickers, not once did I ever think about pulling the cube apart. About 5 years ago now, I managed to get everything in place after another bout of nostalgia, and also having found the cube in amongst all the other junk that I've got. It's never been messed up since. I must point out that the school record when it mattered for the fastest completion was around 12 seconds.

Last night or yesterday morning when I talked about my niece's Nintendo DS, I started to recall about my own first ever experiences of computer games. I show my age here by accepting that I was around at the launch of Space Invaders, and what a storm they caused! I had a hand held space invader game for one Christmas, which also had a second game on it, which was breakout. It's so old that I can't find any pictures of it online, I wish I could just to show you how old and how bad they were. Well searching the internet will find you anything won't it. I've found the said invader game that I was talking about..... Here's a link to see it in all it's former glory.. It took a while to find it, but find it I have.

However I moved on from that, and found myself an owner of a Sinclair Spectrum, with a massive 48K of memory. Yes, folks you read correctly the height of modern technology at the time, was a home computer with a rubber keyboard and 48K of memory.

To this kid though it was heaven, it meant I was up to date with everyone and I could chat about games etc with all my friends and if I'm even more honest, I was one of the few who had a bloody computer (not that it's helped me learn about the things!) Many a rainy holiday was spent with friends around at my mum's house and depending on if anyone was in, we'd be on the big television downstairs or upstairs in my room on the portable. That was the beauty of the Spectrum, it was so small it could be taken anywhere, and all you needed was a tape recorder with jack plugs in to load the games from tapes. The black market for games was huge for the spectrum. For those of you, who think that cracking games and sharing them online is a modern thing, well let me tell you this. It started way back before the time of the internet even. Of course even then the software companies were trying to stop it.

I recall a particular game which was and probably still is one of THE most talked about spectrum games, Jet Set Willy, had integrated into the starter a colour code you had to type in before the game would load. You could copy the game easily, but it was the colour chart which came with it that meant it wasn't the easiest game to pass onto your friends. Saying that though, you could easily crack the game itself, but a simple 2 lines of code, which provided infinite lives and the chance to go and see the whole game and complete it with ease.

The one thing that I must point out here, the graphics were never hot, or hot compared to what they are today, nor was the 8 bit sound system, but the game play had to be well thought out and planned. For those of you who have found joy in the Championship Manager/Football Manager series of games, will be interested to know that Football Manager was a very early game for the Spectrum and it just took off. It was no where near as detailed as it is today, but then it was a master piece which others looked to emulate.

I used to have a Spectrum emulator on here, but I lost it when the pc crashed about 18 months ago, and I've never got around to putting it back on here. I still love some of the games that the spectrum had, and even now some of the sporting games are excellent, if only to see some of the names of hero's that I grew up watching.

Here's one for those who find this place, leave a comment about any old games or toys that you had, and recall fond memories of. It might be something that I recall, or even had. That would be fun.

No comments: