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new666uk

Spectrum 128 - what games to start with

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So after seeing my first ever computer about 40 years ago (my uncle Jacks rubber key Spectrum), I finally bought myself a 128 +2 this week.

 

It's being delivered today and has a couple of tapes with it so I can check it's working. I'll most likely get an SD card in the future but as a guide what are he stand out games on the Spectrum (128 enhanced or not)?

 

thanks

Paul

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Welcome to the party, pal! 

 

First, which +2 is it? Is it grey (+2) or black (+2a or +2b)?

 

If it's the grey one then you've got more game compatibility, but a poorer quality tape deck. If it's the black one, you've got a much more reliable tape deck, but you've compatibility issues with old games (Amstrad changed the ROMs around, making some old games crash on the +2a/+2b).

 

Thankfully most of the incompatible games did come in compatible versions (typically re-releases) and you can find the compatible versions here: http://www.alessandrogrussu.it/plus2A-en.html

 

Most games from 1988 onwards had 128k specific features, like added music. However, some games from before 1988 had "hidden" 128k features. When I got my +2 in 1987, imagine my surprise at playing Auf Wiedersehen Monty and Renegade and getting AY music! 

 

I'd absolutely recommend getting a DivMMC Future from here: https://www.thefuturewas8bit.com/shop/sinclair/divmmcfuture.html 

 

It's £59.99 but absolutely essential, it means you can just download the compatible +2a/+2b games, but most importantly... unfortunately 128k only games tend to go for a lot more on eBay these days. But some 128k only games you should definitely try are

 

International Matchday

Daley Thompson's Supertest 128k

Stars on the 128k (which is a compilation featuring the above two, plus Never Ending Story and Yie Ar Kung Fu)

Where Time Stood Still (semi-sequel to The Great Escape)

Barry McGuigan's Boxing

Ghostbusters (the 128k dedicated release, it's got much nicer music but seems pretty hard to find these days)

Lode Runner 128k

Addams Family

Darkman

Nodes/Arc of Yesod

Tai Pan (originally started as a 128k only game, got a 48k version which is pretty crap)

Knight Tyme

Spellbound

Battle Command

Carrier Command

Bedlam

Sweevo's Whirled (although I'm not sure what the difference is between this and Sweevo's World!)

Technician Ted The Megamix

 

The other two reasons to get a DivMMC is that there are loads of 128k, modern home-brew games that are really great fun like Aliens:Neoplasma. The other reason is that there a number of 128k hacks of 48k games, adding in AY music or extra features. There's a 128k version of Tapper, Stop The Express, Barbarian, Feud, Barbarian, Laser Squad and the only way to play them is through a DivMMC (unless you wanted to record the audio to tape!) 

 

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If you're looking for just a list of the best games, the Your Sinclair Top 100 compiled by Stuart Campbell before he became a famous internet "personality" is a good place to start. 

 

http://www.worldofspectrum.org/ystop100.html

 

Here's a video of the reader's Top 100 (note, the music isn't always from the games!)

 

 

Overall they're good reflections of the Spectrum's library as they were compiled right at the end of the Spectrum's lifespan when people maybe appreciated the gameplay over the graphics...

 

If you are going to go down the tape route, then I'd definitely recommend getting some compilations.

 

Magnificent Seven by Ocean (great collection of Ocean games from around 1986)

Supreme Challenge (Elite, Starglider, Tetris and the Sentinel)

10 Great Games II by Gremlin (another great collection of Gremlin games from around 1987, lots of +2 music on them).

Big Box by Beau Jolly (30 games, released right at the end of the Spectrum and they're mostly Activision games, some duffers but some really good ones)

Five Star Games 1-3 by Beau Jolly (got stuff like Back to Skool, Quazatron, Tau Ceti)

Four Smash Hits by Hewson (got Exolon, Zynaps, Ranarama)

20 Chart Busters by Beau Jolly (a brilliant collection of budget games, although some really good re-releases like Ghostbusters and Way of the Exploding fist). 

10 Titles for the Spectrum Plus (a pack in game for the Spectrum + but it's got most of Ultimate's early output and it's significantly cheaper than Ultimate: The Collected Works!) 

 

I've also got a load of old Spectrum magazine cover tapes that you can have, if you want them. I picked up a bundle of games earlier in the year and there's loads of cover tapes that I don't use, although they've got some real cracking games on them! That's another very cheap way of playing decent games, magazine cover tapes from 89/90/91.

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Worth looking online at the modifications needed to sort out the sound if you have a black Spectrum+2, or a +3 for that matter. Unless you have the more recent (and considerably rarer) "b" models, your AY chip will sound like it's underwater.

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11 minutes ago, dumpster said:

Worth looking online at the modifications needed to sort out the sound if you have a black Spectrum+2, or a +3 for that matter. Unless you have the more recent (and considerably rarer) "b" models, your AY chip will sound like it's underwater.

 

There's conflicting info on if the 2A did have the audio issue, or if it was just a small amount of the +2A had it.

Quote

Internet folklore often has it, that all +2A machines have a sound fault, due to them supposedly using +3 motherboards, but almost all use an entirely different board (270833) which has the fault corrected. It is actually very rare to find a +2A machine with a sound fault, leading people to try and seek out this much rarer +2B needlessly, thought by many mistakenly to be the only model with the sound fix.

 

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/48441/Sinclair-ZX-Spectrum-2B/

 

It turns out I've actually got a +2B (it says on the bottom it's a +2B and it's made in China) although it's not my original Spectrum +2 (which I gave away about 20 years ago). When I bought the bag of Spectrum games off Gumtree for £20 earlier in the year, as I was leaving the guy ran out and said "you can have this too" and handed a black +2 Spectrum! He said he didn't have a power supply and wasn't sure if it worked, but thought I might be able to get it working.

 

So I managed to get a +2 PSU off of eBay for about £20 (annoyingly the +2A and +2B uses a specific Amstrad power supply, so you can't just use a standard +9v like the other Spectrums) and with another tenner or so on a Start cable, I managed to get a fully working +2B! Since then I've got a DivMMC and it's certainly helped with the bloody long wait for the Spectrum Next....

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A lot of the later Ocean releases are the best showcase for the 128k. Navy Seals is a good example of not just a great AY soundtrack, but extra presentational touches and larger more detailed sprites making use of that added memory. The Storm releases, like SWIV and Saint Dragon are two of my favourite 128k releases and Narc is a damn fine conversion. Some of the older hits are also enhanced for the 128k beyond just the soundtrack, classic brawler Renegade adds a valuable shoulder throw move, which really enhances the fighting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turmoil (Bug Byte)

Starstrike

Green Beret

Commando

West Bank

Jetpac

Moon Cresta

Stop the Express

Laser Squad

 

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The Spectrum 128k version of Kwik Snax remains my favourite version of the game, primarily because of its fantastic intro, which wasn't replicated on any other machine.

 

 

The Spectrum conversion of Midnight Resistance is also fantastic. Nostalgia is a big factor, but I prefer this version over the arcade original (I still kick myself for not buying the Megadrive version when it was cheap though). 

 

 

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@new666uk I managed to dig out those Spectrum tapes, there's about a dozen of them a mixture of boxed magazine cover tapes and loose tapes consisting of some games and some compilation "doublers" I've picked up.

 

The cover tapes would be great fun to get started, they're from around 1991/92 when magazines were giving away 2-3 full price games per tape and some really good classic titles like Dark Star, On the Run, Heavy on the Magick, Aliens, Spy Versus Spy III, Bounder etc. 

 

Let me know if the +2 tape deck is working and if you want them, I can post them to you.

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23 hours ago, gone fishin' said:

Welcome to the party, pal! 

 

First, which +2 is it? Is it grey (+2) or black (+2a or +2b)?

 

If it's the grey one then you've got more game compatibility, but a poorer quality tape deck. If it's the black one, you've got a much more reliable tape deck, but you've compatibility issues with old games (Amstrad changed the ROMs around, making some old games crash on the +2a/+2b).

 

Thankfully most of the incompatible games did come in compatible versions (typically re-releases) and you can find the compatible versions here: http://www.alessandrogrussu.it/plus2A-en.html

 

Most games from 1988 onwards had 128k specific features, like added music. However, some games from before 1988 had "hidden" 128k features. When I got my +2 in 1987, imagine my surprise at playing Auf Wiedersehen Monty and Renegade and getting AY music! 

 

I'd absolutely recommend getting a DivMMC Future from here: https://www.thefuturewas8bit.com/shop/sinclair/divmmcfuture.html 

 

It's £59.99 but absolutely essential, it means you can just download the compatible +2a/+2b games, but most importantly... unfortunately 128k only games tend to go for a lot more on eBay these days. But some 128k only games you should definitely try are

 

International Matchday

Daley Thompson's Supertest 128k

Stars on the 128k (which is a compilation featuring the above two, plus Never Ending Story and Yie Ar Kung Fu)

Where Time Stood Still (semi-sequel to The Great Escape)

Barry McGuigan's Boxing

Ghostbusters (the 128k dedicated release, it's got much nicer music but seems pretty hard to find these days)

Lode Runner 128k

Addams Family

Darkman

Nodes/Arc of Yesod

Tai Pan (originally started as a 128k only game, got a 48k version which is pretty crap)

Knight Tyme

Spellbound

Battle Command

Carrier Command

Bedlam

Sweevo's Whirled (although I'm not sure what the difference is between this and Sweevo's World!)

Technician Ted The Megamix

 

The other two reasons to get a DivMMC is that there are loads of 128k, modern home-brew games that are really great fun like Aliens:Neoplasma. The other reason is that there a number of 128k hacks of 48k games, adding in AY music or extra features. There's a 128k version of Tapper, Stop The Express, Barbarian, Feud, Barbarian, Laser Squad and the only way to play them is through a DivMMC (unless you wanted to record the audio to tape!) 

 

Fantastic - thanks for the detailed info gone fishin'.

 

It's a black model 128 +2 in Action Pack form with gun etc.

 

Ghostbusters is on the list definitely! I also remember Target Renegade and Trapdoor on my mates 128.

 

I've not looked so it might be obvious but does the DivMMC also allow and form of save states? Things like Fantastic Dizzy I'll never finish in one sitting.

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54 minutes ago, gone fishin' said:

@new666uk I managed to dig out those Spectrum tapes, there's about a dozen of them a mixture of boxed magazine cover tapes and loose tapes consisting of some games and some compilation "doublers" I've picked up.

 

The cover tapes would be great fun to get started, they're from around 1991/92 when magazines were giving away 2-3 full price games per tape and some really good classic titles like Dark Star, On the Run, Heavy on the Magick, Aliens, Spy Versus Spy III, Bounder etc. 

 

Let me know if the +2 tape deck is working and if you want them, I can post them to you.

 

 

Double fantastic! It's one of this weekends projects. There are a couple of cassettes with it so I should be able to get the tape working. I'll probably crack the case and look inside first for any nastiness and give it all a good clean. Whilst I'm inside I'll not exactly which model it is.

 

This thread seems to have really sprung to life - lotta speccy love out there still I see.

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My grey +2 was my first proper computer at home and I remember it fondly. I had loads of games for it (all still at my folks) and wish I still had the machine! Another great 128k game was batman the movie, the music sticks on my head to this day. Robocop was also great too. 

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21 hours ago, new666uk said:

Fantastic - thanks for the detailed info gone fishin'.

 

It's a black model 128 +2 in Action Pack form with gun etc.

 

Ghostbusters is on the list definitely! I also remember Target Renegade and Trapdoor on my mates 128.

 

I've not looked so it might be obvious but does the DivMMC also allow and form of save states? Things like Fantastic Dizzy I'll never finish in one sitting.

 

Yes, the DivMMC (well the Future one at least) allows you to save snapshots, so playing games like Back to Skool, Fairlight or Head over Heels is much more fun as you can save your progress.

 

It's amazing to now look back on what programmers and graphics people managed to achieve on the Spectrum, certainly towards the end of its lifespan. I guess by 1991 I had moved on to the Amiga and these games didn't seem that impressive, but looking back it's stunning what was achieved.

 

 

 

 

Space Gun: 1992 (128k only) 

 

 

Golden Axe (1990)

 

 

 

David Perry and Nick Bruty (of Earthworm Jim fame) certainly pushed the Spectrum to its limits (although if there's any criticism, it would be that they often didn't use the extra capabilities of the 128k, instead sticking to 48k style beeper audio)

 

Here's some of their games

 

Dan Dare III (1990)

 

 

Captain Planet

 

 

Extreme (1991)

 

 

Smash TV

 

 

Looking at the difference between these and something like Jumping Jack (which is still a great game), released in 1983, it shows you just how much these talented people squeezed out of the Spectrum!

 

 

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Something else that struck me was the change in UK developed games to US/Japanese developed games as the shift went from home computers to consoles and how one game really shows this.

 

Take a look at Addams Family, which was released on pretty much every format by Ocean. The SNES version is thought of as being a very generic platformer, but if you look at the other platforms, you can see how it ended up the way it was (and the difference between UK and US/Japanese developed games). 

 

Addams Family on the Amiga is similar to the SNES version, but it doesn't have the nice background and smaller detail, compare the two in these videos:

 

Addams Family SNES

 

 

Addams Family Amiga

 

 

 

 

 

But look at Addams Family on the Spectrum

 

 

It's quite close to the Amiga version, except it doesn't scroll (making it a flip screen platformer). But the Spectrum version is essentially a more advanced version of Roller Coaster by Elite and a lot of the earlier platform games on the Spectrum that game after Jet Set Willy (Dynamite Dan, Technician Ted).

 

 

So if you add scrolling, nice graphics, nice background and better music, Addams Family on the SNES could trace it's roots back to those early Spectrum platformers. Those same platformers that had traits like instant deaths, pixel perfect jumps and frustrating gameplay! Those traits that are really common with Spectrum games and essentially died out as home consoles took over with games developed primarily by US and Japanese developers.

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I have one of the original big DivMMC EnJoy interfaces going if you fancy it. It isn't as slick as the Future, you have to set switches on the side for specific model Spectrums, and it does stick out a ways, but otherwise still has the Kempston interface and whatnot.

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So, an update now I've had chance to mess with it.

 

All in good cosmetic order and appears to be a +2b issue 2.Tried the PSU on the multimeter and looks like only one of the 12v lines is working so it won't power up. Checked the plug and rewired it to be nearer. Swopped the 13amp fuse to 3a. Inspected both the fuses in the PSU and they are fine. Nothing else seems amiss. Starting to run out of electrical skill but did some continuity testing (PSU unplugged) to try and identify anything on the board that's dead and nothing obvious.

 

Stuck for now. Worst case is fabricating a PSU from an old PC but that's another project. Any immediate ideas on what to try?

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25 minutes ago, new666uk said:

Stuck for now. Worst case is fabricating a PSU from an old PC but that's another project. Any immediate ideas on what to try?

 

So you've got a few options with that. Quick question - how good is your soldering skills? Could you do this modification with this Cisco PSU?

 

https://spectrumforeveryone.com/technical/replacement-psu-2a-3-machines/

 

Because if you can, I've got one... (I was going to try and mod it myself and then realised my soldering skills are well rusty, so just bought a PSU instead.)

 

That's the big problem with the +2B in particular, it's probably the best Spectrum you can get (sure, the Toastrack 128k is more pleasing, but it's very expensive and not as well made as the +2B), but it uses a bespoke PSU....

 

So if you think you can mod it (I've also got the correct DIN socket etc so it's ready to go) then you can have it!

 

 

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Well I can just about get two wires to hold together but more useful is that my brother is an electrical engineer so can solder far better than me. 

 

Heard about the Cisco router PSU as an option and could probably cope with soldering the 6 wires in the DIN (probably won't do the inline switch). 

 

Bit annoyed as I have a multi device PSU from retrodcpowered which will do other Spectrums but not the +2 oddball.

 

What do you want for the Cisco?

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44 minutes ago, new666uk said:

 

 

Bit annoyed as I have a multi device PSU from retrodcpowered which will do other Spectrums but not the +2 oddball.

 

What do you want for the Cisco?

 

Yeah Amstrad made some “improvements” by moving the voltage converter from the Spectrum’s PCB to the power supply. On one hand, it means the +2a/b doesn’t have heat issues like the previous Spectrum’s, but on the other hand you now have to deal with a bespoke PSU! However, unlike the Commodore 64, which had a similar PSU, the Spectrum is easier to make thanks to the Cisco router PSU having true same voltage!

 

Anyway, how about £10 for the Cisco router and the games to cover postage and package (when adding in the games, it’s about 2kg in weight!!)

 

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Sold!

 

PM me your details and I'll PayPal you.

 

Was slightly disappointed the PSU was dead as the rest of the kit is all in really nice condition. I guess that's what 30 years wear on a cheaply made PSU does.

 

Thanks!

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I was always intrigued by Little Computer People but I’ve never played it.

 

I’ve just picked up a ZX Spectrum + (pictured). It’s in great condition - apart from the missing key, which I’ve ordered. And the fact it won’t boot up. Plugged a Divide and it lights up but would it be worth me buying a multimeter to see what’s what, @new666uk? Appreciate this is a 128k thread! 

 

 

 

5229B741-52EE-48CB-8315-6F98C0DB2FBC.jpeg

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Yeah I only got the multi meter on mine as the 128 +2 has a non standard PSU. If I had one like yours my multi device PSU from retrodcpowered would work fine.

 

Looks in good condition, keep us posted on getting it running!

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SUPER CARS is my fav racing sim on the spec. it's a top down view one. think it was 128k only but can't remember.

 

POTSWORTH & CO is good for a cutesy wander-round-em-up, underrated game I thought.

 

RAINBOW ISLANDS and RODLAND really show how good arcadey style platform games could be on the speccy.

 

WONDERBOY had horrific scrolling but was still enjoyable to play somehow.

 

ARKANOID and BATTY were the 2 big bat-n-ball releases but they were both hard as nails. KRAKOUT was a great variation on that style, and way more playable

 

EMLYN HUGHES INTERNATIONAL SOCCER - the most fun soccer sim by a mile on the speccy. IMO

 

DALEY THOMPSON'S SUPER TEST. again great fun. it had more events on the 128k version, iirc.... also HYPERSPORTS which was similar.

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On 08/06/2019 at 10:37, gone fishin' said:

Smash TV

 

 

I found this one way too cluttered and frantic, which is a shame cause I could see it was a good game but I was so pants at it that I ended up not liking it. - think I played it on the game gear and liked that version better

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It's not going to showcase anything but it's the kind of thing we don't see too often now.

 

The Great Escape (Ocean).

 

A game where you, in a surprisingly open world, choose your own way, have to figure out a way to escape from a German concentration camp. You'll need to find the equipment and execute your plan (and there's multiple viable plans) all while not attracting too much attention from the guards.  It also has the most unique health system in gaming.

 

Here's my look at it from the middle of an episode, the video should start at the timecode.

 

 

 

If not, it's 14:20.

 

From that episode it's also entirely worth looking at Thanatos and Fat Worm Blows a Sparky.

 

Never look at Gallipoli. Ever.

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So, my Spectrum 128 +2A arrived. Original PSU was only outputting a single 12v so wouldn't boot.

 

After a very kind offer from gone fishin' and my brothers help I now have a cisco router PSU that has a shiny new 6 pin DIN connector on it and works. It was a right sod to do and that's from an electrical engineer. In the end, he soldered some smaller wire 'tails' to the 6 pin DIN and then soldered those to the exposed cables in the lead from the PSU. They are pretty chunky wires to solder directly to the DIN.

 

Speccy powers up and I learn it's a 2A not the B I originally thought. Try a tape (thanks again gone fishin'). Starts loading but fails to complete - the tape ran out despite being game 1 of 2 on that side. Tried another and eventually the screen stopped flashing and it failed to load.

 

I noticed an issue with the cursors not working and stripped out the membrane, cleaned with electrical contact cleaner and it worked briefly.

 

There is also an issue with a Sinclair joystick in port 1 or 2 producing a buzzing noise until a direction or the fire button is pressed. Not sure if related to the keyboard issue.

 

So that's where I'm at so far. Any suggestions welcome and I'll keep playing with it till it works (the Speccy - get your mind out the gutter).

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