Put on some Duran Duran and put on your moon boots, because it’s time to look at the best ZX Spectrum games of all time.
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Many of you may know the ZX Spectrum as the console that plays all of your favourite old games with bad graphics…
Ok, that was kind of mean. The Spectrum was one of the first home consoles in the UK, and it did a lot for the gaming industry.
It’s also almost 40 years old, so I guess I should give it a break.
The Spectrum had a lot of original games and was a training ground for developers who went on to make some of my favourite games ever, many of which are on our list of the best N64 games.
This console is one of the few things that define the 1980s. It has a cool stripe and a sleek look. But what are the best ZX Spectrum games for this old computer?
We’ve listed of our favourite books below, along with links to where you can buy them.
Have fun scrolling and riding!
Rainbow Islands: The Story Of Bubble Bobble 2 (1987)
The first game on this list of the best ZX Spectrum games of all time is Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2.
Some of you might know the guy on the front cover from Parasol Stars, which is one of the best PC Engine games. Well, that part of the Bubble Bobble story starts on Rainbow Islands, where everyone’s favourite dragons who can break into different shapes are in their human forms.
I know it’s hard to understand, but please stick with us.
The main characters of Bubble Bobble, Bub and Bob, are actually people who have been turned into dragons by a bad sorcerer. In this game, each player takes turns being Bubby and then Bobby.
In terms of how it’s played, it’s a bit like a version of Mario Bros. where players have to jump up levels to avoid the rising sea level as well as defeating enemies on the screen. If you don’t move fast enough, you’ll die!
When compared to the arcade version, the ZX Spectrum version of Rainbow Islands is very simple. The characters don’t have any colour, and most of the backgrounds in the levels are just blocks of colour.
This game might not have made this list at all if it wasn’t for how fun it is to play. Still, Bub and Bob are big in the world of retro games, and it’s not their fault that the Spectrum makes them look dull.
Jet Set Willy (1984)
I’m going to be honest: Even though I’ve played Jet Set Willy, it took me a long time to figure out what the heck was going on with that front cover.
At first, I thought it was a friendly whale, especially since it looks like a swordfish is sticking its head out the door. Then, like an eye puzzle, a man with his head in a toilet and a wine bottle in his hand came back into view.
Still, despite the strange cover, this game was the most popular game of 1984 in the UK and stayed at the top of the charts for three months.
The game is a sequel to Manic Miner. In it, Miner Willy goes on a new adventure. Willy went to a huge party and is starting to feel a little worse for wear. He wants to go to sleep, but he can’t until he cleans up his house.
But this house isn’t like other houses. Willy bought it with the money he found in Manic Miner, but he hasn’t had time to check out all of the rooms yet. Many of them are full of monsters and other enemies that Willy has to kill.
Clean every room, including Willy’s yacht and beach. This sounds like a great party!
Use 60 screens in any order you want. Just straighten up that house, so poor Willy can go to sleep!știi?știi?
Daley Thompson’s Decathlon (1984)
13th on this list of the best ZX Spectrum games of all time is Daley Thompson’s Decathlon.
You know how Mario and Sonic have made it fun for kids and their families to watch the Olympics more than once every four years? Well, back in the day, Daley Thompson was the one who brought epic Olympic action to home consoles.
Daley Thompson’s Decathlon came out in 1984, after Daley had won a string of medals in the Decathlon. He was the ultimate “challenge everything” star of his time, like Tony Hawks.
The game itself is a lot like Track and Field, which most of our readers have probably played at some point.
The game takes place over two days packed with events:
Day 1: 400 metres, 100 metres, long jump, shot put, and high jump
Day 2: 110 hurdles, pole vault, discus, javelin, and 1500 metres
If a player doesn’t do well in an event, they lose a life. If this was the case with real sports, I would have died a long time ago.
Luckily, the controls are easy to understand, but you’ll need quick fingers to get those high scores!
Because of Speedlock, this is one of the best ZX Spectrum games that loads the fastest. Not as fast as Daley though; he’s fast.
Bomb Jack (1984)
Bomb Jack is the 12th best ZX Spectrum game of all time, according to this list.
This bombastic hero might not be as well-known as our favourite Sega Mega Drive star, who rides a kangaroo and kicks explosives, but Bomberman would be proud of what he has done.
Bomb A simple side-scrolling adventure with Jack as the main character feels like an early Alex Kidd or Asterix game crossed with Pac-Man. Try to avoid enemies while collecting bombs. Sounds easy, right?
If the enemies were easier to beat, things would be a lot easier. Who thought it would be a good idea to have Egyptian mummies that turn into UFOs when they reach the bottom of the screen? It’s hard to beat those guys!
In this game, you can do more than just pick up bombs. In each stage, Bomb Jack has to grab different letters, kind of like how Donkey Kong has to grab the golden KONG letters. These letters give Bomb Jack short-term abilities that help him, so it’s important to find them all.
When you get all of the bombs on a stage, you can also go to new places. It’s fun like it used to be, and the game screen is easy to use.
Operation Wolf (1987)
What is the same about Operation Wolf and Bubble Bobble? Even though they are very different, they are both made by the same people. Still, I guess that shows that Ocean can do more than just one thing.
In Operation Wolf, Roy Adams, a member of the Special Forces, kicks asses and names names. He is a tough commando who has to fight his way through enemy territory to save people who have been taken hostage.
I won’t lie, this port looks a lot worse than the version for the Commodore 64. With levels that are all the same colour, it’s not easy to get into the action and see what’s going on in the background.
In fact, it’s not always easy on the eyes.
Still, since it was one of the first shooting games to have a story, there is a lot of exciting arcade action.
Operation Wolf has six levels, and on each level, you have to do side quests and small missions. It might not be the most technically advanced game on this list of the best ZX Spectrum games, but it gives players a lot to do.
On each level, you have to kill the enemies to move on. Players have to beat up a certain number of bad guys, so don’t start getting soft and letting people escape.
And let’s give Roy Adams a hand. He is being attacked all the time with guns, grenades, rocket launchers, gunners in helicopters, and crazy people with knives. He has his work cut out for him.
The Lords Of Midnight (1984)
The Lords of Midnight could have one of the coolest game cases ever (besides number 3 on this list, of course!).
This fantasy RPG feels very strategic, like Fire Emblem or Risk. Fans of those games will feel right at home with it. It was made for the ZX Spectrum, and it was one of the most popular games of the 1980s. It was also one of the first games made during the golden age of gaming.
In true RPG style, players start out controlling four characters and can add more as they move through the levels. Who wouldn’t want Farflame the Dragon Lord and Utarg of Utarg on their team?
Whoever gets their name from where they were born must be a great warrior, right?
In a cool twist, The Lords of Midnight can be played three different ways. It is both an adventure game and a war game. It is also an epic quest.
The most nerdy mode is the adventure mode, which is my favourite. Take Morkin, the main character, through the main story to a showdown with Doomdark where you have to destroy him and his Ice Crown of power.
It’s so good, it could have been written by Tolkien.
In the war mode, players recruit nobles and their armies in a strategic way before going to war with Doomdark. And the Epic mode is basically the first mode followed by the second mode.
If you like RPGs and quest games, you should add this to your collection.
R-Type was the king of side-scrolling shooters, and the Spectrum version was the most amazing way to fit anything in space (besides a black hole) into a small areaștii.știiștii. Which will also make you lose track of time and get you hooked. Even though hours have passed in the real world, you feel like you’ve only been enjoying the new weapons for a few minutes.
The game still has beautiful graphics. At the time, they were a great example of computer art, and now they are being remade in a retro style. It’s nice to know that some people cared just as much about the tech back then.
Chase HQ is a rare Spectrum game in that the title screen doesn’t make you wish you were deaf. It’s also a rare game because being “one of the best games ever” isn’t something that happens often. The original arcade cabinet turbocharged the whole driving genre, giving people more to fight than a clock, and the Spectrum conversion squeezed more impossible awesome into old technology than black-and-white episodes of Doctor Who.