The Complete Guide to Spectrum Games

There are a lot of games listed on World of Spectrum. Well over eight thousand right at this moment, in fact. So when faced with such an awesome list, how do you decide what you want to try? Well, here at YS3 we’ve pondered long and hard over a solution. And here it is – we’re going to review every game there.

Not all in one go, of course – that would be sheer madness. Instead, we’re going to break that list down into manageable chunks. So, without further ado, here’s the first installment of the YS3 Complete Guide to Spectrum Games.

AA ZemplAxoft, 1991

AA Zempl

Okay. Not off to a great start here – as you can see this isn’t English or French, and that’s as far as GCSEs took me with languages.

AA Zempl

There’s a bunch of these screens to get through. You can select each line with Q,A and Enter, but it doesn’t seem to do anything but move you to a similarly incomprehensible screen.

AA Zempl

Then I found that I could move the lines from left to right. Very strange. After this it started asking me questions in big letters, but I couldn’t understand any of it. Overall then, I’ll have to give it hatstand out of ten.

La Abadia Del CrimenOperasoft, 1988

I couldn’t get this one to load.


Another language I don’t speak.


a,b,c… Lift-OffLongman Software, 1983

The aim of this one is to get a rocket to launch. To do this you have to hit the next letter in the word displayed on screen inside of a time limit. It’s pretty straightforward, but then I suspect I’m not the target audience.

a,b,c... Lift-Off

It’s written in BASIC, and so the rocket and everything around it takes an age to draw. Also, it spends a good three or four seconds each round drawing really rather good pictures of objects underneath the rocket, like a train or a mouse or something, and then displaying an entirely unrelated word.

a,b,c... Lift-Off

Also, it doesn’t seem to matter what key I press at all, or even if I press a key or not. I’ve no choice but to give this one xylophone out of ten.

Abe’s Escape MissionBrothers 2002

Abe's Escape Mission

Ah, here’s an interesting one. It seems to be a fan-made Abe’s Odyssey game. It’s got an excellent title screen, and a nicely atmospheric ditty in the background, and pages and pages of background story in there too. Okay, I can’t read any of it, but still.

Abe's Escape Mission

The game itself is a flip-screen platform adventure, much like, well, Abe’s Odyssey. I can’t read any of the in-game text, sadly, but I can run and jump around and get killed by guards (who tell me to freeze in English – not that that helps…).

Eight out of ten.

Abington unknown

It’s a text adventure that loads immediately into the game, and displays the location description in ALL CAPS. Nul points.

AbracadabraOdisea Software, 1988

Gah, it’s in Spanish! Still, at least it’s a language I’ve at least a passing familiarity with. (I can’t speak it, but I can understand that ‘Pulsa una tecla’ probably means ‘Press a key’.) It’s certainly interesting trying to figure out what a screen like this means though…


If only Google could translate it for me without any retyping, eh? Turns out that this isn’t just an intro screen – this is the first room in a text adventure. Still, at least it’s not shouting the room description, eh? Penumbra del recinto out of ten.

Next time on the Complete Guide: Abu Simbel Profanation to Ace of Aces! (Or thereabouts.)


  1. You do realise that at this rate (assuming you intend to review a bunch of games every day, and not every week, month, or lunar eclipse), you’ll be at it for over three years?

    I had to catalogue just half of WOS’s ZX81 collection, and I fear for your sanity. If you have one.

    Oh, and if it helps, the Dutch for “press a key” is “Druk op en toet”. (Heheh! Dutch sounds funny.) If the Speccy collection is anything like the ZX81 one, you’re bound to come across shedloads of Dutch stuff at some point. It’s the only useful thing I got out of the entire experience.

  2. The ZX81 index was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time. The games were 50% Dutch, 75% incomprehensible and only about 1% were any good (and I’ve forgotten which ones, but there’s no way I’m going back through the whole lot again just to find out)

    All I can remember is Frogger and some strange ball-rolling puzzler set in Egypt, or something.

  3. I found a rather good version of Centipede by Jeff Minter, but I don’t think it was during the indexing. Odd to think of old Yak writing games in black and white with no sound. It’s just not him, somehow.

  4. I’m sure when Jeff was programming the ZX81 he expected the user to compensating for the lack of colour and sound in other ways.

  5. Unfortunately, I can’t translate them, but “AA Zempl” is definitely in Czech, and “Abakus” seems to be as well. HTH, HAND.

  6. Ah, Czech – of course! Sadly Google’s language skills are comparable to my own when it comes to Czech, but it does offer German to English, and since Germany’s right next to the Czech Republic I gave it a shot. Turned out that Czech is nothing at all like German. Or Russian. Or Greek. Or Italian. Or Korean.

    There’s only one possible solution – I’m going to learn Czech, and do a round-up of all the Czech games at the very end. (Alternatively I’ll just say that and hope that we do get hit by a comet in 2012 and I’m spared a little blushing.)

  7. Abakus is serbian or croatian šŸ™‚ There used to be a few games coded in the ex-YU where i started my spectrum addiction!

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