The Nostalgia Project – Part 4: The ZX Spectrum

This was the first computer I ever owned. It was a joint Christmas present between my sister and I, and was bought early, wrapped and “hidden” in the wardrobe in the spare bedroom. We used to sneak in and look down the seams of the wrapping, trying to work out what was in there.

We got the disk-based model, the +3:

ZX Spectrum +3
ZX Spectrum +3

Image credit: Frode Tennebø

The disks were an unusual 3 inch format that didn’t really catch on. We also had a cassette player, since you could get bargain games for £2.99 on casssete, but new ones were £14.99 on disk.

It came with a light gun and a version of arcade shooter Operation Wolf – I remember the light gun being awful. I remember reading Your Sinclair and Sinclair User magazines, and preferring Your Sinclair – a dedication to Future Publishing that continued through every other computer-related magazine I bought.

What I don’t remember too much is what games I used to play. Codemasters produced tons of “simulators”, but can’t recall the details. They also produced the Dizzy series of games, Fantasy World Dizzy being the one I remembered the most.

Replaying that was fun. It suited the map-drawing, puzzle-solving child I was, and the humour and difficulty is still good today. The version I found had infinite lives, which was good, otherwise I’d still be playing it now. Yet again I’m realising that the high difficulty of these early games was mostly a method to ensure longevity – you can actually play the game from start to finish in less than half an hour, once you’ve figured the puzzles out and manage to avoid dying on the spikes, fires, monsters and water scattered around.

That will kill you. So will that. And that.
That will kill you. So will that. And that.

However, here the good news ends. Every other game I played was awful. Ghosts and Goblins. Chase HQ. Jet Set Willy. Rick Dangerous. I used to spend hours on this thing, and I’ve been completely unable to work out why, or how. Nostalgia clearly isn’t what it used to be.

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