Daley Thompson's Decathalon (Ocean/Ocean/1984)
This early Spectrum legend captured the essence of Track and Field and had everything that made it so special in arcades. Oh, and that music! Amazing. However if you wanted to complete a whole event you had to turn the tape over and load up Day 2 (110 hurdles, Pole vault, Discus, Javelin, 1500 metres). Once that was completed and hopefully a Gold Medal in the bag, you more than likley wanted to do it all over again...I guess i'll be turning that tape over again... In comparison the loading times in MNR are practically instantaneous!
The player controled a space fighter named "Arrowhead" to defend humanity against a mysterious but powerful alien life-form known as "Bydo". After playing the likes of Nemesis, Xevious, Asteroids etc this was a revelation. It was insanely hard and utterly chaotic and to this day I have never completed it! The detachible pod shield, the 'force', was brilliant and really added an extra dimension to what was already becoming a pretty stale genre. I have since donwloaded the original for my PSP and can confirm that it hasn't become easier over the years! The effects of R-Type can still be felt and games like the recently released Soldner-X 2 wouldn't exist without it. However graphics and speed aside it was a pretty faithful copy of the coin-op version.
R-Type (Iren/Electric Dreams/1987)
The player controls an unnamed prisoner of war who has been interned in a P.O.W. camp somewhere in northern Germany in 1942. The camp itself is a small castle surrounded on three sides by cliffs and the cold North Sea.This game was truly ahead of its time with its daily routines to follow (as not to alert the guards), its day/night cycle,'3D' graphics, 'Morale Flag' and multiple ways to escape...However you can only across the border if you are carrying the compass and papers when you escape. I only ever managed to properly escape once. I played this a few months back on an emulator and it still stands up today due to its great gameplay.
The Great Escape (Denton Designs/Ocean/1986)
Other noteworthy games were...
Emlyn Hughes Internation Soccer (what other football game could you make the players, football, pitch and lines all the same colour?), Way of the Exploding Fist (Early Street Fighter prototype with a never ending amount of levels), Manic Miner (prequel to Jet Set Willy with insanely hard levels and the famous 'Boot' poke), Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future (An adventure game where you play the Eagle's most famous character which substituted the normal finite amount of lives with a countdown system. Everytime you ran out of energy you would be returned to your cell and you lost a few more hours. Once the timer reached zero the game was over - Um, wonder where Majora's Mask got that idea from?)
Sir Clive Sinclair...we salute you!
***If you want to reminisce some more then why not head over to worldofspectrum.org for more info, emulators and a gargantuam game archive.***
Original post date: 31/05/2010