Monday, 30 December 2013

Santa's Fixed - Again!

It would seem that the fixed Santa's Mission game was not 100%, although it did play sort of OK.

After some sterling work from Jason, the fully fixed and working (hopefully) file is now available for download from the Type-In Corner section.

Work on the next episode has now started after a short break, and there should be some good news in the next few days for those who have asked for DVD versions of the show.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Santa's Mission Fixed

It didn't take long for several people to offer help with the none-working type-in game featured in episode 24, Santa's Mission.

The game had many errors, mostly caused by my bad typing 30 years ago!

The aim of the game is to drop down from the sled and leave presents in every room. Santa can climb the ladders and climb up the chimneys. He can also dig. To keep his strength up he can eat the food on the tables, but too much will mean he is too fat to get up the chimney!

To control Santa use; Q:up, A:down, Z:left, X:right, D:dig (followed by a direction key), E:eat food.

I have also changed a few lines to make it not wipe out the lower floor under certain circumstances, and to print the food eaten correctly. It may not be perfect, but at least you can play it now.

Thanks go to Timmy and Jason for their help.

I have updated the downlink in the type-in corner section.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Spectrum Show 24

Welcome to The Spectrum Show Christmas Special. The show dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

It’s that time of year again, the time of drinking too much, eating too much and shouting at the television, and so we try to bring you some respite.

In this episode we take a look back to all the Christmas top ten games for the first four years of the ZX Spectrum’s life.

We play some Christmas themed games, and there are some terrible ones out there!

We also check out two Christmas type-ins – one of which needs your help to get working.

Seasonal greetings to all our viewers, thanks for your time.

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Spectrum Show Annual

Ladies and gentleman, The Spectrum Show proudly presents our Christmas gift to all viewers of the show – The Spectrum Show Annual 2013.

This downloadable PDF magazine features articles, reviews and specials from the video show and contains things not seen previously in the show.

Thanks to everyone who has viewed the show over the last year and a half, and for the encouraging comments on YouTube, World Of Spectrum and of course here.

Hope you enjoy it.

Download issue 1 Here

More issues coming soon. Check the link top right or click here.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

JetPac, +3, DIVide - At Last

My +3, with DIVide running JetPac
If you watched the last episode of the show (23) you would have seen my review of the DIVide, a brilliant device that provides huge, fast access storage for your Spectrum. It does, however, have some issues.

The main one for me was that my favourite game, JetPac, failed to work when used with a +3 and the DIVide.

Having spent hours searching the internet, and with the help of some Spectrum fans, I accidentally stumbled on the answer. As usual, it was in front of my face (so to speak!).

I toyed with re-flashing the device to EsxDos, that not only gave the option to load SNA files in 48K mode (which would fix the problem) but also allow write access to the storage.

I tested the DIVide on my 48K plus machine to make sure it was in full working order - it was. I tested different versions of the game, and even loaded from the original tape - again it worked, but only in 48K mode.

I knew the problem was this mode. Fatware dumped the user into USR 0 mode meaning the full 128k of RAM was available. Great for compatibility but bad for a selection of games that triggered the paging mode by accident. These games included some Ultimate Play The Game titles, including JetPac.

As I was running out of options I found the answer in the most obvious place, the Sinclair FAQ. (Link no longer active!). Right at the bottom it mentions the issues with 128k/48k compatibility, and to my delight, the answer.

Entering OUT 32765,48 prior to loading the .TAP file from the DIVide, forces the Spectrum into 'true' 48K mode. This then allows the game to load and play.

Now I have to go through all the problem titles and add this fix to the .TAP files so I don't have to enter it manually each time. But first, I'm going to a few games of JetPac.

Since this article I have found references to this method on the following sites:
The Spectrum +3 Manual on WOS
Product details on Lotharek.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Spectrum Show 23

Welcome to episode 23 of The Spectrum Show, the show dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

This episode was a little late, but I just managed to get it complete on the last day in November - phew!

In this episode we go back to January 1985 to get all the latest Sinclair news and top selling Spectrum games.

I finally get my hands on the DIVide - the device that gives the Spectrum fast, mass storage using modern technology.

We review some older games, take a look at a newer titles and take a trip to type-in corner.

Best viewed direct on Youtube.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Spectrum Show Episode 22

Welcome to episode 22 of The Spectrum Show – the show dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

In this mammoth episode we take a look at the news and top selling games from December 1984 and play loads of Scramble clones to see which version is best.

Not only that, but we review some older games, check out a newer title and examine a type-in game not seen since 1983.

Yes, it’s a whopper, weighing in at over 37 minutes of Speccy goodness. Enjoy.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Spectrum Show Special - Replay Expo

The Spectrum Show Special - Replay Expo 2013 video is now on Youtube. This short video covers the event held in Manchester on 12/13th October 2013 at Event City.

There were stacks of classic arcade games and pinball tables, all set to free play, but the large attendance sometimes meant it was difficult to get to play them.

The retro console and computer area were much easier to get a game and were larger than the previous years.

Check out the video.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Replay Expo

Really looking forward to Replay Expo this weekend. Sadly I can't make the Saturday event, but will be there most of Sunday. If you have never been to this event before, why not pop along and get your hands on some classic games from all eras.

There are stacks of retro consoles and computers, all lined up and ready to play. Systems include ZX81, Vic 20, Sam Coupe, C64, PS1, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Amiga, PC, NES, SNES, MegaDrive and of course the Spectrum.

There are also rows of arcade machines and pinball games all set to free play, cosplay areas and if you are really interested in more up-to-date gaming, all the latest stuff for the current and next-gen consoles.

I have a video on my channel from last year, and will be filming again this year for a Spectrum Show Special. So, if you see an old bald bloke, sneaking about on Sunday with a video camera, that will probably be me! Why not say hello.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Small Update

Lots of things happening in the background – as usual!

I have had another large batch of games delivered, and have spent some time going through them. The batch, which was very kindly donated to the show by Jason (thanks), included a lot of Code Masters titles and a fair few other newer titles. These have now been sorted and added to the ever-bulging Spectrum shelf.

With the last two game batches I have obviously found myself with a few duplicates, and not having the time to stick them on eBay, I have been trying in vain to give them away. Seems no one is interested at the moment…

I have also been working on some other hardware related stuff that involves building cables and connecting things together. This work will appear in a future edition of the show, once I finish it all and successfully end up with no explosions!

On episodes, the next one is on the go, and it’s looking like a huge show. It will feature an arcade shoot-out, so much of my time is currently involved in playing awful games!

I will be taking a break on Sunday 13th October though, to attend the Replay Expo in Manchester, and hopefully grab some footage for another special.

Right... back to those terrible games…

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Galaxian Shoot Out

Galaxian was created and developed by Namco and distributed by Midway in 1979.

The creator’s main aim was to improve on the standard Space Invaders game adding a multitude of new features including mini-music intro, multi-coloured animated sprites, swooping aliens, scrolling star field and icons to depict progress and lives.

The game was an instant success and still remains popular today – and it is one of my all-time favourite arcade games.

I thought that this shoot-out would be mammoth due to the huge amounts of clones there are, but I was surprised by just how few they were.

There were a lot of similar shoot-em-ups to Galaxian on the Spectrum and it can sometimes prove difficult to separate genres.

With this in mind I tried to be quite strict about the games I tested.

Of the games, several fell straight into the poor category, with jerky, character based graphics, poor or no sound and terrible controls. Birds (Interface Publications), Convy (Spectrum Computing - right), Galactic Raiders (Titan Programs), Kamikaze (A&F) and Space Defender (Spectrum Computing) all provide a poor experience.

Moving into the middle ground and we get some pretty good games.

Classic Axiens from Bubble Bus at least looks like the arcade game although there is no scrolling star field.
The alien are large, too large I think given the aspect ratio of the screen and this gives the player very little room to manoeuvre. They are nicely animated and move smoothly though, swooping down just like the arcade version.

Sound is adequate but the down side is the pace of the game, making it very difficult to get past the first sheet. Because of the size of the aliens, the tiny amount of room you have and the actual game speed, makes this game more difficult than it should be. Not a bad effort overall, but the difficulty curve is far too high.

Galactians from DK’Tronics (right) had numerous options that allows you to customise the game to suite your needs. When the game starts, we get a good representation of the arcade game with good looking aliens and nice smooth movement and animation.

The game speed is a little slow, even on the higher difficulty levels, that just increase the swoop rate of the aliens. The player ship is a little too large and somehow doesn't match the rest of the graphics.

Overall this is a good game, but a touch more speed and smaller player ship would have helped.

Galakzions from Kikro-Gen looks really nice and even has a scrolling star field, but the aliens are not animated, even when swooping. The score panel is a bit of a distraction with a yellow background and taking up far too much space.

This could have been improved with a few simple things; smaller player ship, animated aliens and a score panel that didn't have a yellow background. Apart from that though, a decent efforts from Mikro-gen.

Galaxians from Artic Computing (right) give a great gaming experience, with nice animated and smooth graphics. The screen aspect ratio is changed by a large control panel on the right that contains your score and lives, and this narrows the play field.

Although there is no star field, you do get a great game that keep drawing you back.

Sound and control are good and the only downside is the lack of a fire sound. Apart from that, a really well written game that could have taken top spot if it hadn't been for another game.

Vegetable Crash from Kuma Computers gives us the basic game but removes the aliens and gives us vegetables to shoot.

Rows of vegetables line up, nicely drawn and animated, occasionally swooping down,and you have to dodge or shoot them. All standard stuff but very nicely done.

The winner though is the official port from Atarisoft, Galaxian. (right)

As you would expect this is very close to the arcade game and even it has not only a scrolling star field but a multi-coloured scrolling star field.

The attract mode is present, setting out the scoring systems and from then on we have a nearly perfect arcade conversion. The only thing missing is the firing sound.

The aliens are all present, correctly drawn and animated, the player ship is right and the game mechanics are spot on. If I had to moan about something, it would be the display of the scores. These are slightly too big for my liking.

Apart from that this is a cracking game and as close as you will get to the real thing on a Spectrum.

Friday, 27 September 2013

The Spectrum Show Episode 21

Welcome to The Spectrum Show Episode 21.

The new series gets under way and in this episode we go back to November 1984 to get all the latest Sinclair news and top selling Spectrum Games.

Our special feature covers Sinclair Interface 2.

We review some older games, and take a look at newer titles.

We also have a brand new segment to end the show.

Best viewed directly on YouTube.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Still Working

The blog may look like everything is sleeping, but fear not, there is a flurry of activity behind the scenes.

The next series of The Spectrum Show is currently in production, with the first episode due to be released late September. The series will have some great content with more reviews and a brand new feature to end the shows.

My hardware collection has increased, which is good news for the hardware reviews section of the show, although some of it is causing me headaches at the moment.

Software wise, my collection has increased yet again (I really must stop it!) so expect more game reviews and cover shots.

The downside of all this activity is of course, that episodes can take a little longer to complete, although I am confident that there will be no delays.

Many people have asked about the previously mentioned DVD release of the first series, and thanks for your interest. I will re-visit this after the first few episode of this series are out and hopefully have some good news for you all.

Thanks for your continued support and comments, not long to wait now.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Spectrum Show #20

Welcome to The Spectrum Show Episode 20.

This is the last in the current series, but don't worry, we'll be back very soon with a whole new series and some great content.

In this episode though, we go back to October 1984 for all the latest Sinclair news and top selling Spectrum games. And, in an end of series special we take a look at all of the games from Imagine Software. The real Imagine before they went bust in July 1984.

That's a massive twelve games, all reviewed in this episode! It was a mammoth gaming session that saw me playing some truly terrible games for your entertainment!

Was it all worth it? You'll have to watch and find out.

Best viewed directly on YouTube.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Ah Diddums Fixed!

Recently I have been going through my older PC games and replacing the screenshots with video footage. It was during this process that I noticed a major issue with Ah Diddums - it ran in full screen mode at 640 x 480.

This cause problems with my current computer, that didn't like that resolution, the result of which was a badly flickering display that made the game unplayable. (Why didn't anyone mention this?)

In a fit of madness I decided that I would try to fix the problem and went in search of all the source code and the Blitz Basic program to re-compile it. Not an easy task, as the source code had long been archived to an un-marked CD somewhere in the middle of a mass of other un-marked CD's.

When I finally located the correct CD, the source code was missing! I then remembered that, for some reason, I had used a different folder to store my source code than the normal one I used for all my other games.

All was not lost however, as I kept backups on my hard drive at work. Since the game was written my work PC had been replaced twice, but it is my policy to never get rid of hard drives, and so have a stack of them in my drawers.

A few minutes plugging them in, and I finally had my hands on the source code. Back at home I fired up VMware Player, installed Blitz Basic, copied all the source data across and tried to re-compile - failed!

I was missing an include file, which was very tricky to pin down. Finally I found it, added it to the source and bingo!

I quickly checked the code, made a few changes (as it had my old web address in it) and discovered a nice little Easter egg hidden in the game that I had forgot about. This was triggered when you had gone beyond level 12 (but I have now reduced it to level 6) and died. A message then appeared on the title screen with some instructions..... I'll say no more....

I also noticed that the game works differently to the original in that you have to stack the blocks in a certain order (lowest number first) otherwise they just wont work and you can't get out of the toy box!

Anyway - the new, windowed version of the game can be downloaded via the game page (see right hand side!)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Game Marathon

With episode 19 out of the way, I can settle down and begin work on the end of series special - episode 20. Not wanting to give too much away, but suffice to say I am entering into a huge game playing marathon to be able to cover the content and create a really nice special episode.

As always when playing a lot of games, you are bound to get good and bad ones, and blimey am I suffering for my art! There are some real stinkers being loaded...

With the end of this series approaching I have also been thinking about the next series and how I can improve it. Taking some feedback from the WOS forums and comments I have received privately, series 3 will be bigger and better.

The format will pretty much remain the same, but there will be more game reviews and a brand new section to wind up each show. There will still be special features (budget allowing - or assistance offered - see top right) that covers real hardware and special areas in the Spectrum's vast range of functions.

Thanks to everyone who has viewed all of the shows so far, and to those who have subscribed and commented on YouTube.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Adding To My Collection

Recently I managed to purchase a huge haul of Spectrum games from eBay, but I didn't realise just how much space they would take up!

In total there were over 160 games ranging from older Quicksilva titles like Fred and Ant Attack, to newer budget releases like those from Hit Squad, Mastertronic and Firebird.

Some were duplicates of titles I already had, but even taking that into account, I had to make room on my shelves for over 120 games.

I opted to get this large bundle for two main reasons. Firstly I wanted to pack out my collection in reediness for the next series of The Spectrum Show, where I will be showing cassette inlays for each game I review. Secondly the price of each game worked out at around 50p, which was a bargain, and some games (about 20) I had been looking for anyway.

I find it so much more enjoyable to play the games on an emulator when you have the real, physical item sat on the desk. There is a connection, a sense of buying the game all over again, rushing home and loading it up. The only difference is that you don't have to wait five minutes to find out if its rubbish or not!

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Spectrum Show #19

Welcome to Episode 19 of The Spectrum Show - the show dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

In this episode we go back to September 1984 for the latest Sinclair news and top selling Spectrum games.

We go back to the birth of electronic publishing and check out the many tape and disk magazines for the Spectrum, covering many different subjects and coming in many different flavours.

We review some older games and take a look at some newer titles.

Best viewed on YouTube in HD.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Spectrum Show #18

Welcome to Episode 18 of The Spectrum Show - the show dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

In this episode we go back to August 1984 for the latest Sinclair news and top selling Spectrum games.

We have an arcade clone shoot out - this time we compare Q*Bert clones to see which if the Spectrum versions can make it to the top of the pyramid.

We review some older games and take a look at some newer titles.

Best viewed on YouTube in HD

Friday, 21 June 2013

Next Episode Coming Soon

I am currently working like a mad man trying to complete Episode 18. This episode has another Arcade Clone Shoot-out, and I've been playing rubbish games for what seems like weeks now! Have no fear though, there is light at the end of the tunnel and I finished playing and capturing the last game today. Now I just have to complete the reviews and throw it all together. Estimate release date for Episode 18 is 29th June.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

3.5 inch Drive on Your Spectrum

If your Spectrum +3 has a broken disc drive or you just want to add an additional drive, the best option is to go for a 3.5 inch version. These can be fitted internally as a direct replacement, with a few modifications easily found on the internet, or as an external unit.

My preference is to keep the Spectrum in its original condition and just add an external drive. Luckily I had an old drive from a broken PC lying around, so I just need the leads and power supply.

The required leads and power supply can easily be purchased from eBay, or if you don’t have a spare drive, you can buy the kit with a drive included.

Connecting the drive is easy, just plug the data cable and the power supply in and turn on your computer. If the small switches are set correctly, your Spectrum will now recognise the drive and drive A:. From this point, you can use it exactly as you would the original 3 inch unit.

The disks are much cheaper and much easier to get, and can be bought from eBay. You can use either DD/DS disks or HD disks if you cover the lower left hole up with some tape. You can format them as normal to 173k, or, because we now have a 3.5inch drive, there is another option.

Using a program called DU54 (available from World Of Spectrum) you can format a single disk to a massive 780k. I found this to work fine, although the speed of loading and cataloguing was decreased slightly, but you are getting the extra storage.

The only downside I found was that it seemed you can only use one side of the disk in this format. Normally, there is a small switch on the data cable that allows you to flip the drive heads and use both side of the disks. Obviously you are getting 780k though!

Transferring files is exactly the same as mentioned in my previous article and feature in Episode 17. There is also another method you can use to get disk-based games onto 3.5 inch disks.

You will need a PC with an Internal 3.5 inch drive, USB drives will not work, you will be able to write DSK images direct to the disk from your PC. DSK files are ripped images from original 3 inch games, and are available from (WOS). You can also create your own images via an emulator and then write that direct to the disk.

First step is to set your PC BIOS so it thinks the floppy drive is a 5.25 inch 360k drive. This is required so the stepping motor will work properly with the format. You will also need to download SAMdisk and the floppy driver from the same website, and install them. (

SAMdisk is a DOS based tool that can take DSK files and write them to 3.5 inch disk in the Spectrum format. All you have to do then is insert the disk into your Spectrum’s drive and it will work just as it would if it was the original.

The whole process takes about sixty seconds, and I found it easy to do the conversion and transfers in batches; taking about ten DSK images and writing them to disk, then trying them out on real hardware.

3.5 nch disks are more reliable than the 3 inch variety so you get the added benefit of not worrying about losing data if you are saving to them.

There are other methods of storage for the Spectrum that provide much large capacities and faster access, these will be covered in a later episode of the show.

This feature was taken from Episode 17.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Tape To Disc Conversion

Episode 17 contains a feature about transferring games from tape to disc the modern way. This feature accompanies the episode and includes code snippets not shown in the video.

For those lucky enough to purchase the Spectrum +3, it would seem the days of slow tape loading were over, with Amstrads decision to replace the cassettes deck, as seen in the +2, with a 3 inch disk drive.

However, as with any new media format, and like its predecessor the Microdrive, the hardware was only half of the story. To make it work you had to be able to get your existing software collection onto those new fast discs.

Because of software piracy however, tapes had increasingly sophisticated protection schemes on them making the task of transfer seemingly impossible. It was hard enough to even just load the tapes sometimes!

Like the Microdrive, as the unit became available, a host of transfer options began to open up, the best was the Multiface 3. A hardware plugin that allowed users to freeze and save the game to disc quickly and easily. But for those without this unit, the only option, at least in the 80’s, was a software transfer utility.

There were several of these on the market, but after trying several with no success, I had to turn to more modern methods of software transfer. After trying a few options I found two to be satisfactory, however none are straight forward and I think there is hole in the market for a nice Windows tool to do it all for you.

To transfer 48k games to disc you will need the following software;
  1. A spectrum emulator. 
  2. Snap2Tap – a utility that converts SNA files into compressed, single loading TAP files. (look on the World Of Spectrum website for this.) 
  3. TAP2WAV – A utility that converts TAP files into WAV files. Or a tool to directly play TAP files. (look on the World Of Spectrum website for this.) 
  4. Something to play the WAV files and possibly to adjust it – like Audacity. 
  5. A little knowledge of BASIC. 
The process has a few steps, but once you get used to it, it can become very quick. Using this method I managed to get about ten games on each side of disk plus a little loader program.

First choose your game. For this feature I am going to use Chuckie Egg.

Next load the game into the emulator. At a point in the game where the screen is cleared, usually after dying or just before the main intro screen, pause the emulator and save the game out as a SNA file.

Load up SNAP2TAP. Set it for a blank screen – this reduces the size of the overall finished game and stops screen corruption when loading.

Drag the SNA file into it.

You will now have a TAP file containing a compressed, single load version of the game.

If you can play this TAP file and load it into your real Spectrum +3, you can jump ahead – if it won’t load then you will need to convert it into a WAV so you can ramp up the volume a bit.

Using TAP2WAV, convert it and load it into your audio editor, ramp up the volume and either save it, or try loading it from there. When you get it to load, you are ready for the next stage..

On the real Spectrum with a formatted disc, go into +3 basic… set the Spectrum to load from TAPE by entering LOAD “t:” and pressing enter.

Merge the loader from the TAP file so you can see the listing.


It will look like the code below (the addresses will be different as these are based on the memory the game uses, in this particular case it is for Chuckie egg.)

10 CLEAR VAL “54554”: LOAD “v2” CODE: RANDOMIZE USR VAL “54555” 

Now we need to make a few changes. I usually set the colours, clear the screen, print a press any key message and add a pause. This is to allow the drive motor to stop – otherwise the game will run and the drive motor will keep going! It is also important to remove the randomize line, and change the code load to the name of the game file. In this case PART2.

Your listing will now look like this.

11 CLEAR VAL “54554”
12 LOAD “egg2” CODE
13 PRINT AT 10,8; “Press Any Key”
14 PAUSE 0

Notice the name of the code to be loaded – in this case egg2, but you use whatever you need. Just make sure you remember it.

Now, set the Spectrum to use the disk drive (enter LOAD “a:”) and save this, making it auto run by using SAVE “egg” LINE 0

Once saved go back to the code in the loader and remove all of the code below line 12, leaving just lines 10,11 and 12.

Set the Spectrum to use the Tape again. (LOAD “t:”)

Run the program – this will now load the code.

Now, set back your Spectrum to use the disk drive again so we can save out the second part of the game to disc. Before that though, we need to get the size and address of the code. In the emulator, drag the TAP file into it and look at the tape browser. Here you will see the second part of the game code, its loading address and its size. Note these down. Use these settings to save the code to disc using the name you entered into your loader. For example:

SAVE “egg2” CODE 54555,10981

Notice I saved the code as egg2, the same name used in the initial loader – very important!

That’s it. Now have your first game converted to disc.

To test it, reboot your Spectrum and load part one.

LOAD “egg”

Once you have a few games on disc, you can write a simple menu program that auto loads and offers you a choice of games. To do this, write a small basic program like the one below, that lists the games and gives a key to press for each one.

14 PRINT AT 3,10; “1 - CHUCKIE EGG”
18 PRINT AT 7,10; “3 - PLANETOIDS”
50 PAUSE 0
60 BEEP 0.5,1
62 GOTO 10

Of course you can change the colours and positioning for your own personal tastes. Now save this to disc using SAVE “DISK” LINE 0

Now, reboot your Spectrum and just hit return.. there you have a game selector that loads your games. As mentioned before, it’s a pity that SNAP2TAP only works with 48k games, but at least it works.

This feature was taken from Episode 17.

Coming soon… using a 3.5inch disk on your Plus 3

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Spectrum Show #17

The Spectrum Show - Episode 17.
The show dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

In this episode we go back to July 1984 and get all the latest Sinclair news and top selling Spectrum games.

With our new Plus 3 we do some tape to disc coversions the modern way after finding the older ones to be useless.

We check out some older games and look at some newer titles.

Best viewed on YouTube - because we are in HD !

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Next Episode Due Soon

The next episode of The Spectrum Show is almost ready for release. There are just a few tweaks, some sound adjustments and the final render before it’s ready. The episode is just over 19 minutes long and contains the usual mix of reviews, news and features. Release date is set for Saturday 1st June.

Progress on the proposed DVD release is currently on hold pending another avenue that a friend of the show is exploring. I can’t say too much yet, as it is still early days, but I will keep you updated as and when I get news.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Series DVD

Several people have requested that I released The Spectrum Show on DVD and after having looked into things, this is quite feasible, although there are several issues.

Firstly, what would the demand be?

Secondly, what would buyers expect?

There are many options and I would appreciate your comments about which you would prefer, or indeed if you would be interested in purchasing the DVD. The more people want one, the cheaper it gets.

So, take a look at the options below and please let me know your feelings.

Option 1: Cheap and nasty. £ postage only (about £2.00)
This would just be two normal DVD-R discs containing all episodes from Series one (no extras).

Option 2: Middle Ground. £6.00
This would be a dual DVD case containing two labelled discs and a colour laser printed sleeve. The contents would be all episodes from series one plus extras.

Option 3: Fully Monty. £8-10 (cost would be your choice in £1 steps. The lower price is what it would cost me!) This would be a dual DVD case with professionally printed sleeve and labels. Content is the same as option 2.

The disc ISO’s have already been created and there are four extra features running in at a total of 28 additional minutes of content that will be exclusive the (option 2 or 3) DVD set.

The print limit of the professional option, to get decent prices, is ten, so please either use the Contact Me option at the top of this page or leave a comment.

I will keep things updated on a regular basis.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Feature Update

In case you didn't know, over the last few weeks I have been adding features to this blog taken directly from the shows. I have added quite a lot so far, and they can be viewed by clicking the Episode Guide link (top right).

I will be adding more as time goes on, in between making the shows of course. The latest one to go live is the feature about the roots of adventure games from episode 13. This follows the path from the very first text only games, through illustrated adventures, animated adventures and beyond.

My work will have to stop for now, as I have to concentrate on the next episode of The Spectrum Show.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

New Delivery

With new episodes of The Spectrum Show to think about and a distinct lack of help offers, I always keep my eyes open for bargains wherever I am. Luckily it paid off recently, and I managed to get hold of three interfaces in one go.

Without giving too much away, the three devices are all perfect for features, but not all of them have been tested yet. One definitely works, as I have connected it up and spent an hour or so messing about.

One requires additional material (had to be careful what I called it!) before it can be tested and the third has yet to be plugged in, but I was assured they were all working when I bought them.

If they are all fully functional, this brings my hardware total for new features to four – which is great news for the show.

I am still looking for hardware/peripherals/interfaces to be featured on the show - for more details click the Help Needed link (top right).

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Sold Out


The Spectrum Show Series 1 is temporarily out of stock.

We apologise for this.

The initial stocks were limited.

If you are interested in purchasing this item, please leave me a message.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Spectrum Show #16

The Spectrum Show Episode 16 - the show dedicated to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

In this episode we go back to June 1984 and get all the latest Sinclair news and top selling Spectrum games.

We look back at a dark period in emulator history as its tenth anniversary passes.

We check out some older games and look at some newer titles.

Best viewed on YouTube - because we are in HD !

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Blog Update

As you can probably tell, the blog has had a little face lift, with some new-fangled whizzy stuff and a bit of a tweak in layout. As an when I get time in between The Spectrum Show, I hope to do more updating, adding elements from the show into the blog, making it more content rich.

For now though, there is just the new look, an episode guide and an extended plus 3 feature taken from the show (New Arrival).

During the next few days things may not work as you expect them! I am still poking about with the template, so anything could happen. If it all goes pear-shaped, I may have to revert back to the old format....

The next episode of the show is almost finished with a just a few minor sound adjustments before its ready to release.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Antiquity Jones Update

My Spectrum game Antiquity Jones has been updated with a small fix that stops the player getting stuck in the yellow caves.

This fix has taken a long time in coming (sorry to all those who asked for it last year!), but this was mainly because of the version of AGD used to make it.

Newer versions of AGD added joystick support, but the version used for this game (2.4) did not, so to make games with joysticks, you had to search for the locations in memory set by the program and then poke in new values via the loader if the player selected to use a joystick.

Anyway - job done.

Well not completely... had to do another fix so now we have version 1.2...!

Antquity Jones v1.2
Antiquity Jones v1.1

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Spectrum Show #15

The Spectrum Show – Episode 15.

In this episode we go back to May 1984 and get all the latest Sinclair news and top selling Spectrum games.

We have a mammoth arcade clone shoot and go ape over the best Donkey Kong clone. See how good I am at C-Tech’s version… no really…

We check out some older games and look at some newer titles.

Best viewed on Youtube because we're in HD!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Back To My Youth

It’s the bank holiday and what better way to spend it than messing about with old computers?

Well, ok, there probably are better things to do, but having to stay in to do some work, my old ZX81, sat on the shelf next to me caught my eye.

Would it still work?

I dug out the PSU, an old tape recorder and a few games and set  it all up. The TV/Monitor I use for The Spectrum Show wasn't happy about it, and refused to tune in to the weak ZX81 signal. Not deterred I retrieved my old TV from the attic, knowing this little baby displayed everything I threw at it. Sure enough, a few minutes later and I was looking at a usable picture.

The 16K ram pack even worked, and after a few minutes Galactic Trooper was loaded and ready to play.

This is where I started with computers, playing silent, black and white games on a small television, struggling with the touch keyboard and hoping I didn't cause the ram pack to wobble.

The Sinclair ZX81 was the micro that brought computing into the homes of normal people. Before it, the ZX80 was only really taken up by enthusiasts and electronics buffs, but the 81 broke the barrier.

For the electronics buffs, they could still buy it in kit form and build it themselves, but for your average kid, they could get it ready built. There was no need for a monitor because it ran off the television, and loading data was done from the standard tape cassette player we all used to records songs from Top Of The Pops.

The software market too was part of the draw. The ZX80 had little in the line of games, it’s poor screen routines made that almost impossible, but the ZX81 fixed all of those problems and game companies soon began to sprout up.

The machine itself was tiny and very light. You wondered how such a small plastic box could allow you to play games on your television. It measured approximately 16.5 x 17 cm and 4cm high at the back, sloping to just 1.5cm at the front.

The keyboard was flat with no moving parts, and the pressure from your fingers caused a membrane beneath to make the lightest contact. This had advantages – it was waterproof and had no moving parts to break, however it was terrible to use.

The now familiar keys had multi functions with keywords, symbols and maths calls accessible by using the SHIFT key, the FUNCTION key (which doubled as a NEW LINE key) or switching it into graphics mode by using a combination of SHIFT and nine.

Connections were limited to just a power socket, Mic and Ear sockets for your cassette player and a TV socket, all on the left hand side. At the rear was the expansion bus that allowed peripherals such as printers or joystick ports to be attached.

The basic machine came with 1kb of RAM and 1kb of ROM. The ROM contained the BASIC language along with all of the routines to load and save, handle the keyboard and expansion bus.

There was not much you could do with 1kb and so memory expansions were soon available, taking the machine up to an eye watering 16kb. Once you had this expansion, the amount of games rocketed. The downside was that if not connected properly, or moved in the wrong way, it would crash the machine. This phenomenon was labelled Ram Pack Wobble.

Output was in black and only, and in low resolution (64 x 48 pixels) with no graphics to speak of. When used in graphic mode some of the keys produced block patterns, breaking the normal character square into 4 x 4 blocks. These were all the machine had, and all that game makers had to work with.

There was no sound. Nothing. Zilch.

Software wise, there was a large mixture of programs available including word processors, databases and of course games. There are a few of these games that have gone down is history and are always mentioned when talking about the ZX81.

Monster Maze if probably the most famous. Trapped inside a 3D maze with a T-Rex chasing you was one of those experiences that had a lasting impact on many people.

Mazogs is probably the other game that gets remembered. This two dimensional maze treasure seeking game has great animated graphics and a mixture of gameplay.

There are of course many others, 3D defender, Black Crystal, QS Scramble and Galactic Trooper are all worth a play.

For all of its problems and the corner-cutting build quality, these machine were pretty robust. There are hundreds, if not thousands of these machines still working and still giving enjoyment to fans around the world. This machine was the catalyst of the UK games industry, and it certainly deserves its place in history.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Toofy Update

Toofy’s Winter Nuts v1.2

I have updated the game based on feedback from the WOS forums and although the changes are small, it should provide a better game.

Issue 1. Toofy could get stuck in the floor/wall of room 21. This is caused by screen switching in AGD, and the only way to correct it is to design the screens in such a way that the main sprite cannot enter a room in a position that can cause this problem. To fix room 21 I raised the platform by one block (and in the adjoining room) so that the main sprite cannot jump into the room from another platform.

Issue 2. No sound when collecting nuts. The sound did play, but only on 128k machines (forgot to mention this in the text). I have now removed the AY sound and replaced it with a beeper sound.

If you want to see a map of the game (or any of my games) check out the link below.

Download v1.2 here

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Toofy's Winter Nuts

Brrrrr it’s getting cold and winter is racing towards us.

Toofy needs to collect enough nuts to make it through but the nasty squirrels have raided his store and stolen them.

Guide Toofy as he tries to reclaim his nuts and survive the winter.

This is my new game for the ZX Spectrum written using AGD. As mentioned in a previous post, I wasn't going to release it, but now it's finished, there is no point in just letting it sit in my games folder.

Hope you enjoy it.

The text file in the ZIP includes full instructions.

Toofy's Winter Nuts

Screen Shots

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