Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Make money from nostalgia…

Lots of people have asked me if there's any money in running your own Blog or website? Well, in short, yes! But naturally, you only get out what you put in.

There are many reasons why I like to run my own blog, the main one being nostalgia, So for me, it's definitely worth it. I started using Google AdSense and Analytics after watching the web team where I used to work, poke and prod a big Google Analytics stick at the company website, the results were shocking, and this finally gave the team the tools and visibility needed to properly focus their efforts and resource.  

If I'm totally honest, I still wasn’t all that 'into it', despite witnessing what it could do, but a friend of mine insisted I should persevere. I started to use it half-heartedly at first, but within just one month, after weeks of writing articles, Google sent me a cheque for £172! I thought it must be a spoof cheque, or maybe Google had sent it by mistake. But the cheque's kept coming, in fact one month I had a cheque delivered through the letterbox totaling £400! I got a little bit too excited, punched the air at one stage, I’m sure my wife thought I might be gambling.

I started to take things a little more seriously, looked more into AdSense and how to properly place ads; I was amazed that Google had put so much effort into developing this software and I found it easy to work with and the highly intuitive interface. The system they use is called 'AD Placement', it works like a heat map for your web page, and they’ve statistically tested where the best place is for an Advertisement, it’s bloody marvelous.

There's a maximum amount of 3x advertisements per page, along with search and link capabilities, I did initially exhaust these features, but a few people complained that I was blasting them with too many ads. Surprisingly, apart from alienating a few readers, this didn't make much of a difference, maybe a few quid more here and there, so I reverted back to one or two ads per page. The other great news is that AdSense cleverly displays ads on the types of content you produce, and cleverly aims it at your audience. It really is so easy, you don't need to put your tech head on, you can just set it up and watch it go, whilst sitting back, playing games and writing about them.

I did attempt to take things further at one stage, and listened to Podcasts and a few YouTube videos, but the method isn’t that complex, there are a few bad habits you should probably try to avoid, but it is all very much trial and error. Coincidently, I’ve now doubled my money by linking with Facebook and Twitter; I haven’t even tried Tumblr or YouTube yet, as I quickly run out of time these days.

I’m not going to lie to you, it still feels very much new and experimental to me, and I still feel like I’m missing out on a whizz of information, in the hope to take things even further, but maybe that’s more to do with content, or the minority audience I potentially cater for. I'm not a professional writer by any stretch of the imagination, I just like to dabble.

I say give it a go, it's not like it's going to cost you anything, and people might be genuinely interested in what you have to say. For example, I posted an article last week and I've been inundated with thousands of visitors. Unfortunately only a small percentage of that traffic clicked on my ads. But who cares? My only intention is for people to read my article, comment on it, or discuss things further.

Just to put things into perspective, over the last twelve months, the profits from AdSense have afforded me a new Smart TV, Dell Inspiron Laptop; retro goodies, but more importantly, a few days out with the family. Don't get me wrong, it won't make you rich, but it'll certainly put a smile on your face.


Monday, 17 October 2016

Rise of the machines

Sorry folks, this guy won't be knocking at your door...
Forget killer robots and saving Sarah Conner, yes, Terminator is a great movie, but nothing more than that. A computer is not a repository of all knowledge; Hollywood would love you to believe such a thing, but HAL and many other futuristic characters, are like the Dreamcast 2, unlikely to ever happen. The problem is, computers cannot accumulate infinite amounts of data; they simply input information, process it and then output it, it’s really that simple. Where computers truly excel over people, is in the day-to-day mundane data processing, interfacing with other components, number crunching and automation. Sure, you could potentially build a futuristic machine, send it into battle, but that’s just it, you’d have to send it into battle, program it, and watch it roll, just like BigTrak.  

No matter the computer, in essence, when compared to the human brain (unfortunately not in all cases), a computer is nothing more than a high speed moron. When a programmer writes a program, they must tell the computer exactly what it should do, step by step, with clear defined instruction sets. I’m not trying to devalue the computer or its many components; but simply state fact. Many people believe we work in exactly the same way (That’s because we designed them). In fact, the human brain itself, is just a collection of spaghetti spun neurons, very complex, but joined together in much the same way.  

The difference is, mankind secretly craves dominance over everything we can see. We want to conquer mountains, the oceans, the moon and the cosmos itself. As long as we can tell a computer what to do, they’re useful. The only thing we need to fear, is the human race itself, the return of Hitler, asteroids and little green men. As mentioned above, a machine will probably never be truly intelligent, it can be programmed to mimic intelligence, or carry out our bidding, but that’s your lot I’m afraid, unless we interface with technology… Then we become the machine.      

Technology will save us...      

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Bobsleigh - Cool Runnings

Long before Gran Turismo on the PlayStation, we had Bobsleigh on the Amstrad, Speccy and C64. This game featured six tracks of downhill madness, tight corners, fast straights and the need for skillful bob riding. You started off in the amateur ranks, with a minimum amount of sponsorship money, clapped out Bobsleigh and a far from world beating team.

Qualification is really tough, getting to the bottom is relatively easy, but to do so at speed is especially tricky. Stunt Car Racer is perhaps the only other game that rivals Bobsleigh in the realism department, but the amount of options and strategy that needs to go into winning the Olympics or tournament, in my opinion is unrivalled on an 8-bit.

If that wasn't good enough, there's also a load and save feature, you'll need this as the slightest touch against an icy wall, will cost you in the damage, time and cash flow department. Training the team is also a necessity, especially in regards to the run off at the beginning, but all sections of the ride, beginning, middle and end need to fall into place, in regards to securing the best lap times.

In a nutshell, train the team, repair the Bobsleigh, win races and try not to fall foul of bankruptcy. This is one of the best games I've ever played on an 8-bit system, I've played both the Speccy and Amstrad versions, and they're equally great. Unfortunately I can't comment on the C64 effort, but eager to track it down.

What the magazines thought:

86% ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) (Oct, 1988)

The winter sport simulation is still unrivalled for its realistic representation of bulleting down walls of ice in a metal tube.

92% Amstrad Action, awarded 'Master Game' status. (Feb, 1998)

A combination of strategy and fast reactions that mould together well.

Continental Circus - Staying Put

There are so many new games available for the PS4 and Xbox, I really struggle to keep up, let alone sift through the good ones. I’ve come up with a cunning plan to combat this - I’m going to stop playing new video games! Instead, I’ve decided to do a retro rewind, take stock, and hunt through my collection of forgotten classics from the 80’s and 90’s, no internet required.

I’m just as entertained playing old games, as I am playing new. Most of these games feel terrific and familiar, which means I can now break free of the video game rat race, and the constant fear of being left behind. For the first time in my life, I don’t have to play ‘em all. 

With that in mind, I head to my garage, fight my way through all the crap piled up over the years, and stretch across an old sofa, in the direction of an old box. I catch it slightly with the edge of my fingers and pull it slowly towards me; it’s on top of an already unsteady pile. There’s dust everywhere, I blow at the top cover, cough, and blow again, before finally reaching down to open the lid. 

Continental Circus immediately caught my gaze, and the memories instantly came flooding back. Although visually boring, this is a gem of a game on the CPC, up there amongst the best racers. It’s a smart take on Formula One, and from memory, one of the first racers where you had to pit. It was a critical hit when it first arrived, with Amstrad Action awarding it ‘Master Game’ status and a score of 92%.      

If you haven’t already guessed, it’s one of my favorite racers on the CPC; I spent longer than I care to remember trying to master all the tracks. But it was definitely a great experience, especially when you consider that this game most likely laid the groundwork for the programmer’s Bill Caught and Pete Hickinson, who later went on to program Moonshine Racers and the legendary Amiga port of Road Rash.   

Most people will probably look at Continental Circus on the CPC and instantly think, "outdated and boooooring?" But just hold on a sec. This game constantly gets you into trouble, and requires extensive luck, but mostly practice. You’ll need to muster all of your driving techniques, picked up from the likes of Chase HQ and Wec le-Mans. If you loved the former, then you’ll probably dig Continental.  

The cars are well defined, but they’re all yellow, and there’s a serious lack of animation, for instance, the wheels don’t spin - this is a problem I found with most CPC racers, Power Drift being a casing point. There’s a qualifying ranked system that works really well, it’s far from perfect, but with each race, it clearly shows the position you need to finish in in order to progress to the next race day. The really good news is that the screen update and sense of speed, is both fast and smooth, Continental is a very powerful translation of the arcade original to CPC.   

There’s everything you’d expect from this style of racer, hills, collisions, pit lanes, rain, smoke and more importantly… Explosions! With a top speed of 248MPH, eight races, set over eight different countries, Brazil, France, America etc. And a clever system, where it’s still possible to creep over the finish line, with zero seconds on the clock, I can’t but help love it, not even Outrun allowed that. 


You can gain considerable ground at the start through expert timing. Wait about half a second after the first red light, and then accelerate until the second one comes on. Now wait for the green light to come on, then hit the throttle and you will launch off the line.  

Sunday, 9 October 2016


#Bigtrak gave us a glimpse into the future, it felt like cutting edge entertainment, and late seventies kids were the first to own their very own robot.

At the time, TV advertisements showed it effortlessly, but very slowly delivering apples and other items to parents. You'd see it carefully navigating around a dog or cat, narrowly avoiding a flight of stairs, firing a laser, before dropping off its payload to an unsuspecting parent.

What made Bigtrak really cool, is that you pre-coded it with a set of instructions, up to sixteen commands and three laser blasts, and it obeyed. You watched in awe as it cleverly followed your preset path. I tried all sorts of maneuvers that would potentially scupper Bigtrak in its tracks, going up ramps, driving along steep ledges, but mostly used it to terrorize our dog. If you were lucky enough, Bigtrak came with an optional trailer, allowing you to impress friends by dropping off your Lego collection to other areas of the house, essentially dumping it, for mum or dad to trip up on.

I still have mine somewhere, but I think the motors shot... I accidently shoved a screwdriver into it back in the day, trying to peek inside, but owning one, still feels cool, and where would we be today without it?



Saturday, 8 October 2016


Released: 2016

Meet 'CoolBox', the CPC's answer to the mobile phone marvel, it's 'Block Dude', only mixed with a look and feel you've probably seen in 'BoxBoy' which was released a few years back on the 3DS.

It's all a bit strange and confusing, but you're basically a box, a cool box, that must strategically manipulate the other boxes. CoolBox is in pursuit of an exit which is tactically positioned at the end of each level. It feels fresh, and get this, it's a puzzle game written completely in Basic 1.1!

It starts off easy enough, but it won't be long until the old grey matter will need to power into overdrive, which is surprising as there's nothing particularly technical going on. Throughout the game we're treated to rough scrolling, sluggish controls, and non existent graphics, but amazingly, it features clever game design, and holds onto those elusive, hard to come by, all important ingredients, fun and addiction.

Despite the lack of on-screen action, it's a game where you most certainly have to think first, and click later. CoolBox is simplicity at its finest, and just goes to prove, sometimes, less is more. If you're looking for a smart puzzle platformer, and like the idea of living life as a box ("Living in a Cardboard Box") I'd seriously give CoolBox a try, it'll certainly last longer than your typical throwback.

In a nutshell:

I'm glad I gave CoolBox a try, it's a great little gem of a game, and I was lost and captivated for hours by its elegance and smart design. Despite some of the drawbacks I mentioned above, you'll have a good time with it and I've never seen anything quite like it on the CPC, it's like BoxBoy, just not as good. Seriously, play this, it's fun and should hold your interest. C'mon! What are you doing with yourself, stop reading this, get up and download it now!

Friday, 7 October 2016

The new age of Amstrad

I'm sure the #CPC community at large has already played this wireframe wonder from Alberto Rodriguez. I personally can't get enough of it, in fact, I like it so much, I purchased the bugger on 3" Disk.

These are exciting times for the CPC community, I can't believe that after decades of being commercially dead, the #Amstrad CPC lives on, and appears to be going from strength to strength. I'd have been happy if everything would have stopped after the re-make of R-Type, it was everything I'd hoped for, justice was served, the community could have packed up and gone home at this point, mission accomplished, badda bing, badda boom!

Thank the heavens they didn't, as what came after, continued to deliver, with the same high standards. It's a very strange thing that has happened, I'm witnessing games and graphics I never thought possible, but equally praying this sweet spot in CPC gaming, won't turn sour.

I can't prove it, but I reckon the Amstrad's recent revival, has turned the heads of other 8-bit communities, with more and more people embracing this guilty pleasure of ours, through emulation and original hardware. I'm really excited about the CPC's future, (Till death do us part) decades on, the CPC is still a perfect fit, sitting alongside my modern obsession for gaming, in a time and place where most eighties tech has long been destroyed, or turned into dust.

The digital age might have changed everything, but it doesn't feel as personal, I like my roots...  

Thursday, 6 October 2016

CPC Wonder Years - May 1991

The promise of instant loading, outstanding gameplay, improved graphics, were now and truly into full swing. The front page of nearly every CPC or high street computer magazine, were still displaying adverts, as though carts were here to stay. Navy Seals, Robocop 2, Shadow of the Beast and Pang, were citied as some of the best games to happen to an Amstrad in years. 

Meanwhile, USGOLD announced Gauntlet 3, whilst continuing to plug away at their lackluster back catalogue, with the launch of Coin-Op Hits 2, it featured terrible CPC conversions of Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, Vigilante and Dynasty Wars, with a half decent version of Ninja Spirit, not sure why they included Hammerfist, It was never an arcade game to begin with. 

The excellent people from Probe, announced that Back to the Future, Part III was imminent, featuring four levels of movie action, horse riding, shooting, pie throwing and traversing a moving train. It turned out to be actually rather good, and captured the comedy and atmosphere of the movie, unfortunately there just wasn't much depth. Computer and Video Games referred to Amstrad owners as "Cheapo-purchasing Amstrad owners", as only one full price game 'TMNT' from Imageworks, populated their CVG top twenty chart, with Cavemania from Atlantic topping the shop. 

Infogrames released a CPC version of their then ageing 16-bit title 'North and South'. It went on to receive fantastic reviews, and is considered to this day one of the best Amstrad games ever made, with Amstrad Action awarding it a 'Mastergame' with a score of 91%. The game also made an appearance in '1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die'. 

Amstrad went on to slash the price of the GX4000, from £99 to £79, first signs that all wasn't well at Brentwood, with the price also slashed for the 464 Plus, down to £179. Gremlin also announced that they were in the process of releasing Switchblade for the Amstrad CPC cassette and disk, and although graphically inferior, would run faster than the GX4000 version. 

It was also announced in CVG, that Snow Bros and Toki would be swinging onto the GX4000 and would cost you £24.99 each, almost twice the price  of the planned ZX Speccy conversions. 

Domark would go on to tease us with Tengen's two player swashbuckling adventure, Skull and Crossbones, which would include eight levels, it turned out to be a scurvy sea-dog. It wasn't all doom and gloom though, as Amstrad owners were about to get their first glimpse of 'Arachnophobia' from Disneysoft, yes, a game from Disney, based on the Spielberg movie. It was 128k only, and was absolutely brilliant. 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Finally bought the New Sega Megadrive

We all remember the impact of the SEGA Mega Drive, also known as the Sega Genesis in the US. All the cool kids had one, it was the best thing since sliced bread, until the SNES arrived. But now it's back, in fact its been back a while, but these things can't be rushed, especially when you consider the time needed, to properly sit down and give all those lovely iconic classics, a thorough going over. 

For instance, game titles include: Sonic the Hedgehog, the legendary Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, and more importantly, Mortal Kombat! Back in the day, the Megadrive really excited me, it looked and played better than any computer or game console before it, and for the first time, I can remember thinking, ‘how games have come a long way, and looked on par with those from the arcade’. 

This new model comes bundled with two wireless controllers, power cables and AV connectivity. There's a total of eighty built-in games, which should keep anyone happy. But for hardcore collectors, there's also the option to play multi region cartridges, and every game I've tried thus far, works perfectly, unlike the Megadrive portable.  

There’s no ear phone jack,The wireless controllers feel a bit cheap, and buttons have that annoying clickety-click when pressed, but they do give a solid in game performance. For the ultimate experience, the system allows you to pick up, and plug in original controllers, this for me is magnificent, as I've kept a few of my original controllers, and it was great to play with 'em once more, after years of gathering dust. 

So a big thank you to Apex and AtGames, for bringing back an old flame of mine, that looks and feels just as good as I remember. Well worth the investment, and great for the kids to get into. 

What others have said:

Good value for money
Hours of fun playing retro games from the 80/90's. Unfortunately the joypads are cordless, and unless your actually pointing at the console, you lose contact. There are ports to plug in controllers tho. Also theres a game slot so if theres any sega game you miss playing, its still possible to plug in. Very lightweight and easy to assemble. We took this away with us for the weekend to keep kids entertained. Small and compact.


Great retro gaming system
Brought this to play with my sons, brings back many a good memory of playing Sega Megadrive with my brother and sister back in the day...good console but the some of the built in games are a bit naff, but then again for £50 and 80 games I cannot grumble really.

Of the built-in games, below are classics you'll want to play:

– Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
– Alien Storm
– Altered Beast
– Arrow Flash
– Bonanza Bros.
– Chakan: The Forever Man
– Columns
– Columns III
– Comix Zone
– Crack Down
– Decap Attack
– Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
– Ecco
– Ecco 2: The Tides Of Time
– Ecco Jr
– ESWAT: City Under Seige
– Eternal Champions
– Fatal Labyrinth
– Flicky
– Gain Ground
– Golden Axe
– Golden Axe II
– Golden Axe III
– Jewel Master
– Kid Chameleon
– Ristar
– Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
– Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
– StreetsOfRage 1
– StreetsOfRage 2
– StreetsOfRage 3
– Sonic & Knuckles
– Sonic Spinball
– Sonic the Hedgehog
– Sonic the Hedgehog II
– Sonic 3D Blast – Flickie’s Island
– The Ooze
– Vectorman
– Vectorman II

– Virtua Fighter II

Saturday, 5 March 2016

2016... The year of Nintendo

I’m not the worlds biggest Nintendo fan, but of late, the software being released, has started to massively turn my head. For instance, I’ve spent the last couple of nights, and early hours of the morning, playing the awfully spectacular Bravely Second: End Layer, Stella Glow, Kid Icarus: Uprising and now the all new Demo, Hyrule Warriors Legends… What’s happening within Nintendo?

The latter plays like a bunch of retro games all carefully stitched into one, at times you feel like there’s a bit of Gauntlet going on, a touch of Smash TV and bags of Sword of the Berserk. The rest, including strategy elements, borrowed from the best games of Nintendo's past. It's early days, but the demo has definitely got me excited. 

I’m desperate for more, shame the demo doesn’t last long, I completed it in less than thirty minutes, especially when you consider i’m still playing the demo version of Bravely Second, and already several hours in. Still, I’m really excited about the 3DS, especially as SEGA seem hell bent on releasing nearly every game from their back catalogue of games, a new welcomed arrival being Power Drift! But I have to ask, where's Turbo Outrun???  

2016 could be the year of Nintendo, especially if their trend of diverse software continues to grow, and let's not forget the NX…  

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A brave new world: the 1980s home computer boom

From iPads to wafer-thin laptops, home computers (in one form or another) are today commonplace. But when did we first embrace this technology? Tom Lean, the author ofElectronic Dreams: How 1980s Britain Learned to Love the Computer, investigates…

In the early 1980s computers invaded British homes for the first time, a wave of cheap and futuristic devices that allowed millions of people to discover for themselves what a computer was. These fantastic machines, like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Acorn Electron and Commodore 64, promised to make computing user-friendly for the first time. They were expected to reveal the wonders of information technology to the masses, and bring about a revolution in homes, schools, and workplaces. But to what extent did the electronic dreams these machines were sold on actually come true? What impact did home computers have on our lives in the 1980s?

Read the full article here:

Dave Needle, Original Amiga Engineer and Creator of the Atari Lynx and 3DO, Dies

Dave Needle, an important figure in the computer and video game industries who designed three different hardware releases, has died.
Needle died last Friday of natural causes according to RJ Mical, a longtime friend and former business partner.
Needle was instrumental in creating the first Amiga personal computer, known as the Amiga 1000. The Amiga first released in July 1985. While Microsoft was developing its new Windows operating system for PCs and Apple was further establishing itself with the first “Macintosh,” Commodore’s original Amiga was considered ahead of its time because of its almost unrivaled and ground-breaking multitasking abilities along with advanced sound, video graphics and multimedia features.
Read more here:


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Ground Zero Amstrad CPC

Ground Zero is a game that has kept me captivated since its release, it's taken me years to complete, of which I am highly embarrassed. So, after decades of trying, I've finally beaten it. It wasn't easy either, take too much time and you die of radiation poising, go too quickly, and you run out of energy. Everything is against you, and you only have thirty minutes to diffuse a nuclear bomb! One of Tynesoft's finest games, shame more didn't exist like this.

Video available here, just click play...


1983: The Year Video Games Died

I'm sitting here, searching through Youtube, and stumbled across a great little movie, about the video game industry crash of 1983. I really think it paints an accurate picture, and explores the mismanagement from Atari, lacklustre 3rd party titles, and the blame game that ensued upon ET. I didn't know this, but apparently Atari nearly formed a distribution partnership with Nintendo for the whole of America, until Nintendo decided they would go it alone. It also talks about how the European computer games market didn't even notice the crash, and how we happily continued playing Manic Miner and Jetpac. 

Give the documentary a watch by clicking on the video below...  


C4CPC 3D Cartridge Quick Guide

My #‎C4CPC Blank Cartridge cover arrived today, on my Birthday. Total cost £10, but that's because postage is really high. I had to file a few things down to get it to fit, but on the whole, it's a worthwhile project, and to say i'm happy with it, is an understatement. None of this would have been possible, without the help of the guys from the CPC Community. 

So, you want a 3D Cartridge to house your C4CPC, well, the best place to get started, is head over to CPCwiki, there you will find a page with a complete list of games and applications that are available, and any new developments on the design, or update for the C4CPC cart. 

Games available, can be found at:  

Information on the 3D Design of the cart can be found here:

The above links will help to get you started, and the second link, at the beginning of the topic, provides details for the 3D design download you'll need to submit to the 3D Printer. 

These are the files you'll need, two separate files need submitting for top and bottom design. 


This is the direct download link, but not sure it will work from here: 

another link here:

Once you've got everything you need, here's a special offer below, so your first print is free:  

Word of warning! Not all 3D printers are the same, quality and accuracy of the printer can cause problems.

I love 3D Hubs. Use my referral link to get $10 for your first 3D print! via @3dhubs

Friday, 19 February 2016

Sam's Journey, new C64 game

About The Game

Sam's Journey is a brand-new original scrolling platform game developed for the Commodore 64 home computer. It's about a cute little hero called Sam who finds himself on an unexpected journey in a strange world.

Guide Sam through many different locations such as deep forests, hot deserts or frozen mountains! Find hidden gems and discover secret passages, but beware of the creatures!

Sam can run, jump, climb and swim. He can pick up items, carry them around and throw them at enemies. And with the power of special costumes, Sam completely changes his appearance and gains additional skills! 

See game in action here! 

Information taken from

Genre: Scrolling Platform Game
Platform: Commodore 64, PAL Version
Media: 5.25" Disk or Cartridge 
Status: In Development 
Estimated Release: First Half 2016 
Where To Buy: To Be Announced


Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Last UFO - Amstrad Game WIP

Amstrad PIXELS: The Last UFO - Amstrad Game WIP

Apparently, things are progressing nicely, and the programmer is looking to program this game for the C64 and ZX Spectrum as well. 


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Free Monster Maze T-shirt

Can you think of the best caption for this image? The best caption get's it printed on a T-Shirt and sent to them for free! Competition ends midnight, Saturday the 20th...


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

ULTIMA - Amstrad CPC

It's a beautiful, but simple game! Moving through the dungeons, whilst keeping an eye out for thieves, and more importantly food reserves, really elevates it above all other adventures. I really do love these types of games, because for me, by in large, the Ultima series is similar to reading a book, you have to engage with your surroundings, and really use your imagination. I also like how well the programmer portrayed moving through the Dungeons, it's really convincing, almost a game in its own right, you won't get lost, and there's a genuine feel of exploration and danger around every corner, and behind every door. I prefer this vector style approach, more so than the latter games in the series, that preferred a 2D approach. I wish they'd have continued with the hybrid 2D and 3D look and feel to the game, in a Driller-esque sort of way. Regardless, I love this new addition to the CPC, and more importantly, here's hoping for more Ultima games for the CPC.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The new ZX VEGA Review

Processor: ARM SOC 

Memory: 16MB SD RAM
Storage: 64MB Flash Storage

What's it all about:

It was originally produced by Retro Computers as part of a crowd funded idea to produce a ZX Spectrum clone, that could connect directly into any TV set. Many people have likened it to the DTV64. The difference being that the Vega includes 1000 games and a hardware specific interface, built into the circuit board that allows for future software upgrades. Chris Smith developed the Vega, a former Speccy developer, for his sins. 

The good bits:

It runs nearly every game I've thrown at it, TAP files included. It's an all-in-one solution that plugs nicely into your telly, using composite or SCART (additional SCART connector needed). The build quality isn't as bad as what others have made out, it looks and feels alright to me. The menu system looks basic in design, but it actually works really well, and there's really cool music playing in the background. There's one thousand games to sift through, and the vast majority of games I've tried thus far, work just as good as the real thing, in some cases better. There's a Micro-SD slot, where you can easily upload thousands more. The Vega also automatically maps additional games to the Kempston setup, It can sometimes be a bit hit and miss, but for the most part, helps to make the whole experience that little bit less cumbersome. Games can also be saved, allowing you to pop out and resume from where you left off. The ZX Vega experience is powered by USB, so you'll need a USB power source if playing on an old CRT.  

The bad bits:

It's really difficult to play classics such as Skool Daze, or any adventure game for that matter, as the console device lacks a true Qwerty keyboard. The built in keyboard just isn't appropriate for this type of game. The other issue comes with the selection of games preloaded, these aren't the games that used to set our pulses racing, don't get me wrong, there's a few classics in there, but unfortunately there's a heck of a lot that ain't. There's also two big ugly wires, falling out the back of the Vega, and get this, they've omitted an HDMI connector.


You can play ZX Spectrum games on nearly every device out there, PSP, NDS, and on the PC for free. There's also the really good 'Spectaculator' available for PC, iPAD and Android. 

Should I get one?

I've had it a while now, but delayed my review, as I wanted to fully test it. The emulation is spot on, and it's great for taking away on holiday. I've played some classic Speccy games, I didn't even know existed, games I definitely wouldn't have played if not for the Vega. Classics such as Jetpac, Death Chase (Download) and R-type (Download) have never felt so good. But because of the high price of £99, and cumbersome control issue's when trying to play adventure games, unfortunately I can't recommend it. 

Personally, for me, I think it's great, and hopefully they'll make similar devices for the C64 or Amstrad CPC in the future. You can see a full list of pre-loaded games by clicking on the web address above.