Villordsutch reviews Sinclair ZX Spectrum: a visual compendium…
Being born in the 1970’s I have the Sinclair ZX Spectrum rainbow colours coursing through my veins. I still today fly the flag of the ZX Spectrum and though I’m more than happy to allow some gently mocking of this 8-bit machine to been tossed around, my greying hackles rise ever so slightly as my mind is cast back to the great conflict of the 1980’s. When Spectrum, Amstrad and Commodore users stood in the appropriate corners of their playground ready to besmirch each others’ machines.
If you’ve ever picked up a Bitmap Book before [see our Amiga and C64 reviews here] you’re expecting one thing before you open the pages. That thing is quality and with this latest release the Sinclair ZX Spectrum: a visual compendium this truly could be marked with a the guarantee of a gold pressed stamp. Everything on the initial flick through – before you give the book real time – shines from the pallette of the ZX Spectrum across the pages, the extreme light absorbing blacks, along with the sheer beauty of brushstroke perfect reprints from Oliver Frey; you’re already smiling from ear to ear at this perfect slice of history you are holding.
Delving into the book further and it’s here you notice the attention to detail that has gone into book, making it quite possibly Bitmap Books’ most perfect book on their shelf; the inner-cover has a BASIC program ready for any ZX Spectrum owners to type out (for those without a Spectrum at hand try ZXBASIC). Not only this but over 120 games are then brought into the light – ones that have sat in the forgotten recesses of your mind, becoming nothing more that Small Gods from the mighty Titans that once ruled the realm of your cassette player. As soon as you see the names like Heavy on the Magick, Glider Rider, Ant Attack, Thanatos and Nodes of Yesod, these games erupt in your mind and you need to play them again. You rapidly digest the anecdotal blasts of information surrounding these games, from those involved – somehow – with these masterpieces on possibly the greatest British piece of computing around.Knightlore
Amongst the reflecting on numerous scores of games we are also treated to an inight into gaming publishers like Beyond, Durell and Ultimate and look back at the ZX Spectrum magazines which had its own schoolyard fan base. Myself I was a Your Sinclair fan (before that Sinclair Programs); here however it’s rather brilliant to read on how Crash magazine came about, but for myself to see name like Phil South, Matt Bielby and the other Ex-Your Sinclair names crop up is quite excellent.
Amongst the excellent photographs and artwork there are numerous interviews with the rather brilliant ZX Spectrum artists of the day, including Dawn Drake, Chris Graham and Ray Owen. It’s fascinating to read that each artist found that working with the ZX Spectrum’s colour clash, though it could be a hindrance, actually became something more and it actually strengthened their skills. One rather glum aspect however, was the fact that my childlike mind – from the 1980’s – had deified these people, those that had worked on such games like Batman and Finders Keepers, these people had technically helped lower the density of my bones. To read that their lives had continued beyond gaming and some had happily now took up real-life jobs, including working at Auto-Trader, made me feel rather glum; I wanted them to be some top, whizzo, graphic-artist with minions doing their paint-brushing minor deeds.
Sinclair ZX Spectrum: a visual compendium is the book any fan of the classic machine needs to own as of today, not only that if you are a fan of the retro-scene and you want to appreciate the glorious world of the ZX Spectrum then you need to place this book on your bookshelf in a prominent place. It can’t be faulted at all, from the first flick through to the last word read this book is a worthy buy.