Villordsutch with ten great ZX81 games you really need to play…
Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX81 celebrated its 35th Anniversary in March 2016. This small unassuming machine to most people today, with a mere 1K of RAM, is quite possibly laughable 0 but this sleek flat-keyboarded machine began a revolution that is still rolling today.
When you look at your mobile phone screen and tap an icon to launch an app, each icon (not the app) is itself over 200K big, so that’s around 200 ZX81 games (without the 16K ram pack extension) you’re tapping to launch Clash of Clans or whatever the favoured freemium app of the week is today. Yet it was this lowly machine that launched the British computer boom! Some may argue that it was the BBC Micro or the perhaps the ZX Spectrum, but if we were being honest it was the easy to access ZX81 that came first which succeeded the ZX80; this machine really gave the first true steps to home coders.
It was these home coders that made the gaming scene – it wasn’t EA, Ubisoft, Blizzard etc., it was Jeff Minter, Don Priestley and Julian Chappell that made the ZX81 glow and people like Andrew Hewson and Usborne Books who delivered the knowledge to Joe and Josephine Bloggs, so they too could also make their own machine move; these people made the computer scene grow to what it was and is today. These were a few names amongst dozens – if not hundreds – of other unnamed programmers, and thanks to them the ZX81 grew despite having its flaws.The award winning ZX81
It didn’t sing, it wasn’t colourful and it lacked power. Eventually Sir Clive released the ZX Spectrum and the bedroom coders jumped ship to the machine of bellsand whistles, leaving the award winning flat-keyboard wonder in the loft for decades. However, this wasn’t the end of the machines life for come the 21st Century the ZX81 found a new home in the hearts of gamers, who made it dance in ways nobody thought it could.
There is a rather large scene for this plucky little machine with names like Johan “Dr. Beep” Koelman, Bob’s Stuff, Paul Farrow, Cronosoft and Revival-Studios.com flying a flag once more for the ZX81. We even have new hardware being created like the ZXpand which adds a SD Card slot, plus an optional soundboard and Joystick port. Jim Bagley famous for the excellent Midnight Resistance on the ZX Spectrum recently won a Guinness World Record for managing to fit Dragon’s Lair onto the ZX81!
After 35 years the ZX81 is well into its middle-age, however instead of seeking out a motorbike and panicking about getting old, it’s found itself a loyal fan base who have made sure this plucky machine – from thirty-five years back – doesn’t have to worry about being forgotten anytime soon. Here’s ten great ZX81 games that you really need to play…
If you want to play any of the ZX81 games shown in the video above, but don’t actually have a ZX81, you should look at the free emulator EightyOne here.