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Review: The ZX Spectrum Book – 1982 to 199x

January 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Publisher: Hiive Books

Author: Andrew Rollings

Some wise person once said,  “Never judge a book by its cover.” Sane advice when it comes to books, no doubt, but when it comes to “The ZX Spectrum Book” the cover pretty much tells you what you can expect from the book – polish, style, quality and staggering attention to detail. Why, even the envelope that the book ships in has a customised Spectrum labeling on it! Beat that!

But a bit of background on the book before I give out more details on it. It was in mid-2005 (I think, well it was some time ago at any rate!) that Andrew Rollings announced he was doing a memorabilia book that covered a fair bit of Spectrum gaming history. He figured that he would finish the book by September 2005 (yes, that’s not a spelling mistake). *snigger*

Of course, he didn’t! In fact, it took more than a year to finish the book. And now that we have the book, we know why!

The book chronicles more than 230 games covering the lifespan of the Speccy gaming industry from 1982 to 1992. Each year is colour coded to help you quickly find a relevant game. Apart from a Contents section that lists the games by their year of release, there is a handy Index section that lists the game in alphabetical order.

The entire meaty 250 odd paged book is printed in full-colour (Spectrum colours in fact) and the paper, colour reproduction and print quality is outstanding.

To cap it the foreword is written by Sir Clive Sinclair himself.

If that doesn’t impress you the contents of the book certainly will.

Effectively, there are 9 chapters in the book each representing the year of interest from 1982 to 199x. Nick Humphries (of YSRNR fame) introduces each chapter with an excellent summation of the important milestones in that year. This sets a nice background and tone for the games being presented in the chapter.

Each write-up of a game is broken up into three sections that give you a brief background about the game, some trivia and a succinct overview of the game itself. The write-ups are accompanied by two in-game screenshots, the loading screen and the inlay of the game. In addition, where possible, the ratings given by the Big Three (Crash, Your Sinclair, and Sinclair User) are reproduced to give you a fair idea of the overall perception of the game (by the magazines that is) when it came out.

If you’re wondering what kind of games are chronicled, it’s interesting to note that Andrew has been rather eclectic in his selection. He writes about the good games, the bad games and even the downright ugly ones. It’s a fair representation of the gaming scene that existed during that particular period. More importantly, the chosen games either have some sort of historical significance or interesting trivia that helped set them apart from the others. That’s not to say he’s managed to write about every interesting game that existed – that would have been well near impossible considering the number of games that were released – but lets say every game included in the book has a story to tell and make a very interesting read.

There’s nothing much else to say really. This book deserves to be on every specchums coffee table – it’s a piece of Spectrum computing history (the book that is, not the coffee table). If you haven’t got it already, go on spoil yourself – you know you want to!

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