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Awesome Graphics

Updated on July 6, 2013
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Martin is an experienced software developer with a passion for retro machines and gaming.

Awesome Graphics

Some awesome graphics were created on many retro computers.

Here we are looking at amazing graphical acheivements within Spectrum games.

From fully immersive 3D worlds to smooth parallax scrolling to huge animated sprites, clever zx spectrum programmers created graphics that really should not have been capable on the humble 8-bit machine.

In this hub you will find just a few of them as we pay homage to these fantastic graphical 8-bit achievements.

The world of Driller

The 3D world of Mitral in Driller on the ZX Spectrum
The 3D world of Mitral in Driller on the ZX Spectrum

Driller on the ZX Spectrum

Driller by Incentive Software was a landmark in graphical achievements on the ZX Spectrum.

Never before on any 8-bit computer had the player been able to freely roam around an immersive world.

Incentive somehow managed to squeeze an entire 'game world' into 48K of memory.

This is probably the earliest 1st person game on a home computer that featured solid 3D graphics and allowed you to 'look' up, down, left and right as well as moving wherever you wanted to.

The mere fact that you could walk through a door and into a building was ground breaking!

This game really got the ball rolling in the 1st person genre on home computers - and is the granddaddy of today's modern 1st person shooters.

The mystical land in Thanatos

Superb multi-layered scrolling in Thanatos on the ZX Spectrum
Superb multi-layered scrolling in Thanatos on the ZX Spectrum

Thanatos on the ZX Spectrum

Thanatos by Durell was something different on the ZX Spectrum.

The central character (see Spectrum game characters) was a large, nicely animated dragon!

This game featured huge exotic enemies to battle such as sea serpents, giant spiders, two headed dragons and huge killer bees.

What really made Thanatos stand out was the fantastic multi-layered parallax scrolling.

The depth and perspective within the game was nothing short of brilliant - and really showcased what a humble Spectrum could do in the hands of a talented programmer.

An upgraded version was released for the Spectrum 128 which featured enhanced sound effects and some nice AY Music.

Starstrike II ZX Spectrum

Shooting the pods from the Space Wheel in Starstrike 2 ZX Spectrum
Shooting the pods from the Space Wheel in Starstrike 2 ZX Spectrum

Starstrike II on the ZX Spectrum

Starstrike II from Realtime Software was another ground breaking achievement in 3D gaming on the ZX Spectrum.

Their first game (3D Starstrike) had been based on the classic Atari Star Wars arcade game. Well Starstrike II took vector graphics gaming one step further by giving this shoot em up solid vector graphics.

For the first time on a Spectrum - space battles were represented with solid wire-frame graphics that suffered little 'slowdown'.

Starstrike II really enhanced the whole genre - and was an amazing techincal feat on the Speccy.

Dangerous racing in 3D Deathchase

Avoid those trees at all costs in Deathchase on the ZX Spectrum
Avoid those trees at all costs in Deathchase on the ZX Spectrum

3D Deathchase on the ZX Spectrum

A total classic title, 3D Deathchase was a great game from Micromega in 1983.

This 16K (yes 16K!) game was a simple chase and shoot game set in an ever thickening forest.

Pursuing two rogue bikers at break-neck speed for bounty money was simple but brilliant.

The fast moving 3D graphics gave a real sense of speed within the game - and weaving through the trees (both a day and night) was an adrenalin pumping experience.

It was the closest thing you could get to riding a speeder bike through the forests of Endor - and is still playable even today.

The smooth moving platforms of Cobra

Excellent scrolling in Cobra on the ZX Spectrum
Excellent scrolling in Cobra on the ZX Spectrum

Cobra on the ZX Spectrum

Whilst the central sprites are nothing extra-special, the fast moving and super smooth parallax scrolling make Cobra stand out as a graphical achievement.

Ocean Software's game of the film was a side scrolling humorous platform affair that once again proved that the Spectrum could handle smooth and fast scrolling.

The parallax effect is nice and pleasing to the eye - but it's the sheer slickness of the backgrounds that really stand out.

The scrolling in this game still stands up today - a testament to all time legendary spectrum coder, Joffa Smith.

The world of Tricuspid in Dark Side

Excellent 3D rendering in Dark Side on the ZX Spectrum
Excellent 3D rendering in Dark Side on the ZX Spectrum

Dark Side on the ZX Spectrum

Incentives follow up to Driller took the original concept and made it all bigger and better.

The 'freescape' engine had been improved making the gameplay of Dark Side smoother than its' predecessor.

Once again you were free to immerse yourself in a whole 'world' and explore pretty much anywhere you wanted.

The moon of Tricuspid was created excellently with the Freescape engine, and gamers were once amazed by the 3D experience.

Driller on the ZX Spectrum using the Freescape engine

Thanatos on the ZX Spectrum

Deathchase on the ZX Spectrum

Cobra on the ZX Spectrum - Walkthrough

See these games in more detail

Remember these games (and a lot more!) can be seen on our dedicated ZX Spectrum games site which has reviews, images, videos, a quiz and even interviews with industry legends!

All relevant retro gaming, blog links (we also cover Amiga Games) and computing links are in the links section below.

Thanks all!


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