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
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
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
Starstrike II 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
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
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.
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
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.
Retro gaming links
- 8-Bit Revolution - Start!
If you like 8-bits - you will love this!
- Acorn Archimedes
A truly powerful machine from Acorn
- Acorn Atom
The Atom was the ancestor to the BBC series of computers manufactured by Acorn
- Acorn Electron
The Electron was an 8-bit Micro manufactured by Acorn
- Aliens: Infestation
It's a bug hunt
- Amiga CD 32
The Amiga CD32 was released eighteen years ago (gulp!) in September of 1993
- Amiga Games
The best in 16-bits
- Amstrad CPC 464
During the 1980s entrepeneur Alan Sugar made a foray into the home computer market
- Astro Blaster
Astro Blaster was a table top arcade game released by Hales
- Astro Wars
Astro Wars was an electronic arcade game of the 'table top' variety
- Atari ST
The Atari ST was a 16-bit home computer that battled with the Amiga
Asteroids (along with the seminal Space Invaders) must be one of the most famous arcade games of all time
- AY Music
Fantastic music and sound effects
- BBC Micro
Serious home computing from Acorn
- Best PC Games
PC Gaming - get the best in online games
- Chronos Cheat Codes
Chronos: A tapestry of time was a budget game for the ZX Spectrum by Mastertronic which featured lots of hidden extras
- Commodore 16
The Commodore 16 was an 8-bit micro
- Commodore 64
The 'Bullnose' in all it's glory
- Commodore 65
Rarer than rain in the sahara
- Commodore 128
The last of Commodore's 8-bit machines
- Commodore Amiga
We love the Commodore Amiga!!
- Crash Magazine
Crash magazine was one of the most popular monthly magazines available covering the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and it's games.
- Dark Star Cheat Codes
Dark Star also featured lots of hidden extras and humour
- Funny Games
Games to make you chuckle
- Games Online
Games online are both modern and classic
- Ground Zero
Quality and grim text adventuring
- Interface 2
Interface 2 complete with ROM cartridge plugged in The ZX Interface 2 was a hardware peripheral by the manufacturers of the ZX Spectrum, Sinclair Research. Designed as and add-on...
- Miniclip Games
Just what are Miniclip games? Well, if you are into games online then miniclip games could be for you
- Missile Command Games
A world famous arcade game
- Ocean Software
Ocean Software was one of the biggest developers of arcade games
- Oric 1
The Oric 1 was a British computer that gained reasonable popularity in Europe...
- Oric Atmos
The Oric Atmos was a British computer
- Pacman Game
Who can forget the year of 1980 when Pac-man first appeared in the amusement arcades?
- Reality Glitch Online
Get your teeth into some memorable 8-bit titles
- Retro Computers
Atari, Sinclair, Commodore, Oric, Dragon... They are all here. Pick out your favourite retro system
- Scramble games
Scramble must be one of the most famous arcade shoot em ups ever
- Space Harrier
The full hydraulic gaming experience
- Space Invaders
Space Invaders, an all time classic that really launched the genre of the shoot em up arcade game
- Spectrum emulator
Play these awesome graphics games again
- Spectrum memories
Reminiscing about the Speccy
- TV Themes
Welcome to 80s theme tunes part 2
What a console!
- VIC 20
Listen to Shatner. You. Will. Listen.
The Sinclair ZX80
The Sinclair ZX81
- ZX Spectrum Game Characters
Most of us old school gamers will have fond memories of many games for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (and other 8-bit and 16-bit machines). From Manic Miner to Way of the Exploding Fist to Night Gunner, these...
- ZX Spectrum Games
With game reviews, images, videos and interviews with industry legends you can't go wrong
- ZX Spectrum Music
The original ZX Spectrum was never designed to compose masterpieces We are talking about the original ZX Spectrum here or the slightly upgraded Spectrum plus. We are not including the Spectrum 128, the plus 2...
- ZX Spectrum Platform Games
The platform genre was really popular for a good few years, and the one that probably kickstarted it on the Spectrum was Manic Miner.This page is a little tribute to some of best
- ZX Spectrum Programmers
The 48K Spectrum was pushed way beyond it's limitations There were many fine developers who worked on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum during the 1980s and into the early 1990s. They managed to push the machine...
- ZZap 64
Another fine mag from those guys in Ludlow
- 8-bit to 16-bit
The 16-bit takeover was complete...
- 80s theme tunes
From yer telly