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10 Great Arcade Clones For The ZX Spectrum



By Kieren Hawken

The early eighties are often described as being the “Golden Age” of arcade games. It was a period of huge innovation that brought us such classic titles as Missile Command, Pac-Man, Centipede, Frogger and Q*bert – so it’s not hard to see why.

Back then just about everyone wanted a piece of the action and never was that truer than on the 8-bit computers of the time where clones of these popular games were rife. Back then nobody seemed to care very much about copyright infringement and I.P. theft. It was very much a different time where lawsuits were few and far between.

By far the most popular computer in the U.K during this period was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It brought affordable but powerful computing to the masses for the very first time and almost single handily created the booming U.K. games industry of today.

With all that in mind I thought it would be great to take a step back in time and look at ten of the very best arcade clones for the 8-bit home micro.

Pogo – Ocean Software

Our first entry is a clone of the hugely popular Gottlieb arcade game Q*bert that first debuted in arcades back in 1982.

Q*bert is probably one of the most famous characters out there from the early days of video games, this foul mouthed alien even appeared in the hit movie Wreck It Ralph and its sequel. His first game was a massive hit in arcades across the world upon release and still remains a favourite of many retro gamers to this day.

Q*bert is an isometric platformer where you jump up and down a pyramid trying to turn all the squares the same colour. In your way are some random enemies trying to stop you who can also turn the colour of squares back, making the game even harder. These guys also kill you on touch so must be avoided by jumping out the way or using one of two useful lifts to zoom up to the top of the pyramid, however these can only be used once.

This game is funny in many ways because Ocean Software ended becoming specialists in official arcade game later on in their life but this is undoubtedly one of their better early efforts at bringing the experience home.

High Noon – Abbex Electronics

The name might give it away a bit, but High Noon is in fact a direct clone of the historic 1977 Midway arcade game Boot Hill.

This was the sequel to the revolutionary 1975 coin-op Gun Fight, which was not only the first game to feature human combat it was also the very first arcade game to feature a microprocessor! Arriving two years after Gun Fight, this follow-up was pretty much more of the same, only a bit better done, becoming an equally huge success for the company. The main difference between this game and Gun Fight was that you could now play as against the computer, as opposed to the two-player only action of the original.

As well as the two cowboys trying to shoot each other you also have some scenery to hide behind. The game inspired many clones and copies, most notably Atari’s own Outlaw, which will be well remembered by owners of the Atari 2600.

It might seem simplistic by today’s standards but back then Boot Hill was a real blast and set new standards for competitive arcade games. High Noon copies the game almost flawlessly, the only thing that is missing is the colourful acetate screen overlay!