APP OF THE DAY - ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection Vol. 1 (iPhone / iPod touch)

1982: The Falklands War between the English and Argentinians began, England's footy team went out of the World Cup in Spain without losing a single game, and Tight Fit's The Lion Sleeps Tonight spent 3 weeks at the top of the UK pop charts. But it wasn't all bad.

For starters, director Bob Clark brought us the seminal Porky's - an 18-certificated film that may pale against some PG releases today, but was an important part of every pre-pubescent lad's growing up at the time.

And then, of course, there was the debut of The Young Ones on BBC2, easily the best sitcom of the time.

But, for young fellas who liked to sit for hours and hours in their bedrooms, frantically fiddling with bulbous-headed shafts and trying to press all the right buttons, the best thing from 1982 was, without a shadow of a doubt...

ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection Vol. 1

Format
iPhone, iPod touch
Price
£0.59
Where
iTunes

Sir Clive Sinclair's third home computer is fondly remembered by many who grew up in the 80s. However, it is far more important than that.

It is, in fact, the pivotal founder of the modern videogames market; a machine that was both affordable and accessible to all, whether you just wanted to play or write games on it. When it came out, its only peers were hideously expensive, or feebly underpowered. Only offices or rich kids had computers in the early 80s, and even then because their parents thought that they might learn something from them.

However, Sir Clive's device, with its tatty plastic casing and rubber keys, was disposable and cheap enough for teenagers to have in their bedrooms, and that created a massive, new market for games. By the second year of its life, you could even buy the software (stored on cassette) in newsagents alongside a copy of Tiger or Eagle and a quarter of cola pips. And hence, games developers multiplied in their hundreds.

Some of which are still around today, such as Goldeneye 007 programmers Rare, who started out as Spectrum developer Ultimate Play the Game, and Kevin Toms, the mastermind behind the original Football Manager game who is currently writing a new version for the iPhone.

But it is another of those old developers, Elite Systems, that has targeted Apple devices first, and it's used its roots to do so.

Available on iTunes now, ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection Vol. 1 features six emulated Speccy games from its, and others, back catalogues. And the company plans to release regular additions to the range.

On the first outing, we're treated to pixel perfect renditions of Durell Software's classic games, Saboteur!, Turbo Esprit and Harrier Attack, Elite's own arcade conversion of Buggy Boy and Frank Bruno's Boxing, and, leaving the best until last, A&F Software's original Chuckie Egg. The latter is worth the entry price alone.

Apart from the spot-on emulation, there's little more to the app, although you can choose to have the keys from either the rubbery 48k Spectrum or hard key 128k equivalent (as released by Amstrad later in its life). Plus, there's a little bit of preamble about each game and an online news section to let you know what other volumes may be on the horizon. But everything from the snatches of loading noise and original game music is so authentic that it'll take you back to the period more effectively than a mouth full of Space Dust.

Of course, if you weren't around back then, you may just go "meh" at the quality of the games. But this isn't for you. It's for us, and we love it.

What was your favourite thing in the 80s? Or do you have a different favourite games machine? Let us know in the comments below...