Top 10 best ZX Spectrum games of all time

Stuart Sumner
clock • 10 min read

Computing presents the definitive list of the all-time top games on one of the best-loved home computers

Gamers are spoilt today with 4K graphics, motion-captured ultra-realistic characters, and a dynamic, orchestral, multi-layered auditory experience accompanying their every twitch in-game.

Hands up who remembers the days when you controlled a little blue sprite that turned the background blue wherever it tottered? And if you were lucky your stuttering movements were accompanied by an equally stuttering array of beeps?

Those were the days.

But in those days, gaming was a new frontier. Developers (more often than not a teenager coding in his bedroom) were creating and exploring a nascent industry, and making up the rules as they went. Games varied dramatically in length, quality, and bugginess. But not difficulty - that dial was almost universally set to 11. And with no YouTube walkthroughs available, if you were stuck, well, you were stuck.

But despite all of these deficiencies, or perhaps because of them, we loved the ZX Spectrum and its quirky array of games.

And with various devices designed to allow you to enjoy their games all over again either out now, or coming soon, it seems the world's appetite for weird and slightly clunky games from the '80s hasn't diminished.

Prefer Amiga games? We have you covered with a mammoth three-parter!

The top Amiga games 30-21

The top Amiga games 20-11

The top Amiga games 10-1

But if you want Spectrum games, you've come to the right place. So, without further ado, here's out pick of the 10 best games ever written for Sir Clive Sinclair's ZX Spectrum.

 

 footballmanager

 

10. Football Manager
Forget your fancy modern Football Manager series from SI Games, the 1982 Speccy version, coded entirely in BASIC, was where it was (and still is) at. While earlier versions on the Dragon 32 and Sinclair ZX80 and ZX81 were text only, the Spectrum version exalted in sporting basic animations showing match highlights.

Players selected a team and were instantly thrown into the old fourth division (of English league football) with random players, regardless of where their chosen team were actually playing at the time. There, with the aid of a limited transfer system, they were tasked to take the team back up to the top division, and perhaps win the odd FA Cup along the way.

Beautifully, Dave Carlos, reviewing Football Manager for Electron User, was so smitten he wrote: "I doubt that this game will ever be bettered." And perhaps Dave it hasn't.

You may also like
Hacker steals GTA6 source code from Rockstar

Hacking

The attacker may be the same as the one who breached Uber last week - and could be affiliated with the Lapsus$ group

clock 20 September 2022 • 3 min read
Nintendo NES and SNES console creator Masayuki Uemura dies at 78

Gadgets

He was the architect of consoles that revived the video gaming industry

clock 10 December 2021 • 2 min read
Sir Clive Sinclair dies at 81

Hardware

Home computing pioneer leaves a legacy of groundbreaking inventions

clock 17 September 2021 • 3 min read

More on Cloud and Infrastructure

Datacentre demand 'a self-fulfilling cycle': National Grid CIO Sarah Milton-Hunt

Datacentre demand 'a self-fulfilling cycle': National Grid CIO Sarah Milton-Hunt

Build better

Tom Allen
clock 21 February 2024 • 2 min read
Vinted's stylish security: Navigating fashion-tech fusion

Vinted's stylish security: Navigating fashion-tech fusion

Turning to open source to address containers and microservices

Tom Allen
clock 07 December 2023 • 4 min read
SAP enters vector database fray with new AI capabilities for HANA Cloud

SAP enters vector database fray with new AI capabilities for HANA Cloud

Another 'AI everywhere' announcement

John Leonard
clock 02 November 2023 • 2 min read