Quick Book Review – Speccy Nation by Dan Whitehead

I impulse bought a couple of books about the British video game industry recently. One of these was the little pocket book “Speccy Nation” by veteran games journalist Dan Whitehead.

Obviously its all abSpeccy Nationout Sir Clive’s venerable ZX-Spectrum and covers around 50 or so games that were released for our rubber-keyed chum. The games are obviously favourites of Dan’s, and he’s compiled a wide and varied list of titles that obviously influenced his teenage years – Turbo Esprit, Manic Miner, Jet Pac, Everyone’s A Wally …

Most of the games are looked back on with rose-tinted glasses, but Whitehead manages to conjure a love and passion for the humble Speccy that is infectious. He goes beyond the standard “classics” list that have been covered to saturation across the web and in print, and chooses a range of oddities, and titles celebrated for their left-field thinking – those that covered bizarre and obtuse topics underlining the creative freedom allowed in the “glory days” of the 1980s.

He remembers that the Speccy inspired a generation not only to play games, but to create them and the book looks for those titles that inspired the blockbuster titles that would appear some years later – hits such as Lemmings, Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto that all had DNA strands in earlier games.

It’s a pick-up and put-down book (perhaps one for the smallest room), and there’s hardly a couple of hours of material, but it’s well worth the read. It’s a pity the production values weren’t raised a little higher to include screenshots in all their 16-colour (8 colours, normal and BRIGHT for each) glory, but for the price of a couple of cups of coffee you can’t argue.

Speccy Nation is available now in paperback from Amazon priced £3.99.

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