My failure as a ZX Spectrum game developer

I took my first tentative steps at programming when I received an Acorn Electron for Christmas back in 1984. Starting with the bundled getting User Guide, Introductory Cassette and How To Program guide, I made my first tentative steps into writing BASIC. One of the first things I tried to create was a computer version of Ian Livingstone’s Warlock of Firetop Mountain. It was very basic (!) using a shortened descriptive, GOTO branching and lacked any of the combat, luck or other gameplay mechanics of the book.

But still, it fired my passion and I spent the next few years devouring a diet of Usborne and other programming books from the container library that used to park up on our village shops every Friday and Saturday. The library’s inventory wasn’t that wide, and the same books would be recycled through my hands over this period. They only covered BASIC and most were aimed at other computers than the Electron, such as the Speccy, BBC and some machines I’d never heard of such as the TRS80. By the time I received a second-hand family donated Spectrum and started to earn a few quid from a paper round the machine code type-ins covered in magazines tented to focus on advanced skills or POKEs rather than the getting started stuff I needed.


Anyway, that’s my excuse for never been able to code in machine language. I did get to grips with Sinclair BASIC and even managed to finish a few games. These tended to be inspired by my love of adventures and football management programs – Football Manager, The Double and Tracksuit Manager specifically.


I found the cassettes from a couple of games – Championship Soccer and Championship 6-a-side Soccer. I tried to bring in the simplicity of Football Manager, the detail of the Double, and the game commentary and atmosphere of the text-based football of Tracksuit Manager.


As you can see from the screenshots, my programming and UI skill did improve over time from the first to second game. Unfortunately the improved version it didn’t meet commercial requirements and I received a kind rejection letter from D&H Games after my submission. Wish I’d kept it.

Download Championship Soccer & Championship 6-a-side Soccer snapshots for the ZX Spectrum.

Kudos to Jonathan Needle and his brilliant Spectaculator  emulator for Windows.




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