I’m suspicious of kids these days. It has nothing to do with the constant news reports that tell me how likely I am to be chibbed by some snapback-wearing hoodlum on the nightbus home, but down to the fact I have a hard time trusting someone who has never known a world without PlayStation. They never saw the running battles on the playgrounds. They never had to pick a side. Megadrive vs. Snes. Sega vs. Nintendo. That was the war where I earned my stripes, proudly wearing my four coloured buttons on my chest, wielding a far better copy of Street Fighter II everywhere I went.
I was born into the first of these battles. The Commodore 64 vs. The ZX Spectrum. Thanks to my father, I was raised in a Commodore household. It was practically part of the family, with me dedicating every waking hour to besting the distinctly average Robocop. Good times, great memories. Unfortunately, I lived deep behind Spectrum enemy lines.
All of these stories I hear these days about communities of C64 owners, all swapping games in the playground, or committing massive acts of piracy copying games onto a C90 after school. I have none of these stories. Instead, I spent my childhood hiding my disappointment at the next garish, noisy mess that some mate was trying to convince me was the best game ever, lest I be outed as a ‘C64-er’. The worst was seeing my beloved Dizzy, butchered to neon-death in front of my very eyes by the bastard machine. The lowest I ever fell was when, with no one to borrow games off, I borrowed a ‘Crash’ cover tape off a mate because it had Glider Rider and a demo of ‘Biff’ on it. I put it into my high-speed datacorder. It didn’t work. I’ve still never played ‘Biff’.
I found solace in Zzap! 64 magazine. A legendary tome that spoke of a world full of Commodore 64 goodness, with monthly gifts of new games and demos. It was far from this horrible, Spectrum existence. A temporary escape. Little did I know that I'd have to go through all of this again, when everyone I know got a Megadrive for Christmas, and I got a SNES.
I’m probably the least equipped person to be writing about the ZX Spectrum. I never had one, played a handful of games on it and largely despised it. However, I understand that for a lot of gamers, it was an important part of their childhood.
Not mine, like. Fucking ruined mine. Old rivalries die hard. Happy birthday, prick.