One of the best things about the current state of being a dork who loves old, very obsolete computers is that there are currently smart, talented people making brand-new software for these old machines. Software like games, and specifically games like this one, a racing game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum that incorporates one of the most charming fleets of old cars I’ve seen in any driving video game.
Even better, it does this all on a computer with some really severe and ideosyncratic graphical limitations.
It’s also worth noting that Sinclair also made a car. Sort of.
The game is called, cumbersomely, Travel Through Time Volume 1: Northern Lights by a company called Zosya Entertainment, which is a Russian organisation that makes stuff that would have been right at home on the 1980s Soviet black market: cassettes of Sinclair ZX Spectrum games and tapes of music the likes of which were frequently cloned in the Soviet Bloc.
I love the way these old Spectrum games look:
The strange colour effects there are because of something called attribute clash; you can maybe best think of it this way — the computer could plot pixels in pretty high resolution — 256 by 192 — but could only use two colours per 8×8 block. So, it can look like someone drew with a fine Sharpie over a bunch of coloured Legos.
That’s why the gameplay has those banded colours, but, with careful programming, you can get results like the splash screen I used as the top image, which is even more impressive when you know the limitations it’s working around.
All of this just gives it a certain charm, I think. But there’s even more charm, look at this amazing lineup of cars in the game:
There are Oval-window Beetles, Volvos PV544s, 140s and P1800s, Saabs Sonnet and 92, and I’m pretty sure this screenshot shows a Renault Dauphine:
I think this is the Volvo 140 from the rear, but it may be another car?
Anyway, I saw this and was smitten by the old-school charm of it all, so I figured I’d share it with you. I know for most of our American audience, the Spectrum is pretty unknown (I still haven’t managed to get my hands on one, even) but those of you in the Speccier parts of the world should check this out.