spectrum v c64 flabby
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16 Reasons Why The Spectrum Is Best And Anyone Who Says Different Fancies Their Mum…

1. The C64 was squeezed from between the lumpen buttocks of a faceless American corporation, but the Spectrum was INVENTED – by a maverick, classically eccentric, great British boffin (Clive Sinclair). That he went on to fail spectacularly with another crazy invention – the C5 – only reinforces his flighty fallibility and makes us love him even more.

2. While the Spectrum is named after the natural wonder that is a nice rainbow, the Commodore 64 is named after a fey soul combo that Lionel Richie used to be in, and who had a song called ‘Three Times A Lady’ (not a concept normally familiar to Commodore C64 owners).


Now, THAT is a sensation.


Who’s your daddy?

3. Mr. Conventional Wisdom, he say – the C64 had better games. This is wrong. While the C64 pioneered the dull, soulless games ‘industry’ of today with endless arcade ports and licences, the Speccy regularly played host to genuinely ground-breaking titles (3D Ant Attack, Deathchase, Chaos, Rebelstar, Lunar Jetman, All Or Nothing, Deus Ex Machina, Knight Lore, Fat Worm Blows A Sparky, Atic Atac, The Train Game, Mined Out, Hijack, Wheelie, Dark Star…). The list is – well, this particular one ends here, but there are so many more games that could go on it, as predominantly British Speccy developers repeatedly demonstrated the lateral originality that so often characterises them – and is missing from their lunkheaded US counterparts.

4. C64 Gals nag on about how shite the Spectrum keyboard is, but as any proper gamer knows, playing games on keyboard is underrated – there’s more of an intimate connection to the game and it’s harder to blame yer tools for poor performance. Because Spectrum owners played a lot of their games this way, their overall dexterity and skillageness was enhanced and they became much better overall gamers than the sorry C64 saps, who were stuck with their joystick/one button set-up (and the kind of games that were friendly to it, regardless of quality).

5. Compare the clean, crisp artistry of the Spectrum’s graphics (reaching a pinnacle with the bold minimalism of the awesome Cruising On Broadway) to the blobby vomit-lumps of most C64 titles. That the C64 COULD (almost) recreate the Speccy's sharpness in titles like Manic Miner but preferred games that looked like they'd been drawn with a toddler's chewed-up Lego, speaks volumes for the babyish unsophistication of its audience. C64 bores blether on about their ‘extra’ colours. Sadly, these colours are all just varying shades of rubbish pastellyness – fittingly, the kind of scheme normally favoured in homes for the mentally enfeebled.

6. Those early C64 twenty-minutes-plus loading times – and the terrifyingly expensive cartridge games or disc drives you had to fork out for in order to get round them.


3D Ant Attack – otherworldly, groundbreaking…


Paradroid – fiddly shite.

7. The Speccy's ultra-accessible BASIC, that gently led so many of today's coders by the hand into the forbidding world of programming, where the Commodore Business Machines C64's sent them reeling in terror - the difference between dumb consumption and the life-giving spark of creation.

8. Darren Warburton, who had a really big house and a pet snake for Christ’s sake, had a C64. He always had new stuff before anyone else and he thought it made everyone like him and want to be him. In fact, everyone hated him. He also had a really cunty walk, where he sort of looked like he was trying to glide.

9. Terry Hudgill, who had lots of ace imported Electro and once somehow got hold of the full-length Two Tribes video (Betamax) and was a really top bloke who would always lend you stuff without making it feel like he was doing you a favour… He had a 48k Spectrum.

10. Let’s talk about sex.


Phwoooooooooarrr!!! Eh? EEEEEEH!?!


”Hello. I am cosy Girl-Next Door. My non-threatening androgyny
will appeal to your essential C64 gayness”.

11. The expression ‘INKEY$’.

12. Ace, wonderfully weird stuff like this: http://www.kempa.com/blog/archives/000053.html
And this:

13. SID. So what? The kind of people who buy games for the music are the same kind of people who buy albums in Woolworth’s because they like the covers. And as for the vibrant SID ‘scene’… If you are listening to (or recreating) game music for leisure, then you need to get up off your arse and seek out some proper music – or at least loan your ears out to a deaf person who might appreciate them.

14. Ultimate: Play The Game. All of their early, Spectrum-exclusive games were technically terrific, ground-breaking classics that worked through the Spectrum’s limitations and really made it sing. They also inspired the likes of Bubble Bus’s Steve Crow to take things even further with Starquake/Firelord, etc. Tellingly, the Spectrum-to-C64 conversions were mediocre afterthoughts, and their C64-exclusive games (Imhotep, Staff Of Karnath) were shite. See also – Gargoyle Games. Tir Na Nog made it over to the C64, but their later (and better stuff) – Dun Darach, Marsport, Heavy On The Magick… were all Spectrum exclusives. So, the Spectrum was clearly the choice of the 8-bit era’s most consistently brilliant and influential game designers.

15. Documentation. Compare…


Ooh, lovely. Clean, swish design. Dreamy floating
metropolis thing. Confident, understated colours.
Message – “Welcome to the future…”.


Rubbish design. Boring ‘business’ feel. Drawn on
graph paper, for fuck’s sake. Message – “Here is a
dull computer for dull people”.

16. But most of all, the reason the Speccy was (and remains) better that the C64
is this - the C64 was just so God-damned all-to-Hell ugly. A hideous, bloated, 1960's-looking design atrocity… Those grossly-wrong proportions - too wide, too shallow, too tall. Those awful, awful keys, with the much-too-deep indentations and sharp, raised edges and huge crevasses in between, that made your fingers hurt and were the chief reason the C64 had so many dull arcade-type games compared to the Speccy's full and broad range (because anything you couldn't play with a joystick and single fire button was an agonising, skin-shredding trial). And the less said about the colour scheme (beige and brown! Mmm!) and the embarrassing Fisher-Price typeface the better. Christ, the Dragon 32 was prettier than the C64.

Compare and contrast the Speccy, however. The original model is nothing short of a timeless design classic. Thrillingly compact, jet black, supermodel-thin. Soft, gently yielding keys covered in iconic, mysterious symbols in a pin-sharp, futuristic-yet-understated font, and that modest, stylish brushstroke of rainbow colours at the bottom-right corner…

Putting the original Speccy beside the C64 is like lining up an iPod against an old Dansette record player. Even the Plus/128 models, with their ill-advised plastic keyboards, are a joy visually, as if the old Speccy has turned itself into a shiny black Robocop. The C64, by comparison, is like a fatter, older version of Neil from The Young Ones crossed with Roy Wood of Wizzard.

C64. Spectrum.

If the 8-bit generation had been in 1977…

In fact, the C64 versus the Speccy is really prog. rock versus punk rock (an analogy backed up by the way C64 apologists prefer the stale ‘musicianship’ of the bleedin’ SID chip to the anyone-can-do-it punk energy and function-over-form ideals represented by the Speccy). We’ll take Sid Vicious over the SID chip – the greyhound-lean 195 seconds of Pretty Vacant over a 25-minute Yes keyboard solo – any day from now unto eternity. Shove your C64s up your pallid, flabby arses. Your games are ugly and shit, and we're so pretty, oh so pretty. And we don't care.

Thanks to Fuseball for the tasteful comment about deafness.

SICKBOY and Rev. Stuart Campbell, April 2004.

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© 2003 Smart Circle Limited