10.Operation Wolf (Ocean).


"Op Wolf" as it was coloqiually known (at my school anyway!) was an arcade game that came with the coolest of accessories: a machine gun, that rattled and shook as you gunned down masses of enemy soldiers, tanks and helicopters. The Speccy version was obviously bereft of the machine gun, but still had superb playability, helped by the lack of similar titles at the time. Sequel Operation Thunderbolt and Cabal improved the gameplay further, but Wolf will always have that special place in my heart.

9.Green Beret (Imagine).

...or Green Bert as it was nick-named by a certain magazine at the time. Programmed by the legendary Jonathan "Joffa" Smith, Beret was a side scrolling stab 'em up that featured four levels of frantic jumping and killing against a horde of nasty Russians. Your mission was to rescue the hostages, but I must admit I never even came close thanks to some dastardly bad guys and tricky snafus. I still had great fun though thanks to some sharp graphics and very responsive controls. Oddly enough, I always found the arcade version much easier.

8.Enduro Racer (Activision).


No nickname for this one, but still a damn fine racer. Spectrum owners, having been disappointed with the arcade conversions of Outrun and Super Hang On, were mildly surprised when this relatively low-key release hit the shelves. Released by Activision, Enduro oozed quality and playability and served to show what Outrun could have been had a bit more care been taken during development.

7.Gauntlet (US Gold).

For once, the Spectrum conversion of an arcade game didn't suffer too much in comparison to its forbear. Gauntlet was a simple game with small sprites and limited gameplay, but its appeal was universal, especially when teamed up with a mate (two players max on the Speccy, alas). There were oodles of levels and an expansion pack - The Deeper Dungeons - which all added up to hours and hours of annihilating ghosts, fire-spitting demons and those bloody lobbers! Desperately running away from Death was always a laugh as well.

6.Hypersports (Imagine).

To many, Daley Thompson's Decathlon will always be the pinnacle of multi-event Spectrum gaming, but I always much preferred Imagine's Hyper Sports. Again from Joffa Smith, it boasted six events from the superb Skeet Shooting to the energy-sapping, keyboard-mashing Weight Lifting. Graphically it was superior to Daley's and the events had greater variety too.

5.Ghosts 'n' Goblins (Elite).

Possibly even tougher than Green Bert, but just as enjoyable if not more so, Elite crammed in as much of the arcade original as they could and even if the gameplay was merciless, it was still great fun. The graphics were colourful, and yes, Sir Arthur did have a habit of merging into the background - but most of the original elements were intact and the game exuded that vital just-one-more-go factor.

4.Bubble Bobble (Firebird).

Bubble Bobble, like Gauntlet, was not an arcade game that boasted huge memory-hogging sprites, so was relatively faithful graphically on the Spectrum. Bub and Bob lacked a bit of colour, naturally, but the programmers put the majority of their efforts into ensuring Bubble Bobble retained all of the arcade's playability and whimsical charm. Again like Gauntlet, it's best played with a friend, but was still a great solo experience.

3.Midnight Resistance (Ocean).

Midnight Resistance was released quite late in the Spectrum's life (1990) and was a hugely ambitious take on a colourful and fast arcade machine. Fortunately developers Special FX (mainly Jim Bagley) did a brilliant job, creating some fantastic graphics (albeit with the ubiqitous see-through main character) and maintaining the swift, frantic action. I recently obtained the Megadrive version, and have to say despite the superior power behind Sega's machine, think the Spectrum game is better. An incredible achievement.

2.Flying Shark (Firebird).

This one took days, weeks out of my life. I was mad keen on shooters back in the day, and Flying Shark was firmly the number one in this genre for me. Sure, the graphics are monochrome and this can sometimes lead to confusion during intense battles, but the sheer fun to be had thanks to a delicately balanced learning curve and addictive gameplay made it a winner. Authors Graftgold were responsible for some amazing games on the Speccy, but for me Flying Shark was shoot 'em up heaven, plain and simple.

1.Bombjack (Elite).

So the coveted top spot goes to Elite Systems and their conversion of Tehkan's Bombjack. Until a few days ago I still wasn't sure about having this classic at number one, but then I tried out the arcade parent on MAME so I could do a comparison and came to a stunning conclusion: the Spectrum version is actually better!

The player controls the titular Bombjack who must rush around each screen collecting the bombs that are laid out in patterns of 2, 3 or four. Collect them in a special order (signified by a lit fuse) and you got extra bonuses. To hinder your bomb collecting exploits, goofy looking aliens wandered around the screen as well as the rather more dangerous and vicious-looking bird who homed in on Jack constantly.

Bombjack is a joy to play. It's key is its simplicity; you can pick it up and play straight away and although there are only four backdrops (very nice, by the way), the platforms and bombs have many different variations, keeping the game fresh and engaging. The controls are very responsive and Jack is highly maneouverable, allowing for some cunning escapes from tight corners; frankly this is absent from the arcade version which seems clunky and heavy in comparison.

If you play no other arcade game on the Speccy, I heartily recommend Bombjack!

I did a top ten but I could have done a top twenty easily, so honourable mentions must go to Commando, Paperboy, Ping-Pong, Rainbow Islands, Renegade, R-Type, Ikari Warriors, Mikie, Pac-Mania and Rastan.