A Very Spectrum Christmas: Celebrating Seasonal Software on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (2021)
Published September 2021
Throughout the 1980s, thousands of British children were lucky enough to discover a Sinclair ZX Spectrum under their Christmas trees and soon found their eyes opened to a virtual world of wonder. But Santa Claus did more than deliver computers — sometimes he appeared on them, too.
From the author of The Spectrum of Adventure and A Righteously Awesome Eighties Christmas, this book delves into the Spectrum’s extraordinary pantheon of seasonal games: the good, the bad, the surprising, the unabashedly surreal and the occasionally rather tenuous.
From the machine’s formative days in the early eighties right through to the latest independent releases, A Very Spectrum Christmas takes a look at what makes a truly memorable festive title for the vintage home micro-computer... as well as unearthing a few games that may have become lost in the mists of Christmas past for good reason.
Fully illustrated with colour screenshots of all the games under discussion, A Very Spectrum Christmas is a treasure trove of yuletide software experiences—where eighties nostalgia collides with modern day homebrew innovation with frequently unexpected results!
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum is a Registered Trademark, Copyright ©1982 Sinclair Research Ltd., all rights reserved. This book is an unofficial publication and has neither been endorsed nor approved by Sinclair Research Ltd.
A Very Spectrum Christmas discusses the following Spectrum titles: Compendium, Santa’s Christmas Capers, The White Door/Crisis at Christmas, Computer Christmas Card, Toofy’s Winter Nuts, The Snowman, Plum Duff, Five Rings, Moley Christmas, Percy Penguin in the Present Palaver, Summer Santa, Winter Term, Sheepy Xmas, Santa/X-Maze, Winter Games, All Present and Correct, The Woods of Winter, Rupert and the Ice Castle, Robot Santa, Frost Byte, Xmas-oid, Garfield: Winter’s Tail, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Snowfight, Christmas Cracker Simulator, The Official Father Christmas Game, Winter Sports, Crimbo: A Gloop Troops Tale, A Spell of Christmas Ice, Christmas Cracker, Freez’bees/Frozen Penguin, Santa’s Strange Dream, Crappy Crates, The Miser, Santos’ Christmas Adventure, Christmas Puddings Attack, Winter Olympiad ’88, Crime Santa Claus, Snow Joke, Colin’s Crimbo Caper, Christmas Gift Hunt, Merry Xmas Santa, The Snow Queen, Smiler’s Christmas Sack, Rally Xmas, The Games: Winter Edition, Winter Wonderland, Bauble Blast, Special Delivery, Elvin the Elf, Grumpy Santa, Icicle Works, Sprouty, Santa, Christmas Crapmas, Ice Station Zero, Zombo’s Christmas Capers, Chrimblast and Frantic Pengo.
The Inside Story:
This book gave me the very welcome opportunity to combine two of my favourite subjects: Christmas and retro gaming. While my love for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum had been expressed through my exploration of interactive fiction on the platform when writing The Spectrum of Adventure, I now had the opportunity to explore many different genres of game on that venerable system - and, what's more, to take a look at how Christmas themes were brought to life on that early microcomputer hardware.
Now if there's one thing that can't be denied about the Spectrum, it's that it is a computer that just keeps on going. While its glory days as a mainstream system ended back in the early nineties, it has a huge and loyal fanbase who are still producing new titles for it even now. Thus while A Very Spectrum Christmas may have nostalgia at its heart, the book discusses more than games from the eighties; titles from independent developers are also featured, all the way up to the time of the book's publication in 2021.
With colour illustrations included for each title under discussion, the book also features a foreword from computing legend Mel Croucher - one of my great heroes from the golden age of the Spectrum. Not just a videogame pioneer, Mel Croucher is also a highly successful writer, musician and entrepreneur, and one of the most memorable and larger-than-life characters from the eighties computer scene. I'm hugely grateful to him for his involvement in the book.