ZX Spectrum Game of the Year 2019 Indie Retro News special!

The ZX Spectrum game of the year!! What could it be? Read on to find out!

With the festive season over and being well into a new year (though that said, I still have Christmas cake in my cupboard - true story) I'd say it's time we have a look at some of the best releases for the Spectrum in 2019. The year saw the release of some new developers, some returning and also some sequels to previous game releases. A quick browse through the 2019 Speccy library will have you mightily impressed and amazed in equal measure. When you look at some of the quality in releases and how far some can push the Speccy's limits well, we're looking at mindblowing stuff and things we'd never had dreamed of seeing back in its heyday.

Well, let's get down to some games see what we can see. And play. I've compiled a list of my Top 9 ZX Spectrum games for 2019 - there were so many out there to choose from and it was really hard to whittle down and apologies if your favourite game isn't here. It doesn't mean it's not worthy, it's just there has to be limit and if I covered them all my fingers would wear down from my keyboard, and then where would I be? Hospital probably, I hear you say but enough of that; let's take a look.

Number 9

Nixy and the Seeds of Doom


There's always trouble abound when there's flying portcullis around.

2019 saw the follow up to Nixy The Glade Sprite in the form of Nixy and The Seeds of Doom by Bubble Soft Software. Nixy faces a new challenge in exploring a crumbling mysterious castle and mysterious caves as she looks to find the source of the corruption currently tearing away at her homeland. Can she recover the Seeds of Doom and save the Glade from destruction? Well, that's up to you! As with the first incarnation, Nixy 2 is very pleasurable to the eye and indeed ear. Another lovely and brilliant loading screen from pixel artist Andy Green and with a beautiful soundtrack from Ricardo Vieira. Highly detailed animations and quite frankly beautiful graphics make this one of the finest games you'll look at and play over the last few years. Andy Johns strikes gold again here - will there be another in 2020? Guess we'll have to wait and see. Available to download here

Number 8

Ninja Gardening Simulator

I bet those plants are driving those Ninjas potty

This next entry comes from game developer debutante Andrew Bunker and his fun little game Ninja Gardening Simulator. I like to think of it as a cross between Tapper and Orc Attack - you may see it as a game about dropping plants on peoples' heads and this is fine also. With many levels, some nice bouncy animation on our protagonist (I especially like the happy dance at the end of each level) it has a lot going for it. Fun by the bucket load and enough of a challenge to keep you coming back for more. Hiyaaaah! Wanna play? Download it here.

Number 7

The Hair-Raising Adventures of Mr Hair

Spikes?? Argh! Time to find another way around I think, Mr Hair!

Platformers were always popular on the Spectrum so why not have some more of them in 2019? Bring 'em on! Here we have new hero - we've had Miners, moles and Pixies but now we have someone and something new.... it's a hair! No, not a hare - a hair! Yes Mr Hair is here (that's not easy to say out loud) to become the unlikely hero in this game from Lee Stephenson. Despite a passing resemblance to a naked Earthworm Jim this is where the similarities end. No machine gun for you here! It's all down to skill, timing and patience as our hairy friend makes his way around treacherous caverns, avoiding spikes, bats and fire (can anyone smell burnt hair) as he looks to escape to freedom. Another killer soundtrack here and one of the funkiest versions of Another One Bites the Dust you'll hear this side of 8bits. Available to download right here!

Number 6

Mr. Do!

Doo doo doo, daa daa daa is all I have to say to.....um, Mr Do?

People old enough to remember this arcade classic from the early 80's would surely be excited to see this get an unofficial conversion to the Spectrum. Coded by Adrian Singh with graphics and loading screen created by Ocean Software veteran Mark R. Jones, this would definitely be a winner. It was also available as a physical release with the inlays created by the aforementioned Mr Jones. If you managed to get hold of a copy - you lucky things!  Featuring the all the mayhem of the original Mr Do is really quite something on the Speccy. Full of merry little ditties and all the playability of the original, it would a crime to omit this into our countdown of games of 2019.


Number 5

All Hallows

Playing with pumpkins has never been so much fun.

All hail All Hallows! Yes, the next in line comes in the shape of a pumpkin - big, round, orange and full of goodness. When it comes to great AGD-inspired games, programmer John Blythe has great form with the likes of Foggy's Quest and Circuitry in his library of games. All Hallows is another one to add to the list of great titles from Rucksack Games. It's the pumpkin's time to shine as you make your way through the Great Forest Kingdom and protect it from the evil Forest Lord. You need to make your way to the evil Lord's dark tower where the Moonstone's magic is starting to fade and re-ignite the spirits the can re-awaken them. Nice and simple - pah! No such luck but to carry you along the way you have an excellent AY tune to keep you going. What more could you want? Apart from being able to download it, which you can do right here!


Number 4

Astro Blaster

Damn and Blast-er! What a game!

Well, what do we have here? Another arcade conversion you may recognise this time in the form of Astro Blaster. Originally released by SEGA back in 1981, Astro Blaster finally gets the ZX Spectrum treatment thanks to Matt Jackson. Smooth as you like graphics and with all the original playability of the arcade classic make this a must for fans of the genre. Even if you're not, this may be the game to convert you - it's that good. Take on wave after wave of attacks from various enemies, collecting power-ups and a visit to your mothership will come in handy too for a quick fuel up. One of the best top-down shooters on the Speccy? You bet. Wanna play? Of course you! Grab it here!

Number 3

Drift

The only downside to drifting is the possibility of hitting a traffic cone. You can get fined for that, you know!

We've shooters and platformers, now it's time for some downright crazy driving! No, I'm not talking about my daily commute to work, I'm talking about Drift! Fresh from the Yandex Retro Games battle (which bared many, many great games) we have another game to into the list of great racers for the Spectrum. Chase HQ, Enduro Racer and Chevy Chase would be high up on the great list and Drift should be well up there too. With its high detailed animation and a nice twist on the typical racing game, that being gaining points by creating longer drifts as opposed to winning races, it has a lot going for it. Plus the car looks a lot like a Subaru Impreza which nice compared to the usual twenty year old Corsas I usually see ripping around ASDA car park by me. A marvel to look at and lots of fun to play. Saddle up (put your seatbelt on), put your foot down and crank that steering wheel! Not in ASDA car park obviously, but by getting your Drift on! Follow here to get the full list of games of Yandex entries here - so many amazing games including the next game in our chart...

Number 2

Valley of Rains


Time to run as fast as you can that way! Ooh, is that a dragon? Turn around! Run away!

Another entry from the Yandex game competition and another entry that blew me away. What a feat of Speccy programming we have here! Valley of Rains is one of those games where you are just head scratching as to how the Speccy can give you graphics and details to this high a standard. Even with large sprites the game move along very smoothly (ignore the jerky video below - that's my bad gif making on show) and with so many colourful weapons and creatures, it will simply blow you away. Created by Natasha Zotova and amazingly in 48k (How? I hear you cry! Erm....witchcraft?) this is actually outstanding. The creatures will have you creeping, the Princess will have you wowed when you see the detail in her movement and the dragons will have you...well, running the other way probably. Argh! There a so many pickups for you to collect and when you pick up a few at a time, you look indestructible. With a shield flying around you and a multitude of colours and shapes firing, it's a sight to behold. Wonderful. One that needs to be seen to be believed. And totally free too! Time to download, my good people!

Number 1

Aliens Neoplasma

Take that, alien slime! Ewww! Alien slime!
Well, it was a close call but I think it must have been the fact the Aliens is involved in this one that made it sneak above Valley of Rains. Yes, I know Hudson isn't in it but there are aliens, facehuggers and some kick ass guns involved so what more could you want? (Apart from Hudson.) The Speccy finally gets the Aliens game it deserves, not that the others were bad of course - Aliens had me almost pooping my pants... ALMOST - but here we have the run, gun, jump, climb, gun, gun, gun that we've all been waiting for. Beautiful to look at, excellent detail and animation of our hero and of course the aliens that lay in your wake, tied together with great level layout and the added eerie atmosphere that you need in an Aliens game, this game has it all. A true testament to how games can be done on the Spectrum and how impressive the machine is given its modest stature.You need this game in your life. And you can get it here

Well, there we have it. A little list of new (ish) games that you need to check out - there are plenty more of course as these a just a little taster. Any new game released for the Spectrum is one that needs attention as I still think it's amazing that people are still creating games for it and we really don't want them to stop, so please, please PLEASE make sure you give these games (and others) a download, a good play and even give the creators a message (or even a donation) to tell them that you think they are fantastic people and to keep it up. We certainly don't want them to stop and so I'm really hoping we continue to see more and more great new games coming out this year. Roll on 2020! I know it's here already, but you know what I mean.

Like what you read or have an opinion? Feel free to comment or you can tweet me on @florinthedwarf

Right, I'm off to go collect some seeds, drop a plant on a Ninja's head, play with a single hair, pick some cherries, take a pumpkin on an epic quest, blast some spaceships, skid my car around (not in ASDA) run through a valley whilst destroying giant spiders with some fireballs and then finally kill some evil aliens. I might play some games too when I've finished doing that! Ba-dum, tish! (I'm here all week)

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