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ZX Spectrum: The Elite Collection
by Paul Byron on Monday 4th Oct 2010

Old Skool Gaming

Do you long for the old days, back when things were represented with an 8 colour palette, plinky plonky sound and every game was a new idea?  Well, you might want to check out ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection Vol. #1.

The Elite Collection is a Spectrum emulator (both 48k and 128k models) along with a smattering of classic games, so far all sold from the Elite label at one point or another. Despite being one label, Elite often published for other companies and a variety of developers.  As such it represents a good cross-section of game types despite only having 6 to play around with. 

Elite Collection

Whether a retro compilation succeeds or fails relies on the strength of the emulator and how it holds up on a new format.  I’m pleased to say that The Elite Collection has a pretty robust emulation with a choice of 2 different viewing modes (similar to the C64 emulator on the app store).  You can choose to have the keys displayed below a smaller screen for the game in portrait mode (ie: holding the phone normally) or a full screen in landscape (phone held sideways) with the keys overlayed on the action. 

The emulator ‘cheats’ when it comes to keys, though.  The developers have decided that the best way to play these games is with a unique control set for each game.  I tend to agree.  While Chuckie Egg needs just up, down, left, right and fire to play, something like Frank Bruno Boxing really benefits from the labelled buttons for duck and punch and, if anything, this is a closer feel to using a joystick on the Spectrum than if they’d used a keyboard or standard key setup.

Elite Collection

Even with this key layout, though, I found myself getting a little lost at times with the directional keys.  Turbo Esprit was pretty easy to play but Chuckie Egg is a fiddly game at the best of times, even with the original Spectrum keyboard, the virtual keys here are squashed together and it’s so easy to miss a ladder at just the wrong moment.  It’s not enough to detract too much from the entertainment though.

Elite Systems have promised that more games are coming and that the next pack will also be free on the app, with further packs probably being available via in-app purchases.  They’re reliant on companies giving up their copyright though, so although they have a fair amount ready for release some classic games might not make it to the system. But buying this app will send a message to the companies that gamers really want to see these games so this may help.

Elite Collection

Overall The Elite Collection is a small but great set of games and a solid emulator to play them on.  Kudos for Elite Systems for going the extra mile to provide 128k support as well.  With the promise of more to come I recommend this to anyone who feels nostalgic about the glorious 8-bit days of gaming.

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  • Sound: 8
  • Graphics: 7
  • Gameplay: 8
  • Longevity: 8



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