Many who grew up on "home computers" in the '80s, and retro gaming fans in general, have been enjoying Manomio's Commodore 64 emulator on the iPhone. A new app that appeared in the App Store this morning should have particular appeal to our European readers who match that description. ZX Nostalgia [App Store], from Manuel Cabello, is a Sinclair ZX Spectrum emulator that comes bundled with 14 games that, according to the developer, run at full ZX Spectrum speed on all models of the iPhone and iPod touch.

ZX Nostalgia sports a minimal, multitouch interface that provides interaction with the bundled games via screen taps (for in-game menu selection), virtual joystick, and a fire / action button. Games are selected for execution in the emulator by way of a simple menu and can be played in both portrait and landscape mode, depending on the device's orientation.

The following games are included:

  • Ad Astra
  • Android Two
  • Barmy Burgers
  • Bugaboo the Flea
  • Chuckie Egg
  • Deathchase
  • Fantastic Voyage
  • Fred
  • Horace Goes Skiing
  • Manic Miner
  • Rescate del Tesoro
  • Starstrike 3D
  • Trashman
  • Wheelie

It's a rather solid list of games, with a few true classics in the mix. Unfortunately, it's unclear what the developer's plans are concerning the potential addition of more games down the road. A screenshot of the game's App Store page shows an "ADD" button on the game list screen that is not present in the release version, and there's scant contact info for the developer on the web, so that's a big question mark right now.

ZX Nostalgia does a rather nice job of running the included games, with a very functional control system to boot. Readers who have already grabbed the title are impressed. If you've ever been faced with the dreaded "R Tape loading error," then this one's probably for you.

(ZX Nostalgia is not the first Spectrum emulator to appear in the App Store. ZXGamer was released last year, but offered abysmal performance and was pulled after it became apparent that it was a WebKit-based rip of another's emulator.)

The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit home computer that was released by Sinclair Research in the UK in 1982. It is based on the Z-80 processor running at 3.5MHz and features a 256x192 pixel display in 16 colors (with notable restrictions). The Spectrum was available with either 16K or 48K of RAM and was followed up by several models offering more memory, enhanced audio, and such. The American gamer who was around to see home computers in the '80s probably best remembers Sinclair Research from the Timex Sinclair 1000, an extremely inexpensive, black & white 4K computer sold in America, itself a take on the European Sinclair Zx81. A later attempt was made to actually bring a modified version of the ZX Spectrum to the US in the form of the Timex Sinclair 2068, but it failed badly for a number of reasons and is remembered by few.

TouchArcade Rating

  • mebble

    Needs more 'Dizzy'.

  • mebble

    Needs more 'Dizzy'.

  • Jon

    .99? Sure, I'll bite.

    • Jon

      I have the c64 emulator on the appstore so that's all I can compare it too, and comparatively its really not that bad . I like the layout and obvious amount of care that Manomia put into the C64 emulator and this app pales in comparison in that department. But I think the sensitivity on the joystick is better and its really BIG which kind of helps. The games are playable and there are a lot of them so I say its worth a download.

  • Jon

    .99? Sure, I'll bite.

    • Jon

      I have the c64 emulator on the appstore so that's all I can compare it too, and comparatively its really not that bad . I like the layout and obvious amount of care that Manomia put into the C64 emulator and this app pales in comparison in that department. But I think the sensitivity on the joystick is better and its really BIG which kind of helps. The games are playable and there are a lot of them so I say its worth a download.

  • Kevin

    Ahh classic games from my youth.

    I guess most of those companies/publishers are gone now but are there any copyright issues for bundling those games (and charging for them)?

  • Kevin

    Ahh classic games from my youth.

    I guess most of those companies/publishers are gone now but are there any copyright issues for bundling those games (and charging for them)?

  • cranker

    Any leaderboards in this app ?

  • cranker

    Any leaderboards in this app ?

  • http://twitter.com/BulkSlash BulkSlash

    I'd avoid this for now. Chuckie Egg is nigh unplayable because of the virtual joystick. I find the character randomly decides to go up and down ladders as I pass them because my thumb has apparently moved up/down the screen by a fraction of a degree (I've just got an iPhone 4 so possibly this is a compatibility thing, I'll try to test on my 3G later)

    If they can fix the joystick and get some more classics (Stunt Car Racer, Dizzy, Boulder Dash, etc) it will definitely be worth the money.

  • http://twitter.com/BulkSlash BulkSlash

    I'd avoid this for now. Chuckie Egg is nigh unplayable because of the virtual joystick. I find the character randomly decides to go up and down ladders as I pass them because my thumb has apparently moved up/down the screen by a fraction of a degree (I've just got an iPhone 4 so possibly this is a compatibility thing, I'll try to test on my 3G later)

    If they can fix the joystick and get some more classics (Stunt Car Racer, Dizzy, Boulder Dash, etc) it will definitely be worth the money.

  • http://tossr.com/ Stu

    At a guess I'd say the chances of Dizzy making an appearance are slim-to-none; Codemasters are one of the few companies to have specifically denied the distribution of their old games (while other publishers and developers have, when contacted, either approved distribution or at least turned a blind eye to it), and have apparently shown no interest in the last 15 or so years in doing anything with the games other than sit on the games and prevent anyone from playing them wherever possible. Even Ultimate (now known as Rare), who have also denied distribution, have at least released a spruced-up version of their game Jetpac for the Xbox 360.

  • http://tossr.com/ Stu

    At a guess I'd say the chances of Dizzy making an appearance are slim-to-none; Codemasters are one of the few companies to have specifically denied the distribution of their old games (while other publishers and developers have, when contacted, either approved distribution or at least turned a blind eye to it), and have apparently shown no interest in the last 15 or so years in doing anything with the games other than sit on the games and prevent anyone from playing them wherever possible. Even Ultimate (now known as Rare), who have also denied distribution, have at least released a spruced-up version of their game Jetpac for the Xbox 360.

  • Barry

    I love my iPad and I love my spectrum but this is not a viable idea. The touchscreen interface renders games unplayable.

    A marriage made in hell to earn a few quid from retro fans. Avoid.

  • Barry

    I love my iPad and I love my spectrum but this is not a viable idea. The touchscreen interface renders games unplayable.

    A marriage made in hell to earn a few quid from retro fans. Avoid.

  • dave

    I wish we could have the real Miner 2049'er or Bounty Bob Strikes Back

  • dave

    I wish we could have the real Miner 2049'er or Bounty Bob Strikes Back

  • Caiman

    Ok, I grabbed this because 99 cents is my auto-purchase price for anything vaguely interesting. I know these games really well, so I was interested to see how they performed. The emulation appears extremely accurate, good job there. The problem is the control system. First, having the virtual joystick appear wherever you place your finger might seem like fun, but it totally eliminates any chance of fine control. In Android Two for example, you have to be able to turn your android in an ordinal direction without moving (to aim your laser). On the keyboard this was easy. With this virtual joystick, it's impossible, which makes the game unplayable unless you just want to tool around. Some games work fine, like Starstrike 3D and Wheelie, but anything demanding fine control? Forget it. I hope in a future update they can implement a fixed joystick option (or a virtual D-pad) which will make a lot of these games playable.

  • Caiman

    Ok, I grabbed this because 99 cents is my auto-purchase price for anything vaguely interesting. I know these games really well, so I was interested to see how they performed. The emulation appears extremely accurate, good job there. The problem is the control system. First, having the virtual joystick appear wherever you place your finger might seem like fun, but it totally eliminates any chance of fine control. In Android Two for example, you have to be able to turn your android in an ordinal direction without moving (to aim your laser). On the keyboard this was easy. With this virtual joystick, it's impossible, which makes the game unplayable unless you just want to tool around. Some games work fine, like Starstrike 3D and Wheelie, but anything demanding fine control? Forget it. I hope in a future update they can implement a fixed joystick option (or a virtual D-pad) which will make a lot of these games playable.

  • David

    Sad. Making money with copyrighted games. Already exist a free open emulator.

    http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/iPhone/iXpectrum/news.asp?c=18436

    • John

      Maybe the money goes for the emulator, not the games...

      • http://www.jindofox.com jindofox

        I think a buck is a more than fair price to encourage retro development. The developer won't get rich and game fans won't get poor.

    • TKO

      Yeah, but iXpectrum's only for jailbroken phones, so it hardly counts.

  • David

    Sad. Making money with copyrighted games. Already exist a free open emulator.

    http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/iPhone/iXpectrum/news.asp?c=18436

    • John

      Maybe the money goes for the emulator, not the games...

      • http://www.jindofox.com jindofox

        I think a buck is a more than fair price to encourage retro development. The developer won't get rich and game fans won't get poor.

    • TKO

      Yeah, but iXpectrum's only for jailbroken phones, so it hardly counts.

  • unDucky

    I bet they don't have the rights to distribute these games, even though the original companies may not exist as such, most of them have been bought up. If they were remakes then this might be different, but as it stands this is bound to be illegal. Still he will make a quick buck out of it before it is pulled.

  • unDucky

    I bet they don't have the rights to distribute these games, even though the original companies may not exist as such, most of them have been bought up. If they were remakes then this might be different, but as it stands this is bound to be illegal. Still he will make a quick buck out of it before it is pulled.

  • unDucky

    And there we go Chuckie Egg is still owned by Elite Systems who are a mobile games company now, http://www.elite-systems.co.uk/elite/ and more so they are still selling it http://www.elite-systems.co.uk/elite/htdocs/games.php?id=2

    Tick tock how long till it is pulled...

  • unDucky

    And there we go Chuckie Egg is still owned by Elite Systems who are a mobile games company now, http://www.elite-systems.co.uk/elite/ and more so they are still selling it http://www.elite-systems.co.uk/elite/htdocs/games.php?id=2

    Tick tock how long till it is pulled...

  • Blades

    Excellent app. Well worth the buck.

    One suggestions though. It would be nice to be able to lock the joystick in place and ALSO to lock it as a 4 way or 8 way joystick. As there are some dead spots when playing games that make use of a 4 way.

    Other than fixing the joystick problem. Great buy/game!!

  • Blades

    Excellent app. Well worth the buck.

    One suggestions though. It would be nice to be able to lock the joystick in place and ALSO to lock it as a 4 way or 8 way joystick. As there are some dead spots when playing games that make use of a 4 way.

    Other than fixing the joystick problem. Great buy/game!!

  • Scoops

    @unDucky: You will find the vast majority of Spectrum games are available for free distribution with some notable exceptions such as Codemasters and Ultimate (now Rare). This still leaves thousands of games although until they offer a keyboard in the app you won't be able to play the many text adventures out there and some great Spectrum games required the use of more than just the joystick.

    Nice to see an emulator now on the store and if it could get a front end like C64, it would be great. Anyone interested in the Spectrum really should get themselves over to http://www.worldofspectrum.org to find out more...

  • Scoops

    @unDucky: You will find the vast majority of Spectrum games are available for free distribution with some notable exceptions such as Codemasters and Ultimate (now Rare). This still leaves thousands of games although until they offer a keyboard in the app you won't be able to play the many text adventures out there and some great Spectrum games required the use of more than just the joystick.

    Nice to see an emulator now on the store and if it could get a front end like C64, it would be great. Anyone interested in the Spectrum really should get themselves over to http://www.worldofspectrum.org to find out more...

  • http://www.quantum-sheep.com quantumsheep

    Exactly my cup of tea! About time, too! :D

  • http://www.quantum-sheep.com quantumsheep

    Exactly my cup of tea! About time, too! :D

  • Dave

    Did apple pull this down? Can't find it in store

  • Dave

    Did apple pull this down? Can't find it in store

  • Jim
  • Jim
  • http://www.farango.com/ r4

    I pass them because the finger is apparently moved up / down to display some degree (I am the iPhone 4 so maybe this is a compatibility issue

  • http://www.farango.com/ r4

    I pass them because the finger is apparently moved up / down to display some degree (I am the iPhone 4 so maybe this is a compatibility issue