It's been about a year since decades-old studio Elite Systems brought their ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection [iPhone, iPad] and the first wave of its retro titles to the App Store. Since then 150 titles have become available through their Spectrum emulator, giving retro fans much old school gaming goodness to play with.

Since then, Elite has been hard at work engineering a completely new system through which to bring an even broader range of retro classic to iOS gamers. I recently had a conversation with Elite co-founder Steve Wilcox who filled me in on some of the titles that are on the way in the coming Elite Collection of 8-bit home computer games, as well as details surrounding their newly completed proprietary technology that went into it. The new system is a facilitator, of sorts, that was designed in such a way as to not incorporate, reference, or in any way rely upon third-party property and that is able to deliver, to iOS, games that originated on platforms other than just the ZX Spectrum in near-100% original form.

Elite has been busy licensing classics from a wide range of developers and it sounds like iOS gamers are in for a trove of titles to be delivered through the studio's new system. The first stage in the deployment consists of nine games developed across North America, the UK, and Germany.

The launch games of North American origin are:

  • Black Magic (the action-adventure, published by Datasoft in 1987)
  • M.U.L.E (the seminal multiplayer game from Ozark Softscape, published in 1983)
  • Alternate Reality: The City (the first in the cult RPG series, published by Datasoft in 1987)

The launch games from the UK are:

  • First Samurai (the platform game, published by Image Works in 1992)
  • Uridium (the sci-fi side-scrolling shoot 'em up from Hewson, published in 1986)
  • Paradroid (Andrew Breybrook’s puzzle-shooter, published by Hewson in 1985)

The launch games from Germany are:

  • Enforcer (the shooter from revered German programmer Manfred Trenz, published by CP Verlag in 1992)
  • Bundesliga Manager (the football (soccer) management simulation, developed by Werner Krahe and Jens Onnen, published by Software 2000 in 1989)
  • Denaris (the modified Katakis, an R-Type clone, again from Manfred Trenz, published by Rainbow Arts in 1989)

These games will be released as individual iOS applications, three at a time. The first three titles from the list of nine set to arrive in the App Store are Black Magic, First Samurai and Enforcer, which should land by month's end. A great many more titles will follow, and Wilcox tells me that, down the road, game bundles configured as collections will be offered, as well.

On a touchscreen device, controls are, of course, a particular challenge when bringing over games that were written with joysticks and keyboards in mind. And, while in such cases a touchscreen is never a match for physical controls, Elite has done an impressive job with the highly customizable "iDaptive" controls used in their iOS Spectrum offerings (demonstrated in this video). Steve informs me that in the upcoming Elite Collection, the iDaptive controls are brought to the fore and will allow players to heavily customize the control experience.

As a huge fan of the solid, basic gameplay of the classics of old, I've been impressed with Elite's efforts so far with its ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection. This latest news from the quarter-century old studio shows a true commitment to bringing these classics to a new generation of gamers and is an effort I whole-heartedly applaud.

We should have the first wave of games in our hands in just a few days and will share our reactions shortly. Stay tuned.

  • Oneiromancer

    Oh man. I used to love Black Magic on my Apple IIc+. I may have to pick this up!

    • drelbs

      Hot damn I love Black Magic!

      For some reason I'm more excited to see it on iOS than M.U.L.E.... Then again if multiplayer got implemented (like the Atari Mule Online) I'd really be crapping my pants.

      I've bought a lot of the Elite Speccy collection, they do a great job except I have two niggles:

      1) Not universal. Buying IAP twice makes me sad. 🙁
      2) Documentation is lacking - I'd like to see the original game docs, not just a notepad barely covering the controls for the game.

  • Anonymous

    I guess it's safe to assume that individual apps do better in the store than compilations with in-app purchases -- but doesn't this seem like a messy way to release them?

  • Jussi

    I find it to he a bit misleading to advertise Spectrum games with names of famous C64 programmers like Trenz and Braybrook.

    The games in question are *ports* of their games to lesser platform. Not the orig

    • Menneisyys Menneisyys

      It seems they completely rewrite the entire game to run as a native iOS app - but still deliver the original look-and-feel.

    • Stu

      Actually, out of these games only Uridium was ever ported to the Spectrum. By the looks of it, I'd say this is actually a C64 emulator (the screenshot of First Samurai looks very C64-ish, and if these are versions especially coded for iOS I would've thought they'd use the Amiga version's graphics).

      • Menneisyys Menneisyys

        1. They even use the Amiga version of the BM box.

        2. Paradroid was also ported to the ZX Spectrum (Quazatron) but it's, of course, a much worse-quality version. I don't think they'd ever bother porting / emulating it to  / on iOS.

  • blakespot

    Jussi: I suggest actually reading the article...

  • Menneisyys Menneisyys

    I too prefer individual games to iAP ones - if iAP becomes unreachable (the app is removed from AppStore), you no longer can restore your purchases. Unlike with  traditional apps.

    • drelbs

      In general I agree with this.

      However: this means having a separate copy of the app/emulator code for each set of games...  (Where's my >32GB iPhone already?!?)

  • Phil Baxter

    Interesting. These are I imagine Commodore 64 and Commodore Amiga emulators, perhaps even Atari ST emulators too.  

    I'm no fan of releasing ROMs as separate apps though and so won't be supporting this, but hopefully some renewed life in C64 iOS stuff might give manomio a kick into bringing his own C64 app back from the dead.

  • blakespot

    I assembled that box grid graphic. Don't read too much into that. 🙂

    • JammaTal

      M.U.L.E. is coming to iOS! nobody else as thrilled as i am? had been on my wishlist No. 1 spot for years.

      • blakespot

        That's the title I'm most excited about of the initial nine.

      • tootiegooch

        How will the multiplayer be handled? Which version is it (atari or c64)?

  • Battlepriest

    Happy about Alternate Reality. Although it never got to live up to its promise, it was in many ways the prototype for the Elder Scrolls series, with open-ended game play, weather effects, etc. No real plot in the first game though, and the later games were never released to utilize the meta-plot. Happy to see a straight iOS port though, as fiddling around with it in iDOS is a pain.

    • drelbs

      Great game, hard to stomach today as it runs sooo sloooow. 🙁

      If only they could have released the rest of the series...

      And, unfortunately, this style of release means that The Dungeon would be a different app, which takes away half the fun.

  • Slamraman

    Uridium and Paradroid (and Gribbly's Day Out) were probably my all time favourite C64 games. Any chance of getting to play them with the iCade? Please!!

    • Menneisyys Menneisyys

      You'll soon be able to play them in Stu's C64 emulator using the iCade / iControlPad 🙂

      • Slamraman

        Been waiting quite a long time for that to happen and was beginning to doubt it. Either the Manomio or Elite will do me until someone can get Defender on it (Jeff Minter is the only real hope here I think). Good one. 

  • ShawnMak

    (. ,)=(==> )===[]

  • HelperMonkey

    Retro junkies...

    "This latest news from the quarter-century old studio shows a true commitment to bringing these classics to a new generation of gamers and is an effort I whole-heartedly applaud."
    Now if Ford would only reintroduce the Pinto...

    (Seriously though, please don't take me too seriously.)

  • Julian

    Paradroid is one of my favorite games of all time, can't wait.

  • John V. Keogh

    Paradroid was great on the C-64 with a joystick and fire button and so was Uridium which had smooth hardware scrolling on the C64 which was not possible on the Speccy.

    There was an iOS game called Androidz which is a port of Paradroid. It's a bit fiddly. For taking over another robot you have to hold fire+direction instead of fire+direction. Hard to do on a touch screen.

  • Jaildesigner

    I need buttons for this kind of games. Buggy Boy was unplayable for me on the iphone.

  • TonyWatto

    I-Cade.....I-Cade.....I-Cade.....Please support I-Cade controls, Jeff Minter is showing the way (30 minutes to implement into his code). 

    • Slamraman

      couldn't agree more

  • Pete Morris

    i play manic miner and epecially skool daze on my iphone all the time. love the idea of more classic games coming my way!

  • Ern Banawa

    this is a good one... more classic games

  • Ern Banawa

    this is a good one... more classic games