ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

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Daren
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ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by Daren » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:24 am

Will Brooker, Crash magazine contributor and professor of Film and Cultural Studies at Kingston University in London, is conducting research for an academic article on the Spectrum and its games.

If you'd like to take part, please complete and return this questionnaire (Word doc): https://www.dropbox.com/s/ictbp783uydn8 ... .docx?dl=0
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R-Tape
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by R-Tape » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:30 am

Cool—an actual professor is writing a paper about the Speccy!

This is an interesting questionnaire, mainly about the effect of cover art in helping visualise the game, very thought provoking.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by druellan » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:58 am

I'm following this study and I can confirm he is actively working on it, improving the questionnaire and keeping the participants up-to-date, so, if you have a bit of spare time, I encourage you to take a look :D
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Vampyre
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by Vampyre » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:07 pm

I thought I recognised the name as soon as I saw it. I remember when I was going through the Crash reviews for ZXSR a few years ago and being gob-smacked at the mauling he gave some Speccy isometric classics. I'm not having a go at someone who wrote an article over 30 years ago but it's almost like he was trolling back then:

Ant Attack: 22%
Head over Heels: 65%
Knight Lore: 51%
Batman: 73%
Nightshade: 27% (not a classic, I know, but 27%!)
Highway Encounter: 66%

He clearly did not like isometric games. Even the mighty Quazatron (arguably one of the best isometric games ever made, regardless of platform) only got 81%.

Link to PDF.
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willbrooker
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by willbrooker » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:48 am

hi Vampyre. I'm amazed and flattered that you are engaging with my reviews from 30 years ago! I wasn't trolling though I think it's quite possible I was trying to make my mark a little bit by being forceful in my opinions.

22% for Ant Attack is absurd. Don't know what I was thinking there. A lack of historical perspective maybe. It might have looked dull compared to Knight Lore in 1988, but I can certainly see the importance of Ant Attack now, and its huge technical achievement. Gameplay is finnicky with the different keys for different lengths of grenade through, but again, 22% is incredibly short-sighted and I would apologise to Sandy White for that now.

I never liked Batman or Head over Heels, so I'm surprised I rated those so highly. As a long-term Batman fan even then, I felt it didn't really live up to my sense of the character, and Head over Heels just didn't appeal to me. I can see its sophistication now, but it's never been a favourite of mine.

Knight Lore at 51% -- what was I thinking? Again, a lack of historical perspective? How could anyone not rate Knight Lore as more important than Batman? Head over Heels arguably improved on Knight Lore in a technical sense, with Ritman programming more effectively than the Ultimate team, but surely I should have given Knight Lore a higher rating for its pioneering role: we wouldn't have had the other games without it.

Nightshade: pretty disappointing game in the context of Ultimate's groundbreaking history and previous offerings, and I think somewhere in the mid-50% range would have been fair. Don't know why I picked that over Gunfright.

Highway Encounter: I love this game and it's one of the few I still load up and genuinely enjoy now. I'd rate it 85% or so.

I wrote this when I was at Sixth Form so I'm both proud of it (my first big publication, and it was well paid) and suitably embarrassed (it reads like it was written by a 17 year old) -- I'd forgotten what I actually rated the games, and I agree, they don't really add up for me now.

Bit of trivia: actually I'd already written an article for CRASH on games like Zynaps, where you build up your armory during a shoot-em-up, and then pitched this, on isometric games. They dumped the first one and accepted this instead. So maybe my heart was more in the first article, and I should have just stuck with that idea.
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Vampyre
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by Vampyre » Tue Oct 09, 2018 12:25 pm

Hi Will,

How lovely to hear from the original author! I hope my post didn't come across as too snooty (re-reading it, it possibly did), I was more amused when I did the transcripts 4 or 5 years ago and it's highly possible that back in April 1988 (good lord, I was 15!) that I probably agreed with your good self for the majority of them!

In fairness to yourself, you have to put yourself back to 30 years and judge the market as it was back then. There was a huge glut of isometric games for the good ol' Speccy and I can imagine that reviewers were sick of the sight of them - and they undoubtedly had to play far many more than the public did.

Couldn't agree with you more about Highway Encounter. I've completed it dozens of times and, on the rare occasion that I fire up an emulator, it's always one I go back to - that and Manic Miner.

The best of luck with your article. I'll download the doc and add my two penneth.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by willbrooker » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:12 pm

No, I think you make good points! I've re-read my article fairly recently but didn't bother checking the ratings, and they seem bizarre to me now.

Actually it would be a really interesting idea for a new CRASH to revisit those 'replay' articles -- which were actually looking back on games from the last couple of years -- and see how they hold up 30 years on. With hindsight, we might feel very differently. To me in 1988, Ant Attack looked like boring black and white, and I couldn't recognise its importance; and other games which impressed us with their flashy front end at the time might now seem to be lacking gameplay and staying power.

Thanks very much for checking out the questionnaire. The article is taking a long time to develop but that's the nature of academia unfortunately.
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Morkin
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by Morkin » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:31 pm

Heh, cool - always good to hear from a Crash contributor, I would have loved to get a mention for even a letter.

I was also getting a bit tired of iso games around that time and had given up playing most of them so can understand the article's criticisms- the only one after that time that impressed me was Where Time Stood Still (I never got very far with The Great Escape). Though yes indeed, 22% for Ant Attack is harsh.. :lol:

I guess nowadays our ratings are boosted by nostalgia. Though Knight Lore vs HoH has remained a constant bone of contention... :)
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by ZXDunny » Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:03 pm

Actually, I think your scores are pretty much spot on, aside from HoH and Highway Encounter which are both classics. Ant Attack was indeed finicky and difficult to play; that effectively killed it for me - there's nothing like a game that has had no thought to the controls layout to put you off. Knight Lore too - definitely not in my top ten, I must say. It was all (poor) graphics and no real game underneath, especially compared to the games that preceded it.

I know that all Ultimate games had poor controls (Sabre Wulf frustrated me no end but was too gorgeous and played sooooo well that I learned to use those QWERT keys) but for KL, what with it having no graphics worth looking at and no gameplay was killed off by its controls.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Questionnaire for an Academic Article

Post by Vampyre » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:38 am

It's interesting you say KL had poor graphics, Dunny. When the Crash review came out I thought that 97% was underrating it. Myself I consider it to be one of a handful of games over the last 40 years that have been a huge leap forward in graphical quality over what came before. Knight Lore, Ridge Racer, Doom, Quake, Mario 64, Half Life 2 were all breathtakingly beautiful when they came out.
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