Play ZX Spectrum games on your iPhone for 59p

Need a nostalgia fix? An app that emulates ZX Spectrum games is out now for the iPhone for just 59p, with six games included and plans to make hundreds more available in the future.

Asavin Wattanajantra
2 min read

If you're old enough to remember the crackling loading screens of the ZX Spectrum, take off your trousers and put a towel down, because you can now play its pixellated genius on your futuristic iPhone.

For the princely sum of 59p in the iTunes App Store, you can buy the ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection (Vol.1), an application that emulates games from the 8-bit home computer those of us of a certain age dearly know and love. It's already made the top 20 in the Apple top paid apps chart.

The Elite System app has six free games: Turbo Esprit, Saboteur, Frank Bruno's Boxing, Harrier Attack, Buggy Boy and the all-time great Chuckie Egg. The games are officially licensed, with on-screen keyboard buttons for controls. There's also the option to play portrait or full-screen, and the authentic beepy ZX Spectrum sound is present and correct.

The app has been well received, with a four-star average rating from customers so far on iTunes. Elite Systems managing director Steve Wilcox seemed a little taken aback, saying reaction to the app from the media and users was "enthusiastic".

"Our concerns now," he said, "are to ensure that both groups understand that volume 1 of the app is a work in progress, a rough diamond if you like, and that we're committed to developing the app, eliminating some of its more obvious shortcomings and adding new features, over the weeks and months ahead."

Wilcox said Elite Systems was committed to keeping the app at 59p, with six more games added in a free update within a month. Volume 3 will come a month later, with further games purchased from an in-app shop.

It seemed the major problem with emulating the games in the app was sorting out commercial agreements with the developers and publishers involved, with thousands of games available. Wilcox said agreements with publishers meant there were already more than 200 games available in future volumes.

"We're in discussion with the owners of 100s more," he said, "including some of the most well known."

Titles we're particularly looking forward to include Manic Miner, Dizzy, Skool Daze and the peerless Elite, but it might take some time for the more well-known games to come through. Are there any classics you would particularly want to play?