30 best ZX Spectrum games

The first ZX Spectrum 48K - a rubber-keyed magic box of joy
The first ZX Spectrum 48K - a rubber-keyed magic box of joy

Sir Clive Sinclair's greatest invention, the ZX Spectrum, is 30 years old today and to celebrate we've compiled our list of the top 30 Speccy classics. The games that lit up our childhood - and possibly yours.

If we hark back to April 1982, it's not hard to remember why the Spectrum had such a monumental impact on modern gaming. Prior to that we were living in a black and white world of Intellivision-style 'TV games' and endless, (hardly) glorified versions of Pong.

Sir Clive saw all of this and thus he did invent the Spectrum. And it was good. (Except for the keyboard).

Sinclair's humble rubber-keyed joy machine went on to sell seven million units worldwide and – for many of us – was a rare high point in an otherwise dreary, selfish decade marked by wars on islands we'd never heard of, strikes where our mates' dads got picked on by the coppers and lots of blokes dressed up as women on Top of the Pops.

Tape-to-tape piracy

While all that nonsense was going on, we were happily holed up in our mates' bedrooms, illegally copying the latest gem from Ultimate Play The Game or Codemasters on our tape-to-tape machine (sorry Codies) or tricking the sales assistant in Boots to give us an extra copy of the Jet Set Willy anti-piracy colour chart because 'we lost the one in the box'. (And he did! Bonus!)

Pretty much every British male over the age of thirty will argue about their favourite Spectrum games, while a dewy-eyed far-away look creeps across their face.

"Most home computer games were simplistic, flick-screen affairs in which you played a fat mayor jumping over a nettle or something like that," wrote Charlie Brooker in a Guardian column. "Then Elite came along and took the piss. A groundbreaking 3D space combat-and-trading simulator that managed to convince me my computer could, when programmed correctly, house an entire alternative universe."

And what a universe it was. If you need to remember, then find yourself a few hours of precious time to kill and Google one of the many emulators out there on the internet. It is officially our favourite way of killing time at work. Just don't tell the boss.

So here's TechRadar's definitive top 30 ZX Spectrum games of all time. Shout in the comments if we've missed any of your favourites.

1. Elite – Firebird Games

2. R-Type – Electric Dreams Software

3. Chuckie Egg - A'n'F Software

4. Manic Miner - Bug-Byte Software Ltd

5. Knight Lore - Ultimate Play The Game

6. Back to Skool - Microsphere

7. Football Manager - Addictive Games Ltd

8. Lunar Jetman - Ultimate Play The Game

9. Horace Goes Skiing – Beam Software

10. Boulder Dash – Front Runner

11. Sim City - Infogrames

12. Underwurlde - Ultimate Play The Game

13. Super Hang-On - Electric Dreams Software

14. Jet Set Willy - Software Projects Ltd

15. Rainbow Islands - Ocean Software Ltd

16. T.L.L. - Vortex Software

17. Ant Attack - Quicksilva Ltd

18. Chase H.Q. - Ocean Software Ltd

19. Deus Ex Machina - Automata UK Ltd

20. Lode Runner - Software Projects Ltd

21. Gauntlet - US Gold Ltd

22. Fantasy World Dizzy - Code Masters Ltd

23. The Hobbit - Melbourne House

24. Atic Atac - Ultimate Play The Game

25. Tetris - Mirrorsoft Ltd

26. Hyper Sports - Imagine Software Ltd

27. The Way of the Exploding Fist – Melbourne House

28. Daley Thompson's Decathlon - Ocean

29. Skool Daze - Microsphere

30. Great Escape - Ocean

Adam Hartley