Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 20/7/2001Talk of processors at work gets me all nostalgic, like. As is my wont, I scamper off to the comp.

20/7/2001 Talk of processors at work gets me all nostalgic, like. As is my wont, I scamper off to the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup to exchange pleasantries with all the other thirty-something adolescents within. The group is shot through with a curious, sub-Pythonesque surrealism, hardcore programming chatter mixed with hazy schooldays nostalgia purveyed by characters with monikers like Llama-Wax Len. One rumour rings true, though -- it looks like the ZX Spectrum may rise again! Not that it ever died, of course; it just slipped silently into the virtual world where ghostly emulators let you play Manic Miner on your PC. The rights to actually make the thing still reside in Brentwood with Alan Sugar, and it seems as if he's twigged a way to squeeze one last spurt of cash from the old milch cow. Y'see, it hasn't escaped his attention that while it's getting harder to flog mobile phones, building in top-notch videogame style entertainment is still seen as a good way to sell the little darlings. And while the Speccy can't do all the high-falutin' polygon-pulsing, texture-torturing three-dimensional malarky of the PS2 and X-Box, it can give a good account of itself on the latest generation of tiny colour LCDs. The games take up stupidly tiny amounts of memory, the sound capabilities of a Spectrum precisely match those of a mobile and it doesn't take a lot of juice to emulate a 3.5MHz eight-bit Z80A processor on a 50MHz 32-bit RISC chip. Just like one finds in phones these days. In other words, the mobile phone is the perfect environment for a Spectrum to live, hermit crab like, and wave its tentacles. And a Spectrum would give any mobile phone a thousand good reasons to be bought. The Web's pulsing with free game downloads. Perfect. But is Amstrad doing it? Amstrad's not saying. But it is. I just feel it.