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Space Raiders

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Released: 1981

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: ZX 80/81

Publisher: Sinclair Research

Developer: Psion

Submitted by: Ian Marks

The ZX81 was a little marvel of a computer. If you see the adverts of the time it could run your business, predict pools wins, type up your personal mail and complete mathematical/scientific equations. As a ten year old boy I could give a monkeys about any of this. I wanted to play Space Invaders – much to my father’s disappointment.

Luckily Sir Clive’s own company gave me the chance to shoot advancing space aliens when they released Space Raiders. Despite sounding like it was sponsored by a cheap and nasty 70’s lunchbox brand of crisps, it was in fact an original product, well original except for the fact that it was a rip off of Space Invaders, so not really original at all.

If you don’t know the rules of Space Invaders then you are probably on the wrong website, you need to be on www.headinthesandforfortyyears.com . Anyway you essentially shoot invaders (who are from space) who seem to think the best way to attack is in long lines. In the real arcade game the aliens are quite stylish… this is not the case in Space Raiders.

To be fair to Sinclair the ZX81 had very limited graphics, and in the game the aliens resemble the McDonalds sign, a hat, an eyebrow and another hat. Still your smaller hat could fire deadly ‘I’’s at them from behind your grey squares. Briliant stuff.

It actually plays quite well, even today. It is really responsive to the keys, and it does play quite a challenging game. Good work Sinclair.

This is one of those games I really remember pestering my parents for. Dragging them into WH Smiths in Brighton, and showing them the cassette case, telling them that if they bought me this then I’d do many, many chores around the house. In the end they did buy it for me… although I’m not sure I ever did the chores. Lazy little sod that I was. Anyway I was too busy shooting big hats with my little hat.

Along with ZX81 Asteroids this is a great game, and a real technical achievement on such a limited machine.