How to play Spectrum games on Android - with the best emulator
Jet Set... Go
According to estimates based entirely on my hazy memories of the 1980s, there were approximately 10 billion games released for Clive Sinclair's budget home computer the mighty ZX Spectrum.
This figure may not be entirely accurate. For any child of the Duran Duran era, though, the ubiquitous 48k model (and its mega-powered 128k successor) was a source of endless, ultra-cheap entertainment in four gaudy colours.
Now, thanks to the magic of mobile and software emulation, you can play pretty much every one of those 10 billion (well, 20,000+, anyway) games on your Android phone.
Marvin is one of the oldest Spectrum emulators on Google Play, yet to our minds it's never been bettered. Probably something to do with its continuous updates and solid design.
It also comes with direct access to World of Spectrum, a website compilation of Speccy hits you can browse, download, and play in under a minute.
Want to install it on your 'droid? Of course you do. To that end, follow our step-by-step guide below and you'll be reliving those tough Skool Daze in no time.
Note: Pocket Gamer does not condone piracy, and offers this information for entertainment purposes only. Pocket Gamer also takes no responsibility if you follow this guide and manage to bugger up your phone in the process.
|While a lot of fantastic emulators have been unceremoniously pulled from Google Play over the years, Marvin has weathered the piracy storm. Perhaps because it's completely free. To install it on your Android blower, just launch Google Play, search for "Marvin", and hit 'install'.|
|Of course, having marvellous Marvin installed and ready to rock is one thing, but you're going to need some actual games to play on it to properly realise its potential. Firstly, run a quick Google search on your PC, for there are stacks of Spectrum compilations waiting for you out there. The lawyer standing over our shoulder won't let us give you the exact URLs, mind. Tape images for titles (in authentic .tzx copies or non-tape .tap versions) are normally available in zipped files. Getting them onto your phone is as simple as hooking up your phone to your computer with a USB cable, then unzipping the games into the "Marvin" folder auto-created by the app. Clever Marvin.|
|However, if you want to really immerse yourself in Spectrum lore, the alternative way of obtaining games for Marvin may be for you. The Marvin app itself has a link to World of Spectrum in its menu. You just need to hit 'Launch game or Save State' and switch to the tab on the right. This enthusiasts-run site is full to bursting with more than 10,000 Spectrum-compatible titles (yes, before you ask: Kenny Dalglish Soccer Manager is there). A few games, such as seminal platformer Jet Set Willy, have been removed due to copyright issues, but there are stacks of freeware games and text adventures to make up for the shortfall. Each title has release information and links to reviews. There are normally multiple files to download. Whenever possible, aim for the higher-quality 128k version.|
|It's now finally time to play some vintage games. While it's tempting to tinker around with the original Spectrum menu screen and do some BASIC programming, your best bet is to hit the Android menu button and then 'Load app / game or state'. Any games you've downloaded will be waiting for you here. Or you can dive into World of Spectrum for more on the same page. Playing with the keyboard in portrait mode can be a bit fiddly, but switching to landscape automatically puts the joystick on screen. This is a much more responsive control method. There's also a handful of menu options to tinker with, including the type of joystick you want and the chance to remap buttons if you have physical controls (say, via an Xbox 360 controller). Oh, and if the vintage difficulty spikes prove too much, you can use cheats (called POKES) obtained from a database in the menu or by manually entering codes available online.|