What % of ZX Spectrum Games can be played without referring to the Manual or the inside Inlay Card?

This has sort of been touched on before but was not fulled "nailed down":-



  • Errata:- "fully nailed down"
  • Probably none as you wouldn't know the controls.
    We must perform a quirkafleeg
  • Given that piracy was rampant back in the day, and generally meant pirated copies didn't have manuals, plus the fact that magazine cover tapes usually had spotty instructions at best, I'd say most of them could probably be figured out. There were certainly some games that were impenetrable without them, but generally really only niche titles.

    We're talking about a world in which the control scheme was generally limited to up, down, left, right and fire after all. Randomly prodding around will allow you to figure out most games.
  • Who cares? ... there is never going to be a definite answer to this.
    Website: Tardis Remakes / Mostly remakes of Arcade and ZX Spectrum games.
    My games for the Spectrum: Dingo, The Speccies, The Speccies 2, Vallation, SQIJ.
    Twitter: Sokurah
  • This thread reminds me of a braindead youtube "retro games reviewer" who made a video about Tank Attack (it's one of those "computer enhanced" board games with big cardboard playing field and lots plastic pieces, pretty nice game actually).

    As expected, the guy had just downloaded the game file from internet and didn't even know that the game he was reviewing is actually a physical board game and what he was seeing of it was just the "extra computer bookkeeping / battle report part". His verdict: "seems to be a nice game, but I find it a bit confusing".

  • Good point . Why bother about it?

    Well at least there a bit of a debate about its relevance . The point of the thread is to find out the extent of the interest in the subject - somewhere betwwen zero and a hundred per cent ( I would be surprised if it did go over 100% but you never know!)
  • In the early days some games had on screen instructions, but these were generally BASIC efforts like those seen on the Cassette 50 compilation.

    Even though games such as JSW are just left, right and jump, having an inlay and being able to read the background story and overall aim of the game does, for me, make the games more enjoyable.
  • That is a good point . There probably is a correlation between early BASIC games , on screen instructions and overall ease of use without instructions..
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    Why would you want a 48k game to waste space to add instructions inside the game? I'd rather have more gameplay instead.
  • edited October 19
    it depends how many you can fit on a C-90???

    as for JSW that bugger would not run without an inlay. (or a copy of it done in my maths lesson)

    ...things like Domdarks revenge or Lords of midnight needed extra stuff, so working it out was a pain but most games were up,down,left,right,fire,pick-up soooo I'll say 2.3% of games were unplayable without all the info :)

    always remember that SQIJ was unplayable with the manual
    Post edited by ASH-II on
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  • edited October 19
    That is a good point . There probably is a correlation between early BASIC games , on screen instructions and overall ease of use without instructions..

    What a lovely sentence. No, it's very unlikely (but probable, of course) that there would be any correlation there.

    Also "early BASIC games" just don't make sense. Because A) there aren't that many kind of BASICs, and B) people make BASIC games all the time, even in 2020, and C) even in some of the CSCCGC games there are either on screen instructions or off screen manuals.

    Also, I've changed my mind.

    I think that about 30-50% of Spectrum games can be played without (much) offline manuals. Because most people must have typed in some really BASIC game (this is the beauty of having a real computer compared to a console), and maybe they've copied it from some magazine type-ins. You won't find many of those in the Archive but they do add up. :)
    Post edited by Timmy on
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  • edited October 19
    So there is some mileage in this subject after after all and some interesting observations made so far. Of course I was referring to Spectrum BASIC ( and forgot to put it into the wider BASIC context). And even though Spectrum BASIC had its limitations a lot of the fun came from using it and creating easy to use games .

    It is quite a tricky area to write sensibly about though (for me anyway!)
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • Text adventures would be playable without instructions, and so would games based on board games.
    (Some of them anyway, good luck trying to guess the combination of keys to start a new game of Psi Chess!)
  • If you are of the opinion that the only game that matters is Shadowfire, and all the rest are but mere tech demos at best, then it would be 0%.

    Otherwise, er, most.
  • edited October 20
    I have never plaved Text Adventures but I have heard that the responses required are pretty standardised so it appears they would be more playable than some other games without instructions.And I suppose it depends on individual "user persistence" . Is the user prepared to put some work in or merely flitting from game to game ? In the past games in real terms Speccy games were more expensive so more effort would probably be made to play them . Today the wide availability of TZX files and the relative cheapness of secondhand games means that more "flitting from game to game" can be done because of a lack of persistence and a lack of instructions ( and dare I say it, "older age")

    This kind of idea could be developed on a new thread along the lines of : Do we select and play Speccy games differently now compared to 1984?
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • I dunno? I find it much harder to flit between games now than I ever did back in the Speccy days.
    You can't expect me to have lunch with a man who's favourite part of the chicken is the right wing!
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  • I've noticed games i could play literally with my eyes shut i can barely play now as i seem to have become crap at all games. Must be my age!
    We must perform a quirkafleeg
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  • It isn't just your age. Modern games are easier and they've trained us out of the old ways. I've always been a fairly average player, and have got worse as I've played less. A few years ago I played in the retro league and that does start to hone the old skills a bit, there's a noticeable progression and if you stick with the same game you'll learn its patterns and quirks, how to exploit things and evade death for a bit longer. That experience stopped me from flitting so much, I tend to focus on one game at a time. This has not helped my pile of shame.
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  • It is interesting that the WOS scans do not include any or many (I should say) printed instructions.This is because normally just the front part of the cassette inlay is in the WOS Archive . I suppose this was because there could have been copywright or other considerations at the time the WOS Archive was put together . So I do a fair bit of cassette inlay scanning . Then I put the scans in the TZX folder associated with that game (obvious really) . Then the game can go "back in the loft"! I suppose I do this because I think that a lot of the games would not be playable otherwise . So I tend to scan the lot rather than trying to work out which ones "really" need the additionlal instructions
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