Did you know that Memory Lane is paved with rubber? Small, rectangular rubber keys of the kind found on an old ZX Spectrum. Yes it is, and now the forgotten pleasure of squashing those cheap rubber keys in a desperate attempt to make Jet Set Willy not fall on a killer penguin can be had again.
Thanks to beknighted (and knighted) Sir Clive Sinclair, who along with Alan ‘Amstrad’ Sugar stands as one of Britain’s great home computer-boom champions of the 1980s, the Sinclair Spectrum Vega is now a thing. Specifically, it appears to be a £100 thing that you plug in to your TV to play a library of 1,000 old Spectrum games (with up to 14,000 known to work with it), in much the same way that Tulip Computers’ C64 Direct-to-TV emu-joystick thingy allowed you to relive your Commodore 64 fantasies via the telly.
The Viva is being brought to us by Retro Computers, a Luton, England-based firm which lists Sir Clive as a shareholder. Funding for the Viva comes via a £100,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which amount will fuel production of the first 1,000 units in the UK, plus covering company running costs in the interim. There are still 60 days left in their campaign, so click on over and acknowledge your roots.
Retro Computers are working with various rights owners to the games to donate 10% of each Vega sale to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital – one of the busiest and most storied of all hospitals in Britain.
The Internet’s response to the Vega has been mixed so far, and probably clearly delineated between 40-year-old farts like me who think this is the Best Thing Ever, and ‘da kidz’ who can’t imagine why you’d pay real money for something you can emulate for free on your computer. On the one hand, they’ve got a point – 8-bit emulation on a modern PC is easier than blowing your nose on your sleeve. On the other hand, those stoopid kids are already paying for old Spectrum games on Xbox Live Indie Games Arcade Get Off The Sofa You Little Git. But really, it comes down to one thing. If the thought of playing thousands of games made of 16 kilobytes of 15-colour, 256×192 resolution BASIC programming makes you go ‘squee!’, then you’re going to be a very happy customer indeed.