Saturday, 23 July 2016

Games That I Never Made - Cosmic Speccy Specials!

It was probably inevitable, given my huge love of games, that at some point I would decide to try and create my own. Right from when I was playing the old Grandstand tabletop games I had big ideas about the types of games I would design to make use of the hardware.

It wasn't until I got my ZX Spectrum +2A in 1989 that I properly started to consider actually doing something with those ideas though. With Spectrum Basic, you could type programs straight in to the machine, and after 10 minutes of reading the manual you could already have your Speccy printing text, beeping tunes or drawing things on the screen!

And so my brain went in to overdrive and I started coming up with hundreds of ideas for different types of games that I could make for my new computer! Unfortunately, I was soon to discover that I'd rather be playing games than doing maths, wrestling with machine code, fixing errors, etc...and so I never ever got any of these games finished.

I thought it was about time that I shared the ideas for some of these games though, so you could all see what wonders you could have been playing back in the day if I had just got my act together!

(As always, click the pics to make them go big!)

One of the very first games I tried to make, was the one at the back of the +2A manual....a Breakout clone where you had to destroy bricks with a ball and bat. After messing around with the graphics and adding a bit more of an intro screen, I changed the game to one called Centigrubs! I actually finished this one, but the tape I save it on got chewed up a long time ago, and I never ever tried to type it out again.

Around the same time I was buying lots of Spectrum magazines, and they all had free cover-mounted cassette tapes that came loaded with games. That inspired me to make my own compilation tapes, with at least four games on one tape. 

Unfortunately, only information for one of the other games I was going to stick on the tape along with Centigrubs survives, and if you check below I'll write that out so you can read it a bit better. It was a text adventure called The Madhouse!


You are CECIL CENTIPEDE! You and your wife have just had children. She has gone out shopping and left you to babysit. BUT (SHOCK, GASP, HORROR!) the naughty little bu**ers have climbed over to the other side of the garden wall. YOU will have to bring them back by breaking the blocks on the wall! And you'll need to be quick because it won't be long until the missus comes home."

(*There's more text after this, but it got ripped off so I'm not sure what else it said...something about "but Beware!")


You have been locked in an asylum. But you are not mad. You are surrounded by mental people. Tonight, you must escape! So, armed only with a revolver, (how anyone in a loonybin is meant to get a gun, I dunno!) a rucksack and your toothbrush, off you go to fight guards, loonies and even a watchdog! Watch out might go MAD with the strain!"


The next Gamestape I was going to make had Reporter, a game that was to be a bit like Cult Games speccy game Software House only in a newspaper office instead of a software publisher....and Revenge is Sweet, which was going to be an action adventure platformer!


You are an ace reporter... your dreams! You are actually a crap reporter and your boss is threatening to fire you if you don't get a good story to publish. At the beginning of the game your boss will give you a list of stories you can choose to cover. Press the number of the story you want to look at and if you think it is good enough, buy it and show it to the editor. If he likes it he'll publish it, if not you'll need to find another job!


Follow the On-Screen Prompts


You're dead. Yeah, you really are pushing up the daisies in this game. You see, your business partner, Bob Thevalog, wanted to be rich and own the whole of your company. He tried to persuade you to give it to him, but you didn't. So he got his heavies to kill you! Now, you're back from the dead to get your revenge. Make your way up to the top of the building to Bob's office and push him out of the window. But watch out! Bob's henchmen are in the building guarding him. he thought you would come back and has equipped them with special weapons for busting ghosts. Also watch out for all the robots and other electrical stuff has bought with all his cash.


Q = Up
A = Down
O = Left
P = Right
SPACE = Fire

Or use a Sinclair Joystick in Port 1"

There was also a title for another game, DOMAIN, but no details...and three more are mentioned...Jailbreaker, Horace Hedgehog and Noman's Land...but again I can't remember much about those..


Another of my very first ideas was a game called Jeremia And The Dead Duck (pronounced Jeremiah), which was to be a Gregory Loses His Clock style adventure. The game was to begin with Jeremia opening his door to find a dead duck landing at his feet, and then he's have to use private-detective-like skills to work out where the duck had come from and who had killed it.......

As you can also see, I had come up with a name for my very own software house...Speccy Specials! This was very short lived however, as I reckoned somebody else would probably have come up with that name and I needed something a bit better. I came up with the name Cosmic Software, and planned to combine that with a comic publisher of the same brand....(not an ambitious kid at all, was I?) 

One of the first games and comics I was going to do for that was Knackashibushi, a very heavily manga and anime influenced ninja-type thing! This never really got very far at all, with only the above card and a few other drawings of characters done.....


Eventually I started doing proper inlays for my imaginary games, and as usual spent far too much time planning those rather than actually learning how to code and make the bloody games....

Here's the ones I could find... 
Cool Dude, a platformer where you have to collect objects to perform "cool tasks"...
Warfie, where you played an exterminator wandering around a castle getting rid of nasties....
Bazooka, which was a shoot-em-up that had you crossing a desert and fighting mutants..
and Dead Fred and The Curse Of The Sacred Nappies, which I really can't remember much about at all!



Perform 12 cool tasks and then you can go to the disco and try and get down to some serious dancing.

Loading Instructions

48k owners type LOAD""
128k/+ owners use LOADER


Sinclair Joystick and Keyboard

Q = Up
A = Down
O = Left
P = Right
SPACE = Pickup / Jump / Fire
S = Abort
Enter = Status Screen

(*Back cover) You as Cool Dude must live up to your title. First do as many cool things as possible before the final level, The Disco.


Everything by Wolfie, T.C. and Alf

No.1 in the Cosmic Collection

1989 Cosmic Software"

(*Wolfie and TC were both me, Alf was my mate Alan whose photocopier I was going to use to print out the labels if I ever got round to finishing any of the games. You can see where he's put Manager to try and make his role in the operation a bit bigger!)




"HELP!" cried Eric, the local popstar, as he spoke to you on the Tele-Varnwarp,
"I've been invaded by demons and ghosts!!"
You, Warfie, do your duty as Exterminator and go to kill all the nastys in Eric's castle."

(*Then there's some pictures of the various things you'll come across, and a note saying there are other things we don't know about in the castle too. There's also a hasty cover up doodle hiding a mistake with a note saying to take no notice of it as it's just there for "fun"

Then there's the usual loading instructions and my address so you can send back faulty tapes..)


Use a joystick in Port One or these keys...

Q = Forward / Up
A = Back / Down
O = Left
P = Right
N = Pickup Food + Ammo + Other Equipment
SPACE = Fire"

(*Then there's an ad for another text adventure called The Evil Eye! You might notice that demons seem to feature quite heavily in a lot of these game ideas..That's because I felt I was okay at drawing those! Hehe!)

(*Back Cover)

You are Warfie, an exterminator from the planet Worvor.
One day, you were sitting in your office when the Tele-Varnwarp beeped. On the screen appeared Eric, the local Popstar. "Help!", he said "I've been invaded by demons and ghosts!"
So armed with your Phaser and toothbrush, you go to Eric's Castle to kill ghosts, demons and other nasty people called Dave!"


Game Design : Ewen Kirk (Wolfie)
Manager : Alan Kay (Well, we need to give him credit for something!)
Idea : T.C.
Teamaker : Mumsypoos
Music : Wolfie (again)"



" The Story Of Bazooka

The year is 2965. The Korinthian War is now over but it has left horrible, slimy mutants.
Not everyone was turned into mutants. You weren't, and neither were the Corinians.
The Corinians (or City People) live in a city many miles from the Mutant Desert. You lived in the village to the North of the desert, but when you came back from the war, there was nothing left.
During the war you lost your arm, and went through surgery to have a Bazooka fitted in its place. It is a highly advanced version of the weapon.
So off you set into the desert towards the city, in order to start a new life there...


48k owners type : Load ""
128k/+2/+3 owners : Use Loader
Send faulty tapes to.....


Many different mutants will try to stop you. Some you can easily blow away, others aren't so easy!

Sand Beasts

Occasionally you will come across a Sand Beast, large disgusting creatures that swallow their victims whole and leave them to die inside their acid filled stomachs..


Use Joystick or these keys..

Q: Forward
A: Back
O: Left
P: Right
N: Pickup


If you are touched by mutants, they will drain your energy.There is only one way of regaining this, By eating food. To eat food, walk over the box and press ENTER.

Travel through the Mutant packed desert to the city, as your village was destroyed in the war. You have a Built-in-Bazooka where your arm should be, so the journey will be a little easier.


Game Design: Wolfie 
Idea: TC 
Manager: Alf
Music: Wolfie "

(*There's also a bit in that inlay that mentions games coming soon, which have the titles 


Again, I'm pretty sure these were just ideas and in some case just titles, but I seem to remember some prep-work on a Black Knight II inlay...)


Yeah, don't remember what type of game this was going to be...don't think Dead Fred got much further than the inlay above....


The design document below is for Pratt-Face and the Big End-Of-Level-Nasty-Thingies! which was to be a huge side scrolling platformer where at the end of every level you'd have to fight a massive end-of-level baddie! 

Unfortunately, a lot of this is missing due to a tear in the page, but you can get the idea of where I was going with this game....


Level One - Object - Travel from your house to the launch site.

Screens = 10
Areas = 4

AREA 1 ENEMIES = Milkmen, Policemen, Hippies, Old Bags
AREA 2 ENEMIES = Skinheads, Cool Dudes, Old Bags, Bullies
AREA 3 ENEMIES = Drunks, Old Bags, Postmen, Killer Postboxes
AREA 4 ENEMIES = Bikers, Teachers, Bullies, Weeds, Scientists, Manic (*gets cut off...Miners maybe? Was I planning a cameo from the Speccy's most famous hero? Think the end of level baddie here might have been a giant security guard or scientist)

Level Two - Object - Search for Spacecraft with X symbol. Pick the wrong Spacecraft and you'll explode!

Screens = 4
Areas = 3

ALL AREAS ENEMIES = Monkeys, Scientists, Mice (haha!) Astronauts, Venus Flytraps,

(*No idea what the end-of-level-nasty was here??)

Level Three - Object- Fly the ship to Mars just for fun, and collect more fuel.

Screens = 12
Areas = 4

AREA 1 NO ENEMIES = (Just dodge satellites, space stations and other space junk)
AREA 3 ENEMIES = Aliens (Also dodge all obstacles)
AREA 4 ENEMIES = Martians, Robots, Martian Mutts, Flying Bananas, Zombies
END-OF-LEVEL-3-NASTY = The Biggest End Of Level Nasty You've Ever Saw!

Level Four - Object- Fly the ship back to Earth

Screens = 9
Areas = 3

(Repeat of Level 4 except backwards)
(*Dunno how I thought this could be a repeat of level four with less screens and enemies?)

END-OF-LEVEL-4-NASTY = Henry, The Space Policeman

Level Five - Object- You crash land at the North Pole! Start walking home!
Areas = 4
Screens = 10

ALL AREAS ENEMIES = Penguins, Polar Bears, Eskimos and other things
END-OF-LEVEL-5-NASTY = Mummy (Yours that is!)

(* I think the screens were per area, so for instance in the last level there'd be four areas of 10 screens each! Might have been a bit ambitious for a Speccy game, but at this point I probably realised I was never going to actually make any of these and was just giving my imagination a treat!)


Another thing I found whilst hunting out these game ideas was this list of objects from either a text adventure or a Dizzy-style collect-em-up idea what the actual game was, but again the list of objects gives you an idea of the sort of thing it would have turned out to be!


A Broadsword
A Long-Barreled Gun
A Box Of Multi-Coloured Farts
A Squashed Hedgehog
A Sticky Bogie
A Chesney Hawkes Album
An Ancient Record Player
A Rope
A Cake
A Harley Davidson
A Petrol Can (Empty)
A Petrol Can (Full)
A Box Of Dynamite
A Detonator
Harley Davidson Ignition Keys
A Fluffy Liccle Bunny Wabbit
A Shotgun
A Pair Of Wirecutters
A Dustbin
A Big Spiky Ball And Chain
A Bottle Of Mrs. Smiths Home Made Soup
A Spare Tyre
A Batch Of Magic Mushrooms 

(*Bizarrely, Chesney Hawkes now currently follows me on Twitter! Yes, the actual one-and-only! No idea why....guess it's just proof of the infinite weirdness of the internet!)

This last design scrap is the map of the first level of a Rastan style hack-em-up platformer I wanted to make called Purgatory! Rastan was one of my favourite games of all time, so I had big plans for this...

You'd have to fight all the enemies, avoid traps and free prisoners on your quest. A couple of things are missing from the map that I had planned for the level, like a breathing device in the top left of the map so you could go under water to kill the demon boss, and then he'd drop something to let you call down the big flying lizard to take you up to the end of the level..


So there you have it! I hope you've enjoyed this look at games that never were! I really wish I'd learned at least some sort of machine code or got to grips with a games making utility and actually made some of these! My brother did with games like Zombo and Dead By Dawn!

Anyway, I'm sure I've got more stuff hidden away in a box somewhere, so if I ever get round to finding that, I'll maybe do another post! And if anybody else has stuff like this with games they had planned to make, or can even just remember the ideas, I'd love to hear about those leave a comment here or on the many places I'll probably link to this post from! 


  1. Ha, I've got stacks of this sort of thing, only the ones I did were more of the 16-bit influence... Reading Sega XS was mostly responsible for that.

    Liking the covers for Bazooka and Dead Fred a lot, I am.

    1. Get your stuff hunted out and put up online somewhere so I can have a nosy at them, then! I love seeing what other people did as game designs for their fave computers or consoles..

      It also helps let me relax in the knowledge that I'm not the only daft bugger out there when I see their mad ideas too! ;)

    2. My main character was Zackor, like a mix of Zool and Sonic... Think he had six or seven games to his name by the end of it!