I’ll make this quick because it’s really not that complicated. There’s been a lot of argument down the years over which was better: the ZX Spectrum or the Commodore 64. This got confused a little late last year when the BBC’s Electric Revolution season tried to invent a rivalry between the Spectrum and the BBC B, something that never existed. It’s like trying to claim that there’s some sort of rivalry between, I don’t know, crisps and After Eights. They’re both things you can eat, but you’ll never find people on a crisps forum going on and on about how crap After Eights are.
Spectrum vs Commodore was what it was all about. I had a Spectrum, and later I had a C64. And the C64 was better. It had sprite graphics that it could sling around really quickly, it had real sound, it had two joystick ports. The Spectrum didn’t. End of story.
What muddies things, though, is the fact that Spectrum coders tended to be a lot more inventive in getting around the machine’s restrictions, and came up with some great games along the way, whereas it was relatively easy on the C64 to cloak a shit game in sprites and noise and create something that looked and sounded good enough to buy, take home and swiftly realise that you’d been had. Entirely true. Loads of shit games on the C64; probably a slightly higher proportion than the Spectrum’s.
What matters, though, is that the best C64 games looked and sounded better than the best that the beepy, colour-clashy Spectrum had to offer. And when your business is immersion and suspension of disbelief, even in a rudimentary 8-bit manner, that goes a long way.
Hence: C64 wins. Also: SNES beats Megadrive, N64 beats Playstation, Xbox beats PS2, Xbox 360 beats PS3.
I’m glad that’s finally sorted.