Feb 28, 2008

Rex and the ZX Spectrum militant ecology movement

1988 was 20 years ago and I admittedly do feel a bit on the older side of mankind. Regardless. It's amazing that 20 years since the release of Rex for the ZX Spectrum video games with a strong environmental theme can be counted on one (very crippled) hand, whereas happily militaristic shooters where starry-eyed young gamers kill anything vaguely resembling an Arab are a dime a dozen. And to think that back then it was still actually cold in Antarctica... Oh, well, it must be this clampdown thingy again.

Anyway. On to the game. On to Rex, the brilliant Speccy arcade platformer/shooter that, yes, you guessed it, was released back in 1988 by Martech Games to generally rave reviews. After all, massive Metroid-esque exploration-heavy action games, especially those that used both sides of a tape, weren't all that common for the humble Sinclair 8-bit.

In Rex, dear readers, players assumed the role of the cunningly named Rex, a heavily armored anthropomorphic rhino with a certain passion for ecology, and set off to rid his home-planet from a huge polluting factory-tower-fortress big building thing. Actually, make that a huge, cavernous, impressively non-linear factory-tower-fortress building thing and you'll have managed a way more accurate description.

Oh, and in order to survive said treacherous fortress thing players had to be more than skillful, as this was another traditionally difficult 8-bit game. To be fair though, Rex did provide with quite a few power-ups, occasionally a shield and some almost fairly placed respawn points, that actually did help. What's more, as the game was divided into two parts, there was a brilliant code system in place to help 'em poor gamers avoid playing the first bit all over again. Impressively, this code system even managed to pass on information regarding Rex's health/ammo/etc status.

As for the graphics, well, they were nice, colourful and detailed, and quite wisely designed to avoid as much colour-clash as possible. Sounds, on the other hand, were kept to a minimum few effects and obviously no music was featured.

The gameplay, what truly matters, of course was brilliant and immensely addictive. Otherwise, I guess, I wouldn't be battling my way through Rex all over again, especially on a pretty decent PC loaded with games and while ignoring a Wii...

To legally play Rex, download its tape images, read relevant reviews and/or generally go for the complete Rex experience, I strongly suggest you click yourselves over to the excellent World of Spectrum website. Among other stuff you'll find tons of Rex reviews, maps, ads, previews and walkthroughs.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Mersey Remakes interview, Matthew Smith in FMV, Sensible Train Spotting, the Retro Gamer eMag


  1. I'm curious about the first pic - is it from a remake of the original Rex?

    The colours in the original look a bit too terrifying for me to try it out :P Maybe a remake with updated graphics will change my mind :P

  2. Nope! It's from a magazine ad. As for the screenshots shown on the thing they must come from the CPC version of the game. Oh, and dear Roys, there was a remake available but it seems to have vanished into thin air... Still, I would give it a try...

  3. Dear ROYS, open your mind... and play the real REX in a good speccy emulator. I'm sure it won't deceive you.

  4. Wow... the misty watercolored memories of the games that were! What an excellent choice of a topic, gnome!

  5. I've got to second sabreman's opinion, really...

    Why, thank you oh Dane of War. Glad you appreciate it!

  6. "IQ: N/A" is a nice touch. A sarcastic comment on the "Green" movement?

  7. Hehe... could never tell though...

  8. I'm not sure, Sabreman and gnome. I really don't emphasize graphics over gameplay - I adore ASCII roguelikes but I'm a bit bothered by the limited palette of colours - it looks like it's gonna give me a headache after a while :(

    I'll hunt for the remake anyway :)

  9. Seems the remake's site is pretty much dead unfortunately and the wayback machine hasn't indexed it properly... Damn.

    Oh, and really, Rex's visuals are more thanok. Just give it a try in your browser.

  10. Will this run on Vista...?


    I'm rebuilding over at my place, adding some new windows n' such now. Should have the bar up and going shortly... -then we can all get together for some craziness!

    Just getting Vista and my art programs to get along as well.

    Will be nice to get back to things here... -talk to you soon.

  11. On Vista? You're kidding me right? MS's latest OS can barely handle Word, let alone ZX's demanding games...

    Great to have you back Deitrix. All we now need is Elderly's comeback!

  12. Spectrum loveliness! I quite approve! But I'm actually surrounded by 360 loving sons and a rogue ginger who's addicted to WOW...

    And I'm totally gassed! If you were a father of ginger fools, what would you do?

    (Bear in mind it's Friday night and you have imbibed several beers...)

    Can you put the kettle on? Since Elderly has gone we never party with tea and biscuits any more...

  13. What a brilliant idea! Tea party with biscuits it is then. Oh, and I wouldn't really care to father anything dear Father. I would instead download a Speccy classic on the XBLA...