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Scramble games on the ZX Spectrum

Martin has been a software developer for many years. This is mixed with a passion for retro machines and game,

Arcade Conversions: Scramble

Scramble must be one of the most famous arcade shoot em ups ever.

With it's fast paced scrolling action, undulating terrain, mazes, tunnels and different coloured levels Scramble was responsible for eating thousands of 10 pence pieces and quarters.

A game such as this was bound to make it's way into the home gaming market - and quite a few versions of the game appeared on the superb 8-bit Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

So - Konamis' classic inspired many different games - and quite a few titles that took inspiration from Scramble appeared on the ZX Spectrum.

Some good, some bad - here is a list of some of the better Scramble type games that made it onto Sinclair's rubber keyed machine.

So let us sit back and let the scrolling action commence!

Scramble games on the ZX Spectrum

Arcade classic Scramble made it's way to the Spectrum in many forms

Arcade classic Scramble made it's way to the Spectrum in many forms

The arcade version of Scramble by Konami


Scramble on the ZX Spectrum

Scramble on the ZX Spectrum


Well good old Mikro-Gen made a version of Scramble (unsurprisingly called Scramble) way back in 1983. It resembled the arcade version slightly but did not feature the sharp graphics or smooth scrolling of the original.

As soon as you play it you can tell that it is a really early game on the ZX Spectrum - and does not hold up at all these days.

Mikro-Gen generally developed high quality titles as the decade wore on - and we reckon this game was acceptable enough for the time it was released.

Programmers soon learned how to create smooth scrolling in more detailled environments on the ZX Spectrum as the years flew by.

Harrier Attack

Harrier Attack on the ZX Spectrum

Harrier Attack on the ZX Spectrum

Harrier Attack

Harrier Attack! was Durell's controversial game (it had similarities to the Falkans war) was an excellent scrolling shooter that borrowed very heavily from Scramble.

Taking your harrier over the sea and the fortified island was similar to the Konami arcade game, you had forward firing rockets and also air to surface bombs which you could drop. Your ammunition was of finite supply though so saving the majority of your bombs for the final 'run' was the way to grab maximum points.

Taking out ground installations and enemy aircraft had never been so much fun - flying behind the clouds and avoiding flak fire.

You could even 'bail out' (a nice touch as your pilot parachuted from his Harrier) if things got too much for you!

A great game - and the fact that it was squeezed into 16K was a testament to programmer Mike Richardson.

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A classic ZX Spectrum game that was playable and addictive and is fondly remembered by many all these years later.

Harrier Attack on the ZX Spectrum

Cavern Fighter

Cavern Fighter on the ZX Spectrum

Cavern Fighter on the ZX Spectrum

Cavern Fighter

Bug Byte released their version of Scramble called Cavern Fighter in 1984.

This was slightly different as you were constantly flying through a cavern - so you always had a 'roof' to avoid as well as mountains underneath which made the game a little more tricky.

Cavern Fighter was pretty playable and contained most of the features of the original game such as fuel dumps, upward launching surface to air rockets, radar towers and so on.

Cavern Fighter probably goes down as one of the better Scramble type games available for the Speccy - and is still pretty playable even today.

If you are a fan of Scramble then give this game a go, you will not be disappointed.


Penetrator on the ZX Spectrum

Penetrator on the ZX Spectrum


Pentrator was released by Melbourne House in 1983 - and just like Cavern Fighter is another playable version of 'Scramble'.

The use of the fire button to accelerate forwards as well as fire was a little odd - but strangely enough it works well enough in the game once you become accustomed to it.

The monochromatic backgrounds and wire-frame mountains work well enough - and the scrolling is okay too.

Pentrator was a popular choice in the early days of Spectrum gaming for those who fancied a bit of Scramble type action.

Compared to games that came out later in the decade it seems a little unrefined but on the whole if you like Scramble then you will like this.

Penetrator on the ZX Spectrum

Possible Enhancements

It's a shame that none of these titles (particularly Harrier Attack, Penetrator and Cavern Fighter) were given the Spectrum 128 treatment.

With the use of the better sound hardware the games would have benefitted greatly from some enhanced AY Music and sound effects - which would have given the games more of that genuine 'arcade feel'.

Still, these games generally represent the early days of ZX Spectrum gaming and playing them is a real trip down nostalgia lane.

See these games in more detail

Please go to Download Spectrum to see how to get these games for a good Spectrum Emulator.

It is also possible to play many of these games online - go on, relive those memories!

Remember - these games (and many more!) can be seen on our dedicated ZX Spectrum site which has reviews, images, videos, a quiz and even interviews with industry legends such as the late, great Joffa Smith, Jonathan Cauldwell, David Webb, Doug 'Ping Pong' Burns, Peter Gough, Mark R Jones, David Turner, Nick Bruty, Lee Tonks, Dave Hawkins and Jim Bagley!

This link (and all relevant retro links) are in the links section below. Thanks all!

  • Acorn Atom
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  • Asteroids
    Asteroids (along with the seminal Space Invaders) must be one of the most famous arcade games of all time
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    A table-top scramble clone from Hales
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    A legendary table top arcade game!
  • Atari 2600
    The really classic Atari console
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    A great early console
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    Another fine machine from Atari
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    The Atari ST was a 16-bit home computer
  • Awesome Graphics
    Some awesome graphics were created on many retro computers
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    In the 1980s a lot of the 8-Bit micros available used the AY3-8912 sound chip to generate music and sound effects. This was especially useful for games programmers (and games players!) The sound chip was...
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    Best PC Games
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    The C16 was an 8-bit micro manufacured by Commodore
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    The 'Bullnose' in all it's glory
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    The last of Commodore's 8-bit machines
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    We love the Commodore Amiga!!
  • Dark Star Cheat Codes
    Dark Star was released for the ZX Spectrum by Design Design software in 1984
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    Do you fancy a laugh?
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  • Karate Champ Arcade Game
    Judge... WINNER!
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    Missile Command (along with Space Invaders, Pac Man, and Asteroids) must be one of the most well know arcade games of all time
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    Ocean Software was one of the biggest developers of computer games within Europe during the 1980s and 1990s
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    Uzi based 3D action
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    Scramble appeared on this baby too
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    The Oric Atmos was a British computer
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    Pacman is still playable - give it a go
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    Handlebar based pedalling action
  • Retro Computers
    Sinclair, Commodore, Atari, Dragon, Acorn, Oric, Amstrad, MSX... They are all in here. It's retro tastic mate!
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    The ZX Interface 2 was a hardware peripheral - great for 2 players
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    Space Invaders, an all time classic
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    Mastertronic were kings of the ZX Spectrum budget range During the 80's
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  • ZX Spectrum Games
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  • 80s theme tunes
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  • 8-bit to 16-bit
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Any fans of Scramble?

Luke on August 17, 2019:

You forgot GROUND ATTACK by SIlversoft for the 16K Spectrum!

christian baun on February 19, 2011:

Where can i play scramble online??

uridium5 on October 30, 2009:

Love it guys, great article, keep them coming! I liked Penatrator the best, took some real skill!!

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