ZX Spectrum: The Handheld Console (Vega Plus / Vega+)

As a small boy in the 80’s playing my ZX Spectrum, when the hours and days would disintegrate (and that was just from waiting for the games to load) as I sat hypnotised by Manic Miner and other little pixel friends; if I had been told that one day I could hold the ZX Spectrum, and the cassette player AND the television in my hands in one compact, slim, light-weight device and I could take it to BED to play, I’d have said “only in Back to the Future 2”.  You see, like owning the Double Dragon arcade machine, owning a portable ZX Spectrum was my impossible and unattainable dream.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega Plus Vega+

Behold!! The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ … (cue the sound of angels singing)

Fast forward some 30+ years (and 1 year AFTER Back to the Future 2), it is an incredibly exciting time for ZX Spectrum fans.

Sir Clive Sinclair himself and the team at Retro Computers Ltd have put in to action an IndieGoGo campaign as they get ready to make that futuristic dream of receiving 100 lines on Skool Daze whilst the player can be sitting on an actual bus or in the back of the car, come true.

ZX Spectrum: The HandHeld Console

Get ready for Sinclair’s latest Speccy in handheld console form: the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega Plus.  This is not the regular Wonka Bar ZX Spectrum Vega, oh no, this is the scrumdiddlyumptious Vega PLUS. (update: I’ve been told by Retro Computers Ltd themselves that it’s written as Vega+ rather than Vega Plus).

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega

The original ZX Spectrum Vega. Good but you need a telly.

Not since Retro Computers’ original Spectrum revival console, the ZX Spectrum Vega last year in 2015, have Spectrum fans and a wide “Spectrum” (come on) of retro gaming fans in general been so excited. The original ZX Spectrum Vega had one perceived restriction of modern times – you had to plug it in to a TV! Although this would satisfy the authentic feeling of sitting on the floor in your house on a rainy day, confined to that room and by a distance from the TV defined by the length of cable the Spectrum provided; authenticity aside, in a world ruled by mobile gaming this could be judged as slightly inconvenient. 1 year later Sinclair & Co are back to right those present day wrongs.

Spectrum fans don’t want to be stuck in front of the telly anymore – in fact they can’t be. ZX Veterans have responsibilities that they didn’t used to have; jobs, kids, shopping trips, places to be – their relaxing, comfortable and carefree Saturday and Sunday afternoons don’t exist anymore. They need privacy to play alone; they have to be able to lie secretly under the duvet at night or even sit on the toilet when they feel the urge to play with their beloved little Jet Set Willy.

Back to the future 2

Marty McFly Jr didn’t need a ZX Spectrum, he had an Oculus Rift in the future … which is now the past.

So how has this version moved on from last years version? Imagine a Sony PSP, but it’s a ZX Spectrum. That’s what the ZX Spectrum Vega+ is, in a nutshell. Just to mention “Back To The Future 2” once again, if there was a scene in the future McFly residence where Marty McFly Jr was doing some gaming, the filmmakers would have designed something like this for him to play: a crazy futuristic version of an 80’s device, which is exactly what this is.

Whereas the first Vega could be described as a home console, this new version is truly a handheld console; sporting a built in screen with the controls around it, this box of magic provides portability; the unfathomable missing aspect of Spectrum gaming in the 80’s, which Nintendo nailed with the Gameboy.
So no more sitting in the house – go and get some fresh air! (But take your ZX Spectrum Vega+, of course)

ZX Spectrum Loading Sequence

Waiting …. Waiting …. Waiting ….

I have a fair idea of the demographic for this console, the guys and gals who were around the first time, the die-hards, the one’s who endured the loading sequence.
For those who know of this eternity of “DEEEEEEE, DIT.. DEEEEEEEEEEE DIDDLE DIT” followed by the endless sound of a million tiny mechanical worms screaming as they are slowly mangled in a sausage grinder just to play one game; will surely appreciate a ZX Spectrum game loading instantly. Also, with retro gaming being a cool thing for the youngsters to get in to; the instant and portable gaming experience will satisfy the instagram / twitter / facebook / iphone / android gaming generation, too.

Oh did I mention, you are provided with 1000 games? … wait, WHAT? “How will that many cassette tapes fit in my room” I hear you ask; well of course in 2016 you don’t need tapes, it’s all gone digital, and you can also install your own games by way of SD Card. Very nice.
Adding the “Plus” to the end of the ZX Spectrum Vega+ also gives it a nice nostalgic Speccy feel and makes me wonder: in the coming years will we see a “ZX Spectrum Vega+ 2”, a larger and greyer console with built in Tape Deck? Or how about a “ZX Spectrum Vega+ 3”, black with floppy drive! Only time will tell (but it’s probably unlikely).

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ Skool Daze

Unaware that their school is a game, and currently going 85mph down the M1 in the back of a car whilst the player needs a wee.

Just seeing those diagonal rainbow colours, knowing there is a new device with “Sinclair” written on it in exactly the same font as all those years ago gives me an incredible nostalgic and happy feeling. Even though I’ve had Spectrum emulators on most of my devices over the years (phones, pc, macbook, a raspberry pi, etc) I’m still curious and hungry to hold this in my hands – even if just in an attempt to communicate with myself as a little kid who is still sitting there on the floor in front of the TV in the 80’s, bound by cables and long loading sequences, and tell him “I’m here in the future, and it happens.”

Check out the IndieGoGo Campaign for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+, with a lot of different perks / rewards to get! (It’s already over 179% funded at the time of writing this).