Marvin ZX Spectrum Emulator review
We review Marvin ZX Spectrum Emulator for Android
Sir Clive Sinclair may be the man who launched the forward-thinking but ultimately ill-fated C5 road vehicle but his most famous contribution to popular culture is unquestionably the ZX Spectrum home micro computer.
This unassuming machine practically kick-started the UK video game industry and many of the country’s most illustrious designers can trace their origins back to it.
It should therefore come as little surprise to learn that there are several Spectrum emulators available on the Android Market, with Marvin being perhaps the most polished at this moment in time.
The emulation is fantastic, especially when running the app on a fast phone like the Droid or Nexus One. Visuals are handled well and the sound is spot-on – even the headache-inducing loading sounds are authentically replicated.
Getting hold of Spectrum games to run on the app is as easy as falling out of a boat.
Marvin directly links in with the popular website World of Spectrum, which is a repository of literally thousands of Spectrum ROMs, which you can download these to your SD card instantly and play immediately. While other emulators – such as Gensoid and NESoid – have attempted to shoehorn in web access to popular ROM sites, they’re nowhere near as elegant as this.
Controlling the games is a little trickier, although Marvin does at least attempt to give you as many options as possible.
You can choose to have the standard keyboard interface, which is supported by pretty much every game available.
While this provides the faithful Spectrum experience (albeit without the familiar rubber keys) the on-screen keyboard is too small to really use accurately, especially if you’re playing on a device with a screen less than three and a half inches in size.
Thankfully you can enable joystick input, which works so long as the game in question supports such controllers. Another option is to make the on-screen joystick replicate the movement of certain keys on the keyboard, which is sort of like half-way house.
Because many games used different keys for control you’ll sometimes find that none of the control options really work all that well and you have to tap every single key in order to find out what does what.
Some games come with input instructions on their title screen but many don’t – the command keys were obviously printed in the inlay of the cassette case, which you naturally don’t have access to here.
The simplistic nature of most Spectrum games means that control issues aren’t too much of a problem (in many cases the games only used one button) but the developer problem needs to tinker with the interface a little longer to get it just right.
If you’re already familiar with the games from your youth then this is less of an issue as you’ll already know the control commands of by heart.
With a robust emulation, a wide selection of games and a multitude of interface choices Marvin is your best choice for Spectrum-related retro gaming on the Android.
The fact that the developer has recently made the app compatible with 1.5 devices only increases its appeal. If you have fond memories of colour-clash and long loading times then this is a must.