Horace and the Spiders

Horace and the Spiders

Platform: ZX Spectrum 16K 

Release Date: 1983 

Publisher: Sinclair Research Ltd (UK)

Developer: Psion Software Ltd (William Tang)


Controls: Keyboard 

Genre: Platformer

The ZX Spectrum, I’ve played on the actual machine probably about a dozen times, and over twenty years ago (mostly Dizzy). After asking which games I should review next I was pleasantly surprised about the number of different platforms, games and genres people wanted to see again. A request for Horace made it past the line first so I immediately set about trying to find the game! Fortunately, this is a well-known, and therefore widely available ’emulated’ game but I was unable to play it on the original system.

Horace and the Spiders is the 3rd game in the Horace series, following Hungry Horace and Horace goes Skiing. The last in the series was Horace to the Rescue. The plot is pretty simple (although some reviews back in the day penned it as complicated) Horace must negotiate his way through 3 treacherous levels. The first, up some hills whilst avoiding spiders. The second, swinging across a chasm on spider threads. The third and final show down, a platform level where Horace must defeat the remaining arachnids by creating holes in the web, luring the spiders into the holes to fix them and consequently jumping on them.

The game is very simple to finish, the graphics are neat and the game play isn’t actually bad, considering the length. Each level has its own distinct colours and design (Horace even changes colour) and challenges. The characters are clear and animated well, and even though I have no idea who or what Horace is, its a great leading character. 

It’s extrememly satisfying outwitting the spiders on the final level and jumping up and down on them. After playing for about 15 minutes though my attention drifted, so I decided to give the other Horace games a go. They are all pretty distinct in graphics and gameplay which makes this a fun series of games to play, I actually found Horace Goes Skiing really challenging (who puts a ski shop on the other side of the motorway) but fun once I actually got to do some skiing.

Reading some of the reviews its fascinating to see how good reviewers said it was, and they were right, at that time of course. Not that great in my opinion (watch out for the collision detection jumping over those spiders) and not the best in the Horace series (Horace goes Skiing ftw) but Horace and the Spiders was clearly a welcome addition to the series, it was fun to visit and to play.  

Please visit My Speccy for more information on the Horace games and on the Spectrum, as well as a chance to play the game!

For more information on Horace and the Spiders visit the World of Spectrum

Horace Series advert (Popular Computing Weekly, Issue 830915, p.29)  and Horace and the Spiders advert (Home Computing Weekly, Issue 20, p.41  from World of Spectrum


5 thoughts on “Horace and the Spiders

  1. “I actually found Horace Goes Skiing really challenging (who puts a ski shop on the other side of the motorway) but fun once I actually got to do some skiing.”

    I totally agree with you, HGS only actually becomes fun once you get on the ski slope – the Frogger-style bit at the beginning is like some sort of awful gaming purgatory.

    I’ve never played the other Horace games, but I wrote about HGS on 101 Video Games a while back: http://101videogames.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/5-horace-goes-skiing/

    1. Ah nice review! I feel like I probably should have reviewed them all, Skiing was by far the best but like you said very frustrating in order to get to the fun part. I never gave up though. I like the comparison to frogger, didn’t think of that! I think frogger had an easier time, Horace just seems a bit reckless 🙂

  2. The Horace games were fab. I have fond memories of playing them as a kid. Got my speccy in 1984 or was it 85… it was a second hand 16k machine that came with loads of games. I remember cycling to a computer shop to have it upgraded to 48k. Those were the days eh? I loved my Speccy!!

    1. I did enjoy playing the Horace games, I managed to play some of the others as well, this is the first time I’ve ever played them though, I never owned a spectrum back in the day. One of my mates had one but we always ended up playing Dizzy instead.

      I have the same great memories of my Amiga. There used to be a shop near where I lived call Bits and Bytes (I think) which sold all manner of Amiga upgrades and accessories. I remember getting a replacement internal disk drive from there as well as the upgrade to 1 meg! Awesome memories 🙂

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