Badge Design: Nigel Kellaway, 2023

Category: Video Games, Celebration


Badge size is 25mm diameter. Each badge comes packed with a collectible card design. Delivery to UK destinations is included in the price.

In the summer holidays of 1983 I walked into my local library on a sunny afternoon and spotted some boys from my school huddled around a portable TV, tapping away at a small rubber-keyed box.

On the TV was a game. I was transfixed.

Everything I saw filled me with excitement. The design, the sounds, the movement but mostly the fluidity of the game they were playing. Finally, the video games we could play at home were catching up with the games we played in the arcades.

That game, played on a ZX Spectrum computer, was Jetpac. Later I became obsessed with the company that made it. I bought most of their future releases rather than waiting for pirated copies in the school playground. And I played them obsessively until completion.

The company, Ultimate Play the Game, was based in an exotic-sounding town called Ashby-de-la- Zouch. Like all interesting things, Ultimate was vague, mysterious and obscure like a reclusive pop group or author with ads in magazines that gave nothing away. (One of the reasons for their lack of communication was because they were working flat out making the games.)

By December 1983 my brother and I reached the ground-breaking decision to pool our Christmas present requests so we could get a 48k ZX Spectrum (£125 in John Menzies) to share and play games on, but also of course to fight and argue over whose turn it was to play.

I haven’t played Jetpac for years, or the other games they made, my favourites being Atic Atac, Lunar Jetman and Sabre Wulf, but I still have some of the beautiful game boxes that Ultimate produced. They’ve outlived the technology of their contents.

You can find out a lot about Jetpac online - the Stamper brothers who started the company, what they did next and how that eventually led to GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64.

We spent a lot of time with the ZX Spectrum watching game-loading screens and praying that the game would load without crashing. Sometimes hours were lost adjusting volume levels on the tape deck but still games failed to load.

The tiny computer had no internal hard drive so you had to reload everything when you wanted to switch to a different game. We resorted to recording our high scores in a notebook because there was no way to save them.

These days, it’s hard to remember how clunky technology was back then. It just about worked, but we were willing to put up with lots of hassle so we could play exciting games at home.