Suminell Studios

Based in Scotland, UK

Release Date:



PC, Mac, iOS & Android


Z-Exemplar is a side-scrolling shooter in the tradition of R-Type, Gradius, Nemesis and other classic arcade games from the past. Borrowing its aesthetic from the computers of yesteryear (specifically the Sinclair ZX Spectrum) Z-Exemplar combines bright, bold, 8-bit pixel art with frantic action and an epic mission to conquer a galaxy of almost 1000 planets.


Z-Exemplar was concieved as a love letter to the ZX Spectrum. Proudly retro, the game embraces the limitations of its 8-bit inspiration to deliver a fast-action, guns-toting, laser-blasting quest with intuitive gameplay and long-lasting appeal.

But it’s not just nostalgia for its own sake.

There is something hugely appealing in the 8-bit aesthetic, something that can be absent in photo-realism. There is space for interpretation, for imagination and a vague assemblage of pixels can evoke in players a different emotion from that engendered by more detailed, distinct images. With the added vibrancy of the ZX Spectrum’s colour palette, this pixellated aesthetic gives Z-Exemplar’s visuals a unique and distinctive feel.

On its surface Z-Exemplar’s gameplay appears simple – shoot anything that moves and collect the booty they leave behind – but the over-arching goal of the game is anything but. The player is tasked with conquering all 961 planets that make up a hostile galaxy with each planet’s defences uniquely configured. As the player explores the outer reaches of the galaxy, the defences become stronger and enemies more lethal and numerous. There is abundant challenge in Z-Exemplar, challenge that grows with the player’s experience.

To turn the battle in their favour the player can access an arsenal of over 20 upgradeable weapons that transform their basic fighter craft into a devsatating war machine. Selecting the right loadout for each planetary battle is essential.

Z-Exemplar is developed by Suminell Studios, a compamy with many years of industry experience in game design and development.


  • 961 Unique planetary battlegrounds

  • 10 Planet themes

  • 21 Awesome Weapon loadouts

  • A galaxy full of secrets

  • Conquest leaderboard – who’ll be first to take over the entire galaxy?

  • Hundereds of enemy types

  • End-of-level bosses

  • Authentic 8-bit pixel art style

  • Soundtrack by renowned ZX Spectrum chiptune musician MovieMovies1


Ed Campbell

Interview by Peter Ward

What is your first gaming experience?

My first gaming experience was probably on the Atari 2600. I remember playing games like Combat, Pitfall and Space Invaders to death when I was pretty young.4b68f9_51f2a19241e8448ca8ac7dc9cdfcc37f

What got you into programming games?

My parents bought me ZX81 for my Christmas and it came with a few games written in BASIC that you could “break into” and examine the lines of instructions that made the thing work. It was my first experience of seeing behind the curtain, as it were, and it wasn’t long before I was copying bits of BASIC and building my own (way too ambitious for 1K of memory) games. Soon after I got a ZX Spectrum which had mind blowing array of colours (15) and more memory than anyone could ever hope to fill (48K) so I continued to create my still overly ambitious projects on that.4b68f9_f05e2d033c76415f83450fd2ec7b17b2

What development tools  or coding did you use?

I never really saw myself as a programmer – still don’t. I could never get my head around Z80 assembly language and I was more interested in the art and design side of things. When I was programming on the Spectrum I relied heavily on a program called MCoder 2 which compiled basic into machine code. It could be fiddly but i became pretty adept at it and I’d like to think the games I created back then could have passed for games written in machine code. As for the art side of things I wore out a few keyboard membranes using Melbourne Draw!4b68f9_9641daad89cd422980a810c048d8a2c3

What hurdles did you have making your current game?

My aim with Z-Exemplar was to try and recreate some of the feeling of playing an authentic ZX Spectrum game but without some of the quirks that might not be quite so appealing to gamers today. I guess the main hurdle is trying to strike a balance between keeping it looking speccy-like but also giving it a contemporary feel. I love that pixel art is thriving these days and I hope that people can get onboard with how Z-Exemplar looks and enjoy the game which, ultimately, is what’s most important.4b68f9_fde6d4ca93f1436fa9e5884bc63d7d6f

After the completion of the game what game will you make?

I’m not sure – I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I love the speccy aesthetic and I’d love to make another game in that style but if it turns out nobody wants that then I’ll have to think of something else. I don’t see much point in making games nobody wants to play.4b68f9_efadbc30f8db4c78b333dbdbb9e2d0ed

What other games have you made you made?

I’ve been fortunate to have had some kind of career in games development but I’d say the game I’m probably proudest of is Harlequin which was released on the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in the early 90’s.4b68f9_ebaa67597ad745d1a8b4755571b305ca

My favourite computer was my Amiga and console the Megadrive do you have a favourite?

Probably the ZX Spectrum but I loved the N64 just for the quality of some of the games.4b68f9_c9e510d2991a41e18689f39b32919d2d

What is your favourite retro game?

Is Banjo Kazooie considered retro now? I’m never sure. But if so then it’s Banjo Kazooie. I just feel that game is the pinnacle for the 3D platformer, a genre I love. So many great ideas that are so well executed and there’s a kind of organic feel to the design. Incredible game.4b68f9_aed303387f5341f0b8a2d3d5e3edac8e

Do you still game on the current consoles if so whats your favourite game?

I play games on the Mac mostly these days. The last console I owned was an Xbox 360 and I was a sucker for Fallout 3 and Skyrim – games that I am  utterly in awe of! I am looking forward to eventually getting some free time to invest in Fallout 4.4b68f9_4338151d09094a219e45438b487bd4cc

Whats the worst game you have ever played? 

I’ve made a few clunkers in my time so I shouldn’t really throw stones from inside my glass house, but for the sheer cynicism of it I’d have to say World Cup Carnival of the ZX Spectrum. It was a football game released to coincide with the Mexico ’86 World Cup that came bundled with a mountain of posters and stickers to try and distract you from the fact that it was basically a re-hash of Artic Software’s football game from a few years previous. Pretty bad.4b68f9_732cb11e82de48889f59dfbe6b40c512

Finally what game or feature would you like to see on Retrogamesmaster in the future?

I think Retrogamesmaster does a great job of shining a spotlight on games that may have slipped from memory. You’ve certainly covered a few that I played back in the day but which I’d forgotten about and seeing them again, and reading your experiences of playing them is great fun. So in that respect I’d say keep up the great work.
Also I’d love to see more features on the development teams of the past. I really enjoy the reading the articles on Ocean and Sensible and there are loads more influential teams out there who must have great stories to tell. How about Microsphere or Denton Designs?
We will see what we can do 🙂4b68f9_7ec45b69489d428997d00533fc71f9ca