Jet Set Willy: Following on from his earlier adventure down the mines, this title on the ZX Spectrum was a major leap forward.
Released in 1984 and, again, written by Matthew Smith, the premise this time is that Willy has had rather a heavy night and, instead of letting him go to bed as he crashes home into his mansion at 7am – a mansion bought with the riches earned down the mines the year before, his housemaid Maria won’t let him go to bed until he’s cleaned up and collected all 70+ items strewn about the place. However, most of his abode is unexplored and seems to contain some very odd creatures.
Whereas Manic Miner saw you progress screen by screen, this one broke away from the traditional platform format and allowed you to progress around the playing area as you wish. Over the 60 or so screens, there are, again, baddies which all have their own path and often move at different speeds from one another, of which each is always constant, as well as static items which can kill you if you touch them.
Again, this title features in-game music, and here you’ll be listening to If I Was a Rich Man, as originally sung by Topol in Fiddler on the Roof.
As with Manic Miner, this one is also engaging, frustrating (in a good way), colourful and musical, and one that provoked deep thought. I was 12 at the time and loved it so much that I also got stuck into the unofficial sequels, Jet Set Willy II and Jet Set Willy III.
Back in the day, all ZX Spectrum games were produced on a cassette tape, all of which could be easily copied, so in order to solve the piracy issues, this one came complete with a colour-coded sheet with a grid of 180 colours. After it loads, you would have to correctly enter the code in order for it to actually start. Given how colour printers were an expensive rarity at the time, this sufficed… until a simple POKE was introduced to get around this so you didn’t have to enter any colour at all.
This new release of Jet Set Willy features various options, such as to pretend you’re watching it on an old-style TV set, and there’s even a “winter mode” to ‘blue-ify’ everything, as well as giving the game the infinite lives cheat. Here, there’s a simple option for this, whereas on the ZX Spectrum, you had to type in “WRITETYPER”.
At the time, you had to ensure that you didn’t go forever falling, though, otherwise you’d have to switch off the ZX Spectrum and start again. For this release, you can’t fall too far to your death as that’s been tweaked so you’ll land quite happily.
Overall, Jet Set Willy, like the new version of its predecessor, is also never massively difficult, but – like I said – it’s always engaging. And I can say it’s not difficult now when I’m playing with infinite lives…
This is also a must-buy and a title to wow your kids with.
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- Publisher: Elite Systems
- Price: 240 MS points (approx £2.00) (Xbox 360)
- Players: 1
- HDTV options: 720p/1080i/1080p
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.