Jet Set Willy
|Jet Set Willy|
|Composer(s)||Rob Hubbard (Atari)|
|Platform(s)||Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 16, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, MSX, MTX, PMD 85, TI-99/4A, Xbox 360, ZX Spectrum|
Jet Set Willy is a platform video game originally written by Matthew Smith for the ZX Spectrum home computer. It was published in 1984 by Software Projects and ported to most home computers of the time.
The game is a sequel to Manic Miner published in 1983, and the second game in the Miner Willy series. It spent over three months at the top of the charts and was the UK's best-selling home video game of 1984.
A tired Miner Willy has to tidy up all the items left around his house after a huge party. With this done, his housekeeper Maria will let him go to bed. Willy's mansion was bought with the wealth obtained from his adventures in Manic Miner, but much of it remains unexplored and it appears to be full of strange creatures, possibly a result of the previous (missing) owner's experiments. Willy must explore the enormous mansion and its grounds (including a beach and a yacht) to fully tidy up the house so he can get some much-needed sleep.
Jet Set Willy is a flip-screen platform game in which the player moves the protagonist, Willy, from room to room in his mansion collecting objects. Unlike the screen-by-screen style of its prequel, the player can explore the mansion at will. Willy is controlled using only left, right and jump. He can climb stairs by walking into them (jumping through them to avoid them) and climb swinging ropes by pushing left or right depending on what direction the rope is swinging. The play area itself consists of 60 playable screens making up the mansion and its grounds and contains hazards (static killer objects), guardians (killer monsters which move along predetermined paths), various platforms and collectable objects. The collectable items glow to distinguish them from other objects in the room.
Willy loses a life if he touches a hazard or guardian or falls too far. He is returned to the point at which he entered the room, which may lead to a game-ending situation where Willy repeatedly falls from a height or unavoidably collides with a guardian, losing all lives in succession.
One of the more bizarrely named rooms in the game is We Must Perform a Quirkafleeg. (On some versions it is misspelled We Must Peform a Quirkafleeg. The pre-release name for the screen was The Gaping Pit.) This is a reference to the comic strip Fat Freddy's Cat, a spin-off from the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers; in the original comic, the quirkafleeg was an obscure ritual in a foreign country, required to be performed upon the sight of dead furry animals.
Music on the Spectrum version is Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for the menu, and Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" during the game itself. Early versions played "If I Were a Rich Man" as the in-game music, but this had to be removed when the publishers of the song demanded £36,000 for its use.
Upon release, the game could not be completed due to several bugs. Although four completely unrelated issues, they became known collectively as "The Attic Bug". After entering The Attic screen, various rooms would undergo corruption for all subsequent playthroughs, including all monsters disappearing from The Chapel screen, and other screens triggering a game over. This was caused by an error in the path of an arrow in The Attic, resulting in the sprite traveling past the end of the Spectrum's video memory and overwriting crucial game data instead. Initially Software Projects attempted to pass this bug off as an intentional feature to make the game more difficult, claiming that the rooms in question were filled with poison gas. However, they later rescinded this claim and issued a set of POKEs to correct the flaws.
Despite these bugs, Ross Holman and Cameron Else won the competition that Software Projects had set for completion of Jet Set Willy and provided Software Projects with a set of bug fixes. Software Projects then hired Cameron Else to port both Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy to the MSX.
In the final issue of Your Sinclair, the ZX Spectrum version was ranked number 32 on "The Your Sinclair Official Top 100 Games of All Time", and voted number 33 on "The Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time." In 2004, the ZX Spectrum version was voted the 6th best game all of time by Retro Gamer readers in an article originally intended for a special issue of Your Sinclair bundled with Retro Gamer.
Jet Set Willy came with a form of copy protection: a card with 180 coloured codes on it was bundled with the cassette. Upon loading, one of the codes from the card had to be entered before the game would start. Although the cassette could be duplicated, a copy of the card was also needed and at the time, home colour reproduction was difficult, making Jet Set Willy harder to copy than most Spectrum games. However, means of circumventing the card were quickly found, and one method was published in a UK computer magazine.
The original releases of Jet Set Willy for the BBC Micro and the Commodore 64 also contained bugs which made it impossible to complete the game. In the Commodore 64 version, it was impossible to reach all of the items in the Wine Cellar.
There are two versions of the original Jet Set Willy for the MSX. The Software Projects version that was sold in the UK is dated 1984 and was programmed by Cameron Else, co-winner of the Jet Set Willy competition. The other version was published by Hudson Soft in 1985 as a Bee Card in Japan.
A port of Jet Set Willy for the Atari 8-bit family of computers was released by Tynesoft in 1986. It received generally poor reviews which criticised inferior graphics and animation; however, Rob Hubbard's theme music, unique to this version, was considered a highlight. Like the Spectrum version, it was impossible to complete but for different reasons. Some of the legitimate items that were needed caused the player to lose a life (e.g. the bottles in the Off Licence).
Jet Set Willy: The Final Frontier, an expanded version for the Amstrad CPC, was later converted back to the ZX Spectrum and released as Jet Set Willy II. Both the original game and Jet Set Willy II were released for the BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, MSX, Commodore 16 and Commodore 64.
A differently expanded version of Jet Set Willy was released for the Dragon 32/64, with extra rooms. This version could also not be completed as it was impossible to traverse The Drive in a right-to-left direction, which was necessary to return to bed after collecting all the items. The game could, however, be completed using a built-in cheat, accessed by holding down the keys M, A and X simultaneously, allowing you to start Willy from any position on any screen, using the arrow keys and spacebar.
In its original Spectrum version, the rooms themselves are stored in a straightforward format, with no compression, making it relatively easy to create customised versions of the game.
The review of JSW in issue 4 of Your Spectrum included a section entitled "JSW — A Hacker's Guide"; remarks in this section imply that the author had successfully deduced at least some of the data structures, since he was able to remove sections of wall in the Master Bedroom. The following year, issue 13 contained a program that added an extra room ("April Showers") to the game, and issue 15 described the data formats in detail.
Several third-party editing tools were published between 1984 and 1986, allowing players to design their own rooms and sprites.
The following platform games are in the same mould as the Miner Willy series with the purpose of the game being to collect objects to complete the scenes in the game.
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- "Crash Magazine". Jetset Willy Preview. Newsfield Publications (3): 24–25. April 1984.
The biggest gaping pit you've ever had to swing across
- Carroll, Martyn. "The Making of Jet Set Willy". Retro Gamer. No. 150. Imagine Publishing. pp. 74–77.
- http://skoolkit.ca/disassemblies/jet_set_willy/reference/bugs.html JetSet Willy bugs
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- http://www.retroreview.com/iang/ManicMiner/MSX/JSW_Inlay_Rear.jpg MSX cassette inlay stating "MSX conversion by Cameron Else"
- Nash, Dennis, ed. (September 1993). "Let the People Decide! The Results". Your Sinclair. Vol. 1, no. 93. Future Publishing. pp. 11–12 – via Internet Archive.
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- Aycock, J. and Reinhard, A. 2017 Copy Protection in Jet Set Willy: developing methodology for retrogame archaeology, Internet Archaeology 45. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.45.2
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- http://www.jdawiseman.com/papers/games/jsw2/jsw2_programmer_comments.html Programmer comments on JSW2 — Steve Wetherill and Derrick P. Rowson
- "Jet Set Willy Remakes : Dragon 32/64". Jswremakes.emuunlim.com. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
- "Archimedes port based on Dragon 32 code". Jswremakes.emuunlim.com. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
- "April Showers", Your Spectrum, Issue 13, April 1985
- "Interior Decorating", Your Spectrum, Issue 15, June 1985
- Jet Set Willy at SpectrumComputing.co.uk