Jet Set Willy

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Jet Set Willy
JetSet.jpg
Developer(s) Software Projects
Publisher(s)
Designer(s) Matthew Smith
Composer(s) Rob Hubbard (Atari)
Series Miner Willy
Platform(s) ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Commodore 64, Commodore 16, Dragon 32, Atari 8-bit, MSX, Amstrad CPC, MTX, TI-99/4A, PMD 85
Release
  • 1984: Spectrum
  • 1986: Atari
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single player

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 is the second game in the Miner Willy series. It was a significant development in the platform game genre on the home computer.[according to whom?]

Plot[edit]

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 allow him access to his bedroom. 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.

Gameplay[edit]

Miner Willy in the Cold Store
From the ZX Spectrum version

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 an enemy or falls too far, and he is returned to the point at which he entered the room. This may lead to a game-ending situation in which Willy repeatedly falls from a height, losing all lives in succession.

One of the more bizarrely named rooms in the game is We Must Perform A Quirkafleeg.[1] (The pre-release name for the screen was The Gaping Pit.)[1] 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[edit]

Music on the Spectrum version is Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for the menu, and "If I Were a Rich Man" during the game itself. Early release versions played Grieg's "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" as in-game music.[citation needed]

Music on the C64 version was Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata during loading, and J.S. Bach - Inventions # 1 during gameplay.

Bugs[edit]

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."[2] After entering The Attic screen, various rooms would undergo corruption for all subsequent playthroughs, including all monsters disappearing from The Chapel level, 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,[3] 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.[4][5]

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.[3] Software Projects then hired Cameron Else to port both Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy to the MSX.[6]

Reception[edit]

Reviewing Jet Set Willy for Your Spectrum magazine in June 1984, Sue Denham wrote that the game was "every bit as good and refreshing as the original".[3]

The game was number one in the UK Spectrum sales chart for several months, until it was replaced by Sabre Wulf.[7] The ZX Spectrum version was voted the 6th best game of all time in a special issue of Your Sinclair magazine in 2004.[8]

The game was included on the 1985 compilation They Sold a Million,[9] along with Beach-Head, Daley Thompson's Decathlon and Sabre Wulf.

Copy protection[edit]

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,[10] 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.[11]

Ports[edit]

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—though different bugs to the Spectrum version. In the Commodore 64 version, it was impossible to reach all of the items in the Wine Cellar.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] The other version was published by Hudson Soft in 1985 as a Bee Card in Japan.[citation needed]

A port of Jet Set Willy for the Atari 8-bit family of computers was released by Tynesoft in 1986.[12] 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.[13][14] 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).

Ports from Software Projects for the Amiga and Atari ST were cancelled before release.[citation needed]

Legacy[edit]

Expanded versions[edit]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.

The Dragon port was itself converted to run on the Acorn Archimedes computers. Better collision detection meant that "The Drive" could now be completed right-to-left, unlike on the Dragon.[17]

Third-party modifications[edit]

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.[3] The following year, issue 13 contained a program that added an extra room ("April Showers") to the game,[1][18] and issue 15 described the data formats in detail.[19]

Several third-party editing tools were published between 1984 and 1986, allowing players to design their own rooms and sprites.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c We must perform a quirkafleeg — Game meets comic. (Juckes, Russ. "Fat Freddy's Cat #5 — The Quirkafleeg". Retrieved 2006-09-07. )
  2. ^ [1] JetSet Willy bugs
  3. ^ a b c d "Join the Jet Set". Your Spectrum (4): 60–65. June 1984. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  4. ^ "Jet Set Willy Solved!". Personal Computer Games (8): 21. July 1984. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  5. ^ "Attic Attacked!". Your Spectrum (6): 5. August 1984. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  6. ^ [2] MSX cassette inlay stating "MSX conversion by Cameron Else"
  7. ^ https://wos.meulie.net/pub/sinclair/magazines/C+VG/Issue035/Pages/CVG03500018.jpg
  8. ^ "Top 50 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair. Imagine Publishing. November 2004. 
  9. ^ https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/index.php?cat=96&id=11371
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ "Your letters: getting in #1" Your Computer, Issue 6, Page 42, June 1984
  12. ^ "Jet Set Willy". Atari Mania. 
  13. ^ "Jet Set Willy game review". Atari User. March 1987. 
  14. ^ Short, Jim (March–April 1987). "Jet Set Willy". Page 6 magazine (26). 
  15. ^ [3] Programmer comments on JSW2 — Steve Wetherill and Derrick P. Rowson
  16. ^ "Jet Set Willy Remakes : Dragon 32/64". Jswremakes.emuunlim.com. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  17. ^ "Archimedes port based on Dragon 32 code". Jswremakes.emuunlim.com. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  18. ^ "April Showers", Your Spectrum, Issue 13, April 1985
  19. ^ "Interior Decorating", Your Spectrum, Issue 15, June 1985

External links[edit]