JET SET WILLY
Review taken from Crash #4 - May 1984
There were rumors that Matthew Smith was a figment of the Liverpool computing mass psyche, or merely a clever code name for a Tandy computer. There were rumors that Matthew Smith didn't actually exist, and that if he did, then Jet Set Willy didn't and wouldn't. So, after all the waiting, was it worth it? In fact, it's probably worthless reviewing Jet Set Willy, since by the time you read this you will probably have already worked out the boots to cheat the game!
The rags to riches story is already well known. Rich from his sub-surbiton mining exploits, Willy has bought a huge mansion with over 60 rooms, most of which he has never seen. There's been a mammoth party and the guests have left the place in a dreadful mess. Willy just want to go to bed, but his housekeeper, the nightmarish Maria, won't let him until every bit and piece has been picked up and tidied away.
It is always difficult to do a sequel to a best-seller. Not only should it have the same style, it should be bigger and better. Jet Set Willy seems to score on all counts. Very sensibly, it is actually a very different game to Manic Miner, much more of an adventure in which the player can move freely between the linking rooms and work out the structure of Willy's strange house.
In keeping with a good adventure, there are some random elements that have been thrown in. In some rooms the hazards may change places, or disappear altogether. Some rooms may not be entered from a particular direction - you lose all your lives, and sometimes that does not happen. In all respects, the creation of all the rooms is exceptional, each with its own peculiarities. Some of them are very hard to solve.
Software Projects have included a complex colour code with the inlay, which must be looked after at all costs, since the game will not run without a correct code entry after loading is completed.
I consider the game not as a follow-up to Manic Miner, but as something quite different. It has a totally different game structure, more interesting graphics - like the swinging ropes that are highly realistic, hopping rabbits, deadly razor blades, wobbling jellies and endless other inventions. Not a single graphic has been taken from Manic Miner, with the exception of Willy himself, now in a natty hat rather than his mining gear. Quite simply, the sound is excellent, the graphics are brill and the colour is great. A classic.
If Manic Miner was maddening, frustrating and fun, then Jet Set Willy should certainly be put on the Governments list of prescribed drugs. The cynical manner in which you are given so many lives to play with is just typical of the extraordinary talent of Matthew Smith - mean through and through! I thought, with so many lives, it must be easy to get a long way. Yet, they disappear before your very eyes.
The detail of the graphics is marvelous. The dreadful Maria with her pointing hand of accusation, the flickering candles, the grinning heads, the leaping security guards, just everything has been worked as far as it can go. If there's no demo in this game, it is because it would spoil the fun of exploring the huge mansion, and besides, I doubt whether there's a nibble left in the memory, let alone a spare byte before tea. Now, I must get back to the Banyan Tree and try again for the tenth damned time in a row to get through....
Jet Set Willy is a high point in the development of the Spectrum Game. I hope there will be others, maybe ones of a different kind, but I'm sure nothing will top this game for addictivity, fluent graphics, responsiveness and sheer imagination. The nightmare quality of the events suggests its author should be receiving therapy. Instead, he's probably getting rich. Good Luck to him....
Last updated: September 12, 2001.
Thanks to Emulation Unlimited for providing the web space.