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"Putting it all into retrospective!"
Jet Set Willy

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Jet Set Willy

Software Projects (1984)

Synopsis

Willy's had a party, and the mansion is a wreck! Not only that, his housemaid decides she's not going to do the cleaning, or give the owner of the mansion (that's you!) his bedroom key until he tidies up the place.

We're sending you back.. to the bedroom!


Graphics

Pros:

Colourful graphics, good looking title screen.


Cons:

Overlapping sprites causes colour inversions to appear.





Sound

Pros:

The best in-game music and sounds of the bunch.


Cons:

Title music is a little too sombre.





Gameplay

Pros:

A large variety of rooms to navigate through to keep you going.


Cons:

Computer returns you to where you died ‐ not helpful at all.




Graphics

Pros:

Sprites do not clash as per the remaining versions.


Cons:

But some of the colour schemes kinda look dull.





Sound

Pros:

The title screen has the better music score.


Cons:

In-game sounds are sparse and delicate.





Gameplay

Pros:

The longevity comes with the vast array of rooms you will discover.


Cons:

You need to be highly accurate with the placement of your jumps.




Graphics

Pros:

Again, another colourful outing on the Speccy.


Cons:

The colours can be a little on the garish side though.





Sound

Pros:

The music can be turned off.


Cons:

It's the most bizarre version of "If I Were A Rich Man" to date!





Gameplay

Pros:

There's much to explore with a seemingly greater difficulty level.


Cons:

A bug means you can lose all your lives in one go.



Miner Discrepancies!




The follow up to the classic Manic Miner is based within and around a sprawling mansion that Willy must tidy up by collecting objects scattered around the place. His disgruntled housemaid has the key to Willy's bedroom and she won't return it until he's cleaned up.


Bemusing Triangle!

This is the game where the protaganist would much rather walk around his mansion, where peril meets him in every room, rather than lay off his paid housekeeper for withholding the key to his bedroom. Go figure!


The title screens of the Spectrum and Amstrad both include a colourful version of the impossible Penrose triangle. The Amstrad title screen also includes a nice scroll feature but the text is so fast that it's difficult to keep up with important things, like what the game keys are that you'll need to press! Also, the Spectrum's title screen goes incredibly mad after a short set period and is clearly unsympathetic to those who are epileptic. Unfortunately, the Commodore title screen is nothing but sorry looking green and brown eponymous text.


Things do look up for the Commodore on the title screen, in that the music excels from its infamous SID chip fleshing out the best of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The Amstrad's version is a slower, more sombre affair that you might expect at a funeral parlour with the musical direction of Richard Clayderman. Music from the Spectrum is the complete opposite with a collection of random notes that somehow hit the right spots at least 65% of the time at Benny Hill speed.

The [c64] colour palette looks to be some kind of homage to George & Mildred's wallpaper

Onto the main game, and what set Jet Set Willy apart from its contemporaries was that the screens didn't have to be completed in linear fashion. Instead, you could pick and choose which screen to complete in any order.


Nope, I'm off!

Straight into the second screen of the Spectrum there is a bug that means if you fall down the bottom of the screen then you'll be placed back into the same position upon receiving a new life. This has the effect of making you automatically lose all of your lives in succession. Unfortunately, this is not a one-off, which means that you quickly lose your confidence about being able to complete the game!


Enter the Commodore and Amstrad experiences and you're placed within a different starting location - The Bathroom, which is a much easier starting point. Aside from the interface that indicates how many lives you have left, the main game screen on the Amstrad appears to have been ported directly across from planet Spectrum. The Commodore's graphics appear to be better produced, however the colour palette looks to be some kind of homage to George & Mildred's wallpaper.


Willy has to avoid a number of enemies, such as moving razor blades, barrels, toilets and a chicken egg that rolls from one end of the screen to the other, as chicken eggs often do! This was just a sign of the times. We often played games back then whereby the villains were quirky hybrid household objects such as flying toasters! Whoever said the eighties weren't a time of class and sophistication?


For me, the Spectrum is the most difficult version to traverse. It seems to be littered with bugs that leave you far from any real longing to keep on playing. Similarly, the remaining platforms are the Buffy nightmare equivalent compared to the Spectrum's Freddy Krueger.


One flew over the cuckoo's nest!

Simple things, such as trying to pass a staircase instead of going up it, can leave you stranded for ages. Maybe there's a knack to doing this, but it beats me. I can still remember the frustration of playing this as a teenager and trying not to yell out like Rambo and wishing I could shoot up the computer with my joystick. I thought it was perhaps my lack of teenage patience but, lo, it was not!


Although it's an undeniable classic, and I hate having to end the review on this note, I would probably have to get it put down if it was an animal. It's simply far too riddled with bugs and, for most of the time, the call for expert timing is far too great. And when you think you've done a great job of passing through 15 levels without fault, something comes along to suddenly take all your precious lives from you.




Graphics

The graphics were not Jet Set Willy's greatest asset, but at least they are fun!


Sound

Nice in-game track on the Amstrad, but other versions are like white noise. The Commodore's Moonlight Sonata title music is the most favourable.


Gameplay

It's a really difficult game to get into, often requiring pixel-perfect timing. Jumping onto stairs and ropes was always my bug-bear, and sadly it still is!


Overall

It did always throw me why this game was so popular. True, there is a lot of ground to cover, but I find it still so incredibly frustrating to play.



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Comments

Deserved a better score than that I think. It was one of the most popular games of its time.

Platform Winners

Overall Ranking

49

18th Place

Our lowest rated game of 1984

Our lowest rated platform game

Screenshots

...click here to enlarge

ROMs

Amstrad: download
Commodore: download
Spectrum: download

Video Review

Pixel8Games'pick of 1984