There were rumours that Matthew Smith was a figment of the Liverpool computing mass psyche, or merely a clever code name for a Tandy computer. There were rumours that Matthew Smith didn't really 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 even 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 wants to go to bed, but his housekeeper, the nightmarish Martha, 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.
Control keys: alternate keys row Q to P left/right. SHIFT to SPACE for jump
Joystick: pointless having one, keyboard is much better
Keyboard play: highly responsive, but watch the tight spots, which have been purposely made as finicky as possible
Use of colour: excellent
Skill levels: how nimble are your fingers?
'I consider this 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, bobbing 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 Government's list of proscribed 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, well with so many lives it must be easy to get a long way. Yet they just disappear before your very eyes. The detail of the graphics is marvellous. 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, yet 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...'
MANIC MINER was one of last year's classic Spectrum games and now programmer Matthew Smith has brought Willy back again in an equally zany sequel, Jet Set Willy. Willy is living the decadent life after striking it rich down the mine but his housekeeper revolts after one party too many and will not let Willy go to bed until he has cleared all the mess.
So you have to guide the debauched playboy round his enormous mansion full of lethal traps and the strange blend of domestic and diabolic mayhem we might expect from Smith on previous form.
It is worth the initial trouble. The graphics are clear, fast-moving, and varied, depicting ghosts, mad monks and animated toilet seats with equal smoothness and precision. Tactics need to be varied as well; only quick reactions will save you from the predatory security guards, whereas forethought is required to negotiate your way through the hazards of the giant Megatree or the unspeakable menace in the kitchens.
Software Projects offers a case of champagne to the first person to solve the game.
Joystick: AGF, Protek, Kempston, ZX, Soundstik
IS THIS THE NEXT NO. ONE?
Manic Miner strikes again! That genius of the bizarre, Matthew Smith, the programmer behind the C&VG Golden Joystick winner, Manic Miner, has come up with another original game. Everyone has been waiting for the sequel to Matthew's top selling Spectrum game with bated breath. Could it match up to the quality and playability of Manic Miner? Well, the answer is most definitely a resounding yes!
Miner Willy is the star of this game - but he's no longer lost in a mysterious mine. With all the money he made down the mine, Willy has purchased a vast mansion in Surbiton. Why Surbiton? Don't ask me, ask Matthew!
Willy isn't mean with his newfound wealth either - he has huge parties in his new home with hundred of friends who 'really' know how to enjoy themselves.
They often leave the place in quite a mess, however, and Maria, Willy's fiery Italian housekeeper, gets really upset about this. This new Willy epic begins after one of these big parties. Maria has finally put her foot down and won't let poor Willy get to bed until he's cleared up the house! Maria stands at the doorway of the master bedroom and won't let Willy past the threshold until he has picked up every glass and bottle in the place.
Now, Willy's mansion is massive and there are places and rooms which even he - an intrepid explorer - hasn't seen yet.
So there you have it - you control the top-hatted Willy on his quest through the weird rooms of his mansion searching for the glasses and bottles left lying around by his untidy mates.
Jet Set Willy has well over 60 screens - all different - featuring Matthew's wonderful graphic oddities. Watch out for the ballet-dancing rabbit and the penguins in the cold room. Graphic masterpieces in their own right.
There are also some refugees from Manic Miner among the odd creatures to be found - but spotting them yourself is half the fun.
The game is just too big for this reviewer to take in in the limited time available to look at the game - but I'm certain this game is going to be a winner, I found it much easier to get into than Manic Miner. The controls are extremely simple - just three keys for left right and jump. You can also move from screen to screen without having to complete a task first - a bonus when you want to find out what's coming next!
Software Projects have come up with an original anti-piracy device to protect their latest blockbuster. It's a card with a coloured grid pattern. When you load the game, the computer comes up with a random location which corresponds to a square on the grid. You have to key in the colour code before you can play the game. This routine has to be carried out each time you play the game. Will it stop the pirates? We don't know - but it will certainly make life more difficult for them.
All this and a great competition too! The first person to discover just how many glasses Willy has to collect before he is allowed to get to bed will win a case of champagne and a helicopter ride over his or her home town.
Jet Set Willy is bound to be up among the top ten in the C&VG Daily Mirror software charts before very long - and I confidently predict that Matthew Smith and Software Projects have got another number one on their hands.
Jet Set Willy is available now from Software Projects of Liverpool and is a bargain at £5.50.
GREAT GAME, BUT...
MAKER: Software Projects
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
Jet Set Willy arrived at the Big K office late (thanks a bunch, SP), the prerogative you might say of the micro scene's cosmic megastar. However, this put me in the unenviable task of trying to review a game that, as I write, is already Number One (with a bullet!) in most of the game charts. I guess that neatly disposes of the questions, will you like it and will it be a success!
So, for the few who've recently returned from swan-upping in darkest Belgium, here we have the second appearance of Miner Willy, fresh from his starring role in the Bug-Byte/Software Projects mega-hit Manic Miner.
Willy mates his elegant reappearance on the cover of Jet Set Wily, head down the lav in a graffiti-covered bathroom (tasteful, SP), his non-NCB approved wellies akimbo. The premise, it seems, is that Willy has become so stinking rich from the fortune he discovered in Manic Miner that he has bought himself a huge mansion and thrown the mother of all parties.
The party's over and Willy wants to crawl into bed (and die?) but his housekeeper inststs he collects every glass and bottle eh in the mansion before he can do so.
The stage is set for Willy to take off on another sojourn through the strange mind of Matthew Smith as each room he enters (and there are around 60) is some incredible carnival of moving things, hazards and rewards. In this respect it is identical to Manic Miner. All you have to do is keep Willy moving and try to jump over any traps or dangers. Use up all his lives and it's The Foot (unclad this time) for you, my lad.
The major disappointment for me was the lack of demo mode. SP claim Jet Set Willy is a "Total Graphics Adventure" (say what?) and are offering a Big Prize to the first person who cracks it. All well and good, but at least no-hopers like myself who can only manage about half a dozen screens had the chance of seeing the full range of Matthew Smith's lunacy on MM. Any kind soul out there want to tell me what I'm missing?
That said, Jet Set Will is a worthy successor to Manic Miner. The graphics, animation and sound are as good as, if not better than the original. Maria, the housekeeper, in particular, is superbly characterised. The way she taps her foot as Willy approaches his bed and then points an accusing finger towards the mess he has to clear up is brilliant.
Okay, compliments out of the way - let's talk about the security system on Jet Set Willy.
Software companies are of course going to fight the serious piracy problem in any way they can and I support them in the fight, but the hare-brained system in use on JSW isn't going to help anyone!
A small, inlay-sized card containing 180 different 4-colour combinations comes with each copy of JSW. Once loaded the program asks for the particular combination at column X, row y on the card. The user then has to search out that combination and key it in. You only get two attempts before the program wipes itself! There's no way you can erase a mistake.
The system fails on two levels. First, the card is too small and the print quality so bad that it is difficult to distinguish between a red and a magenta even if you have good eyesight. Secondly the system takes no account of people who are colour blind or who may be playing on black and white sets.
The system is a hindrance and I'm sure will discourage people playing JSW as often as they'd really like. A shame that a program of this quality and popularity should inhibit the majority of honest, fur-loving hackers on account of the actions of the minority of rip-off merchants.
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
SUPPLIER: Software Projects
Ever since the Spectrum classic Manic Miner took the nation by storm, excitement has been mounting over the promised follow-up. It took ages to come. But it's here at last. And it's sensational.
Jet Set Willy doesn't simply offer more of Miner Willy's whacky exploits, it brings an entirely new game idea to Britain's micros.
Just suppose that after gaining fabulous wealth from his mine, Miner Willy decides to build himself a fabulous seaside mansion featuring no less than 60 rooms and other locations.
Suppose that each of these locations was a kind of obstacle course filling the entire screen and featuring platforms, swinging ropes, conveyor belts and a large number of bizarre creatures to be avoided at all costs.
And just suppose that Willy has to move round this mansion collecting objects from each room.
Yes. you guessed. That's the scenario of Jet Set Willy.
The game starts with Willy in the bath after a mad party. You're told that all he wants to do is go to bed. But there, barring the way to the bed stands Willy's Housekeeper Maria.
What a vast and marvellous creature he is. She stands there tapping her foot, and if Willy moves toward her she raises one arm in a gesture whose meaning is unmistakable: 'You may not pass.' Why not? Because the mansion is in a mess after the party.
So before Willy can get to bed he must go round the entire place collecting all the the dirty glasses and other objects littering the rooms. Off he sets on a task which turns out to be rather a lot to expect from a chap suffering a hangover.
The major criticism of Manic Miner was that, despite its 20 different fun packed screens of action, you could get frustrated by having to work through the screens in the same order each time. You would reach a new screen, rapidly lose your lives, and then have to spend 20 minutes getting back there again.
Jet Set Willy's brilliance is that you can take the action any which way you like. Most of the locations have several different entrances and you can wander into and out of a room without necessarily risking your life to collect the objects it contains.
Of course all the objects have to be collected in the end, but you can decide in what order you collect them. There is one exception to this, caused by a program bug. Entering the attic will make it fatal for you to try to enter certain other locations. You can still complete the game by reserving the attic until last - but it remains a significant blemish which Software Projects must correct as soon as possible.
I was able to find 50 of the 60 rooms without too much difficulty, and they're linked to each other in a logical way which makes it possible (indeed essential) to draw a map of the mansion.
Another feature which makes the game superior to Manic Miner, is that the action in each location is not necessarily self-contained.
For example there is an object in a location called the Banyan Tree which seems impossible to reach, until you realise that to get it, you must use a different entrance. By looking at the map of the house which you've been drawing, you can see that the entrance must be reached through the ceiling of the West Kitchen.
Sure enough the West Kitchen does have a platform from which you could leap through the ceiling - but it's impossible to reach. To do so you have to go first to the Main Kitchen. And so it goes on.
In fact, what programmer Matthew Smith has done is to produce the first game which combines the zany action of the platform games with the complexity and intrigue of an adventure.
When you take a walk through the mansion he's created you'll see why it's been months in the making. Not all of the 60 locations have the same complexity as the screens of Manic Miner, but the place is astonishing nonetheless.
Moving downstairs and east you will come across a ballroom, hall, front door, security guard, drive, a mega-tree, bridge and eventually an off-licence. To the west lie kitchens, a cold store, a tool shed, and eventually a beach and yacht. Elsewhere in the mansion you will find a swimming pool, wine cellar, attic, chapel and a series of roofs and battlements.
The action on the battlements is a take-off of the game Hunchback, complete with guards armed with spears, flying arrows and swinging ropes. Buy Jet Set Willy, and you get Hunchback thrown in for nothing!
Special mention must be made of these ropes, which also appear in several other locations. They swing in the most realistic way you've ever seen and as well as jumping on and off them, you can also climb up and down.
Incidentally, all of Willy's stupendous daredevil feats are achieved with the use of just three control keys - left, right and jump. No knotted fingers here.
In order to fit the program into 48K, the same creatures appear in several different locations. But they are still a remarkable collection, including chefs with waggling knives, rolling eggs, birds, grimacing faces, scorpions, rotating razor blades and a vacuum cleaner.
With this crew protecting the various objects. It's not surprising that Software Projects are offering a large amount of champagne and a helicopter encounter with Matthew to the first person who can collect them all and retire Willy to bed.
And in view of the huge piracy problem, it's also not surprising that they've included a clever protection scheme in which you have to enter a colour code off a card before you can start the game. The idea is that it's harder to copy the card than to copy the program, but easy to imagine people buying the game losing the card, and getting very, very annoyed.
That's a risk you'll have to take because this game is one you simply can't afford to miss. Enter Willy's mansion. And begin the whackiest, craziest adventure of your life.
SURBITON MILLIONAIRE JET SETS ON TO SCREEN
In the beginning was Manic Miner, the game with the potential to break up more friendships and families than any others. Obsessed players, with eyes for nothing but Miner Willy and the mines beneath Surbiton, played all day and all night long.
Now there is Jet Set Willy, which is more fun, more enjoyable and more addictive than almost any game on the market. It is so addictive that not only did our review department play it for hours but members of our circulation and advertising departments remained after hours to play.
Willy, having made his fortune in the mines beneath Surbiton, must clean up his mansion after a wild party before his housekeeper will allow him to go to bed. Each room contains an obstacle course and various enemies to be avoided. Superbly animated characters fill each room, each posing a threat to the miner. The game is also a form of maze, for some rooms may be reached only by a long and tortuous route. Other rooms, such as the wine cellar and the yacht, need very exact timing to make escape possible.
At first sight the pace of the game is sedate. Willy strolls along, bounces gently upwards, and reaches for the litter strewn round the house. Meanwhile the security guards, demons and revolving peardrops move relentlessly onwards and the hapless player hammers at the keys.
There can be months of enjoyment from this original and brilliant game. Any Spectrum owner willing to sacrifice sleep and peace of mind should rush out and buy it immediately.
Jet Set Willy is produced for the 48K Spectrum by Software Projects, Bear Brand Complex, Allerton Road, Woolton, Liverpool. It costs £5.95.
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