Retro Review: Jet Set Willy

Jet Set Willy

Released: 1984

Publisher: Software Projects

Developer: Software Projects

Over the past few years games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Cuphead have become popular with the general videogame public. They have been celebrated not only because they are great games, but have gained notoriety as they are bloody difficult and provide a stiff challenge. Someone I know once described playing these games as, “like being smashed in the testicles….repeatedly!” Personally I love them not only for the challenge they provide, but also for the sense of achievement when you finally beat a level that you thought you would never complete.

I also think it’s ‘cute’ that quite a lot of people think difficult games were only invented recently with the aforementioned games. I’m 41 years old and have been playing games for most of my life and let me tell you that one such game laughs in the face of any challenge these so called tough games provide!

That game ladies and germs is Jet Set Willy, and that name alone is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many who have been brave enough to press play on the tape!

The aim of the game is simple. Willy has had a wild party resulting in his mansion being turned upside down. All Willy wants to do is go to bed but his evil housekeeper Maria won’t let him fall asleep until he has cleaned up. Come to think of it, if Willy has a housekeeper then surely it is her job to clean up the house?

The best way to describe Jet Set Willy is by calling it a platform game filled with death at every turn! Touch an enemy, you die. Fall just that bit too far, you die. Even entering a certain room can trigger death. I remember reading in a magazine about this particular incident which was explained as being intentional to make the game more difficult! Are you kidding me?! It was later discovered that it was in fact an accidental bug within the game.

I have very fond memories of playing Jet Set Willy on my ZX Spectrum+. I remember sitting on the living room floor, staring intently at the screen, as the latest pop smash hit, West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys was playing on the radio. That was 33 years ago and I would have been 8 years old! Isn’t it amazing how your memory can recall happy times so vividly? Now I defy anyone to tell me that videogames are a waste of time!

For my recent play through I was expecting Jet Set Willy to be an unplayable mess, but to my surprise and astonishment not only was the game still very much playable, I actually found myself getting more and more enticed by the challenge it provided. Check out the video below to see just how I got on.

Graphics – Bright, colourful and full of bizarre creations that are out to kill you. Jet Set Willy still looks very good. 6

Sound – Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata plays on the intro screen and If I Were a Rich Man plays on loop throughout the game. 4

Playability – To my surprise Jet Set Willy is still very playable which is a credit to just how good the game is. 7

Re-Playability – Although I was harshly reminded just how difficult the game is, I was very surprised how addictive I found it and wanted to try again to find more items. 7

Overall – Jet Set Willy was a massive surprise to me. Yes, it is very difficult indeed and will test the patience of a saint, but it is also still very playable. The more I played it, the more I wanted to try again and do better the next time. 6

Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)