Jet Set Willy
| Jet Set Willy

Miner Willy is painfully aware of the consequences of consuming too much ale. He emerges from his slumber one fateful morning to find his beloved mansion in absolute disarray, thanks to the colossal party held the previous evening. His strict housekeeper sternly orders him to tidy away several valuable items (why he doesn't just order her to do it is never disclosed) and so the adventure begins.

Jet Set Willy is the zany creation of Matthew Smith – 8-bit programming legend and original 'wild child' of the home micro scene. The game originally appeared on the Sinclair Spectrum way back in mists of time (1984, to be exact) and was released to rave reviews and massive sales.

Containing 60 screens of platforming malarkey, Jet Set Willy was ported to all the major systems of the time but amazingly never received a proper sequel, as Smith seemingly went AWOL.

This mobile edition of Jet Set Willy has been given a massive facelift, bringing the visuals up to modern (phone) standards. The horrendous colour-clash and single colour sprites of the Spectrum version are nowhere to be seen, replaced by some highly detailed characters and lovely, high-resolution backgrounds. It certainly ranks as one of the most attractive mobile phone titles of recent memory.

The gameplay meanwhile remains practically unchanged – which is either a blessing or a curse, depending entirely on your viewpoint. Fans of the original will be over the moon as the port is tremendously faithful (right down to the infamous 'infinite death' feature), but those of you unfamiliar with the exploits of Miner Willy will no doubt wonder what all the fuss is about.

Let's not beat about the bush – Willy is proper old skool video gaming. If you remember the days when you had to push 'up' on the joystick to jump, it's time for some regression, folks. If you don't, you're in for a shock. Jet Set Willy is that kind of game.

True, the developer has kind-heartedly acknowledged that games have evolved over the past two decades by including a 'jump' key, but regardless of this 'innovation' you will still find yourself jumping at the most inopportune moments, thanks to the fact the D-pad control is mapped accurately to the original Spectrum specification.

The general aim of Willy is to collect various precious items while avoiding contact with the gloriously deranged selection of enemy sprites – everything from possessed Swiss Army knives to demonic bouncing balls are featured. Willy is obviously something of a pacifist as he lacks any offensive options – evasion is the only choice open to him. This makes for a tense, skill-dependent gaming experience, where timing and patience are paramount.

Many will thrive in this environment, while others will be tearing their hair out as they find themselves restarting the same room several times over because they misjudged a particular jump or failed to spot an advancing enemy. It's all a matter of preference, of course, but it's blatantly clear that Willy plays very much like a product of its era.

The gameplay can be incredibly frustrating, and short of negotiating a few tricky jumps and avoiding some lethal baddies, there isn't really much to it. Obviously, back in the days of the Spectrum, where gamers would play a game endlessly purely because they'd been forced to save their precious pocket money up for weeks in order to purchase it, Willy was challenging and exciting. Standards have moved on since then.

Regardless of this, the game remains mildly diverting mobile entertainment. Those of you holding dear memories of jumping around Willy's mansion back in your tender youth will be more than happy with the quality of the conversion. To anyone who doesn't possess these vital nostalgic feelings, Jet Set Willy will probably leave you annoyed and bemused. But mostly annoyed.

Jet Set Willy

Fans of Miner Willy will no doubt be tickled pink by this improved port, but everyone else should look elsewhere for their platforming fix