Product: Jet Set Willy 2
Publisher: Tynesoft
Compatibility: BBC/Electron
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #69

Almost all of you agree that Jet Set Willy was (and is!) a good game. This, despite the fact that even after several hundred attempts to complete it, you would scarcely collect more than a few dozen items before biting the dust. However, if you thought tidying up a messy house was too simple a premise in the first instalment, Jet Set Willy 2 introduces a rather unexpected turn of events indeed. Willy's house has been renovated by creatures from another planet!

At first glance, Jet Set Willy 2 (JSW2) looks much the same as its predecessor - you start off with a scrolling message and an army of marching main characters and hitting space takes you to the identical bathroom from JSW. Fortunately however, this is where the similarity ends because, on venturing out of this screen, you enter the first of a feast of new rooms with the traditional assortment of items, stairs, platforms and patrolling nasties.

Those of you familiar with the JSW saga may be aware that, on the Spectrum and Amstrad machines, JSW2 was panned on release, mostly due to the manner in which it was written. A second author - not Matthew Smith, the author of the first game - took the whole of the code for the original and attached new rooms to it. The whole of the original mansion was therefore left intact, and seasoned players of JSW had to labriously play though many screens that they had already completed many times before, in order to reach the extra rooms. In addition, the perception of these extra rooms was that they were inferior to those of the original game; they were, it was said, dull and uninspiring and designed without Smith's devilish imagination.

Happily, none of these criticisms can be levelled at the Electron version of JSW2 at all. Because of the limited memory available to the man who did the conversion, Chris Robson, the decision was taken to only include the new rooms. So, not only does the Electron host probably the best version of this sequel, but it should be of interest to many JSW fans who played the game on other formats.

On then to the elements of the game. Put simply, it is a monochrome platform game very like the first. The object is to collect all the flashing items on each screen, and you have the free run of the house, and can walk to any room at will - one of the factors that made the original game so unique.

There are a number of additional features. For example, you now have some 'supersized' villains that you cannot hope to jump over and must find your way around. You also have lifts from one platform to another as well as stairs. Perhaps the best change however is that attempts have been made to stop the instant killing off of Miner Willy in some circumstances. This feature of the original had countless players weeping with frustration over the years and, in the original, happened thus:

When timing a jump from one platform to another, you could misjudge the gap, fall into the room below and either fall straight into a nasty alien, or fall so far, causing your death. You would then be instantly reincarnated at the point you entered the room and the exact same sequence would replay until all your lives were snuffed out.

In JSW2 the bug has not gone - and similar situations to this can arise! - but if Willy falls into a room in this way, he is reincarnated in the previous room, standing on the platform he fell from. A small touch that does a great deal for improving the fairness of the game. (Shame they didn't go back and rewrite the original at the same time!)

The biggest change however is that many of the rooms in JSW2 are set in outer space, reached via the nearby 'Rocket Room'. Collecting the items in this room will blast Willy off into the stars. Some wholly unexpected puzzles are also to be had up there, in particular 'The Foot Room',where you must spring for the exit before it is permanently barred by a 'supersized' falling foot. Oh, and make sure you stand on the left, not the right, platform on 'Beam Me Down Spotty' else you will miss five 'secret' rooms, as you are transported back to your bedroom.

Originally the game was cassette only but the conversion to disc is flawless with the disc containing a very nice extra loading screen of Willy picnicing on the moon. As noted earlier, the game itself is in monochrome just like the original, although different rooms are rendered in different colours. Even from tape, in all ways, the game is far superior to the original Jet Set Willy. Menancing 'supersized' skulls guard the vestry and Maria the housekeeper is now deadly to the touch, so don't get too close to the entrance to your bedroom.

Jet Set Willy 2 is simple, addictive and downright fun. Quite startingly, considering the ubiquity of ports of the game to mobile phones, PCs and games consoles, this is probably the best version of Willy's adventures that you will ever play.