…. and we’re back (with comments on Jet Set Willy 2)

I haven’t been active around here for a bit, but I felt motivated to write after reading Julian Wiseman’s “Jet Set Willy 2” page, and exchanging correspondance with Julian.

I’ve previously provided detailed commentary on the development of the JSW2 game for that site. While I’m not credited in JSW2 for the Sinclair Spectrum, that game does contain code, art and design contributions from me – JSW2 is basically a backport of the Amstrad CPC version of Jet Set Willy developed by Derrick P. Rowson and myself. During development of the game we basically doubled the number of rooms in the game, which was released on the CPC as Jet Set Willy: The Final Frontier (because of the multiple Star Trek references contained in additional sections of the game added by Derrick and myself). I left Software Projects after completing the CPC version, whereupon Derrick did the port back to the Spectrum. In the absence of further post-JSW output from Matthew Smith, relabeling the backport of the Amstrad game must have been financially attractive for Software Projects. From what I can gather from some light Googling, the CPC release was eventually renamed to Jet Set Willy II: The Final Frontier (original release did not have the II designation), and then another version of the game called simply Jet Set Willy was released. That version had all the additional rooms removed. If anyone can confirm or deny the accuracy of this info I’ll update this post to reflect that.

Derrick’s latest notes on Julian’s site add color to, and in some cases differ from, info that I’ve previously given. It has been a long time, and nobody has infallible memory, but I’ve taken the liberty of providing responses here to some of Derrick’s recent comments.

The Sewers. The Sewers were not inspired by Holt Road. Their inspiration was just Victorian sewers. The layout of the screens shows that above the cold store is the swimming pool. I concluded that in order to empty the pool would need a drainage system going to the river. e.g. the sewage system. The first few screen were already drawn by me before Steve saw them. He then mentioned they reminded him of HOLT ROAD and thus the addition of Holt road. Since I had never visited Holt road and was not actually aware of the train station nearby, I can conclusively state that Holt road was not the inspiration.

As to the inspiration for “The Sewers”, there are shades of grey here. Derrick may well have created the initial sewer screens, and the reasoning Derrick provides is logical (in that the room layout makes sense). So, perhaps I was reminded of Holt Road and environs by some initial screens done by Derrick. That said, I clearly remember developing several of the rooms in that area, amongst them the Holt Road screen, which was obviously one of the inspirations for me personally.

Below is an image of Green Lane train station in Birkenhead, where I would catch the train to work each day while working on Jet Set Willy. Green Lane is at the bottom of Holt Road and with its Victorian era red stone arches is reminiscent of screens in The Sewers.

Service to Liverpool, Green Lane Station, Birkenhead (El Pollock) / CC BY-SA 2.0

When I rewrote the various Amstrad versions of the game, I added an additional two letters to the cheat code. Making the OFFICIAL cheat code to be “HIEMMRAIDNAPRRRTT”. This cheat code works on both JSW1 and JSW2 on the Amstrad.

Interesting because I recall the “HI” addition to the cheat code during my time working on the game

Hackers and crackers have destroyed the way the cartography room works on most of the versions I have seen recently. By not understanding what the data for the cartography does, they have allowed this data to be corrupted or even removed. This means on all the Amstrad versions I have played on emulators the cheat code cannot find and draw the proper rooms. (shame)

Ironic indeed.


I made a passing comment on “attribute clash” on JSW2 for the Spectrum. In JSW1, Willy always takes on the color of either the background (typically), or of moving enemies should he overlap their attribute extents (you would usually, but not always, die when that happens). In JSW2, I notice that moving enemies appear to take on Willy’s white color in those cases. In fact, there seems to be some sort of color fighting happening.

Much of this is nit-picky stuff and I don’t often get motivated to speak up about such things. In this case, the development of the Amstrad CPC ports of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy was a formative period for me, and so the subject is near and dear to my heart.

Derrick, if you’re out there and you are reading this I would love to hear from you!

Posted by Steve Wetherill

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