Jet Set Willy: ZX Spectrum HD

The classic retro Spectrum game ‘Jet Set Willy’ is now available to play on your iPad.

If you were around when the Spectrum was brought out you’ll no doubt remember that you were either a Spectrum fanatic or a Commodore fan. I was definitely a Spectrum fanatic, I loved the look of the Spectrum with its quirky rainbow graphics and rubber keys. I loved programming in BASIC and would spend hours messing around making home brew games. The games came to nothing as I was too young to put together a project, but the Spectrum undoubtably got me into programming.

One of the games that I mostly played on the Spectrum was Jet Set Willy. I never completed the game, as it had no ‘save game’ feature and would have taken hours of continual play to even come close to clearing it. So when I saw Jet Set Willy on the App Store, how could I resist downloading it? It is a legend of a game, but I only had fuzzy memories of the gameplay.

The object of the game is to guide the Manic Miner around a mansion to clear up after a party. Manic Miner is now wealthy from his last adventures but has a lot of maintainance to do around his new property.

When I first opened the app, I was pleased to see a ‘History’ section, where you can read about how in 1984 Software Projects released Jet Set Willy as a sequel to Manic Miner. It also details how back then software piracy was almost considered as normal. I remember the magazines that would print cracks and cheat codes for the games of the time.

You can adjust the settings and the interface is as close to the rubber-keyed, colourful Spectrum keyboard as possible. The developers have done a great job at including that nostalgic Spectrum feel into the game.

You have several options: You can play the standard version or the infinite lives version.

Let me tell you now that I did not appreciate, until replaying this game in later life, how difficult games were back then compared to the relatively easy games of today, that can be cleared without too much time invested. The game is hard! Why? Because back then there was no ‘save game’ option. When your lives run out you have to start at the beginning again, which is why there is an Infinite Lives version included in the app.

The graphics are identical to back in the day. You have to be pixel perfect in your jumps and movements to clear rooms in the house. If you are young and want to get a feel for retro games back in the day, this is the app to download. Be warned however that games were built for hardened gamers back then, with no save game option. If you cleared a game like Jet Set Willy back then, your friends would give you admiration for weeks afterward.

Mission Accomplished

This game is as identical as you can get to the original game. In fact, it is identical, apart from playing it on your iPad instead of a Spectrum. If you ever owned a Spectrum its worth the download just for the nostalgic feel in itself. This game offers a break for gamers who find games easy to clear. I challenge new-age gamers to clear this game. If you do, leave a comment and I’ll take my hat off to you.

Room to improve

There was no ‘save game’ option back in the day, which is true with this app and also true to the original version. The developers have implemented an Infinite Lives option which is a good idea, so that you don’t have to start at the beginning again. However, I’d like to see a new ‘Save Game’ option added to Jet Set Willy with a certain amount of lives – 3 perhaps. This would mean that you could clear the game room by room, but it would be more of a challenge than the Infinite Lives option.


Great fun and a flashback to the past. Even if you just download and played Jet Set Willy every now and again, memories will flood back to from when you were a child. The game is true to the original and is just so different to modern games. A challenge to hard-core gamers who dare to go retro and clear a genuinely hard game.

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