29 July 2011
Ages ago, I started playing an online version of Manic Miner, the ZX Spectrum game of the mid-80s that was both innovative and addictive. Well, that did stop. Eventually.
Now I'm doing the same with the game's more prestigious brother, Jet Set Willy. Unlike Manic Miner, which I was reasonable at as a kid, I am finding this one very difficult, to the extent that I am in cheat/coward mode each time I play it - ie, I choose the 'endurance' option, meaning I can die as much as possible in the process of searching the various rooms for flashing things.
However, when time has allowed (I am pleased to say the work schedule has been packed of late), I have resolutely continued playing this game. I have at last sorted out The Banyan Tree's odd climbing procedure, negotiated my way into the lower section of Under The Roof (which was vital to success but took bloody ages) and even successfully scaled the rope of The Swimming Pool.
That last point is cogent to the fourteen people in the whole world still interested in playing Jet Set Willy, as the difference to the Spectrum game is at its most stark when you find yourself needing to undertake a manoeuvre that ideally requires a joystick. I don't have a joystick. I have a keyboard, and a Mac keyboard at that, meaning I'm using small arrow buttons for left and right and the space bar to jump. Climbing to the top of the three ropes in the game - one of which, on The Beach, is apparently impossible as there is seemingly nothing at the summit to scramble into - is very hard indeed when just pressing keys.
Looking at the map available online, it appears I have acquired most of the flashy things at one point or another during games. However, variations of the game have appeared that have introduced further rooms, further zones and one or two 'special' chambers of utter doom in which Willy is impossible to control. I therefore am not in a position to know just how close I am to being allowed past the fearsome housekeeper and into bed.
And this housekeeper remains my main problem, which I doubt I will ever solve. There is a room called The Nightmare Room, fairly close to the beginning of the game. In it, Willy changes to a bird - identical to a handful of killer birds to be found in other rooms and zones further along - and there is one crucial flashy thing to collect, all while avoiding lots of cloned killer housekeepers who are moving up and down at differing paces. I can tell you now that this room, and the collection of the one flashy thing within it, is impossible to conquer with a Mac keyboard, and I'm now just collecting everything else and claiming a pyrrhic victory, prior to throwing myself on the mercy of the real housekeeper (and then emerging back into civilisation). I am at a loss as to what else to do.
Apart from grow up, obviously.