Exclusive Willy

The first room. Should have been called "Willy's Gone to the Dogs" or something.

A quick article this time around and one I was inspired to write when I discovered, today no less, that there’s another little-known entry to the Jet Set Willy series along with Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy II.

It’s called The Perils of Willy and was released only on the Vic 20 in 1984. It’s not a homage game, it’s  an actual official Miner Willy game published by Software Projects and it even has the distinctive art style used by the later games on its box art (check out its entry here to see). I was intrigued to say the least.

So, I found a copy and gave it a shot.

One of the first things people will wonder is “why didn’t it come out on the Spectrum, then?”. The answer is obvious as soon as you start playing: Perils is, basically, a poor man’s Manic Miner. It’s a screen-by-screen platform game where Willy has to collect all the objects on the screen (musical notes in this case) in a time limit to complete it. Due to the Vic’s 16K of memory it’s far more limited than the 1983 Spectrum game in terms of variety (although it supposedly has more screens – 33 in all) and the srooms lack names (something I always think removes a lot of atmosphere). The sound is technically better thanks to the Vic’s superior sound chip but the repetitive in-game tune is nowhere near as, well, likeable and atmospheric as Manic Miner‘s croaky rendition of In The Hall of the Mountain King and quickly becomes annoying.

Having said that, The Perils of Willy is actually not bad at all. It’s nowhere near as good as Manic Miner but once you get used to the games little quirks (such as Willy’s jump which feels ridiculously long and the Vic’s display which is lower resolution that the Spectrum and makes Willy look like he’s been at the pies) it’s an entertaining wee game in its own right and the screens are well laid out and satisfying to beat. In fact, it’s a bit of a shame that a converted version of this couldn’t have been knocked-up to provide a bonus B-Side to Jet Set Willy II. Worth a shot for Willy-heads (fnar).

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5 Responses to “Exclusive Willy”

  1. gnome Says:

    A handy reminder that, especially considering I have never played Perils. Actually haven’t even tried a Vic-20 game…

    • Matty Says:

      I hadn’t played a Vic 20 game up until yesterday either. VICE, the popular C64 emulator for Windows-based platforms (and probably more besides) comes with a whole range of emulators for Commodore machines; not only the C64 but also the Plus 4 and the Vic 20.

      I should try more games on the Vic, it’s one of those low-memory early computers which forced people to stick to basic arcade games, the kind I’m very fond of.

  2. SA Says:

    I had a Vic 20 and I can’t recall playing any games I enjoyed on it other than a weird shooter callled Envahi. Mostly I remember bad text adventures.

  3. StickHead Says:

    I think Gridrunner is probably the best game I played on Vic-20. I was crap at it, mind.

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