With regard to gameplay, Jet Set Willy is one of the first multi-room (Manic Miner had single room levels) Gotta Collect Them All Platform Games. There is a sequel, Jet Set Willy 2: The Final Frontier, which is an extended version of the original (spawned as a result of porting to the Amstrad CPC and back again), with the unwinnable condition fixed.
A very faithful Java version can be played here.
There is a user-made add-on for the freeware game Rocks N Diamonds called Super Jetset Wily Bros 3, the level being an experiment in platforming.
Not to be confused with Jet Set Radio, an unrelated game.
Jet Set Willy contains these tropes:
- Copy Protection: The game came with a sheet of codes. You would look up the line letter and column number and type in the colour that appeared there. Repeat three times to get the game to start. (This has been disabled on the versions you can get on emulators now.)
- Cycle of Hurting: In the first game, when you died, you started your new life where you entered the current room. Unfortunately, if you had just fallen to your death from the room above, prepare to watch helplessly as every single one of your remaining lives goes splat.
- The sequel would restart you on the last solid surface you were on. Which was arguably worse, since half the time you would repeatedly respawn on top of a monster. Hello, Rage Quit!
- Dead-End Room: "Entrance To Hades". In JSW2, also "Water Supply". The Commodore 64 version of JSW2 replaces the instant-kill toilet with a passage that eventually leads to one of two dead end rooms.
- Developers' Foresight: In Jet Set Willy 2: The Final Frontier, there is a room called cheat that leads to an island (you can get to the island by sailing a boat there as well). You can go through cheat only if you have hacked the game and put in an invincibility cheat.
- Easter Egg: There are inbuilt cheat codes in both games.
- According to Word Of God, the reason that the Cartography Room was one of the rooms added to the Amstrad CPC port is because the code has a built-in teleport cheat routine involving this room. (The developers put it in to make testing and editing the game easier, then left it in for fans to find.) Unfortunately, the ZX Spectrum JSW2 does not contain this feature as there wasn't quite enough memory.
- Another Easter Egg is a secret teleport in Deserted Isle.
- Eccentric Millionaire: The person who owned the mansion before Willy.
- Game-Breaking Bug: The first Jet Set Willy game contained a bug that made it unwinnable (for the geeky among you, on the Spectrum version, it was one of the earliest examples of what is now known as a buffer overflow error). Notable is the fact that half the versions of Jet Set Willy released were unwinnable! The second game fixed it, but has its own problems due to that fix. See the Nintendo Hard page for details.
- Gotta Collect Them All: There are artifacts flashing through all the colours the Spectrum could handle, you have collect all of them. In the sequel, you go to the moon, a desert island, and the depths of Hell - although this time, you don't quite need all of them (150 of 175 will do).
- Here We Go Again!: At the end of JSW2, Willy ends up in "The Central Cavern" — the first level of Manic Miner
- Idiot Plot: If Willy had just fired Maria when she went on strike, then hired another housekeeper (and perhaps a heavy-duty cleaning firm), the entire plot would never have happened.
- Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: This forces you to walk down it, rather than dragging you as in other games. (With care, it's sometimes possible to traverse them against the flow.)
- Star Drive: Early Brick Version in JSW2 takes it Up to Eleven. Pretty much every single platform in the room is a conveyor - and until you step on them, you can't tell which way they're going to take you.
- Minus World: In the original, jumping up from "The Watch Tower" leads to "The Off Licence" despite this being nowhere near. (In JSW2 it leads to the "Rocket Room".) This is to do with the numbers used for each room (The Off Licence is room 0, so it is a default room when one isn't specified.)
- Mission-Pack Sequel: Even more so, since Jet Set Willy 2 isn't just similar in style, it's an expanded version of its predecessor including all the original rooms.
- Nintendo Hard: Hacks of the game are so hard you have to exploit Good Bad Bugs to complete them. Even though Jet Set Willy 2 is completable, it is still a very hard game, requiring pixel-perfect jumping, and you only have eight lives (no extra lives in this game).
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Falling from too high or contact with any hazard will cause you to lose a life.
- Popcultural Osmosis: The first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" is the title music.
- Platform Hell: One of the earliest examples of this.
- Press Start to Game Over:
- In the second game, the toilet you start next to is a Death Trap.
- Inverted in the case of "I mean, even I don't believe this". Jumping from the top of the corresponding room of the original results in a death loop on the spikes of "We Must Perform a Quirkafleeg", but in JSW2 this is a possible shortcut to that room.
- Respawn on the Spot: Sometimes in harm's way.
- "We Must Perform a Quirkafleeg" is a shout-out to the comic strip Fat Freddy' s Cat, where it is a bizarre ritual a tourist performs in a foreign country upon seeing dead furry animals. Also, the Game Over scene is a giant foot coming down and crushing you.
- The Emergency Power Generator, which consists of a flying pig above a miniature indoor Battersea Power Station.
- In JSW2, you can fly a rocket into space. Complete the Cartography Room, and you'll note that the rooms making up the space area form a shape that looks suspiciously like the Enterprise. (One of the first rooms is called NCC 1501; along and up a bit is The TROUBLE with TRIBBLES is....)
- JSW2 also had (amongst the first few rooms entered) "Macaroni Ted" (referencing Technician Ted, whose authors worked at Marconi) and "Dumb Waiter" (a Take That! to Imagine's Wacky Waiter). It even had a Shout-Out to the first game in the series, in "Down T' Pit". It also has "Beam me Down Spotty" leading to a planet surface or to the Bathroom, and "Beam me Up Spotty" (the last room of the planet) leading back to "Beam me Down Spotty".
- One of the space rooms ("Loony Jet Set") is a tribute to Jetpac; and slightly further along, "Eggoids" is the same for their Lunar Jetman.
- And just above "Entrance To Hades", you'll find "Highway to Hell".
- "I'm sure I've seen this before.../Rescue Esmerelda" is a tribute to Hunchback.
- Software Porting: The game has been ported to a lot of systems, most versions having a different theme tune.
- Spoiler Cover: The game does end with Willy vomiting into the toilet. Not that it matters much anyway.
- Take That!: The leftmost of the rooftop rooms is called Nomen Luni, a parody of Imagine Software's motto "Nomen Ludi" ("the name of the game"). This room and the room below together represent the aeroplane from Imagine's Zzoom, which apparently has crashed on the roof.
- Unintentionally Unwinnable: In addition to the Game-Breaking Bug JSW2's "The Hole With No Name", it's possible to jump left into the wrong part of "secret passage", thereby landing on top of the passage. Oops, time to reset the game.
- Unwinnable by Design: JSW2 has a nasty trap for those exploring the game; if you find yourself in "Down T' Pit" and fall through the hole in the floor, you will find yourself in "Water Supply" from which there is no way back up...