Certainly not to minimize the value of our beloved game, I would say that putting a hat on a guy to make him more remarkable is a rather quick idea (in french you would say «bateau»), Charles Chaplin himself would agree.
So, in some far-off times, pixelated-hatted-little-men jumping from one to another corner of the screen was a rather common thing... and to be honest I couldn't say myself which was the first between Chuckie Egg and Roland...
...and then came Willy !
JET SET WILLY
Jet Set Willy was a platform video game published in 1984 by Software Projects. It was originally written for ZX spectrum by Matthew Smith and ported to most other home computers of the time : Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, Atari 8-bit, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, MSX & MTX. (according to Wikipedia)
Everyone remembers Willy. His white suit and his square hat made him as famous in his time as Charlie Chaplin. It was the golden age of personal computers, and in the years that followed, 80% of the home computer industry disappeared to the profit of the only match microsoft-apple...
But what is a golden age ?
I imagine an enthusiastic teenager taking immense pleasure to create the absolute fun and captivating game we know with an absolute unawareness of what he was really doing, because it's so naturally human to take pleasure, quietly learn, grow and make oneself valuable to others, just by discovering his own time and work... well that's how the things should be, yes ? And then he communicated this pleasure to us, like a Christ multiplying fishes, throw the energy that impregnate his game... everyone could take benefit of it.
That would be the reason why the golden age of personal computers continue to haunt and us with such a strong feeling of nostalgia, and continue to fascinate despite the minute 128k of memory, the poor screen resolution, and other limitation of the computers.
Of course in newer versions, some tried to dress willy in a more colorful way, but free and fun in his white suit, he had apparently not in mind to pursue a career like his cousin Mario ... Who knows ?, maybe the time will come !
By playing Jet Set Willy you could enjoy a pixel-accuracy precision in the movements and collisions not common in the videogames of that time, which made it particularly fair-play, and made up for the fact that the game was extremely difficult, merciless, not to say cruel (almost impossible to finish !). The best possible joystick was vital !.. I personally prefered keyboard.
Graphics and sounds where both minimalist, but in this way especially stimulating for the imagination of the player. The psychedelic colors of some versions, very specific to the videogames of the time, were due maybe to genius, maybe to pure hexadecimal coincidence...
All this helped to give the impression of a living universe, poetical and endless, where it was good to stroll and collect sparkling objects, discover one or two new rooms, digging for an unsuspected bug toward a secret chamber or... Just stroll, with no other purpose than making tourism ÀÁÂ
You can still play the original game on various computers, generally through emulators.
However you'll find easily on the web a freeware pc version, and you'll find here a cpc emulator which work very well on a Mac.
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