Resource centre for ZX Spectrum games using
       Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy game engines

About JSW Central

This website is dedicated to games for the ZX Spectrum using the Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy game engines. It aims to provide an up-to-date comprehensive list of gamma-released games, download links and other information about each game. It will also host other resources relating to this unique expression of human creativity.

Manic Miner, written by Matthew Smith and released by Bug-Byte in 1983, became a landmark title for the ZX Spectrum. Guiding Miner Willy through 20 caverns, avoiding the nasties and collecting flashing objects before the oxygen supply runs out became a favourite challenge for multitudes of players. The next game by Matthew Smith, Jet Set Willy, released by Software Projects in 1984 and featuring a 60-screen mansion which could be explored at leisure, was even more popular, becoming a milestone in the development of the platform games genre. Both games were subsequently ported to many other computer platforms.

The unencrypted room format used by Matthew Smith in both games allowed their relatively easy editing in order to create new rooms. Manic Miner 2 was released by Schultze probably as early as 1985, while the first JSW game edit, created by Mark Jeffries, was published by Spectrum Computing in 1984 and Jet Set Willy III by Michael Blanke and Arno Gitz appeared in 1985. Several editors were also made available commercially or semi-commercially in mid-1980s, allowing anyone interested to create new versions of both games.

The advent of ZX Spectrum emulators for later-generation computers in mid-1990s triggered a renewed interest in old games. The internet, in turn, made it possible for people still interested in the ZX Spectrum to communicate, share and collaborate on new projects (comp.sys.sinclair USENET newsgroup played a particularly important role in those early years). The games Join the Jet-Set! and Jet-Set Willy in Space by Richard Hallas, created back in 1985 (the latter one finished shortly before the release in the late 90s), were put online and had a very good reception; their author also uploaded three 1985 games by Adam Britton (The Continuing Adventures, The Deadly Mission and Willy's Holiday) as well as JetSet Editor by Paul Rhodes, which was the tool used to create all those games. As other people started making their own versions of the original classic, Jet Set Willy revival really got under way.

John Elliott created JSWED, a PC-based editor for JSW and MM games. It introduced a new, extended game engine for the 128K Spectrum (JSW128). The editor was gradually developed over the years, adding the ability to edit Henry's Hoard, Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy II games. JSW128 game engine was also gradually improved and another much-extended game engine, JSW64, was introduced by John Elliott in 2005. Today JSWED with its "latest stable version" 2.2.9 and "latest unstable version" 2.3.6 is the standard, easy-to-use tool for editing MM and JSW games.

A number of websites devoted to the JSW scene were created. In December 1999 Dr. Andrew Broad founded a Yahoo! Group for Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, including a message board, picture galleries and file hosting, which in the following years became the focal point for the MM/JSW community, with over 6700 messages posted up to date.

A virtual explosion of MM/JSW games took place in 2000, with twelve new JSW and two MM games gamma-released that year alone and thirty-four games released in total between 2000 and 2002. The new games were very varied, some allowing for an easy exploration of the gameplay area, others extremely difficult, requiring pixel-perfect jumps or deliberately exploiting various quirky features and unintended loopholes of the game engines in order face the player with special challenges (this sub-genre was pioneered by Dr. Andrew Broad). While the original Jet Set Willy is usually considered to be very British because of its weird, Pythonesque humour, the MM/JSW scene became very international, with authors from all over Europe contributing to its development alongside the Brits.

The intense creative activity continued in the following years, with most new games made after 2005 using the JSW64 game engine. While the number of releases has decreased visibly since 2007, new games are still being created and uploaded online. In total, around 100 games have been designed so far!

The purpose of this website is to provide a place on the Web where all gamma-released MM and JSW games for the ZX Spectrum will be featured together, with screenshots, download links and various other resources. Hopefully, it will encourage brand-new authors and also authors of games which are still unfinished or have been beta-released only to complete their projects, so that they can find their place here, too.