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

 

Scope and principles

 

It's the game engine, Willy!

The main interest of this website are games based on MM and JSW game engines for the ZX Spectrum. These games do not always feature Willy (Miner Willy, Jet Set Willy or any other incarnation of his) as their protagonist. Many do, but some have a very different hero, like Henry the gnome, Mr Top Hat, Maria, Lena or even Pip the Pipistrelle and Terry the Turtle; one - Willy Games: The First 30 Years Quiz - is not even a platform game at all. These games are listed on the main page of this website, which is also the "List of MM/JSW games".

ZX Spectrum games which feature Willy, but use a different game engine, or are related to MM/JSW games in various ways, are discussed in a separate section "Games of MM/JSW interest".

Games for other computer platforms which feature Willy or are inspired by JSW or MM are beyond the scope of interest of this website for the moment; they may be included in the future.

 

So which exactly are these game engines?

There are currently five categories of games listed on the main page, reflecting the five game engines taken into account. These are: the original Manic Miner (MM) and Jet Set Willy (JSW48) game engines for the 48K Spectrum, both by Matthew Smith, the Jet Set Willy II game engine for the 48K Spectrum, by Derrick P. Rowson, and the Jet Set Willy 128 (JSW128) and Jet Set Willy 64 (JSW64) game engines for the 128K Spectrum, both created by John Elliott.

The list embraces all known gamma-released games based on these engines, also if the engines they use have been modified, even extensively. Prime examples of this are: Henry's Hoard, created by Martyn Brown and Andy Bigos (Alternative Software Ltd, 1985), and Maria vs. Some Bastards by Vidar Eriksen (Erix1) (2003); in either case the JSW48 game engine has been heavily modified (in different ways).

 

What is a new game then?

Whether or not a game merits an entry on the list of released MM and JSW games is an arbitrary decision, and not always an easy one. Generally, is has to be "different enough" from other released games to warrant an inclusion in the list. "Different enough" concerns mainly the number of newly-edited rooms. A game which has 5 new rooms and 55 rooms from the original Jet Set Willy will not be considered a new game. There is no absolute criterion for the number of new rooms that need to be designed or the percentage of the game that needs to be modified for it to be considered a new one; common sense has been used in case of doubt.

Possible controversial cases include: Manic Miner 7 by Craig Rothwell (1998) and Marina: The Fire Quest by Igor Makovsky (2007). They have both been included in the list in spite of the former having only five, and the latter only six edited rooms. The decision concerning Manic Miner 7 is based on historical reasons: the game has been considered a new game in its own right by the MM/JSW community for many years now. Marina: The Fire Quest, in turn, although a mini-game, was purposefully designed as such and is a finished, perfectly completable product.

If an existing game is modified by a patch or number of patches, e.g. to invert it laterally or horizontally, make it black and white, etc., it is not considered a new game.

If a game contains rooms which are not new altogether, but which have not been used in this game engine before, it is considered to be a new game. Hence, Dr. Andrew Broad's conversion of Jet Set Willy to Manic Miner called Manic Miner: Jet Set Willy is an entry on the released MM games list (as no MM game ever featured these rooms before); likewise, his conversion of Manic Miner to Jet Set Willy called Jet Set Willy: Manic Miner appears on the list of JSW48 games. Any future game being a conversion of another game for the ZX Spectrum or another platform to one of the MM and JSW game engines will also be considered a new game and included in the list.

Of course anyone could load a JSW48 game into JSWED, save it as a JSW128 or JSW64 game and claim it should be included in the list in a proper category, because its rooms have not been featured in a JSW128 or JSW64 game before. Hopefully, common sense will prevent authors from inflating the list in such a way.

 

Are they all here?

It is the ambition of JSW Central to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date list of all MM and JSW games which have been gamma-released by their authors (made available to the general public as finished products).

As far as games of MM and JSW interest are concerned, there is no such ambition, since it would be very difficult to create an exhaustive list of them. This secondary list is growing, however, and will probably keep expanding over time.

Games of MM and JSW interest do not follow the chronological order of release, but are grouped in like-themed clusters instead, in decreasing order of relevance, with a brief description of each game.

 

What about minor variants of released games?

JSW Central does not deal with these for the moment. They may be incorporated in the future, especially some variants of the orignal JSW and MM which have not been deemed "different enough" to be considered new games, but which are nonetheless interesting in various ways.

 

What about unfinished games and ongoing projects?

JSW Central does not deal with these, focusing on finished, gamma-released products. One of its aspirations is to encourage authors who have nearly-finished, beta-released games - or less advanced projects - to proceed towards their gamma-release for the sake of being featured on JSW Central.

The only exception to the above rule are the Chronology pages, where release dates of demo and beta versions of games which subsequently failed to be gamma-released are included.

If you are interested in the creation of new games, please visit JetSet Willy & Manic Miner Community and Manic Miner & Jet Set Willy Yahoo! Group. They contain information about the ongoing projects as well as a wealth of technical information about the intricacies of MM and JSW game engines.

Dr. Andrew Broad's list of MM and JSW games contains comprehensive information about ongoing, planned and historical projects until its last update in May 2009 (in the Future Games sections), as well as about minor variants of games (in the Tidbits sections), which may not be discussed on JSW Central. Hope can only be expressed that Dr. Broad will start updating the list again in the future.

 

Chronology

The Chronology section provides a comprehensive list of all known release dates of games using Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy game engines for the ZX Spectrum (and the games of special MM/JSW interest included in section I of the "Games of MM/JSW interest" list). It embraces gamma-released games, unfinished projects (where demo or beta files have been released) and editors. It also lists other dates related to the development of MM and JSW games for the ZX Spectrum, such as the publication of maps and RZX recordings, the launch and demise of major MM/JSW-related websites and other milestones in the online activity devoted to the subject.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this section. In some cases remarks like (or a little earlier) or (or thereabouts) have been added to denote the uncertainty if the exact date cannot be pinpointed.

A one-day difference may occur between the date mentioned in this section and the release date as perceived by the author of the game if the information about the release was published on a website using an American time zone while the author was physically in Europe at the time of release (or vice versa). Any such discrepancies will be corrected upon request.

If various events took place on the same day / in the same period, MM-related events are mentioned before JSW-related events. Game releases are mentioned before other events. Gamma releases are mentioned before demo or beta releases. Maps and RZX recordings of games are mentioned in the order in which the games were released, with MM games preceding JSW games.

 

Individual game pages

Ultimately every game included in the main "List of MM / JSW games" will have its individual page with basic information, download links and screenshots of all screens.

"Highest documented scores / Best documented times" refer to scores (in MM games) and completion times (in JSW games) for which there exists an RZX recording or video showing the whole process of achieving the score. The recordings are hosted either on RZX Archive or as "JSW Central Specials". The absence of a JSW Central Special download for any given game indicates that the recording of the best known performance is hosted on RZX Archive.

All potential contributors are encouraged to send in RZX recordings showing the achievement of higher scores / better times than these currently hosted. They will be added as JSW Central Special downloads (new ones or substituting the currently hosted files) with all due credit given in the text files.

Two scores are listed for MM games: the one achieved "upon reaching the swordfish sign" (or its equivalent) and the one achieved "upon first re-entry into the first cavern". The latter is a better indication of the player's performance, because it also shows how efficiently the final cavern has been negotiated. However, two of the released MM games do not allow the player to re-enter the first cavern, because after he/she has completed the final cavern, the air counter keeps resetting itself, causing a constant increase in the score. Therefore, the only possible score for these games to show the player's performance is the one achieved upon reaching the swordfish sign. Consequently, respective scores in this category are shown also for all the other games.

All screenshots show a game being actually loaded / played in an emulator or re-played from an RZX recording. No editing has been done to the images other than cropping the screen captures to the size of 512x384 pixels (a double of the source screen size shown with no border). Some screenshots have been made using RZX recordings showing the best known performances, but this is not a rule.

If various revisions of a game exist and one of them is known to be considered definitive by the author, screenshots show only this definitive revision. If the final revision has not totally substituted a previous one / previous ones, screenshots of all pertinent revisions are presented. If parallel definitive revisions exist (e.g. such as a hard and easy version), screenshots of all of them are presented.