Dec 13, 2007

The first video game patch in history. Well, probably.

Jet Set Willy Cover ScanJSW cover scan blatantly stolen from JSW Remakes
Mathew Smith's 1984 Jet Set Willy on the ZX Spectrum, a game that was so much more sophisticated, surreal, fondly remembered and popular than Mario (well, at least in Europe it was), was also a bastard to beat. All you had to do was miss a jump by a pixel or fail to act in a nanosecond and you were dead. Why? Just because a talented 18 year old designer was in a cruel mood, that's why, and of course because back then even you, oh most glorious and esteemed readers, hadn't achieved gameplaying perfection yet.

Software Projects, the game's publishers, sensed that the sadism inherent in JSW would make for a great competition and thus a chance for some extra publicity, and knowing that the gamers of the era were hardcore 14 year olds, they merrily went on with their plan. The first one to find all of the JSW objects would win a helicopter ride and a case of champagne. The competition though, finally won by Ross Holman and Cameron Else, besides the publicity bit, did help bring forth 4 major bugs in the game and Software Projects decided to patch it. Probably for the first time in video gaming history and apparently to show they sort of cared.
A Freak Brothers related pic from Wikipedia
They came up with the fixes, but lacking in the Internet department, they had the users type them in. A series of four historical POKEs, collectively remembered as the official Software Projects Pokes, were released and distributed (mostly) via magazines. According to this apparently well informed corner of the web (and from what I can still recall) them official POKEs were:
  • Moving an invisible object from the First Landing to The Hall (42183,11)
  • Removing a killer object from the Conservatory Roof (60231,0),
  • Changing a block in the Banyan Tree to a walk-through type (56876,4)
  • The Attic bug fix Poke (59901,82).
All you would then need to do would be type them in, in way not dissimilar to what Your Spectrum would advise:
Rewind the Jet Set Willy tape and load it using MERGE "", press Enter and start the tape. Once the loader program has been loaded you will get the 'OK' message on the screen and you should stop the tape. Now enter:

CLEAR 32767
LOAD "" CODE as direct commands and start the tape. After the main part of the program has loaded, enter the following as direct commands:

POKE 60231,0
POKE 42183,11
POKE 59901,82
POKE 56876,4

and your problems should be over. To start the new version of the game, enter GO TO 40.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Heroquest POKE, PDF Spectrum emulation bible, 3D Ant Attack, free online retro gaming


  1. Hah! That's really interesting - thanks for digging it up.

  2. Thanks for appreciating it Terry.

  3. Fabulously interesting and informative article Gnome.
    I have such love for Jet Set Willy but my memory of it is hazy. I never had a Sectrum but my friend did and we would all gather in his converted attic, where we would listen, to the doors, bob marley and the cash, smoke long 'herbal' cigarettes and play manic miner, jet set willy and a racing game (formula one?) Ah great days!

  4. Bob Marley, the Clash, the doors and Manic Miner... Ahhh... yes... great things in life they are. But, really Father, playing the utterly amazing Jet Set Willy Online and not having Thatcher on your head is definitely an improvement me thinks...

  5. Amazing fzone. Probably the best online Speccy emulator I've tried!

  6. Merry New Year Gnomie!

    All the best to you and yours, dude.

  7. And the best to you and your my Red Bull friend!