Jet Set Billy is not a new homebrew game - it's a game from 1984 for the Colour Genie (an "also ran" computer from the Eighties). In it, you play Billy to the strains of "If I Were A Rich Man", and you traverse a number of screens collecting moneybags and avoiding the roaming devils with pitchforks. Quite remarkably, it all fits inside 16K.
There are a number of reasons why I'm giving it a quick once-over this issue. The first is that the Genie's games range from the lamentable to the dross, and it's one of only a few Colour Genie games that is in fact playable. The second is that Colour Genie emulation has been lost to the last generation of Windows users because the only available emulators for this system only ran on the 486 PCs. But that has all changed now with the release of Atilia Grosz's Genieous emulator. The third is that I have been wanting, for a while, to at least give the Colour Genie a bit of column space because, over the past four years, I've been hard at work buying up any Genie cassettes and magazines which have found their way onto eBay. The result is that quite a sizeable collection of exclusive Colour Genie games are available, completely for free, over at Everygamegoing.com.
Jet Set Billy however is not a game that I have managed to locate in the "flesh". In fact, I found a ".CAS" file of this British game hiding in a somewhat obscure German database of retro software almost by chance. And what's more - although you might think, given the obvious similarity to Jet Set Willy, that there would be little difference between the two, the games are in fact very dissimilar. If anything, Jet Set Billy seems to have more in common with the original Manic Miner as the game is a purely linear one. You'll only escape room one by collecting all the moneybags to proceed to room two, and so on.
Anyway, I originally picked up Jet Set Billy with a view to fully reviewing it this issue only to find that no instructions for it have survived. As we've experienced before in this column, if a game has no instructions it can lead to certain of its inclusions being completely overlooked. And, in the case of Jet Set Billy, there is an inclusion which seems such a game-changer that hardened Jet Set Willy players might consider firing up Genieous and having a play on this 30-odd year old game simply because it offers something so radically different.
And what is this inclusion? Well, Billy can actually fire arrows at the patrolling baddies...! Which, if you're used to the pixel perfect positioning and jumping of Willy in the Jet Set Willy games, is extremely surprising. But, alas, although Billy can fire arrows, I'm not exactly sure how. Because no instructions have survived, and because so far the furthest I can reach is screen two, I don't know if he needs to collect a bow first to fire them, or whether I just haven't located the game control key that would loose one off.
So it's here, Retro Round Up readers, that I'm actually asking for your help. Does anyone remember this game? Does anyone have instructions for it? Is its author, R. Hamilton, reading this? Or can anyone reading this get further than I can and shed any further light on the mystery? As you can see from the screenshots, Billy has four arrows from the moment he plunges down the well in his garden and starts the game. Can anyone somehow get him to fire one of those arrows and let me know how to do it?
In the hope of receiving a message on Everygamegoing's Facebook page with an answer, I'm going to hold off on actually scoring Billy's antics but give him a cautious recommendation.