Top Hat Willy

Title           Top Hat Willy
Category        Platform
Compatibility   1 MB required
Players         1
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      Joona Palaste ( Profiled Reviewer

Top Hat Willy is a perfect example of why computer games don't need
gigabytes' worth of fancy presentation to be addictive - just a simple,
well-thought-out formula is enough. This is one of those games in which
you can have a quick game in less time than it takes your average Quake
LXVIII shoot-'em-up to even fully load itself on a 5 GHz PC.

While some games require several paragraphs of text to describe, Top Hat
Willy can be sufficiently described in six words: Jet Set Willy for the
Amiga. Serious Commodore 64 fans will recognise, and fondly remember, the
classic game Jet Set Willy, dating back from the early days of the
Commodore 64. Top Hat Willy retains the same style and gameplay, but
updates the graphics, sounds and the level map.

Normally this would be where I would sum up the game's plot. With the case
of Top Hat Willy though, I simply have to paraphrase the game's author,
T.Heikkinen: Top Hat Willy has the same plot as Jet Set Willy had,
whatever that was. You are in a world of 10*10 screens, and there are 160
items scattered there. Get them. That's basically all of the plot that's
mentioned in the game or its documentation.

So how do you play this game then? Since not everyone in the world is
familiar with Jet Set Willy (any more!), let's give a brief run-down. As
mentioned above, the world is made of 10*10 screens in a standard
Cartesian array. Each of these screens takes up exactly one
Amiga-screen-ful, so there will be no scrolling of any kind in sight.
These screens are made up of all kinds of platforms, and most have items
and/or enemies.

It is the job of the game's hero, Willy (called Wally in the original
Commodore 64 game), to traverse these screens, collecting the items and
avoiding the enemies. That's right, avoiding. Willy is entirely devoid of
any kind of offensive manoeuvres.

Every enemy in the game is immortal. Luckily all they do is move around on
preset paths, only killing Willy if he's unfortunate enough to cross their
path. So you see, they're not that bad. The enemies can be basically
divided into three groups: Those that stay still, those that move at the
same speed as Willy, and those that move faster than Willy. Sometimes
those that stand still can be the hardest to avoid!

The enemies are not the only things to look out for, as long falls will
also kill poor old Willy. And this leads to one particular thing which is
more annoying than Britney Spears appearing in a 36-hour Teletubbies TV
marathon: If you are killed in a screen, you automatically re-enter
through the same route as you previously entered the screen.

Guess what this means when you fall too far when you enter the screen?
Yes, that's right. You get locked in a cycle of killing yourself,
resurrecting only to die again, without being able to even budge an
eyebrow about it. Falling too far when entering a screen means instant
Game Over. In the game's defense, the original Commodore 64 game had the
same problem too.

The main element of Top Hat Willy is, of course, the gameplay, but the
graphics and sounds aren't bad either. The graphic style is wonderfully
simple and cartoony, and the sounds consist of one jolly music piece and
simple, but effective sound effects. And this all works on less processing
power and memory than your average modern PC has in its video card.

If you are serious about playing Top Hat Willy, it will keep you playing
for months, nay, years. Make no mistake - this game is DIFFICULT. It is so
difficult that the author, T.Heikkinen, hasn't managed to complete it
himself! His personal best is 100 items or something, mine is 64 items. So
far, in the recorded history of mankind, Top Hat Willy is reported to have
been completed exactly once.

Compare and contrast this to Twinworld, one of my other favourite
platformers. Twinworld can't be exactly called "easy" either, but I could
complete it on any given day within one hour, having just been woken up,
with my left arm tied behind my back. Not even close with Top Hat Willy.

Top Hat Willy is freely available from AmiNet to all who want it. The
documentation includes a promise of a sequel to appear within 1995, with
more features on the screens. Sadly, nothing ever became of this sequel.
This is a crying shame, because Top Hat Willy is truly an excellent game,
and deserved continuing development.

Category list.

Alphabetical list.