Willy Beamish is a point-and-click adventure game with several odd (especially at the time) game mechanics. It features the passage of time (certain events only take place at certain times of day) and Willy only has a certain amount of time to complete each "block" of time. It's a similar mechanic to that of Majora's Mask, albeit in a totally different genre. Secondly, the game features a "trouble meter" which indicates just how close Willy Beamish is to being sent to military school. If it fills up, the game is over.
The game's universe is an odd mix of fantasy and reality, exemplified by one scene where Willy's babysitter turns out to be a practitioner of witchcraft. A puzzle-based boss battle ensues when she attempts to kill Willy and his sister.
The game's cartoony look was accomplished by using hand-painted backgrounds and hand-animated sprites, like many adventure games of the era.
Willy Beamish arguably pioneered the inclusion of everyday tasks in video games. Willy has to eat dinner and make conversation with his family, and at one point you have to disinfect and bandage your own finger after cutting it. It implements these tasks into the puzzle-solving elements of the game, and sometimes even make them integral to the plot.
Willy Beamish's frog is named "Horny".
Along with everyday mundane tasks, Willy can also head to his bedroom at most times to play the game-within-a-game: Monster Squad Super Space K'noidtrix for the Nintari game console.
It is a mix of Arkanoid and Tetris, puzzle-like pieces are thrown onto the playfield which must be avoided and destroyed before they stack up to the top of the screen. Several powerups can be shot and collected in the same manner as Arkanoid and can even be leveled up as rounds grow faster and harder.
The original PC system requirements are:
- MS-DOS 5.0 or greater
- 286 or better
- 512 KB RAM
- 8.5 MB Hard drive space
- Thunderboard Pro Aud Spectrum, AdLib, Roland MT-32/LAPC-1/CM-32L or SoundBlaster