The reality is... Smith is far from the smelly, broken, hermit he has sometimes been depicted as. In recent years he's resurfaced on the Software Projects Facebook page - where he's lucid and articulate . He has also made appearances at conventions (including the upcoming Play Expo Manchester) and in documentaries, where he's been happy to discuss his experiences, and talk about plans he has to release new games.
Nevertheless, Smith made two near-perfect games, and then - essentially - disappeared off everyone's radar for the best part of two decades, during which he spent a stint in a Dutch commune. When he finally returned to Britain, and gained access to the Internet for the first time, he professed to being surprised and flattered at the number of websites there were dedicated to Babylon 5 (how much interest there was in him).
However... Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy aren't the full story. We all know that Smith had been working on a third Miner Willy game - the long-lost Miner Willy Meets The Taxman/Mega Tree - but they weren't the only games he'd been responsible for.
Grasp your straps: here's a terrifying, whistle-stop, tour through his other, less remembered, works.
Despite having a sort-of-cool title, Delta Tau One wouldn't win any awards for originality or prettiness, but it was a solid enough rip-off, and taught Smith the skills he needed to forge a career. Smith himself has described it as "average", claiming he made just £50 from the "13 or so" copies it sold.
It was a relatively unremarkable maze shooting game, but at least sported some of Smith's idiosyncrasies - featuring a climactic confrontation with the Grim Reaper, and a merciless level of difficulty.
Smith's next two games would catapult him to stardom.
"Andre the cook has waltzed off for the evening without leaving so much as a boiled egg for Willy to munch on! Anyway, our hero marches down to the kitchen to make himself a sandwich and comes face to face with the amazing technicolour man-eating pizzas! GASP! Can you survive the onslaught of these nasty little doughy monsters? Dare you open Willys' kitchen door?"
Having originally started life as a game based upon the cartoon Road Runner - until the license fell through - it was a stark departure from the platforming of the Willy games, featuring Zappo running left-to-right, avoiding the titular zombie chickens.
Software Projects was confident enough of a release that ads appeared - heralding the new game from Matthew Smith - but at some point Smith lost confidence in the game, and withdrew it.
Software Projects handed the game to one John Darnell to complete and rework, and it was eventually released as the unremarkable Star Paws.
Cue Smith's wilderness years.
Few knew that the brain behind Jet Set Willy was also responsible for the 1999 Game Boy Color version of Scrabble - but it was indeed Smith's first game credit for 16 years. Unfortunately, Runecraft went into receivership shortly after its release, and to date it's the last published game Smith ever worked on.
The following year Smith clawed his way back into the spotlight via Iain Lee's Thumb Candy documentary. Suffice to say, the interview did little to dim his legend...