Jazz Jackrabbit & Jazz Jackrabbit 2

ジャッズ・ジャックラッビト -JAZZ JACKRABBIT-

Jazz Jackrabbit is a 1994 platform game developed and published by Epic MegaGames (today Epic Games), originally for the PCs running DOS, with subsequent Macintosh and Microsoft Windows releases in 1995 and 1996.

Jazz Jackrabbit was coded by Arjan Brussee and designed by Cliff Bleszinski for Epic MegaGames. It was greatly inspired by the Amiga game Zool and the ongoing success of video game classics (such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man) defining the platform game genre in the 1990s market, and was initially considered to be a pastiche of Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog in the computer world. The game did not manage to reach the popularity of Sonic, but did acquire a sizable audience due to its fast-paced gameplay and advanced graphics. The game’s audio was implemented using an interactive music system called “Cybersound Music System”. Robert Allen and Joshua Jensen composed the game’s music. This is the game of my childhood as I used to play it on an old Windows 95 computer.

In the game’s intro, Jazz dresses up as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (all of which are owned by DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment, though neither company approached Epic Games because they are parodied).

The game is set in a fantasy world based on Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare”, in which the enmity between tortoises and hares continues even after three thousand years. An evil mastermind tortoise named Devan Shell begins conquering planets, suppressing any native confrontation. One of such planets, Carrotus, is home to a peaceful hare kingdom that, once confronted by Shell, is able to provide enough resistance to fend him off. Enraged by his loss, Devan decides to kidnap Carrotus princess Eva Earlong and hide her on a distant airbase of unknown location to weaken the hares. In response, the king chooses to send Carrotus’ hero Jazz Jackrabbit, who carries a blue LFG-2000 gun, to various planets conquered by Devan that might contain clues to the location of Eva’s imprisonment. As Jazz travels through different worlds, he gains new weapons and meets new enemies in his pursuit to rescue the princess and save Carrotus from Devan Shell and his army of Turtle Terrorists.

Jazz is depicted as a bright green jackrabbit (akin to Sonic the Hedgehog) with a red bandana, bracers, and a blue “blaster” gun.

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 + The Secret Files

The second game was released in 1998 for PCs running Windows, and later for Macintosh computers. Like the first game, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is a side-scrolling platform game but features additional multiplayer options, including the ability to play over a LAN or the Internet.

The second game features Spaz, Jazz’s younger brother who is depicted as a red jackrabbit who is crazy and has red fur (previously appeared in Holiday Hare ’95) and Lori, his athletic sister who is a yellow jackrabbit wearing a purple sports bra and compression shorts (only appears in The Secret Files).

The Secret Files was initially released in Europe, but Epic Games would allow GOG.com to release the European-only PC game for North and South American players. The second game’s composer is Alexander Brandon, replacing the first game’s composer Robert Allen.

Unlike the first game which features a timer, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 does not feature a timer. The health bar is replaced with hearts.

A third game, Jazz Jackrabbit 3 (alternatively called Jazz Jackrabbit 3D: Adventures of a Mean Green Hare), was canceled after less than 30,000 copies of the game were sold, resulted in a financial loss for Gathering of Developers (now closed), and prevented Epic MegaGames to find a publisher. As the game’s alternate name implies, Jazz would have ventured into the realm of 3D for the first time. The game was planned for release on PC and PlayStation 2. Since then, the alpha has been leaked on to the internet. Spaz and Lori, both of whom were from the preceding game, were also intended to be playable, but only Jazz is playable in the alpha.

If Epic Games were to revive Jazz Jackrabbit via Kickstarter, then the third game would use HD graphics instead of the polygonal ones.

That’s all for Jazz Jackrabbit and its sequel. This is the first DOS game to be reviewed on Medium. This is Chester Roberts II — also known as Samurai Cory, signing off.

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Cory Roberts

Cory Roberts

American freelance illustrator and manga artist, working on Radical Flannel. Previously ran Shinkansen Retrogaming. (He/him)