Bust A Move: Jazz Jackrabbit

Jazz Jackrabbit

Wanderers, the Editor may or may not have noticed the relative lack of game reviews on the site, considering how much time we’ve all spent playing games ‘for research’, and it seems I have been assigned to remedy that a bit this issue. I’m going to be reviewing a PC game I remember fondly from childhood; Jazz Jackrabbit 2By extension, of course, I’ll also be covering the original, but I’ve racked up a lot more playtime on the sequel so that’s what I’ll be focusing on.

The original Jazz Jackrabbit was released in 1994 by Epic Games, and Jazz Jackrabbit 2 followed in 1998 from the renamed Epic Megagames. Although it’s now acquired something of a cult following, Jazz 2 made a loss at retail and a planned Jazz Jackrabbit 3 was cancelled during development. There was another Jazz game for the Game Boy Advance, but since it remodelled itself so heavily based on the Star Wars franchise, we’re going to pretend it was a completely different game and speak of it no more.

So, what’s the game about? You play as the eponymous Jazz, a green rabbit in a bandana and a backpack who’s packing some serious cartoon weaponry, or his little sibling Spaz, an insane red creature who, left unattended, will occasionally pluck songbirds from the sky and eat them whole. Your mission is to rescue the princess of Carrotus, Eva Earlong, in the original, and her stolen wedding ring in the sequel, from the evil Devan Shell. Honestly, though, it’s unlikely you’re going to be playing this game for the emotional value of its story.

What makes the game so much fun – and here I am speaking of the sequel simply because I know it best – is the simple platform foundation of the game coupled with a vast array of complex and interesting powerups, ammunition, secret passages, and themes. Immediately before writing this review, I got poor Jazz thoroughly killed on the underwater level (though as I was playing in co-op mode, Spaz survived to tell the tale) and before that he was in Wonderland, a science lab, and a sewer, to name just a few.  You can rescue birds who’ll shoot enemies for you, break crates to find anything from rubies to booby traps, and even turn into your brother for a while.

One of my favourite mechanics in the game, however, has to be the Sugar Rush powerup. If you collect enough fruits, sweets etc. (though not carrots, carrots are health) a message will appear on the screen reading ‘Sugar Rush’ and a countdown. While you are on a sugar rush, you can just run through enemies and watch them crumble to dust in your wake, and even better, a really awesome bit of music plays to make sure you make the most of it and really ‘bust a move’, as Jazz is fond of saying.

I could go on about this game for ages, I really could, but here are some things to finish up with. The graphics are a bit dated and it’s not advisable to play for too long in one go, lest you completely mess up your eyes, but it’s still – fifteen years after its release – a really enjoyable game. Unfortunately, the company behind this masterpiece changed its name a couple more times and then eventually closed down… but that means it can be found as abandonware online.

Personally? I think it’s worth checking it out.

I’d give this game 3.5 out of 5 – much as I love it, it does show its age a bit.

Eleanor Musgrove (is really bad at beating the bosses)

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