Jazz Jackrabbit (DOS)

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Written by  :  Maw (884)
Written on  :  Oct 05, 2007
Rating  :  3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars

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Great brain candy

The Good

This Mario and Sonic-inspired platform game was created by a demoscener and a few artists not long out of college, and despite its humble origins became a minor classic on the PC. You're a hyperactive rabbit who must save the love of his life, Eva Earlong, from the evil tortoise Devan Shell. The floppy version of the game contains six episodes with three level each, and the CD-ROM release contains a further three Christmas themed episodes.

The game is like Jill of the Jungle, except with far better graphics. This is probably the game's most notable aspect; the colorful and zany world Jazz inhabits leaves most other DOS platformers of the time for dead and is comparable to console games. From the green forests to the psychedelic neon bases, Jazz Jackrabbit is a riot of color and animation.

The gameplay is similar to most other platformers of the time. You run around avoiding enemies and other dangers, collecting jewels for some unknown reason. You can jump on springs to propel yourself up into the air, or fly around on a hoverboard in some levels. Like in Sonic, you can collect powerups that allow you to rocket around the level at a million miles per hour if you want to. Despite the speed, there are few to no "instant-death" puzzles, making the game quite laid-back and relaxing.

Probably the coolest parts of Jazz Jackrabbit are the bonus stages, where you play in a pseudo-3D landscape similar to Mario Kart and must collect as many blue gems as possible before the timer runs out. A really cool spin on the tired "bonus stage" idea.

The gameplay is fast and addictive, the controls are tight, and the graphics are fun and colorful. The game doesn't break new ground anywhere, but it's a lot of fun and succeeds in bringing the console experience to the PC.

The Bad

Well...it is a Sonic the Hedgehog rip-off. I don't just mean the gameplay is the same, but the whole concept is ripped off. Replace the blue hedgehog with a green rabbit and Dr Robotnik with Devan Shell and there you have it. Unfortunately, Jazz doesn't have any of Sonic's moves. It would have been cool if you could barrel roll or butt-stomp enemies like in Jazz Jackrabbit 2, but no luck.

The low resolution and large character sprites make the game feel kind of cramped and confined. What's the point of being able to run really fast if you can't see what's in front of you?

The Bottom Line

Console-style graphics + speedy gameplay = fun. Jazz Jackrabbit is a cool time-waster. And so what if it's a kids game?