Jill of the Jungle

Moby ID: 774

DOS version

The game that made Epic reach stardom

The Good
Jill of the Jungle is a 256-color side-scrolling action game from Epic MegaGames. This company was the one responsible for creating the ZZT series, but it was Jill who made Epic famous. Jill is the first of a three-part series. Only this game is shareware, and this means that people are allowed to copy it, and then send those copies off to someone else. The other games in this series are Jill Goes Underground and Jill Saves the Prince, but you were required to get these two games through Epic MegaGames or a reseller in your country. Overall, a good game with nice music and excellent sound effects.

Story: Jill, a beautiful Amazon blonde who dons a green swimsuit, must survive the dangers of the jungle by making her way through various areas, using her weapons to slay certain enemies that get in her way.

Gameplay: Once you start the game, you are presented with a map. This map has a total of sixteen doors which you can enter, most of them blocked with locked doors or passages that you must unlock with gems, and most of these doors you can't get to without completing others. The doors, by the way, lead to levels that you must complete before moving onto the next one.

The first stop Jill has to make is "through the boulders". Jill is not alone here, as the first enemies that she will encounter are alligators, birds, and frogs; but later on, she'll face giant ants, bees, stingrays, piranhas, scorpions, and more. If Jill kills enemies, they will transform into different-colored balls that go off the screen. If she touches any of these nasties, she will start to lose health. Once she loses all her health, she will die and you have to start the level again. Health can be restored by collecting apples, but occasionally when you collect them, the game give you tips on how to survive, what dangers you'll face, and so on. Instead of just running around, Jill can jump onto enemies and platforms, and use her knife or spinning blade to slain enemies. With the knife, it is intelligent. You see, after the knife is thrown, it will come back to Jill, ready to be used again. The only exception to this rule is that if Jill is running away from it. Jill can also be killed if she touches water or lands on a set of spikes.

Jill can also climb vines to higher places, but even a monster can crawl up or down them. On some levels, passages are blocked by a locked door or gem gates, and as usual, you are required to unlock them with keys or gems. A few things can help you in the level. For example, even though Jill can't jump high enough, getting one or more "red up arrows" can change that. Furthermore, during the game, you get to change into a different animal like a fish, bird, or frog; and each one of them provides an advantage. The fish can swim in water, whereas the bird can fly up toward the very top of the level, and like Jill, the animals can shoot. You change into these animals by collecting their "special icon". To restore back to Jill's original form, just find her icon.

The game also has a bonus level, but this is real easy to find. All you have to do is just find the word BONUS written above a passage that leads you to lots of vines. You have access to the control panel during the game, which lets you save, restore, turn the noise on/off, enable slow motion, and more. When you save a game, you can save to six positions, and when you restore one of these positions, you resume back at the point where you save the game, not at the beginning, like you do in games from Apogee Software. Below this, your inventory is displayed, and this shows your current score, health, weapons, keys, and gems.

Graphics: They are basic. You see just a plain background on the map, with shades of blue at the top, gray in the middle, and black at the very bottom. This background is not repeated in the actual areas, as the backgrounds there make you think that you are in jungles, caves, villages, or just a colorful maze. These are the type of backgrounds that I like. Very good.

The game will look amazing if you have a VGA card installed in your machine and you state that you wish to play in VGA. This game can also be played in CGA or EGA, but Jill won't look as sexy as she does in VGA, and you have less of a gaming experience.

Sound & Music: One thing that I like about the game is the digital sound effects that you get when you play the game with your Sound Blaster, and you can listen to them all by entering the NoiseMaker, which can be accessed from the main menu. Here, you can press almost every letter on the keyboard and you'll hear a sound from the game. Speaking of sounds, by the way, some of them are quite unexpected, and some of them are appropriate to events. Jill yells out when she loses all her health, laughing sounds are heard when she makes contact with water or spikes, and a record-scratching sound is heard when you attempt to shoot when there is no knife or blade in your inventory.

This game can only be played with Sound Blaster, so it is Sound Blaster or nothing. This means that if you have any sound card other than an SB, then you will just have to put up with playing the game through the PC Speaker. Playing through PC Speaker produces different sound effects to the Sound Blaster's, so you won't be disappointed.

The Bad
The bluish background on the map doesn't fit well in the game, and needed some more detail.

You may have trouble running this game on your machine. Be warned, though, don't use DOSBox if you want to play this game, as it contains a bug. You see, if you play Jill on DOSBox for about ten minutes, the keys used to access some of the functions on the control panel won't respond, forcing you to restart DOSBox and Jill.

The Bottom Line
Epic decided to discontinue Jill ages ago, so you might want to get a copy from a friend, or browse those illegal abandonware sites.

Rating: ****

by Katakis | カタキス (43051) on October 19th, 2004

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