Reply To: Thoughts


It is fairly difficult to know what to think of this game.

I remember that I used to like it very much. That was back when all I had was the shareware version ; but even at the time, I had access to a SNES and I remember thinking that while Jazz great for the PC, this was just not it compared to console competitors.

Now that time has passed, I find myself coming back to a similar opinion.

Jazz is great for what counted as PC Platforming back then, but most of us have by now exposed, even with emulation, to “proper” console games. I use the word “proper” deliberately, because it really feels we have here a game that does everything to copy them but fails to do so. For one particular reason.

Obviously, the one game this game is doing all it can to plagiarize legally is Sonic The Hedeghog. And it could have gotten away with being Epic’s answer to it if it had a comparable level of quality. But let’s analyse it for a moment. Speed ? It’s there. Graphic ? Less inpsired than Sonic but altogether not too bad. Features ? We have an optional sidekick, a flying rocket, and for the rest, the entirety of Sonic’s bonus (invincibility, temporary invulnerability..) are there. Even the Bonus levels are straight copied from Sonic CD with pseudo Mode 7 effects.

Except it’s not as good. The answer lies in design.

The bonus levels are pointlessly easy and are just in exercise control. Fact is, the entire game is, and it feels like the developers failed to understand that it’s no good having a game focusing on speed if said speed is a hinderance and a problem in the game. The game wants you to go fast, but at the same time, the entirety of the level design wants you to slow down. Because as soon as an obstacle or enemy appears it might be too late. The tortoise tank will shoot. You will see it but won’t be able to slow down. You will the see spring, but too late, it will bounce you up and make you redo an entire section of the level, just because. I’m sure the level designer is happy because he has outsmarted you, but are you happy ? Are you ? Are you happy when there’s just an empty corridor to run through and at the end of it, there’s spikes you couldn’t see before crashing into them ?

This is making me curious about the fan communities of the game, that are somehow still building levels for this. Surely they have learnt a bit about the game and modern sensibilities and have come up with better levels than the general unfairness this game feels like.

But I will not check, for there, let’s say it, I don’t like Jazz Jackrabbit.

I appreciate what is trying to be, I came back to it more than once, but when I know there is so much better out there on other platforms, it’s hard to come back to.

It was, though, an excellent product to show off the Gravis Gamepad. I seem to have different memories of this product than some of you, because boy did I love that device. But my memories might be a bit fuzzy, and I’m sure the reason I loved it was it was the first functional PC joystick that worked that I owned. Yes, I said joystick, because even though it was a gamepad, it was trying to live, at least for me, in a world full of joysticks that simply became quickly unusuable because of drift, dead zones, and driver issues. The gravis gamepad worked. Jazz Jackrabbit showed it worked. I was thankful for this.

But that’s about it.