July 2, 2020 at 8:55 pm #3538
I’ve never really played this before, but I’ve seen it and to be honest I always thought it looked terrible.
But now that I’ve started playing it, I must say (much to my own surprise) I’m kind of into it!
Sure, I can see it’s clunky and awkward. And I still think it looks kind of terrible (although Jill’s animations are pretty good actually). But despite all that, I’m finding myself rather enjoying it. I like you can save at will. It also seems pretty varied so far. And throwing those knives around is pretty fun.
So yeah, maybe it’s because I went in with massively low expectations, but so far I kind of dig it! Haha
iGonzalezParticipantJuly 3, 2020 at 5:05 am #3539
yes, once you start playing it the game is quite good for when it was done. And I totally agree, the fact that you can save the game is a great thing for me! I love games when you can save “whenever you want”, mainly now as a busy adult, haha
firefyteParticipantPodcasterJuly 3, 2020 at 6:48 am #3540
The controls were a bit sticky, and it does get progressively harder into jill3, but otherwise rather enjoyable, despite having a softlock at one point.
I liked that you could death warp and hold shift mid-jump to jump again.
All the references to Tim 1992 and Epic Megagames was a bit much.
Also, the sound effects were blatantly reused in Epic Pinball.
That’s another game off my backlog.
PixParticipantPodcasterJuly 3, 2020 at 2:12 pm #3542
Just been playing my way through this. I got the first episode on a magazine cover disk in 1992. I didn’t have many games back then so I’m very familiar with that episode, less so with the other two which I played a pirate version of a few years later but never went back to.
It’s a very short and easy series of games really, under an hour per episode going back to it now. There is enough to keep it interesting but it was never much of a challenge, except for level 9 on episode 2 which had a long string of demons to fight. The graphics and sound were decent enough. The adlib music is particularly well done, that was the main appeal to the shareware episode as I recall.
I did like the multiple creatures that Jill could turn into, that added some nice variety. The boomerang mechanic with the dagger is kind of fun also. It’s enjoyable enough all round but a bit average, fun to go back to but hardly what I’d call a classic. I feel like this about a lot of the shareware platformers from this era. They were free and didn’t have much competition on the PC so a lot of people remember them more fondly than they necessarily deserve. If you compare them to what was available on console at the time, there is no competition.
I’m intrigued by the sequel which I wasn’t aware of until Mike mentioned it in another post. I’ll have to check that out as well this month.July 3, 2020 at 2:25 pm #3543
It is very true that this game (and similar PC titles from the same period) cannot come even remotely close to the quality of the games that were available on other systems.
But I do feel the need to point out that the Sonics and Marios all have large billion dollar corporations behind them, while this game was essentially developed by a kid living with his parents, and a bunch of friends helping out to finish it.
And although I don’t think this is a valid excuse for delivering a sub-par game, it is important to realise that the game development landscape looked very different then than it does now. There was no Game Maker or Unity to help you get started, no frameworks or libraries to rapidly put something together, no internet filled with resources.
As such, it’s a huge accomplishment that these games were made at all, even if they can’t really compete with the fantastic products released by large and experienced studios.
PixParticipantPodcasterJuly 3, 2020 at 7:14 pm #3544
All fair points. As far as DOS games go, I wouldn’t say Jill compares favourably to Prince Of Persia or Another World either, both of which were released prior to this and also essentially developed by one person. As for shareware, I think the Keen series offered better gameplay with the smoother character movement being a major factor. The block based movement might be my biggest issue with JOTJ actually, it makes the jumps too easy to judge. I’m no doubt being ungenerous but I don’t see JOTJ justifying the $30 price tag given how brief the experience was. It’s an achievement having created it absolutely but arguably not the best value for money as a consumer.
I’d be curious to know if any of us Europeans ever actually bought full versions of anything shareware like this back in the 90’s. Without Paypal, I presume that to register JOTJ I’d have had to post a US$ foreign currency cheque off to Tim Sweeney in the USA, then pay airmail postage + customs fees to get it back again. That process would have cost as much as the game itself if so.July 3, 2020 at 8:22 pm #3545
You’re absolutely right neither Prince of Persia nor Another World gives off the somewhat amateurish vibe that Jill of the Jungle has. I’m personally not a big Keen fan though, I think I’m enjoying this more actually!
But yeah, $30 seems awfully steep for what it is. I can’t imagine a lot of revenue was generated in Europe. I certainly have never bought one of these old shareware titles, nor have I heard from anyone around me doing so.July 4, 2020 at 9:57 am #3547
I was aware of this game back in the day but of these kind of games on DOS I guess I mostly stuck to the Keen games. (Which I now find a bit curious, there were a lot of decent shareware platformers, I’d now think I would have enjoyed playing more of those games, but I guess I spent my time playing other games.. anyhow!)
I’m checking back to DOS Game Club after a break and thought Jill would be something quite low effort to get into, and that turned out to be correct. I grabbed it for free from GOG.com and just spent a breezy hour or so playing through the first episode, and a bit into the second. It’s a good feeling when a game “clicks” and you want to keep playing. My daughters enjoyed spectating as well.
The game is really choppy, as discussed here. The level design also feels a bit like it was thrown together and then seeing what would stick. On the surface at least, but actually playing through the levels, you’re actually funneled through the correct path and the levels are less random and mazey than they seem at first. It’s kind of a good balance between feeling larger than it actually is and still not losing your way, at least as far as I played.
I did get used to the choppines of the gameplay quite quickly. The boomerang dagger was quite interesting and fun to use, as is the spinning blade weapon. The transformations are cool too. The add variety.
There’s definitely a kind of random thrown-together feeling with the silly messages and sound effects and what not. I’m not really fond of the music myself, it feels a bit random as compositions, though the mood of the tracks is cool.
If I have the time I’ll try this on the 486, maybe that will evoke even more of the nineties feeling.July 4, 2020 at 3:00 pm #3554
I played all 3 episodes, start to finish, probably more than two decades ago. Since then, replayed some parts a couple of times, but I am not sure I ever finished the third game since.
The soundtrack is one of the nicest things about the Jill Trilogy, and the mechanics of playing as different animals is rather original.
Control-wise, choppy is a good way to put it – it is very much grid-locked – unlike the very smooth, sometimes pixel-resolution platforming of games like Commander Keen. However, I found that once I adjusted to that, the game was quite fun.July 4, 2020 at 7:08 pm #3560
Forgot one thing. I very much appreciate how little punishment there is for failing. You just go back to the last checkpoint and there is no lives system. In that way it resemble more modern games. And you can also save anywhere.
iGonzalezParticipantJuly 6, 2020 at 5:28 am #3568
I totally agree with you guys about that for 1992 the game had a lot of better competitors around, someones from big companies someones from one “guy at home”.
I guess that is what DOS brought, the fact that it was easier to program than NES, Megadrive or PCEngine brought plenty of games that were not as impressive as other games in the time. It is true that the game gives you minimum a few hours of fun, that it is something that not every actual game can say.July 6, 2020 at 11:28 am #3571
I also do feel like these shareware DOS platformers (from U.S.) have a distinct feel of their own, compared to say console platformers from Japan or microcomputer platformers from U.K. It’s worth experiencing!
Dr. DosParticipantJuly 8, 2020 at 7:36 pm #3577
Finally got around to playing the first episode last night and was surprised that it took under an hour to complete!
I have a decent amount of experience with the shareware episode of Jill, beating it numerous times over the years. I remember it being a fun game and was curious how well it would hold up since it’s likely been a decade or more since I played it.
I got into these sort of games well past their prime, learning of Epic and Apogee from a shareware CD bought at a yard sale in 1997 so they all sort of blend together and it’s difficult for me to say how Jill would’ve fared against other games released in 1992, but I think it holds up nicely.
The grid based movement is certainly rigid, but the platforming required in episode 1 is forgiving enough that it doesn’t really bother me. I love the game’s visuals and the soundtrack is impressive.
As a huge ZZT fan, knowing this game came after ZZT/Super ZZT I couldn’t help but notice a lot of similar design. The HUD is very similar to Super ZZT and the mix of messages along the bottom of the play area and larger popup windows match up with ZZT’s messages/scrolls as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s plenty of code shared between the two since things are still grid based.
One touch I was impressed by was how the maps connect. I know plenty of games will have multiple levels on a map to save memory, but Jill seems willing to actually let you see this connected layout when most games try to prevent it. Flapping up in bird form here and realizing I was at the first level was really cool, and flipping through the other maps on VGMaps there are a few other connections as well.
As a child I was always fascinated with the weird purple mushrooms and space theme in the background during the ending, so I’m looking forward to finally trying the other episodes as well, though it sounds like they suffer the usual shareware curse of not being as good as the original.
ShatteredParticipantPodcasterJuly 16, 2020 at 12:41 am #3603
Just finished the first episode. I played it with my kids, I found it much more enjoyable that way. They died of laughter every time I picked up a key and heard the “YEA!!!” noise.
I liked the music of the last level, 14. Shame it was short and a bit slapped together like others commented. For instance, there’s a locked door with a key just sitting right next to it. Why?
Do the next episodes seem better put together or expand on the first? I don’t typically play pure platformers, but I really enjoyed Celeste or games with metroidvania elements thrown in like Hollow Knight. What do you all recommend? Keep going or have I experienced what the trilogy has to offer?July 16, 2020 at 8:39 pm #3604
The second episode is nice, except Heck (level 9) is annoying and very difficult in some versions where the demons take an insanely long time to kill (as opposed to a single hit). This feel so unfair, that it is suspected to be a bug, but who knows. However, the GOG version should allow demons to be killed in a single hit of the blade, which makes this level much more reasonable.
I don’t remember Episode 3 much, except it introduces the level map (forest) where you walk and enter individual levels (instead of feeling like you are smoothly moving from one to the other as in Jill 1 and 2).July 22, 2020 at 7:48 pm #3611
I just finished playing Episode 3 (Jill Saves the Prince) which I did to refresh my memory of it. This one is quite a bit hard than the previous two, with many tight situations and instant-death traps (spikes on platforms in mid-air are the worst). Many levels I had to restart multiple times, and some of them are quite long. Still, I managed to beat it playing leisurely over a couple of evenings.
This is where the game’s design, where the level is not reset upon your death plays nicely. These hard levels would have been ten times more frustrating, if you had to recollect all the keys and kill all the enemies again each time you died.
The third episode only has 15 levels (and really 14, since the last one is just the ending), but they are longer (and harder), so it does not feel shorter than the earlier episodes. Quite a good game, and the extra difficulty makes it a game you actually have to try to beat, rather than being able to wander through it half-mindlessly like the first episode (and somewhat the second).
MikeParticipantPodcasterJuly 25, 2020 at 4:19 am #3614
Just completed the game. I think the game is guilty of the shareware episode being the best, but I enjoyed it. I really disliked the instant death traps towards the end of the third episode but I thought it was interesting how they kept changing formats each episode.July 26, 2020 at 10:23 pm #3620
Wow, I’m amazed so many people have been able to beat all the episodes. Very good, guys!
I was happy to beat the first episode just now haha. Took me 3 or 4 sessions, I’m guessing 30-60 minutes each.
I still think it’s pretty good! They keep the variety up and the mechanic where you turn into various animals was a nice surprise. Once you get over the clunkiness, it’s really pretty good imhoJuly 28, 2020 at 11:46 pm #3626
I just started the second episode and it seems… pretty similar for the most part? The level design is less open-ended, but otherwise it’s not that different, is it?
What do people generally think about the second episode? I get the impression it’s not very well received, but I wonder why that is exactly.
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