PixParticipantPodcasterAugust 21, 2023 at 8:16 am #7746
I’ve been chipping away at Jazz this month and have finished the original 6 episodes + the first of the bonus episodes now. I played Jazz through once many years back but don’t think I’ve looked at it since. The sheer speed came as a shock going back, the game plays like it’s in fast forward. Technically, it still impresses me now, the speed makes Sonic look like quite the sluggard. Having said that, it’s a bit too fast if you ask me, I have to blindly shoot ahead of me all the time when running forward as there is no chance of reacting to enemies quickly enough.
I can’t say I’m finding the levels especially memorable. They are certainly large and offering plenty of exploration but don’t have the character of other fairly contemporary platformers like Aladdin or Earthworm Jim. Jazz himself is a fun enough character who fits well enough in the pantheon of quirky 90’s mascots. The bosses on the other hand are definitely a let down. The first few, I more or less stood at the start and fired a lot from what I remember. The regular enemies all look nice but despite the variety of them all, they don’t do much of interest. They are mostly interchangeable. The difficulty scales quite well at least, the last episode would have been brutal without continues.
Jazz feels like the Wolfenstein 3D of PC platforming to me, in that once the initial buzz has worn off, the technical achievements are more exciting than the gameplay which ultimately ends up being repetitive. I suppose my problems with Jazz are largely about the game it’s aping. It’s funny in retrospect how so many Amiga and PC gamers all wanted their own Sonic beater as most of those games really don’t hold up so well in hindsight – they should have gone after Mario instead.
I played Soccer Kid on DOS for the first time earlier this year and enjoyed that more as early-ish 90’s DOS platforming goes but I’m still having a good time with Jazz. It’s easy to pick up and play in short bursts and dash off another episode. I never tried the sequel and am curious to see what they did with it. I’ll be firing that up if I ever make it to the end of all the CD levels. They certainly didn’t skimp when it comes to the number of episodes.
TigerQuollParticipantPodcasterAugust 24, 2023 at 5:49 am #7748
I’d agree with most of that pix.
I’ve dipped my toes in this game a few times over the years, but never really put a lot of effort into it. Just now I just had probably my longest play session to date, and that was only about 15 or 30 minutes before I got bored and had to stop.
(I did get some gleeful, sadistic satisfaction by using an off-brand, non gravis gamepad!)
I’m going to persevere and finish the first episode, but I have to be honest and say it’s not really my kind of game.
As you said, pix, the levels aren’t very memorable, and it’s a tad TOO fast. It’s intentional, but doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels more like that common DOS experience of playing an older game that wasn’t made with more powerful processors in mind.
For me the result is a bit mind-numbing and forgettable – just zooming right through levels that are already plain and hard to distinguish.
I can get how this game would appeal to certain people – speedrunners or completionists for example – but I just prefer a slower, more methodical type of action game.
dr_stParticipantAugust 24, 2023 at 7:22 am #7749
Gamepads? Who would seriously try playing old DOS platformers with Gamepads? They don’t work half the time, and when they do, they are still more clumsy than a good old-type keyboard. 🙂
Gravis gamepads in particular are very far from what they are cracked up to be. They are way too sensitive and introduce unintended diagonals all the time.
Back on topic…
Having played through all the Jazz Jackrabbit episodes ages ago, I can agree – the levels are mostly identical / forgettable. Then again Sonic (the inspiration) is not very different in this regard. However, unlike Sonic, even the boss battles in Jazz are mostly generic / easy. The Episode 6 boss (final boss of original release) is a memorable exception.
Some gameplay issues I see with Jazz are:
1. The levels are packed with secrets, but the running countdown deters exploration.
2. Bumping the skill level hits you in both aspects at once – Jazz has fewer hitpoints and less time, too. It seems ‘Medium’ is the only reasonable skill level to use. ‘Easy’ is too easy, ‘Hard’ may be frustrating.
jefklakParticipantAugust 25, 2023 at 10:11 am #7750
I gave the shareware episode another go today and have to agree with everything you’ve said.
That soundtrack, though. Even more banging than Sonic 2/3 at some points (tubelectric, anyone?)
My strategy is also blindly shooting ahead but sometimes even that doesn’t work as it seems that Jazz even catches up with his own bullets!
I prefer Jazz 2 as the resolution and size of Jazz have changed giving the player the advantage of the overview instead of the cramped resolution. This feels like playing a Sonic game on the Game Gear.
The problem with speeding through things and bumping into enemies is solved with Sonic’s spinning: just press down and everything dies (except if you land on spikes). No cigar here.
If you manage to find the bird in the levels, that thing does start hawking and “warns” you of enemies ahead, just a milisec before I see them!
TigerQuollParticipantPodcasterAugust 26, 2023 at 12:04 pm #7752
I’ve never used a gravis gamepad (although for some reason I really wanted one as a kid), so I have no comparison, but maybe my offbrand gamepad is a particularly good one. I’ve had no issues with it in the least. It feels just as accurate, responsive and satisfying as if I were playing something on the SNES.
(Is now a good time to confess I never had a SEGA as a kid, and have barely played 5 minutes of Sonic in my life?)
That being said, the keyboard still feels better for DOS gaming in most instances. I decided to use the gamepad for Jazz mainly out of irony, given how heavily the gravis is promoted in the game!
But yes, I have to agree about the music – it’s pretty awesome!
taxalotParticipantAugust 27, 2023 at 12:48 pm #7755
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.
jefklakParticipantAugust 27, 2023 at 4:13 pm #7756
I really hate those turtoise tanks! So many cheap deaths!
Thanks for your analysis taxalot, I think I agree. I’ve still got a few more episodes to explore but won’t expect to see a radical difference in gameplay.
DreamkidParticipantAugust 27, 2023 at 5:57 pm #7758
When I was younger, I always chose easier difficulties, but try tougher ones nowadays, so I tried turbo, but fell back on hard when I kept dying over and over in the first level. Even on hard, I’ve died a lot — it seemed almost unreasonable how enemies would just appear almost out of nowhere in Tubelectric, causing me to seemingly inevitably get hit many times.
I loved this game when I was younger, but now I see the gameplay is flawed because it’s too easy to run into enemies. Ancient Dos Games pointed out that the biggest flaw in Monster Bash was the level design, and I feel Jazz Jackrabbit has the same issue.
The levels themselves might not be that memorable, but I always found the backgrounds and music memorable. I think the charm they give the game is a big reason I always liked it. I always thought it was neat how One Must Fall was advertised in levels like Industrius. I always liked the comic in the manual. Jazz being on his own in his own ship always reminded me of the cartoon Captain Buzz Cheaply (not sure if I got the full version of the game before it aired).
I feel the game was a neat idea, and has charm, but the level and gameplay design were a bit flawed. There are a bunch of levels I have never played — I never came close to beating the game. Even this month, I haven’t gotten past the first episode (I have died a lot on hard).
LunarLoonyParticipantPodcasterSeptember 1, 2023 at 12:38 pm #7760
I tend to stick to Medium difficulty. Pretty sure it’s the same experience, except you get two extra hitpoints.
Otherwise, I tend to agree with Pix’s criticisms. It’s definitely a victim of the Shareware Curse, i.e. the first episode is the best the game has to offer.
I’d suggest trying it with Slow Motion switched on in the settings, but I believe that makes the game generally unresponsive as well, so probably not the best idea. (Alternatively: Apogee Mode, if you really wanna play Jazz in 16 colours)
DreamkidParticipantSeptember 1, 2023 at 11:16 pm #7764
You know, despite not being as well-designed, I think I sort of like Jazz Jackrabbit more than Sonic the Hedgehog (although I haven’t cared that much about the latter in years for some reason). Regardless of gameplay and design issues, I feel he was a neat character in a neat little series with beautiful worlds and music. Maybe, it’s nostalgia…
Unfortunately, I completed only the first episode. I’m not sure I ever tried the second at all back in the day. About the only levels I recall playing back then were the ones from the first episode, Turtemple, Marbelara, Industrius, the swamp planet with crazy frogs that came after that (I forget the first planet of that episode), and a snow stage with the same music as the one in Holiday Hare.
DaoDudeParticipantSeptember 26, 2023 at 10:43 am #7879
I never really got into Jazz Rabbit when it was new simple because well… we were a Mega Drive Sonic house! That plus access to this stuff was very limited in 1994. It was years later that I gave it a real go but even then, I was never really captured by it. It always felt like something we had at school on the Amiga 500! Not a bad thing but different.
There is a part of me that hopes that somewhere in the abyss of code that is Unreal Engine 5, there is a little part of Jazz Rabbit it, like handles the mouse pointer or something. 😉
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