Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All That Jazz

Anyone who grew up with DOS games (like myself), will likely remember the fantastic series of games known as Jazz Jackrabbit. And, just like I did, most people probably played the shareware version a hundred times, rather than fork over $20 for the whole shebang. Either way, Jazz Jackrabbit was one of my personal favorite computer games when I was younger.

At first glance, the game looks like a Sonic the Hedgehog rip-off. And while it is likely that Sonic was part of the inspiration, Jazz stands on its own with a different gameplay altogether. Plus, it had some of the best music known to DOS.

The story behind Jazz Jackrabbit is similar to that of a familiar plumber and his princess in distress. The goal is to fight your way to the end and win the heart of the lady hare. In your way stands the evil turtle regime, bent on destroying the universe. You'd think the animal that won the fabled race would be the good guy.

In any case, I recently purchased a little known copy of Jazz Jackrabbit for the GBA. It was the last Jazz game ever made, and hopefully someone will pick it up again. At first I had my doubts, since many DOS game ports for modern systems often turn out crappy (take for example, the horrendous piece of garbage that was Commander Keen for GBC). But thankfully, the folks at Game Titan pulled out a solid platformer.

The story and gameplay stays fairly true to the original. You play as Jazz Jackrabbit, defender of the universe. As you play, you pick up new and better weapons, like rocket launchers or carrot grenades. To be honest, this new version controls better than the original, for the most part.

Interestingly, in this version, Jazz seems like a younger, less seasoned space wabbit. And that's not a put-down. The game plays almost as if it's a prequel, with younger, more jubilant characters. Plus, the humor is pretty darn good, if you consider that most games that try to be funny, simply aren't.

The style of play is a little different, too. Instead of picking up gun power-ups as you go, you can buy new ones after each world, and then find ammo refills on each level. This may seem strange to Jazz veterans, but it's also nice because it lets you stockpile your good weapons for the bosses.

All in all, I found it to be a very fun, if short, adventure. Here's hoping that more Jazz Jackrabbit games are somewhere in the pipeline.

This game has earned a Blatantly Biased:


Funluvinchick said...

I was hoping there was going to be something about jazz music and he would have to play some jazz pieces to win the game, or something. Sadly disappointed. It actually sounds like an entertaining game! and it was on a system I know something about, Gameboy!

Devin said...

I'm glad that the port went well. I too am sadly disappointed to see a wonderful series be destroyed by someone who thinks they know what they are doing. The Jazz Jackrabbit series was one never to be forgotten from the DOS days. It certainly set a standard of greatness. Here's to the good ol' days...

Rachel said...

I didn't really get to watch you play this game, but I'm glad you had a fun time doing so :) I think Katie's idea about you playing some Jazz to get a game is a good idea ;) Love ya!