The History of Jazz Jackrabbit
I was thinking recently about bunnies in video games, and I remembered Jazz Jackrabbit! Jackrabbits are not rabbits/bunnies, but the video games are very fun and memorable. I will go over the history of the Jazz Jackrabbit games and how to play them now.
Who is Jazz Jackrabbit?
The Jazz Jackrabbit games use the Aesop's The Tortoise and the Hare story. Rabbits and tortoise have been at war for thousands of years, and the games are about stopping an evil tortoise named Devan Shell. Jazz is the main character and the hero of the video game series.
Who Made Jazz Jackrabbit?
Epic MegaGames, Inc. which is now known as Epic Games made Jazz Jackrabbit. Epic games also made the Unreal Tournament video games and the Unreal video game engine, and they are huge in the video game industry. Developers can learn to use the Unreal Engine to make video games, and it is a popular development tool. Epic Games is currently working on the video game Fortnite.
Arjan Brussee was the main programmer behind Jazz JackRabbit, and he is a well known Dutch video game programmer. Arjan Brussee is the co-founder of Boss Key Productions with Cliff Bleszinski. Arjan Brussee is currently working at Epic Games after returning to work at the company again.
I mostly know Cliff Bleszinski or CliffyB is mostly known for his work on first three games in the Gears of Wars video game series. Cliff Bleszinski got his start at Epic Games by working on Jazz JackRabbit and the Unreal Tournament video game series. Cliff Bleszinski is currently working at Boss Key Productions. Boss Key Productions first game LawBreakers is not doing so well right now.
List of Jazz Jackrabbit Games
Jazz Jackrabbit 2
Jazz Jackrabbit Game Boy Advance game
The First Jazz Jackrabbit Game
The first game was released in 1994 and ran on DOS. Devan Shell kidnaps Eva Earlong the princess of planet Carrotus, and Devan Shell does this because the kingdom of Carrotus resisted his attempt at a hostile takeover. The king of Carrotus sends Jazz to go rescue her and defeat Devan Shell.
I played the game recently with DosBox, and I will explain more on how to play the game on modern computers in a future section. I played the shareware version, and I would have loved Jazz Jackrabbit when I was younger. The game was more fun that I thought it would be and I loved the music.
The game also looked great considering how old it was and I would appreciate the art style. Not all older games age well and something pretty bad compared to today's standards and well done 2D artwork tends to age a tad better in my opinion.
The gameplay reminded me of older 2D platformer video games I played as a kid like Mario, and Sonic the Hedgehog video games. I would recommend playing this game today if you enjoy playing 2D platformers.
The Second Jazz Jackrabbit Game
Epic games produced Jazz Jackrabbit 2, and the video game was available for older Windows and Macintosh computers in 1998.
In this game, Jazz teams up with his brother Spaz to get back his wedding ring from Devan Shell, and our main characters chase Devan Shell throughout time.
In this game, you can play as Jazz, Spaz, and Lori in the expansion of the game. Each character has a unique trait that makes them play slightly different. I have not personally played this game, but it sounds like it would be very fun.
A Third Jazz Jackrabbit Game Was Planned
Jazz Jackrabbit 3D: Adventures of a Mean Green Hare was a planned third game. The game was being developed in 1999 and would have been the first Jazz Jackrabbit game to be in 3D.
World Tree games worked on the third game. The company was closed in 2002, and I could find very little on World Tree games. From what I could find World Tree games developed a game called Tyrian and they also made a few other games as well.
The game was planned to release on Windows and PlayStation 2. What happened? According to Wikipedia Epic Games could not find a publisher for the game. People leaked the incomplete game online, and there is footage of the game in an alpha state.
Jazz Jackrabbit (Again)
There would be another Jazz Jackrabbit game and in 2002 Jazz Jackrabbit was released for the Game Boy Advance. Game Titan developed the game, and Jaleco published it with licensing by Epic Games.
There is seemingly no information online about Game Titan which leads me to believe they were not very successful as a company. Jaleco was a Japanese video game company that also went out business. I wonder if there is Jazz Jackrabbit curse as making the games has not done any companies other than Epic Games any good. The history of Jaleco is pretty complex, and the parent company of Jaleco filed for bankruptcy in 2014. You can learn more about the games Jaleco made here. There not a single game I recognize, but apparently, some of the games Jaleco worked on were considered OK.
The game changed quite a bit compared to the older games. Jazz looks different, and Devan Shell and Eva Earlong are not in the game. The game is about Jazz fighting and defeating Chameleons. It seems this game is somewhat well received or considered OK at least.
Have You Played Any Jazz Jackrabbit Games Before?
Future Jazz Jackrabbit Games
Epic Games retains the license to Jazz Jackrabbit. While Epic is currently working on the Unreal Engine and Fornite, they could potentially return to series and make or let another company use the license to make another game. I have no idea if they will, but It is always a possibility. Jazz Jackrabbit was somewhat recently in 2010 used in an Unreal Engine tutorial on how to make video games for iOS. People thought Bubsy the Bobcat was a dead video game series until for some reason the video game series received a sequel after 20 years.
How to Play Jazz Jackrabbit Games Now
The huge problem with older DOS games like the Jazz Jackrabbit series is the games will not work without an actual older computer capable of running DOS programs. If you wish to the play the games today, it is still possible with various methods and workarounds depending on if you want to spend money or not.
Playing the Games in DOSBox
DosBox is a computer program designed to emulate the hardware and software of older computers and allows people to play very old computer games. Like the game implies mostly games that needed DOS to run.
DOSBox is somewhat annoying to setup though, and I can't recommend using it for most people. There are thankfully many helpful guides that can assist in this process and this guide by this guide by How-To Geek is one of them.
You will need to acquire the files of the original game which is very hard to do or download the shareware version to install them. You can download some versions of the video game series from Dos Games Archive. The versions of the games on this page are considered shareware and freeware, so it is 100% legal to download them.
Playing the Games with OpenJazz
OpenJazz is an open source version of Jazz Jackrabbit. You can download and install OpenJazz on Windows. Like with DOSBox you will need the original game files or shareware versions. OpenJazz sounds easy to use compared to DOSBox. The game does not play exactly like the original game, and some features and levels do not work. You can only play the first game and the second game is not supported.
Buying the Games from GOG
GOG is an online video game store that sells a mixture of modern and older computer video games. GOG is known for making very old computer games run on modern hardware. GOG sells the Jazz Jackrabbit Collection and the Jazz Jackrabbit Collection 2 for $10 each, and you can buy a bundle of both games for $20. While this price may seem steep for an old game buying from GOG guarantees the game will just run, and you will not have to worry about any complex setup of any kind. I have nothing to gain by selling you on GOG, but I would recommend buying the game here due to ease of use. It worth noting that is the original commercial version of the game and not the shareware versions. You can also use the GOG versions of the game in OpenJazz.
How to Play the Game Boy Advance Game
Since the latest game is a Game Boy Advance game you simply can buy it online, or in a video game store if you live near one. Jazz Jackrabbit (2002) is a relatively older game so getting a copy will not be easy but once you get one if you have a Game Boy Advance you are set to play. If you don't mind the legal grey area of playing video games on emulators then getting a ROM will be very easy like many older console video games these days. I won't say how to do this here, but a quick Google search will solve all your problems if you want to go down this route.
The Jazz Jackrabbit games are very much playable and fun today, and there are multiple ways to play them. Jazz Jackrabbit reminds me of a simpler time when video game stories were just to set up the game and games were (mostly) hard.
© 2018 Eric Farmer