Reviews: Jazz Jackrabbit

Jazz Jack Rabbit : My Experience

It would be unfair to call this a review of the entire Jazz Jackrabbit Series, having never played the second or third game to get a feel for either, but I grew up on the Freware Demo for the first, the two episodes of green rabbit gun-shooting that was a part of my childhood. To me, Jazz Jackrabbit was bigger than Bucky O'Hare, and I barely know who that is, but it's a big enough deal for me to write a review.

For starters, Jazz Jackrabbit plays like a console game; a shame for those who only had keyboard controls. Even with a Gravis Gamepad or the equivalent, it was at best difficult to control. You'd find yourself running into turtles over and over in the first level until you got the hang of it, and always overshooting your jumps and misfiring valuable Toaster ammunition.

And yet it sticks in the mind, even if it's not perfect, it stays with you after you're finished.

Sure, the gameplay was never easy, but with a bit of practice you could get the hang of it, and even to this day not knowing what the rapid fire blue guns are supposed to do, you'll want every last one you can find. There are secrets, there are bonus levels, there are signs to blow up, turtles to kill, and you'll want to get every gem and kill everything you can find, with your big blue flame-spitting gun.

Jazz Jackrabbit always struck me as an odd marriage of all my favorite 80s to 90s video game icons; You've got Mario with the Princess and Turtles, Sonic with the fast-paced running and Robotnik-themed antagonist, and plenty of Mega man with your gun-toting action. The wiki entry says it's the Computer answer to Sonic; I say it's a mesh of everything. It mimics them all almost to the point of being a lampoon of classic game characters.

And yet, if you like everything about Mario, Sonic and Mega man, you won't find it corny or cheezy or even spoofy, but actually pretty fun. It's certainly not the best game, not easy to control, a paper-thin early 90's game plot, and the gameplay is good, but not great. Yet it has a charm; the kind of charm that those three icons all share. The attempt at a game is just so genuine you can't help but enjoy.

That is, if you like that sort of thing. The game is not for everyone. Not for RPG fans and not for "Hardcore" gamers; but for me, it's a classic.