In Jazz Jackrabbit 2, Jazz Jackrabbit has been knighted by the king and queen, following his rescue of Eva Earlong, whom he may now marry. During the wedding, Devan and his companions steal Eva’s 12-carrot diamond wedding ring and flee. Following this humiliation, Jazz is thrown into the palace dungeon. It is vital that he escapes from this dungeon so that he is able prevent Devan from succeeding in his evil plots.
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 can be classified as a “side-scrolling shooter”, but it also has platform elements. The game is shown in a 2D view, which scrolls as the player moves through the level. Levels are designed to be completed quickly, and it is possible to run quite fast by holding the Shift key.
The main objective in most official Single Player levels is simply reaching the exit, destroying as much enemies as possible on one’s way to it. Destroying enemies is done by either shooting, buttstomping or performing the character’s special moves at them – though not all enemies are equally easy to kill: some have to be shot multiple times to be destroyed. Enemies are characterized by “Artificial Stupidity” rather than “Artificial Intelligence”: usually, enemies will simply charge right at the player, even when shots are being fired in its direction.
Every four or five levels the player will face an end boss – an extra hard-to-kill enemy characterizing a set of levels using one tileset. Bosses are harder to kill and have way better Artificial Intelligence than normal enemies.
Levels usually require little or no thinking: if puzzles are present, they are rather easy to solve, not blocking progress for more than ten seconds. Jazz Jackrabbit 2’s gameplay is characterized by a large amount of guns to choose from. Ammo is also present everywhere in the level, and guns can be powered up with Power up monitors, which are usually hidden or blocked by a puzzle – puzzles hardly ever have any other purpose than hiding pickups.
A huge quantity of pickups is scattered through the levels. Food is spread widely everywhere, and gathering 100 food pickups will give the player a sugar rush, which enables him to destroy enemies and crates by simply touching them, being invincible for 20 seconds. In the official episodes, it is possible to gain a sugar rush every one or two levels.
Players can collect coins and gems. Gems serve no other purpose than earning the player points, though they were originally planned to earn the player an extra live if he had collected 100 of them. Coins are used to access coin warps, which lead to secret areas of a level. Those secret areas usually contain pickups that the player doesn’t encounter very often.
Jazz Jackrabbit 2’s level format supports secret levels, but this feature is hardly used in the game. Only one working secret level is included in the game, reachable via the first Medivo level. It is the only level in the game to contain a purple gem but is just a normal single player level apart from that, sending you back to the level you accessed it from.
Curiously, there are other secret levels installed with Jazz Jackrabbit 2 – however, they are all unfinished and do not appear in the game or Home Cookied levels. All of them are earlier versions of levels that do appear in the game, excluding the “Far Out” level (which uses the Psych tileset and is an unfinished version of the Psych secret level) and the “Return of Birdland“ level (which looks finished and contains the unique concept of playing as a Bird, and was planned to be the secret level of the Labrat levels).
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 contains several multiplayer modes or, according to the manual, ‘party modes’. People can play against other in splitscreen, network and internet mode. There are no notable gameplay differences in network/online party mode apart from players being able to walk straight through solid events (e.g. ammo crates, barrels and power-ups). This does not happen in splitcreen party mode..
One of the most obvious changes in the sequel is the addition of a second playable character, Spaz Jackrabbit, a goofy red rabbit who can double jump his way to higher platforms and can use his sidekick to crush his enemies. Spaz is able to reach some very high places Jazz can’t.
Another new feature of Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is the multiplayer functionality, which allows people to play against each other hotseat, over a LAN network or on the Internet using multiplayer modes such as race, battle, capture the flag and treasure hunt. Additionally people may play in coop mode to finish levels together, or play one of the custom game types that was designed by the fans.
As is evident from the existance of 3D Jazz and Spaz sprites in anims.j2a, originally a 3D bonus stage feature was planned for the game. This was, however, never finished.
A few patches have been released for the game. The only major one was a patch to version 1.23, which fixed bugs and added several features. Some of the most bugs generally found to be the most annoying, like the flag bug, were left unpatched.
A so-called add-on named The Secret Files was released in 2001, featuring a new episode, three new tilesets, a new playable character called Lori and a new version of the game engine, 1.24. A general patch to upgrade everyone to the new version of the game engine was not released, so the two latest versions are now both in rotation, while not being compatible with eachother. This has caused a split within the community between regular and TSF users, to some extent.
The game was distributed and released by different companies in different countries. In the North America, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was distributed by the Gathering of Developers (also known as GODGames). According to them, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was a financial flop, which might be an explaination for GODGames’ unwillingness to release Jazz Jackrabbit 3.
In Europe, the game was distributed and released by Project 2 Interactive, a company based in the Netherlands. For them, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was a huge financial success, as it helped them to stay alive – Project 2 had been in financial problems for a while when the game was released. Thousands of copies were released in the Netherlands, and today you can still easily find copies in budget shops.
In Poland, the game was distributed and released by LK Avalon, who even included a Polish translation of the game, which made the game uncompatible with many Jazz Utilities, such as Project Controller.
After a promise in an instant message conversation with FQuist, by one of the developers, to look into releasing the source code of the game, there was a lot of talk in the community about creating an 1.25 patch. Unfortunately, years already after it was promised there has been no progress in the source code situation, and due to the lack of interest by the developers, who have moved on to other markets, there is not a lot of reason to suspect any future add-ons or patches will be released in the future.
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