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My realizations about Jazz Jackrabbit 2

DennisKainz DennisKainz's Avatar

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Dec 4, 2023, 01:07 PM
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My realizations about Jazz Jackrabbit 2

I've always wondered how Nick and Agama managed to make such great tilesets. Then I realized. I've always drawn my tilesets the wrong way.
Because of my mental insanity I've always drawn either pixel per pixel or with the line/curve tool. That's where I got it wrong. Mentally sound people draw their tilesets free handed. My obsession for details has slowed me down a lot. I mean, it took 3 hours for me to draw the hills in my latest tileset. Nick and Agama would have made it in 5 minutes, and it would still have looked good.
In fact, even my obsession with Jazz Jackrabbit is probably due to my mental insanity. If I were mentally sound, I'd have conformed. Young adult boys like things like soccer, dogs and cars. I never really liked those things.
Another thing I realized about Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is that it was originally meant to be played in 320x200, and the 640x480 resolution was probably made for splitscreen mode. The reason why I think so is the 10x7 tiles wide background images in some levels, and the fact that every background layer fits the whole screen in 320x200, as you can see from the following pictures:


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Slaz Slaz's Avatar

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Dec 14, 2023, 08:03 AM
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I don't think either Nick or Agama differentiate from your method all that much. I'm not sure about Agama's, but Nick used Deluxe Paint with basic drawing tools like the (pixel) brush, line, and fill tool. Some of Nick's sprite-like tileset assets such as the Medivo gargoyles were drawn by hand on paper first, then scanned, cleaned up and colored. Tilesets from existing games were clearly used as a reference a lot, but that still makes them drawn pixel by pixel. As for your Grassy Hills tileset, imagine if it were an original JJ2 tileset and Nick would've drawn those BG hill tiles back then. I don't think he would've made it in 5 minutes, maybe closer to 1.5 hours or so. It really depends on how many times he had to re-adjust the shading.

As for being strange for liking JJ2. Errm, well, I think it's fine to just enjoy whatever you like. I neither like cars or soccer, but do like dogs (only since my late teen years). Games have been my primary (indoor) activity from my child years up to now, and the games I tend to like are not what the majority of people like. JJ2 is quite unique. A platforming/action game with deathmatch-style multiplayer modes and a good level editor, supported by this very community. It's a gift that keeps on giving. Obsessed or not, JJ2 is one of the few games I always come back to.

And yes, JJ2 was clearly designed with 320x200 in mind. Evidence for that goes further than just tilesets. The menu sprites show upscaling in higher resolutions and the episode images show signs of dithering and redrawing when Nick had to make them look better on 640x480. The addition of splitscreen may've been the decisive factor in upping the standard resolution, but by that time most sprites and tilesets were probably already finished. I do see that decision as a blessing though, as I don't think the game would've had the lasting appeal and the community it spawned, if it was left stuck on 320x200.
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