Jazz Jackrabbit 3 (subtitle: Adventures of a mean green hare) is the cancelled sequel to Jazz Jackrabbit 2.
It was originally being developed by World Tree Games in 1999. Initially it showed promise to the people at Epic. However, Epic was unable to find a suitable publisher for the game and it was shelved, following much hard work from people that received no pay. The only persons from the original Jazz Jackrabbit team that worked on JJ3 were Dean Dodrill and Alexander Brandon.
A demo exists, but is very hard to get, and is technically not legal to have. This demo is officially a “pre-alpha version”.
The demo is based on the first version of the Unreal Engine, which was also used for games such as Unreal and Unreal Tournament. The game, however, was not a first-person shooter like Unreal but a third-person action-adventure, where the camera was placed just behind the character you were playing with. The demo included two guns: the Gizmo Gun and the ordinary Blaster. The Gizmo gun was similiar to the Bouncer. With the Blaster’s alternate fire mode you could charge your shots: holding the alternate fire button would make your shots more powerful and even heatseeking. The Gizmo guns alternate fire mode was somewhat buggy, as it wouldn’t fire a bullet but change the player’s character into another random object in the level, such as a wooden box.
Guns were upgradable with dream cells. Dream cells represented a nature’s element: there were varieties such as the ice cell and the fire cell, however more existed in the editor. A blaster that was powered up with an ice cell would fire missiles that could freeze others, like JJ2’s freezer gun. The alternate fire mode combined with cells would power up the effect of the cell: powering up with the freeze cell would shoot an ice crystal that would create a huge ice block, trapping anything it hits. The fire cell would just make your blaster fire a red orb, but it would have an interesting effect on the gizmo gun: it would shoot one rainbow-colored rocket and in alternate fire mode three seeker-like missiles (though they didn’t automatically hit its target).
You can also kill enemies by jumping on top of them: something Jazz has always wished. There were also plans for integrating the airboard or an item like it into the game, as shown by this screenshot. The airboard however was glitchy and not used in the playable levels of the demo.
Apart from guns, the game includes classic pickups such as gems and coins. Coins seemed to be rather important as they were spread all over the Single Player levels, and it was possible to spend them in a shop in Carrotus Village (also referred to as “Hopteego Village”) for new guns or health. Gems could be used to activate “gem switches”: platforms with a big gem picture on it, that would spawn various goodies when you stepped on them and had the right gem. Ofcourse there were carrots to regain health, and also an item called the Energy Booster which worked like a fast fire. Unlike in the previous Jazz games, there was no ammo needed for the guns: repeatedly shooting a gun would drain your gun’s power bar, and if the power bar was empty the gun would need to be recharged to work again.
Though the character the game is played with bears a very strong resemblance to Jazz, it is possible that he is actually someone else. In Hopteego village, there’s a huge statue that, according to another rabbit who’s looking at it, represents “King Jazz“. The rabbit tells the player that he “looks like King Jazz in his outfit”, not that he IS King Jazz and that everything was better when King Jazz was still around and Devan Shell wasn’t. Ofcourse, this might also mean Jazz had been on vacation for the past few years and returned, but didn’t tell the inhabitants of Carottus he did. One can only wonder.
The demo also included a few classic enemies: there were Turtle goons, henchlizards and bees. The turtles were as stupid as in the previous games, with little or no AI, but at least they would hide in their shells when you attacked them. The henchlizards were simple lizards that would stand around looking for you, and attack you when you shot them or came close enough. The bees were a little more civilized than in the previous games: they could shoot at you.
Apart from the normal enemies, there were a few bosses in the game. All of them were lizards, but they didn’t have the ordinary yellow color the other lizards had. They all represented a power cell, and killing a boss would earn you his cell.
The demo also supported Multiplayer. The only functional game mode was Battle, but there were quite a few levels available to play in, though some of them were actually Single Player levels or didn’t work. Just like in the single player game mode, the player could only play as Jazz, but this time it was possible to change the colors of Jazz’s fur. This game mode was unifinshed. The demo comes with a functional level editor, called JazzEd. This is a modified version of Unreal’s UnrealEd editor, and works much the same.
Warning: story details below – spoiler alert
The story obviously revolves around Jazz Jackrabbit, who seems to be king of Carrotus. His children are captured by Devan Shell, and Jazz has to save them. The game starts in Carrotus Village, a town inhabited by rabbits, which also includes a cave where the player can learn how to play the game.
The game is non-linear, and from there Jazz can move to Carrotus forest, which connects to several other places, like the Prairie grand (which was not available in the demo version) and the Carrotus observatory, which links to the Rocket launch pad. Here, the player has to make the rocket launch by completing a puzzle there. The rocket is supposed to be property of Razz a ma Tazz, Jazz’s cousin, but the launching and Razz were both not available yet.
From Carrotus village, the player can also go to Carrotus Castle via a canyon. In this castle, Jazz’s son is held captive, but when Jazz finally reaches his cell, he has disappeared. This is where the demo ends.
*It was revealed at the end of the 2005-07-29 episode of G4TV.com that Cliff Bleszinski is still very interested in the idea of doing Jazz Jackrabbit 3, and is still actively pitching the concept to publishers . Although Bleszinski would not reveal too many details about the game, he seemed to imply it involved Jazz getting into trouble with the Turtle Mafia, suggesting that his concept for Jazz Jackrabbit 3 is completely different from the version Dean Dodrill was working on in 1999.
During the “Gears of War: The Gearsiverse” panel at the San Diego Comic-Con 2009, Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski confirmed that the development house wasn’t working on a new Jazz Jackrabbit game, when asked of the possibility by a fan during the Q&A session. However, he did mention that he’s willing to discuss the possibility with Chair Entertainment.
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.