Jazz Jackrabbit

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Left to right: Spaz, Jazz and Lori.

Remember Aesop's The Tortoise and the Hare? Imagine that same struggle, only 2,000 years into the future with both participants as anthrophomorphic animals, armed to the teeth and out for each others' blood.

Developed by Epic Megagames, who would eventually rise to further fame as just Epic Games and go on to develop games like the Unreal series and Gears of War, these games starred the titular rabbit hero with quick feet and a big gun, crossing galaxies to butt heads with the evil Devan Shell and to free the captured princess of his home planet. Once considered PC gamers' response to the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, the Jazz Jackrabbit games sold on fast-paced run-and-gun action (with bonus levels surprisingly similar to Sonic's) and the titular Mascot with Attitude. The first two games in the series received many expansion sets, including Christmas-themed ones, and the franchise ground to a halt when the third game failed to ship. Surprisingly, the games still maintain an active online community, and Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is still actively played online by the proud and the few to this day.

Tropes used in Jazz Jackrabbit include:
  • 1-Up: Jazz's head in Jazz Jackrabbit 1 and a "1Up" text item in Jazz Jackrabbit 2.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Princess Eva Earlong's dress qualifies her for this.
  • Aerith and Bob: Jazz and Eva qualify for this.
  • All-Natural Gem Polish: Diamondus has shiny, already cut gems under the ground.
  • Alliterative Name: Jazz Jackrabbit and Eva Earlong.
  • All There in the Manual: Jazz Jackrabbit 2's plot was only explained in the comics in the manuals, so if you didn't read them, you'd have no idea what was going on.
  • Ascended Extra: Lori Jackrabbit, the nameless yellow rabbit Spaz fell in love with at the end of Jazz Jackrabbit 2, was made a playable character in The Secret Files. She was originally going to be Spaz's girlfriend, but the game's publisher goofed and dubbed her Jazz and Spaz's long lost sister, thus killing all romantic intentions. Jazz Jackrabbit 2's ending was never fixed to reflect the change.
  • Attack Drone: If you free a caged bird, it will follow you around and shoot whenever an enemy is near, but you lose it if you take damage. In the first secret level, you play as one of these birds.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Jazz Jackrabbit, of course. The Alliterative Name feature also adds a nice touch as a bonus.
  • Badass: Jazz, of course.
  • Bag of Spilling: You lose all your weapons (aside from the default pistol) and ammo between episodes in Jazz Jackrabbit 1. You keep them in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 though, unless you start a new game from a later episode.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Lori, and Jazz when his outfit includes pants.
  • BFG: Jazz's LFG-2000.
  • Big Red Devil: One of the bosses in the second game is a really fast, nasty devil who can spit fire all over the place.
  • Bonus Stage: In the first game, every level has a bonus stage which you can enter if you collect a special ruby.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: If the player didn't press any buttons a few seconds, Jazz looked at the screen and called to them. In the first game, he said, "What are you doing?". In Jazz Jackrabbit 2, he was more direct: "Hey! Hey, c'mon! Wake up!"
  • The Cameo: In the secret level in Diamondus, there are several Katana robots from One Must Fall 2097 which act as platforms/walls.
  • Chain-Reaction Destruction: Bosses go down that way in the original game.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Spaz. The guy's not quite right in the head.
  • Cute Bruiser/Hot Amazon: Lori Jackrabbit.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Some bosses go boom when killed, as do Spaz and Lori when one loses a life.
  • Development Gag: All over the place.
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Spaz is a British English slang term for "spastic".
  • Did Not Do the Research/Completely Missing the Point: Devan Shell. He engaged in his campaign of terrorism because he was so incensed about the attitude of the lagomorphic antagonist of The Tortoise and the Hare, but he didn't notice that the attitude that got him so fired up is the same thing that cost the hare the race, thus teaching said mammal a valuable lesson about hubris.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: They're often encountered.
  • Double Jump: Spaz can in Jazz Jackrabbit 2.
  • Dummied Out: Tons in Jazz Jackrabbit 2, due to rushed production. Everything from secret levels (at least three, including two complete levels) to bosses (one complete and only used in a later bonus pack, another with no attacks and a third that's invisible despite having sprites) to minor enemies (some functional, others not) and powerups (Frickin' Laser Shield!). There's a bunch of unused sprites in the animation file, too, including '3D' views a-la the 3D Bonus Stages in Jazz Jackrabbit 1.
  • Easier Than Easy: Several levels can be completed by holding the "right" and "shoot" buttons, and continually tapping "jump".
    • That's just in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 though. The first game could actually be quite difficult in the later episodes, and goes right up to Nintendo Hard on the higher difficulty settings.
  • Eternal Engine: The planets Tubelectric, Letni, Orbitus, Technoir, Dreempipes, Industrius, Deckstar, and the Megairbase and the Twin Battleships. Also the abandoned lab levels in Jazz Jackrabbit 2.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: One of reasons the fans seem to really love Lori.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Eva Earlong, although she's not your typical Damsel in Distress.
  • Evil Twin: The final boss of the last episode in the first game.
  • Expy:
  • Fantastic Racism: Devan cites the original fable of "The Tortoise And The Hare" as one of the reasons he's so bent on dominating Carrotus; he hated the hare's smug attitude, so, being the sane and rational reptile that he is, he decides that he's going to invade a planet of rabbits (which, technically, are distinct from hares) that haven't done anything to provoke him.
  • Fiery Redhead: Princess Eva at times.
    • Also Spaz, a rare male example.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The cheat-code-access-only Laser Shield, although oddly enough its lasers mostly obey physics and are instantaneous.
  • Funny Animal: The whole point of the story.
  • God Save Us From the Queen: In the comic in Jazz Jackrabbit 2's manual, the Queen strips Jazz of his newly gained title of Prince and throws him in the dungeon when it turns out that Devan Shell wasn't quite as defeated as everyone thought. She then serves as the game's first boss fight.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck:
    • A level in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is called "A Cold Day in Heck".
    • Averted with the names of the Hell level files, however: "Hell", "Hell2", "Damn" and "Damn2" respectively. Interestingly, the Cold Day level is merely called "Freeze". However, it's unlikely that normal/non-modding players of the game (in an age range where this would matter as well) would be closely browsing the data files anyway.
  • Green Hill Zone: The planet Diamondus, where Episode 1 begins in.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Spaz.
  • Hair of Gold: Lori.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Jazz and Spaz.
  • Heli Critter: Double-jumping with Jazz in the second game triggers his helicopter ears, which are used as a glider. Lori has this ability too.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Jazz for Princess Eva.
  • Hover Board: "Yeaaaah-hoo!"
  • Hurricane of Puns: A lot of the Jazz Jackrabbit 2 level names: "Knight Cap", "Victorian Secret", "Fourteen Carrot", "Bad Pitt"... you get the idea.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Carrots heal.
  • In the Style Of: The Secret Files has a music track, played in the haunted house levels, called "Jazz Belmont" which sounds exactly like something you'd hear in a Castlevania game.
  • Jerkass: Devan Shell.
  • Killer Rabbit: Technically, Jazz, Spaz and Lori count for this.
  • Large and In Charge: The queen from the second game is the largest rabbit character. Well, aside the final boss of the last episode in the first game.
  • Level Editor: Jazz Jackrabbit 2 had an official one. A fan-made editor for Jazz Jackrabbit 1 was later released.
  • Mad Scientist: Devan Shell.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: One of the Queen's powers is a scream that pushes you back.
  • Mama Bear: The queen for Princess Eva.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The extra-large Diamondus gem from Eva's engagement ring in Jazz Jackrabbit 2. For some reason, Devan needed it to power his time machine so he could erase rabbits from history (it only makes sense if you read the manual first).
  • MOD: Uses the music format.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Seems to be the main reason that Lori is the third playable character (as opposed to, say, a third brother). Her idle animations suggest that "is a girl" is as far as anyone got with her personality.
    • Princess Eva Earlong also qualifies for this, given her revealing attire.
  • Nostalgia Level: All six levels of Episode 3 in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 are callbacks to the first episode of the first game.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The final world in the first game's first episode: Medivo. The track during the level fits well for both the music and overall atmospheric components. Though part of the shareware content, that accessibility actually helped to increase the level set's popularity, rather than leaving players tired of it. Cue remixes still popping up almost 15 years later, and you likely have Notable Original Music as well.
  • One-Winged Angel: The final boss of Jazz Jackrabbit 2, Devil Devan.
  • The One Who Wears Shoes: Spaz.
  • Power-Up Food: Eating enough food in Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and its expansions gives you a sugar high; you cannot be defeated for thirty seconds, and every villain dies the instant you touch them.
  • Power-Up Motif: Pick up the fast feet shoes and the level's music will speed up until they wear off.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Princess Eva's dress proves this.
  • Product Placement: One of the types of point-giving items found in Tubelectric is a Gravis Gamepad.
  • Recycled in Space: "The Tortoise and the Hare"... IN SPACE!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: A lot of the enemies had these.
  • Redheaded Hero: Spaz.
  • Rewarding Vandalism:
    • You score points for shooting up signs claiming that "rabbits stink!".
    • This goes even further in Jazz Jackrabbit 2. Not only do you get points for shooting stuff, be it blocks or lamps, but sometimes you actually need to do so to progress.
  • Save the Princess: The plot of the first game.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Letni = Intel. The planet Letni in fact looks like the inside of a huge computer.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • The comic in Jazz Jackrabbit 1's manual has Sonic appear directly: Jazz is complaining that he wishes life was like video games where all you have to do to beat the bad guy is jump on him, and Sonic is seen in the background saying "Somebody get my lawyers on the phone!".
    • Also from the Jazz Jackrabbit 1 comic: a turtle acquaintance of Devan's tells Jazz that they studied martial arts together. Jazz says that he's heard rumors that Devan was trained as a ninja, to which the turtle responds that he wanted to, but there were strict copyright laws regarding ninja turtles.
  • Shareware
  • She's Got Legs: Lori Jackrabbit.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Single Biome Planet: In Jazz Jackrabbit 1, all of them. In Jazz Jackrabbit 2, most of the game (besides episode 3, which revisits the first three planets from Jazz Jackrabbit 1) seems to take place on Carrotus, which would make that game an aversion, though since the game never actually says what planet Jazz is on, the only levels we know for sure are on Carrotus are the first four.
  • Smooch of Victory: Jazz and Eva share a BIG one at the end of the final episode of the first game.
  • Species Surname: All major characters have these.
  • Spiritual Successor: Sonic the Hedgehog plus Bucky O Hare and The Toad Wars equals Jazz Jackrabbit. But Bucky O Hare minus Jazz Jackrabbit equals Star FOX.
  • Springs Springs Everywhere: Sometimes there will be parallel walls or the floor and ceiling lined with them.
  • Take That:
    • One of the bosses in one episode of Jazz Jackrabbit 1 looks like a cross between Zool and Sonic the Hedgehog.
    • The last boss of the final episode of Jazz Jackrabbit 1 is an evil gray huge superpowered version of Jazz which you fight on a spaceship. I wonder if that sounds familiar.
    • The sequel follows up with a returning world having a robotic alien that is painfully simple to defeat riding in a hemispherical machine with a swinging ball on a chain attached to the bottom.
    • The cheat code "APOGEE"[1] reduces the color palette to 16 colors, reduces the speed by half, and displays the text "apology mode".
  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: The developers seem to use the terms "rabbit" and "hare" interchangeably when rabbits and hares are actually separate genera in the same family (hares are a single genus; rabbits are several others).
  • Third Is 3D: Or it would've been if said third game actually released (there's a beta floating around on the Internet, if you're still interested).
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Jazz's face completely blushes and turns red after meeting up with Princess Eva in the first game.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Jazz and Eva.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One of the screenshots on Jazz Jackrabbit 2's website before its release showed Jazz fighting Devan's demon form in the final level.
  • Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Diamondus.
  • Tube Travel: In the Tubelectric (and other) stages.
  • Turtle Power
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Jazz, Spaz and Lori.
  • Ugly Girl's Hot Daughter: Princess Eva Earlong so very much.
  • Unwinnable By Mistake: Lori has Jazz' helicopter ears, and a modified version of Spaz' flying kick. Unfortunately, this means she doesn't have either of the boys' superjumps, making certain levels nigh-impossible.
  • World of Buxom: Pretty much every main female character is well-endowed.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: A few planet names like Dreempipes and Raneforus.
  1. The shareware developer/publisher Apogee, later known as 3D Realms, was Epic's main competitor at the time.