Watership Download: Jazz Jackrabbit 2.5

Ah. I was not previously aware that 90s platformer Jazz Jackrabbit 2 featured the titular bunny’s brother, a bug-eyed, drooling loon called – their name, not mine – ‘Spaz.’ Wait: Epic actually got away with that in a commercial game? Or is it just a term of abuse in the UK, not the US? Oh, CliffyB. The gifts you’ve given us over the years.

Anyway, the retromancers amongst you may be interested to fiddle with this fan-made semi-sequel to Epic’s old Sonic rival. It was huge in 1994 because the PC really didn’t get many of the platformers that were utterly pervasive on the SNES and Megadrive, but 1998’s Spaz-co-starring sequel was the lurid lagomorph’s last gasp, bar an unnsuccessful Gameboy Advance jobbie in 2002. Everything has its fans, of course – and that’s why, improbably, Jazz Jackrabbit 2.5 exists.

I’m not entirely sure which side of the legal grey zone this falls on, as it can be played without owning Jazz 2. Regardless, it’s up on Moddb and it features four new Jazz levels, playable as the green manrabbit himself, his sister Lori or, yes, Spaz.

It’s pretty enough despite the low resolution, but very early 90s in its presentation, music and mechanics. As in, idle curiosity probably isn’t worth indulging – this is likely only for those who played Jazz 1/2 to death, I suspect. As I didn’t, I can’t usefully comment on how it compares to the originals. Oddly, I experienced some nasty slowdown, which is either an incompatibility with Windows 7 or something, or 6Gb of RAM isn’t enough to run a platform game from 1998.

The standalone version’s here, at a cost of 22Mb, or if you have the original Jazz 2 installed, you can grab the teeny one.

Any fond Jazz Jackrabbit memories, goodly peoplefolk?

53 Comments

  1. LewieP says:

    Spaz is indeed only considered offensive in the UK.

    Epic are a load of wankers for not picking up on it though.

    • damien says:

      the important part:

      “Offensiveness differs between the UK and the US: it is quite offensive in the UK, while generally mildly offensive or inoffensive in the US.”

      in the states, its often used endearingly, or as a form of self-deprecation. it no longer has any sort of harshness to it that it might have had here.

    • Spectre-7 says:

      The wiki article gives a decent enough explanation. I’d put spaz roughly on par with geek or nerd here in the States, although it’s a damn sight more rare than either, and it can even be used jocularly as a term of endearment. There’s a general connotation of being uncoordinated, but it’s really not associated with physical disabilities at all on this side of the pond.

    • Vinraith says:

      Spectre-7’s summarized it pretty well. It’s a deprecatory endearment, for the most part, on this side of the pond.There’s no hint of association with disability here in the US, such an association had honestly never occurred to me. I had no idea the term was offensive in the UK, sometimes the things I learn on this site have nothing to do with games.

      On a related note, it’s nice to see Jazz and Spaz again. The originals were good platformers, and a couple of my now-wife’s (then-girlfriend’s) favorite games. If nothing else, I’ll have to grab this for her.

    • Shih Tzu says:

      Yeah, do a Google Image search for “Spaz Jackrabbit” and it should pretty much tell you what you need to know about the American definition of “spaz”: someone who’s significantly excitable and random, someone wacky, someone maybe not quite all there some of the time. “Spazzing out” has about the same meaning as “wigging out”, as in being briefly too excited over something. I had no idea the UK used “spaz” and “spastic” as a slur against people with disabilities until Ubisoft and Nintendo’s problems back in 2007. Calling a player in a quiz game “super spastic” when they do badly is nothing controversial in the US, but when I imagine it sounding like “giant retard”, I can see why there’d be an outcry. It’s amazing that no one in the Europe offices flagged it, though.

  2. jsutcliffe says:

    Me (British) and my Mrs. (American) are moving back to Britain in a few months. Spaz is one of her favourite words, and we’re trying to train her out of using it before she causes a scandal.

    Also, that was your awful pun headline? Have you met Mr. Gillen? I think he could teach you a thing or two.

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      Yeah, I got all excited in sharing the physical pain of the pun too. No more Molyneuxism plz :(

    • LintMan says:

      I thought it was clever, but then Watership Down was a favorite kid’s story of mine.

  3. Andrige says:

    Huge retroliscuous flashback from the music, but the levels however… well can’t read what the signs says so it’s quite hard to do anything. Overall at least this 2.5 pack was pretty horrible. But I was happy to find this game after all this time, really enjoyed it when I was a kid!

  4. ckpk says:

    I remember playing jazz jackrabbit 2 and other epic megagames games when I was younger. Fond memories…

  5. RiptoR says:

    Cleaned out a couple of closets last week, and found my old Jazz Jackrabbit install discs. Won the complete collection years ago and played the games to death. Funny stuff, back in the days anyway.

    Might have to reinstall them this weekend.

  6. patrick says:

    There’s also an open-source clone of Jazz Jackrabbit 1 called openjazz, it can be found at link to alister.eu and is much the same spirit as open Transport Tycoon, e.g. it needs files from the original game to play, and has enhancements like multiplayer.

    I only know of the project, however, I don’t know how mature it is or even what genre of game Jazz Jackrabbit *is*.

  7. Javier-de-Ass says:

    shouldn’t be any legal whatever with this, there was a jazz2 demo. so it’s just a mod, like how you can play doom/quake levels on the demo. what probably isn’t a legal download though is the alpha to the cancelled jazz jackrabbit 3.

  8. laikapants says:

    I don’t think I ever owned it, but I played plenty of the freeware versions. My fondest memory was coming across my favourite robit fighter (Katana) from OMF:2097 in the background of one of the levels in JJ2.

  9. manintheshack says:

    This came with my family’s first PC in… ’95? When I was about 13. Possibly that year. Can’t really remember playing it much although I was desperate enough to play any game to death in those days of excitement and cheap thrills.

    My amnesia might be attributed to how much time I put into G-Police at around the same time though… Also, I remember devouring Redline Racer. And 3D Movie Maker. And Microsoft Golf. Ah, memories… I think Jazz might have fallen to the bottom of the pile at the time. And then Half-Life appeared.

    • manintheshack says:

      EDIT: It was 1997. G-Police was ’97.

    • manintheshack says:

      P.P.S. Okay, it was 1998 like the article says, but for some reason I refused to believe it. Goddamn brain-frying nostalgia! I think I might have misplaced a year of my life. How can I ever reclaim it?!

    • Skurmedel says:

      G-Police… you recall great memories from the back of my mind.

  10. James G says:

    Jazz was one of those games which was fading out just as I got into the PC scene, but I think I played a demo. (Which I got on a PCG US coversic. No idea how I came across a copy of PCG US. I just remember it was three times thicker than PCG UK, but was almost all adverts.)

    Is it possible that the UK localization didn’t have the ‘Spazz’ brother? It would certainly be something I’d change is I was adding in u’s and swapping about e’s and r’s.

    • manintheshack says:

      He definitely was called Spazz although I don’t think it would have much affect on me, or other kids playing it at the time. It’s offensive for sure, but not by primary/secondary school standards…

  11. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I remember playing it and trying to play with two players using one keyboard…

  12. Ginger Yellow says:

    It’s always really jarring when I’m reading a US blog and come across spaz or one of its variants. Here, for instance, is James Wolcott, a liberal writer for Vanity Fair, just two days ago: “Scott Brown is but the latest of the beauty-salon graduates driving conservatives to spazzy distraction”

    Can you imagine the uproar in the UK if, say, Polly Toynbee had written that? Or, more to the point, can you even imagine her writing that in the first place? The connotations are totally different on each side of the pond.

  13. Niels Walta says:

    Someone modded the shareware version? Of the standalone expansion TSF? Not even sure if it’s the shareware version, seeing as the log says it’s based on the full version of 1.24.

    I’m pretty sure that’s technically not legal. What with redistributing binaries and omitting licenses.

    OpenJazz on the other hand was a nice effort, though to my knowledge never seeing completion leaving open some game breaking bugs. But it got ported around a lot, most recently to the Xbox 360.

    Anyway, the community has done some work and is still to some degree active at link to jazz2online.com and the associated forums. If you have a copy of Jazz 2 lying around or installed don’t forget to fully patch up: link to jazz2online.com Even the fan-made JJ2+ patch can be recommended.

    As for fond memories, yeah I might have a few: link to dutchfurs.com (or newer: link to anunrelatednote.com )

  14. Ketch says:

    I remember specifically as a child one episode of Johnny Bravo where someone called him a “captain spaz” I also remember about 2 months later a really bad replacement voice over where it had been changed to “captain stupid”… So I guess its only offensive in the UK!

  15. Glen Moyes says:

    I was a big fan of Jazz Jackrabbit growing up. Bought the CD of the original, played it to death.

    I owe a lot to that game for getting me into music. I loved the music and played it primarily for that reason. I was pretty shocked when I read in the players manual that Robert A. Allen (anyone know what that guy is up to?) used Scream Tracker 3 to compose the music, which just so happened to be the program I was using to play MOD files for the longest time and never knew you could compose with it.

    So yeah, lots of memories.

    • Zerotonine says:

      The music was amazing! In a time when we were hearing midi-style bleeps, here you had .mods and .s3ms and finally understood what all the Amiga fankids were saying about audio being important. I too, would start the game, and just let it run so I could listen to it. I have every single tune from every single old school Epic Megagames title and they get played a decent amount on my media server at home, good times! You can find the ST to JJ1 here:

      link to mirsoft.info

      Medivo, Tubelectric and Menu are my faves.

  16. Fergus says:

    I literally bought the t-shirt all those years ago for Jazz Jackrabbit 1. Wow, I never thought something like this would ever reappear.

  17. Matzerath says:

    I feel that I’ve learned something very important today. Thank you.

  18. CMP5 says:

    I remember playing the Christmas themed demo disk of this when I was about 6 or 7. Always wished I could access those locked levels…

  19. Hare says:

    Stripping down Jazz Jackrabbit 2: the secret files of most of it’s levels and music, then replacing them with 4 custom maps isn’t what i’d call “Jazz 2.5”. Its a user created level pack just like many many others available for the game. What irritates me is that they are taking credit for work that isn’t theirs. What they really did was make 4 levels in Jazz Creation Station which ships with the game, then deleted all the files that they weren’t using. That is still the retail version of TSF. There’s no difference aside from the missing content.

  20. mejobloggs says:

    Wow! So getting this, thanks very much. Forgotten all about Jazz Jackrabbit, but spent hours playing co-op with my brother when I was a kid

    What’s up with all the hate about Spaz? Weird people

    Spaz Jackrabbit is the same as saying Crazy Jackrabbit. Or loopy

    And he was rather loopy and crazy. My favorite rabbit :D

    • lhzr says:

      come on, don’t say crazy. it’s offensive to people with mental problems :|

  21. Mario Figueiredo says:

    That’s all fine. Jazz was… ok.
    But really, it was Earth Worm Jim that shattered 2D platforms back in 94 and 95. I wish they released the free versions of this game. You gotta love a game that has you controlling a worm in a suit, lashing head like a whip and launching cows at your enemies.

    And with such respectable game characters as:
    – Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt
    – Bob, the Killer Goldfish
    – or the God of Nasal Discharge

    • LionsPhil says:

      Earthworm Jim 1 was ridiculously hard. I have never got past that goddamn lamp+barrel miniboss. EWJ2 was great, but not entirely a platformer—more like a Warioware party for one were some of the games are platformers. Jim is now a Blind Cave Salamander.

      Also, Sonic fanboys? GTFO. EWJ and JJ had guns, which meant none of this stupid having to rev up to speed to get past a tortoise just because you lost your momentum for a moment.

  22. amazed says:

    I’m amazed at how sensitive you poms are to the word ‘spaz’.

    Freaking mind blowing.

    I think people are far too sensitive these days.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      it’s just a bloody word, right? Words can’t bite you..

  23. cjlr says:

    Oh. My. God.

    I fucking love Jazz Jackrabbit 2. I remember playing that game just about all the time in my school’s computer lab back in ’98 or so. Continuous LAN action. Shit, we’d hop in and out all day if we could manage it. Oh, the things they let kids get away with back in the day.

    Now I’m getting all nostalgic. Awww. This I must download.

  24. Ninja Dodo says:

    I had a lot of fun with Jazz2. Most of its popularity was due to its multiplayer (deathmatch, capture the flag, etc) and level-editing features. Did a fair a bit of modding myself.

  25. RLacey says:

    Ah, Jazz… it’s been a while.

  26. CMaster says:

    The original Jazz Jackrabbit was great fun. IT had speed and violence that blew Sonic out of the water, and a nice variety of levels and weaponry.

    The sequel however felt overengineered, overdesigned and rather late to the platforming party.

    • lhzr says:

      it didn’t blow anything out of the water. sonic had much more fluid gameplay, jazz wasn’t nowhere near the same league as sonic.

      also if you’re looking for a good oldschool pc platformer, get Lomax, it’s abandonware and it’s platforming done right. none of that stiff jumping and clunky geometric level design that most 90s pc jumpnruns where plagued with.

  27. Flaringo says:

    Fuck that devil guy in the demo.

  28. mejobloggs says:

    Oh hmm. It does seem to be that. Lame

    I was hoping for a semi remake. Maybe improved graphics, compatibility etc. Not just some extra levels

    • mejobloggs says:

      meant to be a reply grrr

    • mejobloggs says:

      Hmm I can’t edit either. Sorry, I’m a newish poster

      I originally meant to reply to:

      Hare says: February 26, 2010 at 2:10 am
      Stripping down Jazz Jackrabbit 2: the …………………………

  29. Koozer says:

    Sugar rush!

  30. BooleanBob says:

    Jazz Jackrabbit, Hi-Octane and Wacky Wheels are the reason I got into PC gaming. Apogee, Epic, Bullfrog.

    Oh, for another era like shareware in ’95.

  31. LionsPhil says:

    Relevant to people’s interests: what became of Jazz Jackrabbit 3.

    There was some kerfuffle not so long ago that CliffyB mentioned how he might like to revisit it, but he seems to have firmly set himself back to BIG GRUFF MANLY SPESSSS MAHREEEENS since. (Well, OK, I don’t think Gears of Halo is in space, but meh.)

    Also, +5, music. The JJ3 soundtrack continued the tradition, but with Alexander Brandon, who later did a bunch of work on UT and DX’s music.

  32. Birdman Tribe Leader says:

    I played the shareware of Jazz Jackrabbit back in the day and I always thought the basic mechanic was a failure. It tried to inject the speed of Sonic into a shooting platformer like Commander Keen or Duke Nukem 2, which totally doesn’t work: You can’t ever build up the kind of speed that you can’t help but want to because, unlike in Sonic, you can’t just jump on enemies to kill them; you need to come to a stop and shoot them.

    The game tantalizes you into speeding through levels, but punishes you when you do. The result is that the most fun mechanic (Jazz’s speed) is one you rarely get to use.

  33. Cynic says:

    And it’s gone. Taken down. Any mirrors?

  34. David Mackenzie says:

    An unofficial Jazz 2 web site actually held a contest (which I believe was somehow related to Epic themselves) trying to come up with a replacement name for “Spaz”. I don’t know what became of it, and was surprised when it released as-is.