Remember Jazz Jackrabbit? Of course you do! Assuming you happened to be a PC gamer in the mid 90s, there’s a good chance that the Epic Games duology was your Mario, your Sonic, your favorite childhood game ever.
But you might not know about the active community of Jazz Jackrabbit fans that’s still out there – Jazz2Online.com, home of the incredible JJ2+ fan mod that comes with our re-release, as well as thousands of community made levels and more.
We recently asked the crew at Jazz2Online.com to recommend just a few must-haves from nearly 20 years worth of content:
Jazz Jackrabbit Mod Spotlight with Jazz2Online.com
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 features an intricately rendered single player campaign and the defining 2D arena shooter online experience, but the official levels will only last you so long. Fortunately in the last nineteen years there’ve been well over ten thousand new levels made by the Jazz Jackrabbit community, so you won’t have to stop playing Jazz 2 anytime soon! (Plus you can use Jazz Creation Station, the game’s level editor, to easily make some of your own.) We’ve listed some of them below, and made sure to include more links to other similar levels to check out, but remember that this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Installation instructions: all these levels come in ZIP files. Extract the contents of a ZIP directly into your main Jazz Jackrabbit 2 folder, run Jazz 2, enter the Home-Cooked Levels episode, and find the first level of the pack to play. Or if you’ve downloaded a multiplayer level, select Party Mode from the new game menu, host a server, and type the multiplayer level’s filename into the Select a Level field of the game server setup menu.
If what you’re looking for from your fan-made Jazz 2 experience is more Jazz 2, then this is the best place to start. Six levels that are a lot of fun on their own but perhaps especially interesting because they use four of the best user-made graphics sets available, making this feel like a real extra episode of the original game. They’re neither long nor incredibly difficult, but they sure are satisfying.
– For more recreating or improving the Jazz 2 experience, try Winter Celebration, Hero 4 Hire – The Final Adventures, Night World, and Energized Action.
Five episodes and eighty levels long, made over four years by a future level designer for Ori and the Blind Forest, DevRes (as it is called) is the defining single player experience of Jazz 2. It tells an original story with settings ranging from desert ruins to underwater mines to frozen castles to everything in-between. DevRes’s puzzles, detailed layouts, and inventive enemy placements have influenced everything that’s come after it. If you don’t fancy yourself a good Jazz 2 player, play this one on Easy; just don’t save your game except when it tells you to, to avoid memory issues from the enormous maps.
– For more story driven releases, try Cloning Jazz, World of Jazz, The Demon Invasion, and Dreamscape.
For most of the rest of the levels on this list, you’ll need to have installed the fan mod JJ2+, which adds a scripting language, new multiplayer gamemodes, death pits, innumerable bug fixes, and lots more. You can get JJ2+ directly from GOG, either by activating the Beta Channel feature in GOG Galaxy or by downloading “Jazz Jackrabbit 2 with JJ2+” from the “Game Goodies” sidebar in the GOG website. You’ll also need JJ2+ to join most online servers, so if you haven’t taken the time to check out its many amazing features yet, now’s the time. Getting back to level recommendations…
In the words of the author, Stone Abyss is a “scripted remake of the original JJ2 story”: a fun, no-nonsense Single Player level pack that hews close to Jazz 2’s original levels while also greatly improving upon their design, effectively using JJ2+’s new features to add new challenges and effects. Like many a classic mod, Stone Abyss reuses the game’s original graphics but with new palettes, layouts, and even boss battles.
– For more testing the boundaries of what the game can do, try A Generic Single Player Level II, Tomb Rabbit 2 Unfinished, and Jazz Unleashed Demo.
In this one-level-long single player experience, you aim your gun with the mouse and fire at any angle, using nine different weapons against several new enemies and three new boss battles, including a final boss with four distinct main phases. Ozymandius was originally created to showcase how many creative options the JJ2+ mod gives level designers, and its inventiveness and challenge remain memorable to this day.
– For more elaborate single levels, try Decimation (also playable in single player) and Jazzopoly.
It’s impossible to name a representative sample of the hundreds of incredible multiplayer levels in Jazz 2’s library, but if there’s any place to start, it’s the Anniversary Bash packs, compiled each year for the annual celebration of Jazz 2’s original release. Anniversary Bash 15, linked above, combines forty great maps classic and modern from the two most popular gamemodes (Capture the Flag and Battle/Deathmatch). But if that’s not enough, go check out some of the other years too, and drop by this April to see what’ll happen for Jazz 2’s twentieth anniversary!
– For more MP maps, try Scars of Chaos 2, New Ages V, Twin Stalactites, Dilapidation, and Electric Express.
Before wrapping up, we should mention that Jazz 1 has custom levels too! Sonic With A Gun acknowledges one of Jazz Jackrabbit’s main inspirations by recoloring and remixing Jazz 1’s original graphics into twelve new levels across six new planets (plus secret levels and bonus levels) inspired by the Sonic series. The result is a careful mixture of gameplay styles from the two series, with more varied and complex level design than the original Jazz 1 planets, a better understanding of the limits of the game’s camera, and lots of new enemies and other dangers.
– For more Jazz 1, try Lost Ages, Bad Seed, and of course the Jazz 1 Editor itself.