Jazz Jackrabbit 2
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is the sequel to Epic Megagames' Jazz Jackrabbit, in it, the notorious Devan Shell returns, stealing Eva Earlong's wedding ring to use to power a time machine which can be used to erase Jazz from history.
While the game was successful, it was not successful enough to prevent the two companies that published the game (Project 2 Interactive for Jazz 2, Orange Games for TSF) from collapsing. The same engine was later used for two other less notable projects, Battery Check, and A Gigantic Demo, an animaniacs game.
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 has a loyal fanbase, even overshading Jazz Jackrabbits 1 until retrogaming became a thing. The reason is, that it has a quasi monopoly on mainstream multiplayer sidescrollers, that run natively on Windows. In 1998, when it was released the genre was declared dead, because first person shooters were so popular. JJ2 however provided a platformer that offered (despite having a buggy engine and a boring singleplayer campaign) a level editor and internet multiplayer.
The following tools are able to work with this game.
|Jazz Creation Station (JCS) - The official Level Editor
|Edit (Create Tilesets)
|Edit (Texts on signs)
|Comes with the Game
- Like Jazz Jackrabbit 1,It uses simple Tileset with very few metadata - as opposed to Commander Keen - and most special properties of tiles are defined by the event layer. Unlike JJ1 however they have build in clipping-information.
- It uses heavy parallax-scrolling for decoration. A level can have up to 8 Layers, where Layer 4 contains the actual level, and most of the others are used for foreground and background. Layer 8 is the ultimate background, and must be opaque. It also allows to be displayed in a raycasted 3D style. Layer 3 is by default set to be a parallax foreground, but typically used as fixed forground layer (speed=1) to hide secret passages.
- The level format uses recursive tilemapping as a form of compression. The tilemap actually encodes groups of 4 tiles in a row, which are decoded by using a dictionary. This is especially helpful to compress foreground parallax layer wich are mostly empty. Groups with tiles, that may change during gameplay (overlayed by Destruct Scenery or similar events) always get own groups that are used only once.
This section lists the major file formats used in the game.
- J2A Format The game's sprites Anims.J2A are in this format
- Jazz 2 Cinematics Movie files used for the intro and ending.
- Jazz 2 Episode Files *.=j2e files contain episode selection screens for default and custom episodes.
- Jazz 2 Language Data Used to translate the game into various languages, users can in fact write their own translations
- Jazz 2 Level Format *.=j2l files use this, these are game levels.
- Jazz 2 Music Format *.=j2b are music files, though the game also uses .it and .s3m music formats interchangeably.
- Jazz 2 Tile Format *.=j2t files use this, these are tilesets (And tile masks) for levels.
- Zlib Compression - Nearly all JJ2 files are compressed using this.
- JCS.INI - Configuration of events in JCS.
The JCS or Jazz Creation Station is the built-in level editor for Jazz 2. It allows players to create their own tilesets and levels to be played or posted online and was a big feature in the creation of the Jazz 2 community. There are several versions that write incompatible level formats.
There are many versions of Jazz Jackrabbit 2 released and it can be difficult to discern between them. This include OEMs, christmas releases, patches and TSF, as well as a fan attempt at making a 'version 1.25'
Retail versions (1.20 to 1.23)
The standard, most common version, most likely 1.23. These are the main release and its patches to correct various bugs. Only minor differences exist between them.
It's what it says, a Demo. It's the same as the one included with the retail versions with only 3 SP levels, a CTF Level and Treasure Hunt Level. No JCS included.
Macintosh version (version number 1.2.8)
(Version changes to 1.22eu or 1.22us after applying the custom listserver patch.) No changes has been made for this release, aside from the lack of JCS. As it says, it's for the Macintosh.
('Special edition') This is basically a stripped-down version of JJ2 with only one of the four official episodes.
The Secret Files aka "TSF" (version number 1.24)
This was supposed to be an add-on, but it got turned into a separate game with its own .exe file. Compared to the regular retail version it had some changes, like an increased tileset limit for JCS (from 1024 tiles to 4096), a new character called Lori and some animation and engine overhauls. It also has 12 new levels (9 SP, 2 new Race levels and a new Battle level, though the MP Levels aren't either fully integrated, or finished), as well some of the best User Levels at the time. Because of the overhauls, TSF and the regular retail versions are incompatible, although you can still play levels from version 1.20 and above in TSF. Anything made with the TSF JCS will not work with earlier versions. TSF was only released in Europe, which explains the low activity.
TSF Demo (version number 1.24s)
An "upgraded" version of the original Shareware Demo, it now has two of the official TSF Levels added (and Lori of course). Still no JCS though.
Holiday Hare 98 and Christmas Chronicles (1.23x \ 1.24x)
These are the special Christmas editions of JJ2 with 5 new levels (3 SP and 2 Battle). Funnily enough, they both share the same official levels, but each had its own release date and area: Holiday Hare was released in the US in 1998 and Christmas Chronicles in Europe in 2000. Christmas Chronicles is the superior version as it was based on the TSF engine (and therefore features Lori), and had contest entries from the Easter Level contest. Only Christmas Chronicles had JCS, and levels made with that only work with Christmas Chronicles...
OEM / Beta versions
(Version numbers below 1.20) Short for "Original Equipment Manufacturer", these versions are shipped with customised computers when JJ2 was released, hence their nickname. Of course, they eventually made their way onto the net as everybody thought it was the full version. However, as the lower version numbers indicate, these are actually beta versions. Of all versions in the list, the OEM versions are the odd ones out because of different coding and encryption of data. While all retail versions use file formats like .j2l, .j2t and the like, the OEM versions still had formats like .lev and common formats for music (.it and .s3m). Plus they didn't have online capabilities at the time they were created. At the moment version 1.00g is the most common one floating around followed by 1.00h, but another has also turned up: version 1.10o. That version has standard JJ2-specific formats, which means the encryption had taken place at the time it was made.
Version 1.25 is a fan project by UNKNOWNFILE (that means not endorsed, nor supported by Epic Games) to fix the plethora of bugs and glitches left behind after the hastened releases of JJ2 and TSF. It is available only as a patch for 1.23 and 1.24.