Ah, the ever-venerable Jazz Jackrabbit: PC platforming hero, nostalgia magnet and all-round good times with gaming. We already covered the series in a lengthy retrospective, but I’m pleased to report that today we’ll be looking at a modification for the original game. That’s right, kids: people are still creating content for a DOS game that’s over 20 years old. Yet another in a long line of testaments to the power of community and fandom.
Sonic With A Gun (amusingly abbreviated as SWAG) is a tongue-in-cheek, large-scale modification for the original Jazz Jackrabbit. Jazz was often described as “Sonic with a gun”, and this mod’s creator ran with that concept, re-imagining the Rambo-rodent as he might have been if the first game were developed by Sega instead of Epic Games. The result is a wonderful juxtaposition of two of our favourite platforming mascots from the early 90s. Even Sonic’s iconic rings make an appearance as collectable items!
Players take Jazz through several planets, styled after zones from the Sega Mega Drive. There are secrets galore, including a few hidden worlds and assorted nods and tributes. Jazz veterans will notice the inclusion of a new weapon type – a carrot-shaped grenade that has a high arc and explodes upon impact – which helps tremendously in combating enemies on higher platforms. But be warned: though it may be heavily-influenced by Sonic, it retains Jazz’s difficultly, which means that there’s more than a few cheap hits even on the easiest setting. Jazz may be cute, but don’t expect him to coddle you.
The good news is that the mod is a stand-alone product, so you don’t need a prior version of Jazz Jackrabbit in order to play it. However, it is DOS-based, which requires a cursory knowledge of the command-line interface and a build of DOSBox installed on one’s PC or Mac. The one I recommend most is DOSBox SVN-Daum: it adds a ton of features and has menus for commonly-used DOS commands. Alternatively, you can still use a front-end such as D-Fend. Get the goods here and prepare for some serious SWAG.