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volume 1, issue 25

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

Real Life: Check out our newest comic strip, Real Life! Updated daily!

User Friendly: Updated daily!

Related Links:

Comparing the Greats: What do Metal Gear Solid, Xenogears, and Zelda 64 have in common? Not enough, according to our editor.

Blood Music: Josh Vasquez's take on Parasite Eve, another Squaresoft game.

Standing on the Shoulders of Metal Giants: A look at a very different anime game, Shogo: Mobile Armor Division.

Commerce:

T-Shirts: Stylin' loonygames t-shirts from Berda Compugrafix!

Artwork: Hey, dig the artwork on loonygames? We're selling some of the original art.

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You've got an opinion...voice it! Drop a line to our Feedback column...you could end up with a free T-Shirt!

Random Feature :

Hey Half-Life fans! Looking for some good reads? Check out Valve designer Harry Teasley's guest editorial, our review of Half-Life, or our interview with Marc Laidlaw!

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Pixel Obscura :
What the Hell?

 

 

 

 

 

By Josh "Dr.Rouge" Vasquez

It works...go figure.

hen you first watch the intro piece to Jazz Jackrabbit 2 what you see might come as a bit of a surprise. The animation looks antiquated, the music might as well have been piped in from any number of early eighties videogames, and the storyline appears about as shoot-em-up as you can get...and it all looks wonderful. Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is firmly stuck in the past. The animation recalls those stupid little school films featuring any number of anthropomorphized furniture and household appliances lecturing about safety. What those films lacked, of course, was the self-aware sense of humor that Jazz Jackrabbit uses to its full advantage. The creators are aware of the limitations of the form they have chosen; one can only imagine that that is why they styled the game's cinematics so deliberately. One the one hand this, "old school/cheap" feeling heightens the lack of seriousness with which the viewer approaches the game and automatically increases the effectiveness of the overall gag. The last thing Jazz Jackrabbit 2 wants is to be taken seriously; the point is that in this world absurdity rules.

Even the music draws on the dusty heritage of an older cartoon period. The opening piece reminds the viewer of the tunes that accompanied the mock-drama of any number of action adventure series, yet sounds somewhat sillier than that...like the Thundercats' theme on helium. The crucial distinction, however, is that Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is also very savvy in how it incorporates the more "modern" elements of the contemporary videogame into its cinematics. Despite the older feel of the opening, there are actually several more contemporary components to the opening movie. For one thing, the pace is quite fast. Our hero Jazz slides from one encounter with his turtle enemies to the next, grinning all the way. When the furious green haired bunny kills his enemies, he zaps them, eliminating them, "with extreme prejudice." Perhaps the funniest moment in the intro comes as Jazz draws his weapon and fires on a turtle. The poor sap hardly has the chance to react as he disappears in a white flash, only the shellshocked looking remains of his eyes remaining behind in the terminal afterglow. Another turtle, faced with certain doom, waves a little white flag of surrender before disappearing faster than Snagglepuss after a chorus of "exit stage lefts." Our hero, finally coming up against a rather large and ferocious turtle, has no other option but to swing out of trouble, grabbing onto a rope which, after being triggered by way of some convoluted Rube Goldberg device, hurtles him into the air and out of danger. Just before he flies away, Jazz smirks at his enemy, that devilish grin which has become the hallmark of every modern wisecracking goodguy. So Jazz is not completely the product of his environment.

On the whole Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is a great little piece of retro cinematics. The opening wonderfully recalls Saturday morning cartoons and as well as those Twilight Zone-ish grade school instructional films. The creators revel in their perversity, transforming rabbits into bloodsoaked hares and using panicking turtles as cannon fodder. It may not be great cinema designing, but it's certainly entertaining...and in the world of Jazz Jackrabbit that's all that really matters.

 

 

- Josh "Dr.Rouge" Vasquez is a regular contributor to loonygames.

 

Credits: Pixel Obscura logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Pixel Obscura is © 1999 Josh Vasquez. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited...we know where you live.