Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is a 2D run-and-gun platformer where you control a 3-foot-tall, anthropomorphic green hare. The game has often been likened to Sonic the Hedgehog with guns.
The storyline begins three thousand years after Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare, when conflict between hares and tortoises escalates into war. This "plot," though, is mostly an excuse to run around creatively designed levels and shoot tortoises.
Jazz Jackrabbit 2: The Secret Files could be called the definitive version of Jazz 2. Not only does it have all the content of the original game, but it also includes the 9-level Secret Files title episode, the Holiday Hare freeware episode, twenty-three new single and multiplayer levels, plus a new character (Jazz’s sister Lori).
The Secret Files episode is good fun. It’s harder than the original game and has some cool settings, like the haunted mansion environment. Levels are packed with alternate routes and secrets that increase replayability, but also capture the feeling of the original levels. This episode is the highlight of the new content.
I wish the same could be said about Lori. While she is a fun character to play, I was hoping that Lori would add some new abilities to the game. Alas, however, Lori only has Jazz’s helicopter ears (which can slow down her rate of fall) and a faster version of Spaz’s karate kick which can, if you hold down the crouch and jump keys, be used repeatedly.
She’s also not quite so well animated as either Jazz or Spaz and, bizarrely, is unable to grab onto helicopters, making one early part of the main campaign impossible to bypass without cheats. Her lack of an extra high jump ability is also irritating. In general, Lori feels like she was hastily crammed into the game without even being playtested. Still, it’s hard to complain about an extra character, and having her does increase replayability of the game.
The music of the game is simply awesome. Every tune gets stuck in your head while blasting your way through levels, and I could sit and listen to the main-menu music for quite some time. The new tracks for the Secret Files episode are no different, although they aren’t quite as catchy as the original tunes.
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is a fine game, but The Secret Files adds nothing you couldn’t do without. If you’re an obsessive collector of all things Jazz Jackrabbit, then you’ll love the new episode and levels. Otherwise, I’d recommend the plain-old vanilla version of Jazz Jackrabbit 2.