The holidays are a special time, a season for family, warm fires, and (as we explored last week) lemmings. However, lemmings are not the only small, fuzzy animal to be featured in a holiday video game. Far from from it! The jackrabbit is also a member of that elite club.
In 1994, Epic MegaGames (of Fortnite, Unreal, and Gears of War fame) released Jazz Jackrabbit, a platforming game based loosely on the world of Aesop’s Fables, with gameplay inspired by the Amiga title Zool. In this bizarre little creation, you played a hero named Jazz Jackrabbit who lived on the planet Carrotus. Your world has been attacked by the evil tortoise Devan Shell. Tortoises, it seems, bear a deep grudge against rabbit-kind which traces all the way back to the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” After coming to your world, Shell kidnaps the princess Eva Earlong. As Jazz Jackrabbit, a green hare with a red bandana, bracers, and a blaster, you must travel to different planets in your quest to rescue Princess Earlong. Along the way, you collect various weapons and battle bosses. But wait, there’s more! As you would naturally expect, the soundtrack is all acid jazz.
It only makes sense that there would be a holiday version of the game. In late 1994, a shareware edition of the game was made available called Jazz Jackrabbit: Holiday Hare. It contained three holiday episodes. The next year Jazz Jackrabbit: Holiday Hare 1995 was released, containing additional levels. As with Christmas Lemmings, the changes were more or less cosmetic. Gameplay remained exactly the same but settings included things like candy canes and Christmas trees. Oh, and the 1995 version featured a rap rendition of the classic Christmas carol “Little Drummer Boy.”
The Jazz Jackrabbit franchise never quite achieved the popularity of similar games, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a devoted following. There’s even a massive fan page online, which has been in operation since 1999. And really, what’s not to love? Rabbits with attitude and heavy weaponry? Evil reptiles and funky jazz? Candy canes and rap renditions of holiday classics? Pour the eggnog and let’s do this thing!