Okay so this is a trial post to see if you guys enjoy reading this type of review.
When I think back to my early years the first game I truly remember being obsessed with was Jill of the Jungle, a product of Epic Megagames. Later renamed to Epic Games they're the developers of the most popular game engine of all time (The unreal engine) and the most popular third person shooter of this generation, (Gears of war). But they didn't start big and just appear out of no where. Before Cliff Bleszinski was workin the chainsaw gun Epic games was producing unique PC platformer titles, which brings me to the point of this article, a review of Jill, one of the games that got them started.
Jill was made as a trilogy, Jill of the Jungle, Jill goes Underground and, Jill saves the Prince in 1992. Jill has several elements that make it different from the big platformers of the time like Mario or even Prince of Persia. The first difference difference is quite obvious, the heroine is...a heroine. That's right, no more saving the helpless princess from castle x, This time it's the girls turn to get dirty. While I was only 4 when the game was released, the games stuck out to me, maybe it was because that's what my older brother (10 years older) was playing at the time. But then again there's got to be something to be said about making a game where the chick saves the helpless dude though. It shows that right from the start Epic wasn't out to rip of what everyone else was making, they wanted to be unique.
Jill is a shooting/jumping puzzle game (which is ironic because I can stand very few jumping puzzles now a days). There's 2 different weapons you can pick up, the knife, and the shuriken. One notable thing is though that you can pick up more then one of them at a time. You can hold several knifes, that disappear from your inventory and you have to either wait until they come back to you, or go pick it up if it gets stuck. The shuriken operates a little different, It doesn't return to you but rather bounces around the screen until it disappears, at which point you can send it out again.
There's a fairly wide variety of enemies in the games, each game introducing new creatures and re-using the ones already established. There is a feature that really makes Jill shine here though, You get to turn into them! At multiple times through out the series you get to transform into a fiery bird, or a frog or a fish to help you solve the puzzles and find your way through the puzzles. This is a feature that to this day still very few games have implemented and one that I find very entertaining.
When it comes right down to it Jill of the Jungle (and the squeals) are a fairly unique experience that you'll have a hard time finding a copy cat of. Each game isn't very long, the first one can take about an hour to finish in a straight play through, but there's a little bit of replay value to find some hidden areas and get a higher score. The other two games increase in length and Jill saves the prince features a completely different world map then the first two games.
So were there early signs that they would be great? I think so. The Jill series may not have been earth shattering or massively popular but they did show that Epic Megagames was not out to release cookie cutter copies of every other game that's out, but make a truly unique experience that the players will have a hard time duplicating elsewhere. All three Jill games are available to download from various abandonware sites and are enjoyable played Via DoxBox. So next time you're sitting and waiting for Fable II or Fallout 3 to be released wondering what to play, give Jill a chance to whisk away your evening.
Let me know what you thought of this review. If you want me to do more of them let me know, If you enjoyed this one next I plan on continuing with Epic and doing a review of One Must Fall: 2097, a robot fighting game that you'll never play anything like it.