Jill of the Jungle: the Complete Trilogy (1993)

Jill of the Jungle: The Complete Trilogy (1993), designed by Tim Sweeney, published and developed by Epic Megagames

Platformers. Back in the day of 8-bit Nintendo, Sega, Amiga and other platforms, PC wasn't very well known as a platform for platformers. While PC-scape didn't have well-known heroes like Mario or Sonic, that still didn't mean there wasn't anyone trying to make platformers to PC machines, but those attempts mostly fell flat, despite there necessarily wasn't anything wrong with the games as such.

One of the few platformers for the PC I played as a kid was Jill of the Jungle, an early attempt from Epic Megagames, yes the very same that did hit to new grounds years later with Unreal, now available from GOG free of charge. Can't beat that price, eh? Not that the games were that expensive, to begin with, as they were distributed under a shareware model, where you got the first part free, but had to shell out some cash for the rest of the games, if you found the game to something you liked.

But I digress.

The very first outing of the Jill of the Jungle is a pretty simple affair. You play as Jill, leotard one-piece clad amazon warrior. who has to jump, climb, battle and puzzle herself through a jungle. On a couple of occasions, she has to turn herself into another creature, like a fish or a bird, in order to be able to venture further in the game.  Throughout the game, Jill encounters doors locked with keys and gems, which she can open by gathering the appropriate stuff from the levels.

And that's it really. As farm platformers go, Jill of the Jungle is a pretty easy game, occasionally made a tad harder than it is because of it not so stellar controls. While it rarely asks the player similar finesse as something like the Mario games do, it does once in a while make you plummet to your death or just accidentally steer on a monster.

Despite the control though, the game is easy and can be completed in less than an hour. It isn't too tasking of a game and in the end, as it was the first part of a shareware title, it was just meant to whet the appetite more than anything else. Not that it did that to me, as while I did play it through as a kid, I never did think of Jill of the Jungle a particularly great game. Sure, it had a pretty solid soundtrack, but overall, the game just was a tad too clunky then as it is now.

For the second outing of Jill of the Jungle, titles as Jill Goes Underground, not much has changed, besides the colour of her leotard from green to red. The level design is a bit more complex, but if the game had better controls, it still would be a relatively easy game to complete.

This time around  Jill has to find her way back from the Underground, where she has to battle against winged, fire-breathing demons in heck besides the standard monsters she was pitted against in her first outing.

Despite the level design is a bit more complex this time around as are the puzzles, the game still manages to be rather easy despite its controls and can be beaten in less than an hour like it's predecessor.

In her final adventure, Jill has a gender-reversed mission of rescuing a kidnapped prince in an episode cleverly named Jill Saves the Prince.

So in this final episode, where Jill's leotards are now blue, Jill goes after a kidnapped prince, taken by giant green lizard men. Not only have they taken the prince, but they seem to want to modernize the jungle by filling it up with condos. But here's a question: would people buy condos built by lizards? Are they known of their workmanship?

One big change from the previous two games is, that this time around Jill gets an overhead map of the jungle, in which she can move around in between the levels. Other than that, the levels are pretty much what you'd expect based on the previous games: jumping through mazes, collecting keys and gems and dispatching an enemy or two with the weapons you find.

Again the level design has been brought up a bit and the third outing of Jill is definitely the most challenging of the trio. Lengthwise, if you are comfortable with the controls, it isn't much longer game, but again the difficulty is because of wrong reasons more than it is due to clever level design: it's the clunky controls.

All in all, Jill of the Jungle games are okay, not great, not terribly bad, but okay and this mostly because of the controls. The story can't be blamed, as the games have as much of it as Super Mario. The graphics are serviceable and really, the most stand out things about the whole trilogy is the music by Dan Froelich.

His tunes can be heard in many of the early Epic Megagames titles and his peculiar sound effect wave synthesizer sounds create a bit of a dreamlike, otherworldly feel to games, that aren't technically that great.

In no way are Jill of the Jungle games essential playing, for that they are pretty unremarkable in almost every way. But as they are availbe for free (at least for now) through GOG, you won't be losing much if you want to give them a spin.