Jill of the Jungle
remains to this day my favourite platform game, along with Commander Keen 5
. It has a certain something to it which is timeless. I have played this game so much that I know almost every little bit of it off by heart. I have reached the highest possible score
you can get (3257 for shareware
, forgotten score for non-shareware), and the lowest possible score (503). For those of you who have never seen Jill of the Jungle
, I shall endeavor to describe it. If you decide you want to try it for yourselves, use a search engine
with the words "Abandonware Jill
", and you will find many pages from which you can download this excellent game.
Firstly, the basics. Jill of the Jungle is the first in a trilogy created by Epic Megagames, the second being Jill Goes Underground and the third Jill Saves the Prince. Sound consists of none, pc speaker, or alib/soundblaster. Graphics options are Cga, Ega, and Vga. Moving on.
There is a start level which isn't really a level but also isn't really a map. This start level leads to all 14 levels (except 4 and 5 which are inside level 3), and one bonus level. Goodies contributing to your score are available in this start level. In the shareware version, certain apples/gems in the start level trigger little messages which talk of other famous computer game characters (like Mario) not being able to compete with Jill and retiring.
What happens when Jill dies? You start at the beginning of the level again. You can save and reload your game whenever you want, so if you just finished a tricky bit, save!
The Inventory. The inventory shows permanently on the lower left hand side of the screen. It shows the score, how much life Jill has, her weapons, any gems/keys she picked up, and any jump arrows she has.
- Weapons. Jill gets new weapons in each level. When she goes back into the start level, she loses the weapon/s she has. There are two types of weapons Jill can get.
- The Knife. After you have 'thrown' the knife, you can, to a certain extent, make it go up or down by jumping or crouching. By doing this you can kill creatures you otherwise couldn't. When thrown, the knife leaves the inventory, flies through air to the side for a certain distance, hovers, and then flies back to Jill where it enters the inventory again. Jill can collect more than one knife, and throw as many in succession as are in her inventory. The knife affects creatures only.
- The Spinning Blade. This blade exits on the side and bounces around without coming back. After a while, it disappears and reappears back in the inventory. The spinning blade kills all creatures, but can also destroy a certain kind of bricks. These bricks block the way in some levels and you have to destroy them to progress. By destroying some and leaving others you can complete the level faster (although there are no time limits or bonuses). It takes practise to do that though, as there is no control over the spinning blade except where you are and how you are facing when it is thrown.
- Gems and Keys. Gems are needed to open gem gates and keys are needed to open doors. Gems only disappear when used, but keys also disappear when re-entering the start level. A gem at the end of some of the levels can be picked up to open a gem gate in the start level. Gem gates need to be opened in order to reach more levels and therefore finish the game.
- Jump Arrows. These are arrows which Jill can pick up to make her jump higher. The more arrows, the higher she can jump. These arrows do not transfer from the levels to the start level or vice versa. If you find the arrow in the start level and pick it up, it disappears when you enter a level, and reappears when you enter the start level. The arrow in the start level enables you to access a bonus area.
Creature Icons. Jill can morph into another creature by running into the relevant icon situated in different levels. There are icons to turn her into a flapping bird (phoenix), a frog, and a fish. To complete the level it is necessary to use these icons, as otherwise Jill cannot fly, swim, or jump high enough. To turn back into Jill, you must either touch an icon saying "JILL" or exit the level. Each creature has it's own special ability.
- The Flaming Bird: the flaming bird is made of flame and so cannot touch water without dying. It can fly and shoot flames which, if you are right against a wall one block thick, can shoot through the wall. The flaming bird also has the ability to fly in both up and down through platforms which Jill can jump up through, but not down. In Jill Goes Underground and Jill Saves the Prince, the flaming bird can also fly through lava.
- The Frog: The frog never stops jumping even when you're not pressing jump, which can make it a little confusing to control at first. You can make the frog jump even higher by pressing jump at the right moment. By jumping higher than Jill can normally, the frog can reach places that she can't. In Jill Goes Underground and Jill Saves the Prince, the frog can also survive in water which has a bottom to it.
- The Fish: The fish, obviously, can swim. It can shoot fish bullets which kill pirahnas and jellfyfish, but no other creatures. The fish can also swim up and down waterfalls.
Some of the Creatures/Dangers and Points.
- Alligator. 3 points. Walks back and forth to each side of the platform they're on. Jill needs to be one platform lower than them for her knife to be able to kill them.
- Ant. 6 points. Ants walk back and forth to each side of the platform they're on. Knives cannot go low enough to kill ants if Jill is on the same platform as them.
- Apple. 12 points. Apples also give you health, except when they are used as triggers for messages.
- Beehive. 11 points. Every so often, the beehive lets out a swarm of bees. More than one swarm can be out at one time. The swarm is attracted to Jill and hurts her everytime it touches her. If Jill stays still, the swarm can only hurt her once, however more swarms will exit the beehive and hurt her. Swarms disappear after a while, so it is possible to run away. To stop them altogether, you have to destroy the hive.
- Crab. 2 points. Runs back and forth to each side of the platform they're on as well as being able to climb up and down vines/chains.
- Flaming bird. 4 points if killed with weapon, 0 points if killed by touch. Touch-kills also take off health. Flaming birds fly in a straight line to the side until they hit something, then reverse direction, etc.
- Frog. 15 points. Frogs jump, pause, jump, pause, etc. They always jump towards Jill, always for the same distance, and always just higher than Jill's head. It is possible to stand still and have a frog jump from one side of you to the other perpetually. Good timing is necessary in order to kill a frog.
- Knight. 0 points. These have two positions, controlled by switches. 1, a kneeling position with the axe to the side. This position kills Jill if she tries to pass. 2, an standing postion, axe held upright. Jill can pass knights like this.
- Stalactite 0 points. These hang on the ceiling. When you step on a particular spot, the stalactite falls, hurting Jill if she is in the way. Once you get used to them, they're easy to avoid.
This should be enough to give you some idea of the game. Now go download Jill of the Jungle and play the afternoon away!