OpenJazz – An opensource recreation of the classic Jazz Jackrabbit Game Engine

Posted: June 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Some of you old farts may remember the classic PC Game Jazz Jackrabbit. Which basically was a straight ripoff of Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog with a rabbit and an awesome gun. It ran back in the days of DOS, and while it may be possible to get the game to run in a DOS emulator, it hardly makes sense to have a whole DOS Emulator for only one game. So that leaves us old folgies with no way to enjoy one of our favorite blasts from the past.

Enter the OpenJazz project. An open-source recreation of the Jazz Jackrabbit game engine. All you need are the game files from your old Jazz Jackrabbit CD-ROM!! The following excerpt is from the OpenJazz website.

“OpenJazz was started on the 23rd of August, 2005, by Alister Thomson. Academic pressures put the project on hold until late December 2005. The source code was released on the 25th, and the first version with a degree of playability was released on the 15th of January. Since then, a variety of ports have been released by other people.”

So to install it can be a little difficult depending on what you are doing. If you are on Windows or Arch Linux, you are in luck, there are easy avenues to install OpenJazz, if you are compiling from scratch it can be a little more difficult.

On Windows you can download these two zip files, from the openjazz download page.,

One contains the executable and the other contains libraries that the OpenJazz executable requires, which are SDL (Simple Direct Media Layer) and Modplug (a sound library). If you extract these zip files into the same directory, then also place your game files in that directory. Then, run the OpenJazz executable and your nostalgic urges should be satisfied with the Original Jazz Jackrabbit you remember!

Unfortunately, those binaries and libraries will only work on a 32-bit Windows system. If you have 64-bit you’ll have to compile Jazz from source, possibly the supporting libraries as well. I will leave this as an exercise to the poor soul that decided to use 64-bit windows.

If you are lucky enough to be on Arch Linux, then installing OpenJazz should also be a sinch thanks to the Arch User Repository and myself. 🙂 The Arch User Repository is basically a way Arch users can submit scripts that allow others to easily download and compile software into packages that can then be installed. As of writing the openjazz in the aur should work fine and with sound. If you have yaourt all you need to do is yaourt -S openjazz and in no time you will be waxing nostalgic.
Compiling OpenJazz isn’t so hard either. By default however, it compiles without sound but enabling sound is a cinch. Just as long as you have the dependencies which are the SDL development library and the modplug development library. Instead of knowing what to add to the makefile like before, all you need to do is open the makefile and uncomment the lines in the makefile that enable sound. Since this document is intended for users of all skill level, I’ll get a little more specific. First, download and unzip the source file found at, (i’ll assume you can do this), when you open the directory there will be a file called Makefile.debian. Open the file and “uncomment” lines 32 and 33 by erasing the “#”. In the world of many linux config files and some programming languages like Python, “#” are lines that are ignored by the necessary interpreter on the Computer.

Hopefully this will spur more interest in the project especially for those that had trouble getting it working and in open source game engines in general. The project is still under development and there are some flaws like holes jazz can’t get out of and the music doesn’t loop during levels. But it is still awesome to play again natively on Linux. Happy Gaming!!!


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