Atari Jaguar

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Atari Jaguar
Jaguar Logo.png
Atari-Jaguar-Console-Set.jpg
Atari Jaguar with the standard controller
Developer Atari Corporation
Manufacturer IBM
Type Home video game console
Generation Fifth generation
Release date
  • NA: November 23, 1993 [1]
  • EU: June 27, 1994
  • DE: September 1, 1994 [3]
  • JP: December 8, 1994 [4]
Lifespan 19931996
Introductory price US$249.99 [6]
GB£199.99-299.99 [7]
AU$700 [8]
DM550-600 [3]
JP¥29,800 [9]
SPtas39,990 [5]
Discontinued
  • WW: 1996
Units sold<250,000 [6] [10]
Media ROM cartridge
CPU Motorola 68000, 2 custom RISC processors
Memory2 MB RAM
StorageInternal RAM, cartridge
Best-selling game Alien vs Predator (85,000) [11]
Predecessor Atari Panther (cancelled)

The Atari Jaguar is a home video game console that was developed by Atari Corporation. The console is the sixth programmable console to be developed under the Atari brand, originally released in North America in November 1993. It is also the last Atari console to use physical media. Controversially, Atari marketed the Jaguar as being the first 64-bit video game console, [1] while competing with the existing 16-bit consoles (Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System) and the 32-bit 3DO Interactive Multiplayer platform (which launched the same year).

A home video game console, or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.

Atari Corporation computer and video game console manufacturer

Atari Corporation was an American manufacturer of computers and video game consoles from 1984 to 1996. Atari Corp. was founded in July 1984 when Warner Communications sold the home computing and game console divisions of Atari, Inc. to Jack Tramiel. Its chief products were the Atari ST, Atari XE, Atari 7800, Atari Lynx, and Atari Jaguar.

Sega Genesis Fourth-generation home video game console and fourth developed by Sega

The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside of North America, is a 16-bit home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by North America as the Genesis in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tectoy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.

Contents

Development on the Atari Jaguar started in the early 1990s by Flare Technology. The console was released to test markets in New York City and San Francisco in November 1993 and to the general public in 1994. The Jaguar shipped with Cybermorph as the pack-in game. [12]

Flare Technology was a computer hardware company based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It was founded in 1986 by Martin Brennan, Ben Cheese, and John Mathieson, former engineers at Sinclair Research.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially City and County of San Francisco and colloquially known by its initialism SF, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th most populous city in the United States, and the fourth most populous in California, with 883,305 residents as of 2018. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second most densely populated large U.S. city, and the fifth most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is the 12th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States, with 4,729,484 people in 2018. With San Jose, it forms the fifth most populous combined statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

The multi-chip architecture, hardware bugs, and lacking developer support tools made game development difficult. Underwhelming sales further contributed to the console's lack of third-party support. [12] This, in addition to the lack of internal development at Atari, led to a games library comprising only 50 licensed titles, plus another 13 games on the Jaguar CD.

Atari attempted to extend the lifespan of the system with the Atari Jaguar CD add-on and marketing the Jaguar as the low-cost next generation console, with a price tag over $100 less than any of its competitors. [13] With the release of the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation in 1995, sales of the Jaguar continued to fall, ultimately selling no more than 250,000 units before it was discontinued in 1996. The commercial failure of the Jaguar prompted Atari to leave the video game console market.

Atari Jaguar CD peripheral for the Atari Jaguar video game console

The Atari Jaguar CD or Jag CD is a CD-ROM peripheral for the Atari Jaguar video game console.

A video game accessory is a distinct piece of hardware that is required to use a video game console, or one that enriches the video game's play experience. Essentially, video game accessories are everything except the console itself, such as controllers, memory, power adapters (AC), and audio/visual cables. Most video game consoles come with the accessories required to play games out of the box : one A/V cable, one AC cable, and a controller. Memory is usually the most required accessory outside of these, as game data cannot be saved to compact discs. The companies that manufacture video game consoles also make these accessories for replacement purposes as well as improving the overall experience. There is an entire industry of companies that create accessories for consoles as well, called third-party companies. The prices are often lower than those made by the maker of the console (first-party). This is usually achieved by avoiding licensing or using cheaper materials. For the mobile systems like the PlayStation Portable and Game Boy iterations, there are many accessories to make them more usable in mobile environments, such as mobile chargers, lighting to improve visibility, and cases to both protect and help organize the collection of system peripherals to. Newer accessories include many home-made things like mod chips to bypass manufacturing protection or homemade software.

Sega Saturn Video game console

The Sega Saturn is a 32-bit fifth-generation home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe. The successor to the successful Sega Genesis, the Saturn has a dual-CPU architecture and eight processors. Its games are in CD-ROM format, and its game library contains several arcade ports as well as original games.

After Hasbro Interactive bought out Atari in the late 1990s, the patents to the Jaguar were released into the public domain, with the console being declared an open platform. [14] Since then, the Jaguar has gained a cult following, with a developer base that produces homebrew games for the console. [15]

Hasbro Interactive video game publisher and producer

Hasbro Interactive was an American video game production and publishing subsidiary of Hasbro, the large game and toy company. Several of its studios were closed in early 2000 and most of its properties were sold to Infogrames which completed its studio's closures in 2001.

The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable.

Homebrew (video games)

Homebrew is a term frequently applied to video games or other software produced by consumers to target proprietary hardware platforms that are not typically user-programmable or that use proprietary storage methods. This can include games developed with official development kits, such as Net Yaroze, Linux for PlayStation 2 or Microsoft XNA. A game written by a non-professional developer for a system intended to be consumer-programmable, like the Commodore 64, is simply called hobbyist.

History

Development

The Jaguar was developed by the members of Flare Technology, a company formed by Martin Brennan and John Mathieson. The team had claimed that they could not only make a console superior to the Genesis or the Super NES, but they could also be cost-effective.[ citation needed ] Impressed by their work on the Konix Multisystem, Atari persuaded them to close Flare and form a new company called Flare II, with Atari providing the funding.[ citation needed ] Flare II initially set to work designing two consoles for Atari Corp. One was a 32-bit architecture (codenamed "Panther"), and the other was a 64-bit system (codenamed "Jaguar"); however, work on the Jaguar design progressed faster than expected, so Atari Corp. canceled the Panther project to focus on the more promising Jaguar.

Martin Brennan is a computer engineer who developed pioneering personal computers such as the Loki and the Atari Jaguar video game console.

John Mathieson is a Computer Science graduate who initially worked for Sinclair Research before going on to found Flare with fellow ex-Sinclair colleagues Martin Brennan and Ben Cheese.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System home video game console developed by Nintendo

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), also known as the Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South Korea, 1991 in North America, 1992 in Europe and Australasia (Oceania), and 1993 in South America. In Japan, the system is called the Super Famicom (SFC). In South Korea, it is known as the Super Comboy and was distributed by Hyundai Electronics. The system was released in Brazil on August 30, 1993, by Playtronic. Although each version is essentially the same, several forms of regional lockout prevent the different versions from being compatible with one another.

The Jaguar was unveiled in August 1993 at the Chicago Consumer Entertainment Show. [16]

Launch

The Jaguar was introduced in 1993 at a price of $249.99, [6] under a $500 million manufacturing deal with IBM. The system was initially available only in the test markets of New York City and San Francisco, under the slogan "Do the Math", [6] claiming superiority over competing 16-bit and 32-bit systems. A U.S.-wide release followed six months later, in early 1994. [17] Computer Gaming World wrote in January 1994 that the Jaguar was "a great machine in search of a developer/customer base", as Atari had to "overcome the stigma of its name (lack of marketing and customer support, as well as poor developer relations in the past)". The company "ventured late into third party software support" while competing console 3DO's "18 month public relations blitz" would result in "an avalanche of software support", the magazine reported. [18]

Early difficulties

The Atari Jaguar struggled to attain a substantial user base. In 1993, Atari reported that it had shipped 17,000 units as part of the system's initial test market. [19] By the end of 1994, Atari reported that it had sold approximately 100,000 systems and had reduced the price to improve the competitive nature of the console. [20] By the end of 1995, Sony and Sega had entered the marketplace with competing consoles and Atari's sales declined rapidly. In Atari's 1995 annual report, it noted:

Jaguar sales were substantially below Atari's expectations, and Atari's business and financial results were materially adversely affected in 1995 as Atari continued to invest heavily in Jaguar game development, entered into arrangements to publish certain licensed titles and reduced the retail price for its Jaguar console unit. Atari attributes the poor performance of Jaguar to a number of factors including (i) extensive delays in development of software for the Jaguar which resulted in reduced orders due to consumer concern as to when titles for the platform would be released and how many titles would ultimately be available, and (ii) the introduction of competing products by Sega and Sony in May 1995 and September 1995, respectively. [21]

In addition, Atari Corp. had severely limited financial resources, and so could not create the level of marketing which has historically backed successful gaming consoles. [22]

In a 1995 interview with Next Generation , then-CEO Sam Tramiel declared that the Jaguar was as powerful, if not more powerful, than the Sega Saturn, and slightly weaker than the PlayStation. [23] Next Generation received a deluge of letters in response to Tramiel's comments, particularly his threat to bring Sony to court for price dumping if the PlayStation entered the U.S. market at a retail price below $300 [aj 1] and his remark that the small number of third party Jaguar games was good for Atari's profitability (which angered Jaguar owners who were already frustrated at how few games were coming out for the system). [24]

Technical issues

The Jaguar's underlying hardware was crippled by a flaw in the CPU's memory controller, which prevented code execution out of system RAM.[ citation needed ] Less severe defects included a buggy UART.[ citation needed ] The memory controller flaw could have been mitigated by a mature code-development environment, to unburden the programmer from having to micromanage small chunks of code.[ citation needed ] Jaguar's development tools left much to the programmer's own implementation, as documentation was incomplete.[ citation needed ]

Design specs for the console allude to the GPU or DSP being capable of acting as a CPU, leaving the Motorola 68000 to read controller inputs. Atari's Leonard Tramiel also specifically suggested that the 68000 not be used by developers. [25] In practice, however, many developers used the Motorola 68000 to drive gameplay logic due to the greater developer familiarity with the 68000, bugs that made using the custom chips difficult, lacking developer support tools (particularly early on), and the adequacy of the 68000 for certain types of games. [25]

Bit count controversy

Atari Corp. tried to play down competing consoles by proclaiming the Jaguar was the only "64-bit" system. This claim is questioned by some, because the CPU (68000) and the GPU executed a 32-bit instruction-set, but sent control signals to the 64-bit graphics co-processors (or "graphics accelerators"). Atari Corp.'s reasoning that the 32-bit "Tom" and "Jerry" chips work in tandem to add up to a 64-bit system was ridiculed in a mini-editorial by Electronic Gaming Monthly , which commented that "If Sega did the math for the Sega Saturn the way Atari did the math for their 64-bit Jaguar system, the Sega Saturn would be a 112-bit monster of a machine." [26] On the other side, Next Generation , while giving a mostly negative review of the Jaguar, maintained that it is a true 64-bit system, since the data path from the DRAM to the CPU and Tom and Jerry chips is 64 bits wide. [27]

Decline

By the end of 1995, Atari's revenues declined by more than half, from US$38.7 million in 1994 to $14.6 million in 1995. [10] In late 1995, Atari Corp. ran early-morning infomercial advertisements with enthusiastic salesmen touting the powerful game system. The infomercials ran most of the year, but did not significantly sell the remaining stock of Jaguar systems. [22] By November 1995, mass layoffs and insider statements were fueling journalistic speculation that Atari had ceased both development and manufacturing for the Jaguar and was simply trying to sell off existing stock before exiting the video game industry. [28] [29] Though Atari Corp. continued to deny these theories going into 1996, core Jaguar developers such as High Voltage Software and Beyond Games stated that they were no longer receiving communications from Atari regarding Jaguar projects. [30] In its 10-K405 SEC Filing, filed April 12, 1996, Atari informed their stockholders of the truly dire nature of the Jaguar business:

From the introduction of Jaguar in late 1993 through the end of 1995, Atari sold approximately 125,000 units of Jaguar. As of December 31, 1995, Atari had approximately 100,000 units of Jaguar in inventory. [10]

The filing also confirmed the theory that Atari had given up on the Jaguar in late 1995, and in the subsequent months were concerned chiefly with liquidating its inventory of Jaguar products. [10] [31] On April 8, 1996, Atari Corp. merged with JT Storage in a reverse takeover. [32]

Technical specifications

The Jaguar utilized a multi-chip architecture that was difficult for most developers to use. Atari-Jaguar-Motherboard-L.jpg
The Jaguar utilized a multi-chip architecture that was difficult for most developers to use.

From the Jaguar Software Reference manual, page 1: [33]

Jaguar is a custom chip set primarily intended to be the heart of a very high-performance games/leisure computer. It may also be used as a graphics accelerator in more complex systems, and applied to workstation and business uses. As well as a general purpose CPU, Jaguar contains four processing units. These are the Object Processor, Graphics Processor, Blitter, and Digital Sound Processor. Jaguar provides these blocks with a 64-bit data path to external memory devices, and is capable of a very high data transfer rate into external dynamic RAM.

Processors

Other Jaguar features

The inputs and outputs of an NTSC Atari Jaguar Atari-Jaguar-Console-Back.jpg
The inputs and outputs of an NTSC Atari Jaguar

COJAG arcade games

Atari Games licensed the Atari Jaguar's chipset for use in its arcade games. The system, named COJAG (for "Coin-Op Jaguar"), replaced the 68000 with a 68020 or MIPS R3000-based CPU (depending on the board version), added more RAM, a full 64-bit wide ROM bus (Jaguar ROM bus being 32-bit), and optionally a hard drive (some titles such as Freeze are ROM only). It ran the lightgun games Area 51 and Maximum Force , which were released by Atari as dedicated cabinets or as the Area 51/Maximum Force combo machine. Other games (3 On 3 Basketball; Fishin' Frenzy; Freeze; Vicious Circle) were developed but never released.

Atari Jaguar Duo

The Atari Jaguar Duo was a proposed console similar to the TurboDuo and Genesis CDX. It was an attempt by Atari to combine the Atari Jaguar and Atari Jaguar CD to make a new console. A prototype model, described by journalists as resembling a bathroom scale, was unveiled at the 1995 Winter Consumer Electronics Show, [36] but the console was cancelled before production could begin. [37]

Peripherals

Atari-Jaguar-Pro-Controller-Flat.jpg
Atari Jag Link connectors.jpg
The redesigned controller, dubbed the "ProController", included additional action buttons, and the JagLink peripheral added network styled play to compatible games.

Prior to the launch of the console in November 1993, Atari had announced a variety of peripherals and add-ons for the Jaguar to be released over the console's lifespan. This included a CD-ROM-based add-on console, a dial-up internet link with support for online gaming, a virtual reality headset, and an MPEG-2 video card. [38] [39] However, due to the poor sales and eventual commercial failure of the Jaguar, most of the peripherals in development were scrapped. The only peripherals and add-ons released by Atari for the Jaguar were a redesigned controller, an adapter for four players, a CD console add-on, and a link cable for local area network (LAN) gaming.

The redesigned second controller for the Jaguar, the ProController by Atari, added three more face buttons and two triggers. [40] The controller was created in response to the criticism of the original controller that the console came with, which was said to not possess enough buttons for fighting games in particular. Sold independently, however, it was never bundled with the system after its release. A peripheral that allowed 4 controllers to be plugged into the console was also released. Dubbed the "Team Tap", it was released independently and as a bundle with White Men Can't Jump . [41] However, the Team Tap was only compatible with White Men Can't Jump and NBA Jam Tournament Edition . [42] Eight player gameplay with the Team Tap peripheral is also possible if a second Team Tap is plugged into the second controller port on the console, [41] but neither of the compatible games supports eight players. [40] Local area network multiplayer gameplay was achieved through the use of the Jaglink Interface, which allowed two Jaguar consoles to be linked together [40] through a modular extension and a UTP phone cable. The Jaglink was compatible with three games: AirCars , BattleSphere and Doom .

In 1994 at the CES, Atari announced that it partnered up with Phylon, Inc. to create the Jaguar Voice/Data Communicator. The unit was delayed and eventually in 1995 mass production was canceled all together, but not before an estimated 100 or so were made. The Jaguar Voice Modem or JVM, as it became known, utilized a 19.9kbit/s dial up modem and had the ability to answer incoming phone calls and store up to 18 phone numbers. Players were required to directly dial each other for online game play. The only Jaguar game that supports the JVM is Ultra Vortek ; the modem is initialized in the Ultra Vortek start up screen by entering 911 on the key pad. [43]

Jaguar CD

Atari-Jaguar-CD-Bare-Opened.jpg
Atari-Jaguar-CD-Memory-Track-Cart.jpg
The Atari Jaguar CD add-on (left), and the Jaguar CD's Memory Track cartridge (right).

The Atari Jaguar CD is an add-on to the Jaguar that made use of CD-ROMs to distribute games. It was released in September 1995, two years after the Jaguar's launch. Twelve games were released for the system during its manufacturing lifetime, with more being made later by homebrew developers. Each Jaguar CD unit came with a Virtual Light Machine, which displayed light patterns corresponding to music, if the user inserts an audio CD into the console. It was developed by Jeff Minter, who had created the program after experimenting with graphics during the development of Tempest 2000 . [44] The program was deemed a spiritual successor to the Atari Video Music, a system which served a similar purpose, released in 1976. [45]

An additional accessory for the Jaguar CD, which allowed Jaguar CD games to save persistent data such as preferences and saved games, was also released. [40] Known as the Memory Track, it was a cartridge that contained a 128 K EEPROM, and was to be inserted into the cartridge slot on the Jaguar CD while the user played a Jaguar CD game. The program manager for the Memory Track is accessed by pushing the option button while the system is starting, and exited by pushing the * and # keys simultaneously. [46] There were plans to make a second model of the Jaguar console that combined both the Jaguar and the Jaguar CD into one unit, a la the TurboDuo. [47] Originally codenamed the Jaguar III, and later the Jaguar Duo, the proposed model was scrapped after the discontinuation of the Jaguar. [48]

Jaguar VR

A virtual reality headset compatible with the console, tentatively titled the Jaguar VR, was unveiled by Atari at the 1995 Winter Consumer Electronics Show. [49] The development of the peripheral was a response to Nintendo's virtual reality console, the Virtual Boy, which had been announced the previous year. [50] The headset was developed in cooperation with Virtuality, who had previously created many virtual reality arcade systems, and was already developing a similar headset for practical purposes, named Project Elysium, for IBM. [51] The peripheral was targeted for a commercial release before Christmas 1995. [52] However, the deal with Virtuality was abandoned in October 1995. [53] [54] After Atari's merger with JTS in 1996, all prototypes of the headset were allegedly destroyed. However, two working units, one low-resolution prototype with red and grey-colored graphics and one high-resolution prototype with blue and grey-colored graphics, have since been recovered, and are regularly showcased at retrogaming-themed conventions and festivals. [55] [56] Only one game was developed for the Jaguar VR prototype: a 3D-rendered version of the 1980 arcade game Missile Command , entitled Missile Command 3D , though a demo of Virtuality's Zone Hunter was also created for Jaguar VR demonstrations. [54]

Unlicensed peripherals

An unofficial expansion peripheral for the Atari Jaguar dubbed the "Catbox" was released by the Rockford, Illinois company ICD. It was originally slated to be released early in the Jaguar's life, in the second quarter of 1994, [57] but was not actually released until mid-1995. [58] The ICD CatBox plugs directly into the AV/DSP connectors located in the rear of the Jaguar console and provides three main functions. These are audio, video, and communications. It features six output formats, three for audio (line level stereo, RGB monitor, headphone jack with volume control) and three for video (composite, S-Video, and RGB analog component video) making the Jaguar compatible with multiple high quality monitor systems and multiple monitors at the same time. It is capable of communications methods known as CatNet and RS-232 as well as DSP pass through, allowing the user to connect two or more Jaguars together for multiplayer games either directly or with modems. The ICD CatBox features a polished stainless steel casing [58] and red LEDs in the jaguar's eyes on the logo that indicate communications activity. An IBM AT-type null modem cable may be used to connect two Jaguars together. [59] The CatBox is also compatible with Atari's Jaglink Interface peripheral.

An adaptor for the Jaguar that allows for WebTV access was revealed in 1998; one prototype is known to exist.

Game library

Reception

The original controller. Atari-Jaguar-Controller.jpg
The original controller.

Reviewing the Jaguar just a few weeks prior to its launch, GamePro gave it a "thumbs sideways". They praised the power of the hardware but criticized the controller, and were dubious of how the software lineup would turn out, commenting that Atari's failure to secure support from key third party publishers such as Capcom was a bad sign. They concluded that "Like the 3DO, the Jaguar is a risky investment – just not quite as expensive." [60]

The Jaguar won GameFan's "Best New System" award for 1993. [61]

The small size and poor quality of the Jaguar's game library became the most commonly cited reason for its failure in the marketplace. The pack-in game Cybermorph , despite being an impressive polygonal game for its time, was criticized for design flaws and a weak color palette, and compared unfavorably with the SNES's Star Fox . Other early releases like Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy , Raiden , and Evolution: Dino Dudes also received poor reviews, the latter two for failing to take full advantage of the Jaguar's hardware. Jaguar did eventually earn praise with titles such as Tempest 2000 , Doom , and Wolfenstein 3D . [62] The most successful title during the Jaguar's first year was Alien vs. Predator . [63] Both Alien vs. Predator and Tempest 2000 were named among the system's defining titles by GamePro in 2007. [6] However, these occasional successes were seen as insufficient while the Jaguar's competitors were receiving a continual stream of critically acclaimed software; GamePro concluded their rave review of Alien vs.Predator by remarking "If Atari can turn out a dozen more games like AvP, Jaguar owners could truly rest easy and enjoy their purchase." [64] In a late 1995 review of the Jaguar, Next Generation commented that "thus far, Atari has spectacularly failed to deliver on the software side, leaving many to question the actual quality and capability of the hardware. With only one or two exceptions – Tempest 2000 is cited most frequently – there have just been no truly great games for the Jaguar up to now." They further noted that while Atari is well known by older gamers, the company had much less overall brand recognition than Sega, Sony, Nintendo, or even The 3DO Company. However, they argued that with its low price point, the Jaguar might still compete if Atari could improve the software situation. They gave the system two out of five stars. [27] With such a small library of games [65] to challenge the incumbent 16-bit game consoles, Jaguar's appeal never grew beyond a small gaming audience. Digital Spy commented: "Like many failed hardware ventures, it still maintains something of a cult following but can only be considered a misstep for Atari." [66]

In 2006 IGN editor Craig Harris rated the standard Jaguar controller as the worst game controller ever, criticizing the unwarranted recycling of the 1980s "phone keypad" format and the small number of action buttons, which he found particularly unwise given that Atari was actively trying to court fighting game fans to the system. [67] Ed Semrad of Electronic Gaming Monthly commented that many Jaguar games gratuitously used all of the controller's phone keypad buttons, making the controls much more difficult than they needed to be. [68] GamePro's The Watch Dog remarked, "The controller usually doesn't use the keypad, and for games that use the keypad extensively (Alien vs. Predator, Doom), a keypad overlay is used to minimize confusion. But yes, it is a lot of buttons for nuttin'." [69] Atari added more action buttons for its Pro Controller, to improve performance in fighting games in particular. [70] [71]

Legacy

An Atari Jaguar unit on display at an interactive history exhibit at the EB Games Expo 2015, with Zool 2 available to play. EB Games Expo 2015 - Atari Jaguar.JPG
An Atari Jaguar unit on display at an interactive history exhibit at the EB Games Expo 2015, with Zool 2 available to play.

After the Atari Corporation properties were bought out by Hasbro Interactive in the late 1990s, Hasbro released the rights to the Jaguar, declaring the console an open platform and opening the doors for homebrew development. [14] [15] A few developers, including Telegames [72] and Songbird Productions, released previously unfinished materials from the Jaguar's past and several brand new titles to satisfy the system's cult following.

In the United Kingdom in 2001, a deal was struck between Telegames and retailer Game to bring the Jaguar to Game's retail outlets. The machine was initially sold for £29.99 brand new and software prices ranged between £9.99 for more common games such as Doom and Ruiner Pinball , and £39.99 for more sought-after releases such as Defender 2000 and Checkered Flag . The machine had a presence in the stores until 2007 when remaining consoles were sold off for £9.99 and games were sold for as low as 97p.[ citation needed ]

Imagin Systems, a manufacturer of dental imaging equipment, has since purchased the molding plates for the Jaguar's casing as with minor modification they were found to be the right size for housing their HotRod camera. [73] The game cartridge molds were reused to create an optional memory expansion card. [74]

In December 2014, the molds for the console and cartridges were purchased from Imagin Systems by Mike Kennedy, owner of the Kickstarter funded Retro Videogame Magazine, to propose a new crowdfunded video game console called the Retro VGS , [75] later rebranded the Coleco Chameleon [76] after entering a licensing agreement with Coleco. The purchase of the molds from Imagin Systems was far cheaper than designing and manufacturing entirely new molds, and Kennedy described their acquisition as "the entire reason [the Retro VGS] is possible". [77] However, the project was terminated in March 2016 following criticism of Kennedy [78] and doubts regarding demand for the proposed console. Two "prototypes" were discovered to be fakes and Coleco withdrew from the project. [79] After the project's termination, the molds were sold to Albert Yarusso, the founder of the AtariAge website. [80]

See also

Notes

  1. Many readers found this threat hollow and hypocritical, since Tramiel noted in the same interview that Atari were themselves selling the Jaguar at a loss. However, as noted by the editor in response to the letters, price dumping does not have to do with a product being priced below cost, but its being priced much lower in one country than another (which, as Tramiel said, is illegal). Tramiel and Next Generation agreed that the PlayStation's Japanese price converts to approximately $500.

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The PlayStation is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was first released on 3 December 1994 in Japan, on 9 September 1995 in North America, on 29 September 1995 in Europe, and on 15 November 1995 in Australia, and was the first of the PlayStation lineup of video game consoles. As a fifth generation console, the PlayStation primarily competed with the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn.

32X Add-on for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis video game console

The 32X is an add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console. Codenamed "Project Mars", the 32X was designed to expand the power of the Genesis and serve as a transitional console into the 32-bit era until the release of the Sega Saturn. Independent of the Genesis, the 32X uses its own ROM cartridges and has its own library of games. The add-on was distributed under the name Super 32X in Japan, Genesis 32X in North America, Mega Drive 32X in the PAL region, and Mega 32X in Brazil.

A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.

3DO Interactive Multiplayer Video game console

The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, often called the 3DO, is a home video game console platform developed by The 3DO Company. Conceived by entrepreneur and Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the 3DO was not a console manufactured by the company itself, but a series of specifications, originally designed by Dave Needle and R. J. Mical of New Technologies Group, that could be licensed by third parties. Panasonic produced the first models in 1993, and further renditions of the hardware were released in 1994 by GoldStar and in 1995 by Sanyo.

<i>Earthworm Jim</i> (video game) 1994 video game

Earthworm Jim is a 1994 run and gun platform game developed by Shiny Entertainment, featuring an earthworm named Jim, who wears a robotic suit and battles evil. The game was released for the Sega Genesis, and subsequently ported to a number of other video game consoles.

The fifth-generation era refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld gaming consoles dating from approximately October 1993 to May 2002. For home consoles, the best-selling console was the PlayStation (PS), followed by the Nintendo 64 (N64), and then the Sega Saturn. The PlayStation also had a redesigned version, the PSOne, which was launched in July 2000.

<i>Batman Forever: The Arcade Game</i> 1996 arcade video game

Batman Forever: The Arcade Game is a beat 'em up video game based on the movie Batman Forever. The subtitle is used to differentiate it from Batman Forever, another beat 'em up published by Acclaim at around the same time. One or two players, playing as Batman and Robin, fight Two-Face, the Riddler, and numerous henchmen.

<i>Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure</i> 1994 video game

Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure is a 1994 video game developed and published by Activision. A sequel to Activision's 1982 Pitfall! for the Atari 2600, the player controls Pitfall Harry, Jr., son of the protagonist of the original game, as he attempts to rescue his father from a Mayan jungle setting.

<i>Alien Storm</i> 1991 video game

Alien Storm (エイリアンストーム) is a 1990 beat 'em up/shooter arcade game by Sega. It was later ported to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Master System. The Sega Mega Drive version was also released on Wii's Virtual Console in 2007. The game appeared in Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

<i>T-MEK</i> 1994 video game

T-MEK is a two-player, sit-down, virtual reality fighting arcade game developed by Atari Games and published by Time Warner Interactive in 1994. Each player can choose their MEK. One player can play against 6 AI players and the occasional boss, or two players can play against each other and 4 AI players. There is a special tournament mode where two players can go one on one. Up to three T-MEK cabinets can be linked for six-player competitions. T-MEK was later ported to MS-DOS and the Sega 32X; rather than linking multiple systems together, the home versions featured split-screen multiplayer for two players.

<i>Head-On Soccer</i> video game

Head-On Soccer is a soccer video game originally developed and published by U.S. Gold for the Sega Genesis in 1995.

<i>Hover Strike</i> 1995 video game

Hover Strike is a shooter video game developed and published by Atari Corporation exclusively for the Atari Jaguar first in North America on April 1995, then in Europe on May of the same year and later in Japan around the same period, where it was published instead by Messe Sansao. Taking place in a future where the Terrakian Pirates have seized control of a colonized foreign planet, players are tasked with piloting an armed hovercraft vehicle in a attempt of rescuing the captured colonists and obliterate the invading alien forces from the surface of the planet before the Federation armada arrives.

<i>Black ICE\White Noise</i>

Black ICE\White Noise is an unreleased action-adventure video game that was in development and planned to be published by Atari Corporation on a scheduled December 1995 release date exclusively for the Atari Jaguar CD. It is influenced by the works of American-Canadian writer William Gibson such as Neuromancer and its plot is very reminiscent of The Matrix, which came three years later after the project was discontinued.

<i>Missile Command 3D</i> 1995 video game

Missile Command 3D is a shoot 'em up video game developed by Virtuality Entertainment and published by Atari Corporation exclusively for the Atari Jaguar in North America on December 12, 1995 and Europe on December 15 of the same year. It is an update to Dave Theurer's 1980 arcade game Missile Command and the only officially released title that features support for the unreleased Jaguar VR peripheral.

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