Let Us Console You: Atari Jaguar

Many moons ago, I did a post about the Atari Lynx, Atari's answer to the Nintendo Game Boy and Sega's Game Gear. It was bulky and drained batteries like a... erm... battery draining thing, but regardless of its flaws, many people still love it regardless. The same goes for what you could call the Lynx's big brother in a home console form, the Jaguar, it has a tonne of flaws, but it still has a dedicated following, and games are still being made for it by pleasant home brew developers.

The Atari Jaguar tried to sell itself as 'the first 64-bit console' (as seen in the horrendous television advertisement above). What does that mean? Well apparently at the time it meant that it had better graphics than the Sega Mega Drive, SNES and the 3DO, its competitors at the time, and sure, it may have had some pretty advanced hardware, but hardware is nothing when people don't know what to do with it. The most visually impressive 3D games on the Atari Jaguar looked more like a tonne of polygons. The PlayStation a few years later was 32-bit and looked one million times better with its 3D games than the Jaguar. But graphics are irrelevant as long as the games are good right? Well, the Jaguar had a mix of good and bad games, so you could probably say that the Jaguar is like Marmite for people nowadays, but this didn't stop it from having such gems as Doom (without any music!), Rayman (his d├ębut was on the Jaguar!), Alien Vs Predator (the console's 'killer app'), Tempest 2000 (another killer app) and Wolfenstein 3D.

Credit: CVGM

 It doesn't really help that the internet has helped spread a tonne of 'fast food opinions' on the console. The console isn't exactly common to come by, so people who want to slag off the apparent bulk of the controller more often than not have probably never even seen one, let alone had a chance to hold one. The controller is basically your standard affair, but with an added and rather outdated (even at the time) bonus, a keypad. Keypads on controllers were a thing back in the stone age of gaming and haven't been used since the Jaguar decided to revive them and failed. What happened was, with certain games (for example, Doom) you got given an overlay that you put over the keypad to aid you in your gaming. If you lost the overlay though, it'd suck the big one, especially in a complex game like Iron Soldier.

Credit: Mathpirate

I personally find the console's design to be very aesthetically pleasing, it just looks awesome, what is even cooler though, is the box the console came in! Those big yellow eyes are too cool. It kind of reminds me of the Black Cat fireworks logo.

So when the Jaguar was struggling against new found competition in CD-based consoles like the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, what does Atari do? They release a bloody CD add-on for it (which, a lot of people seem to agree makes the once awesome looking Jaguar look like a toilet)! Now I'm pretty sure the Angry Video Game Nerd said it best: 'You have a game console, that not many people owned, so you make an add-on that requires owning the game console. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!!' Too true. The thing was known for failing due to crappy parts as well. Only 14 official games were released for the Jaguar CD, while the actual Jaguar had 82 (homebrew included). As you can guess, both the Atari Jaguar and its CD add-on bit the dust of commercial failure and production of the Jaguar was ceased when Atari merged with JT Storage in a reverse takeover.

The Jaguar is worth a go if you've never had the chance to, perhaps just to say you've played a Jaguar. It has a lot of interesting system exclusives, and is a pretty interesting bit of gaming history in itself. But I'm not really sure you are missing out on much if you've never played one. It really depends on what you're into when it comes to games. I've heard people have bought this console just so they could play the Alien Vs Predator game, which has never been released on any other console. However you feel about this console, you can't deny that it has firmly earned itself a place in gaming history. Happy 20th Birthday Jaguar.

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