The Atari Jaguar, short-lived and under appreciated in the face of the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64, all of which were just around the corner when the last true Atari machine was launched.
Yet, the machine had a distinctive flavour that has earned it a legion of fans, some of which still produce homebrew titles for it. Many of the games had a slapdash feel to them, but the lineup was diverse and ultimately, impressive.
Here are the best games released for the platform:
Doom was, and is, a fantastic game, and it felt right at home on the Jaguar, where its chunky style of gunplay made it seem like it was created especially for the system. At the time, it was incredible to be playing Doom, which needed a fairly decent PC to run, on a console with only a simpler texture here and a missing transparency effect there to separate the Jag edition from the original.
While Doom never made the Jaguar take off in the way many had expected, it was still popular enough, and those few Jag owners that knew another Jag owner were able to play cooperatively and competitively with them via the Jaglink cable.
Demon hunting has never been as fun as it was with the Jaguar edition of Doom. Pure chunky heaven.
Not a lot of people realise that Rayman made his first appearance on the Jaguar, before being ported to the original PlayStation. The visuals were unbelievably lush, with a seemingly endless colour palette and eye-popping animation.
The graphics belied the hard as nails gameplay just waiting to gobble up unsuspecting players. The levels were huge, and ripe for exploring, and the crazy gaelic enemies were a breath of fresh air.
Rayman has gone on to appear in dozens of sequels, but this was the game that set the tone for them all. Beautiful looks, tough gameplay and a touch of humour.
Now, it is fair to say that this is a game that very few Jaguar owners will have played, as it actually came out after the console was discontinued. Only a few hundred copies were ever released, and they pop up on eBay every now and then when whoever owns them all needs a couple of thousand dollars.
Regardless, this is a great little game, which is only truly available to play via emulation. A space combat sim that managed to nail the feel perfectly, it also didn’t scrub up too bad, and runs smoothly, for the most part. The 8 player network mode is excellent fun, and the humour running throughout the game is on point, and there is even cooperative play to be found.
2. Alien Vs Predator
We featured this in our rundown of the best Alien franchise games recently, and deservedly so. It may look a little rough nowadays, but back then it was something else. You were free to roam a massive ship, battling Aliens and Predators, and picking your way around and avoiding enemies was thrilling and tense.
It was very difficult, and you needed to really learn the layout of the ship to survive. There were also modes where you took control of the eponymous creatures, but these were throwaway.
This was about exploring a huge spacehulk, with the freedom to go where you liked, alone in the darkness. Great stuff.
1. Tempest 2000
This is an obvious choice for number one, but it is hard to imagine any other Jaguar game sitting here. A Jeff Minter remake of the original, this version added insanely shaped new levels, loads of new power ups and devilish enemies, not to mention a stonking new soundtrack.
The game is a beauty, and still plays better today on the Jaguar than on any other platform it was ported to. Perhaps the legacy of the Atari Jaguar can be summed up in that its very best game was from a one man band, updating an ancient classic, which is not something that is ever likely to happen again.
Maybe, in this way, the Jaguar signified the end of an era, the marginalising of the smaller team to ‘indie’ status. The end of consoles from anyone but massive, multinational corporations, and the beginning of the modern gaming age.
Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.