First Look: Ultra Vortek

After not buying any new Jaguar stuff for months, last week I spotted a fairly cheap Ultra Vortek cart on eBay and snapped it up. It was only £20 and Ultra Vortek is not a particularly common title for the Jag so it was a no brainer really. I knew that it was a 2D fighter in the same vein as Mortal Kombat and had heard that it was one of the better games for the system. Below you'll find a short 'first look' I made when I fired the cart up for the first time.

Atari Jaguar UK Preview Booklet

This is quite cool - it's a UK-specific preview booklet for the Jaguar. How do I know it's UK-specific? Because I'm a genius, that's how. I also have eyes, and I can see the £ signs on the pages, and the back cover lists all of the UK locations that a Jaguar could be purchased. Furthermore, I'm from the UK and in 1997 I bought a Jaguar controller from one of the stores listed.

It was the Silica store in Debenhams' Manchester branch, in case you wondered - incidentally the same place I got my first Dreamcast in November 1999, fact fans. Anyhow, thanks to Nathan from Every Bit Gaming for this booklet. There are some notable inclusions here, as page 6 features World Tour Racing when it was still known simply as 'F1-Racer,' and there's a preview of Mortal Kombat 3. I'm pretty sure that image isn't from a Jaguar build...but who knows (it isn't).
Lotta love for the Jag in Glasgow...
On page 4 you'll also find an interesting 'upcoming games' list with some intriguing entries: Gotcha!, Starlight Bowl A-Rama, and Highlander 3 chief amongst them. Scans of every one of the 8 pages are below and feel free to copy them for your own ends if you like, I literally don't care.

Click the little camera icon in the bottom left of the gallery and choose 'direct image link' for full screen images that can be saved.

The Jag Bar Tackles White Men Can't Jump

It's 2016 and the time has come for Do The Math to get back up to speed. What better way to do this than showcase the awesome new video from Brian Thomas Barnhart's Jag Bar? In this new episode, BTB and three brave compatriots hook up the legendary White Men Can't Jump, a Team Tap and four controllers and get out on the court. To be honest, the game looks a hell of a lot better when played with friends (I only played it against the CPU), but still...it's no NBA Jam. Enjoy:

JagLink

Most retro consoles have the ability to be linked together for multiplayer purposes, and the Jaguar is no different. If you look on the back of the Jag, you'll notice that there are two exposed circuit board connectors. The longer of the two is used by the Jaguar SCART or S-Video connectors, and the other one is - surprise - used by the JagLink system networking device. I'm going to go out on a limb here are say that there are probably very few Jaguar consoles out there that have ever had anything slotted onto that narrower connector, simply because the JagLink is a pretty uncommon peripheral and only three games actually use it: Doom, Battlesphere and Aircars. As you'd expect, in order to fully make use of the JagLink, you need two Jaguars, two TVs, a willing friend and two copies of whichever game it is you want to play.
The lesser-spotted Network Capable logo
I had pretty much everything on that tick list, apart from the second copy of Doom...but when I bought my JagLink from an eBay seller, I mentioned that I'd also be looking for another copy of Doom and he sent me a brand new (sealed) boxed copy for free! For that completely selfless act of kindness, I'd like to thank eBayer retro_xtreme.

It's actually a little odd that, considering how much of a fan of the Doom series I am, I've never actually played the game in multiplayer; so it was quite apt that my first ever taste of co-op Doom came about using the Jaguar version. Many times over the years I've looked at that gameplay mode option in the menu of Jaguar Doom, and only now have I had the ability to actually select 'co-op' or 'deathmatch' and been able to jump into a game with a second player...and it really does add something extra to a game I thought I had seen every side of (actually, you can only see one side of pretty much everything in the sprite-based engine...but you know what I mean!). To be honest, I was really impressed with the speed at which the JagLink networked my two systems and there was none of the stuttering or freezing up mentioned in the Doom manual (see image below). The only issue I encountered was that my modded 60Hz system does occasionally freeze while running Doom for reasons unbeknown to me, and that's not really anything to do with the JagLink - it does it in single player too.

Game-play experiences aside, the JagLink itself is a nice looking device. It comprises two network adaptor boxes that attach to the back of each system and a network cable that goes between the two. I do also have an unofficial network cable but I've not actually tried it to see if it works simply because the connectors on the ends of it are very wide and I can't connect the SCART and S-Video cables at the same time. If it does indeed work, it makes me wonder why the official version of the JagLink has the little boxes...but I digress.

It's a great little addition to my collection and that it's boxed and in really good condition is a massive bonus; and the free copy of Doom it came with only sweetened the deal.

Grab A Seat At The Jag Bar

There are plenty of videos focusing on the Jaguar on YouTube. Most of them specifically set out to berate the system, the management fumbles made by Atari and all that other stupid shit that idiots like to bring up whenever anyone even dares to utter the words "Atari Jaguar." It's with great pleasure though, that I am able to bring to your attention a totally new web series from YouTuber Brian Thomas Barnhart: The Jag Bar, a 64-bit Interactive Multimedia Show. It's a pretty original concept in which your host will sit down with a different guest in each episode and dissect some of the gems (and stinkers) that make up the underrated console's library. Here's a look at the pilot episode:

The Price We Must (Not) Pay

It's no secret that in recent times the cost of absolutely everything to do with retrogaming has gone through the roof. It wasn't too long ago that you could pick older games up for peanuts because they were considered junk by the vast majority. This trend has, until quite recently, not really been an issue for many Jaguar owners and collectors though. Certainly in my experience, the price of Jaguar games and consoles, while not exactly 'dirt cheap,' has remained fairly constant. Some games are almost universally cheap; while others such as Towers II, Iron Soldier 2, Fight For Life, Skyhammer, Gorf, and a couple of other CD-based and unreleased titles have always commanded 'premium' prices for whatever reason; and likewise with the Jaguar CD unit itself.

The reason I've been prompted to write this post though, is that I've recently been looking to purchase another Jaguar console. I do already have two systems, but the one I had modded with a 60Hz switch has decided that it doesn't like running Doom with the Jaglink (more to come on this in a planned post) and so I've been on the hunt for a reasonably-priced console so I might enjoy some co-op and deathmatch Doom without having the game crash every 5 minutes. I have seen a few systems in the wild but they've generally been priced at around £100...which in my opinion at least is a little bit too much to pay for what is essentially going to be a console that will only get played when I can convince somebody to play multiplayer Doom with me. Fair enough I thought - maybe I'll be able to find a cheap and cheerful 'spares and repair' or 'console only - untested' deal online. Wrong. The price of Jaguar consoles appears, in my absence from searching for them, to have gone absolutely stratospheric:
Yep. £580 for a Jag and some games?! £300+ for a boxed one? Who are these people kidding? Now, I'm not one to try to detract from the price of my own collection, but from what these jokers are charging my own Jaguar hoard must be worth about £10,000! Not a chance. So, it seems that the rip-off merchants have finally discovered our little secret and this makes me both sad and angry. How long until we start seeing copies of Cybermorph changing hands for £50 a pop? Hopefully this will not happen, but it's a scary prospect.
My own Jaguar collection, as of about a month ago.

Introducing The Atari PlayOne V2.0

Some time ago we featured the awesome looking all-in-one Jaguar and Jaguar CD system, the Atari PlayOne. This impressive looking beast is the brainchild of system modder 10p6 and features - as stated - a Jaguar cart system, a CD unit and a whole host of outputs in one customised shell. However, Do The Math can reveal that 10p6 is working on an upgrade to the PlayOne - the PlayOne V2.0. It's a work in progress at present, but the video below shows some interesting features, such as a more compact shell and a sliding cover over the cartridge slot. We'll be keeping an eye on the progress of the PlayOne V2.0, and hoping it develops into more than a wireframe model...