Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy

The majority of the Jag's shoot 'em ups are 3D affairs and they vary wildly in quality, from the sublime (Cybermorph and I-War), to the frankly embarrassing (Hover Strike). Fans of the 2D shooter have less of a choice on the Jag, though - there's either the highly regarded Raiden, or this - Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy. The first thing I need to address here, is the ridiculous title.

You play as Trevor McFur, an anthropomorphic leopard/puma/cat-beast who also happens to be a corporal in the 'Circle Reserve' - a chapter in the Crescent Galaxy's Interplanetary Defense Squad. The rest of this Defense Squad has been annihilated by a half-arsed entity called 'Odd-It,' and it's up to you and your feline partner Cutter to jump into your space ships and engage the enemy and rid the four moons of your conquered home world of Odd-It's minions. No - I didn't make any of that up.

So Trevor McFur is a space shooter where you have to venture to the four moons of your homeworld, kill all the baddies and then head to the central planet for a final showdown. You start the game with a sort of powerpoint presentation where you can choose which moon to assault first (they're all different but familiar - swamp, caverns, weird psychedelic desert thing etc) but before you get down to the moon's surface you have to endure a painfully tedious space section where random geometric shapes, blobs of goo and sentient asteroids fly at you. You can dispatch these enemies with either your upgradeable pea shooter or by using your vast array of bizarre (but actually quite inventive) special weapons, and even call in your wingman (wingcat?) to help in the fight. Once you get through this space-based preamble, you'll go up against a mid-level boss, but these have no AI to speak of and their designs are quite laughable (keep an eye out for the giant, ornate, spinning purple and gold gimp suit). Once you've offed them by firing all of your special weapons and hammering the fire button, you're sent down to the moon's surface, and get to do the whole thing again but with a different set of random creatures trying to kill you while a different jpeg scrolls by in the background. Repeat this procedure four times (one for each moon), and then presumably you get to go to the final level on the homeworld (Cosmolite) and battle Odd-It.

I say presumably, because I haven't even managed to clear a single moon yet, such is the difficulty level in Trevor McFur. The sheer number of random enemies flying around the screen shooting at you can make for a very annoying experience, and in some of the levels you can't even see the projectiles coming your way because of the colour clashing scenery. The graphics do look quite nice, but the consistency of the stuff on-screen varies wildly - some objects have a cool pre-rendered style, whilst others look like they've been hand-drawn on the back of a cig packet. The gameplay is as you'd expect for this type of game - move your ship around, shoot stuff, dodge bullets...nothing remotely original, really. The glaring omission from Trevor McFur though, has got to be the background music - there isn't any! It's just random blips, beeps and explosions...a thumping soundtrack is a staple in the shmup genre, so to leave one out is just plain odd. Also, there's no multiplayer option - another glaring omission for a shooter of this ilk.

There's a hint of great game in Trevor McFur, but I can't help but feel that it was maybe rushed out before the development had been completed. The graphics are decent and the gameplay is by no means bad, and there's been a bit of effort paid to the backstory and setting - it just could have done with a proper soundtrack and a bit of work on the pacing and enemy designs. As it is, it's a OK shooter - but it could have been great. Worth a look if you need some 2D shooting action on your Jag and refuse to pay the abhorrent price Raiden commands these days.

Troy Aikman NFL Football

I only bought Troy Aikman NFL Football because I'm addicted to buying Jaguar games - especially if they're selling for a reasonable amount. This cart was on eBay for £10 with free postage, so I thought 'what the hell' and nabbed it. Now, I know next to nothing about American football. Back when the N64 was in it's infancy and there were hardly any games for it, I spent my birthday money on Madden 64 just because there was nothing else to buy...and boy did I regret it - the game went back to the shop the same day and I think I traded it for NHL Breakaway (which was another US sport game, but ice hockey is a bit like proper football, so at least I could get some enjoyment from it!). So, to clarify: I have zero interest in the sport of American football, and have even less interest in the rules or any of the terminology...but here on the Jag it's a bit of a curio, and like I said it was £10.

To that end, there's not really a lot more I can say about Troy Aikman, as I really have no benchmark to rate it against. I don't really know what's going on when I play, but the graphics are decent for the time it was released and there's a good amount of digitised speech in the game. One thing I did notice was that the players all vanish off the field when you pause the game...and that alone should tell you how interested I was in Troy Aikman as an actual playing experience. I'll probably never play another NFL game in my life after this...but I thought I should at least include it here as it's another game in the Jag's tiny roster. Troy Aikman NFL Football: if you like NFL games, you'll probably enjoy it...and that's the most I can offer on the subject.

Videogames Hardware Handbook

If you live in the UK, there is only one widely available print magazine whose sole focus is retrogaming: the aptly titled Retro Gamer. Alongside the monthly publication (which is well worth buying, by the way), Retro Gamer occasionally release 'bookazines' like this:

That is the Videogames Hardware Handbook 2014 Edition. It's an invaluable tome of retrogaming information and features pretty much every major console that was released between 1977 and 1999 (although the Turbo Grafx and Neo Geo variants are missing), and it has a rather excellent section on the Atari Jaguar. Granted, it's pretty much the same as the article printed in the main magazine that was written by the highly knowledgeable Kieren Hawken, but it's a great write-up and that the Jag is featured in this updated version is a great bonus. I'm not going to put scans of the pages on here out of respect for the copyright owners and the author, but here are a few (blurry) shots of the kind of thing you can expect from this awesome item:

Naturally (as you can no doubt tell from the images above), there are other consoles featured too, and if you're a fan of retrogaming you won't want to miss this go buy it! It's only £9.99, and worth every single penny.

Club Drive

Wow. Just wow. Club Drive is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the strangest, weirdest, most bat-shit insane games I've ever played...and should definitely not be confused with Drive Club for the PS4.

Club Drive is usually lambasted for being a total car crash (excuse the low grade pun), but upon playing it for some considerable time I can't help but love it for how ridiculously bad it is. It's so's amazingly good! And I can't help but wonder if that was Atari's whole angle when they shat this abortion of a game into the world:

SCENE: Atari HQ boardroom. Several suited EXECS are sat around a large meeting table. The cold, blue light of a mid-winter morning pours through the blinded windows, and onto the grey carpet, grey walls and grey suits. A distant phone rings.

EXEC 1: So what do we have people? We need a killer racing game for our Jagwaaaar console.

EXEC 2: Well, we've got an idea...

EXEC 1: Let's hear it then!

EXEC 2: How about a 3D racing game where you can either collect 'powerballs' or race against the clock?!

EXEC 1: Go on...

EXEC 2: And it's all in 3D! 3D! Polygons and stuff...with no textures, but you can collect 'powerballs' or race against the clock...and one of the tracks is set inside a giant house with a cuboid cat roaming around too!

EXEC 1: Do it.

That's Club Drive in a nutshell. There is no story as such, but then, when do driving games need one unless they're Grid 2? You choose a course (they range from a wierd San Francisco reproduction and a Wild West environment, to...erm...inside a giant house) and then you either go and collect floating multi-coloured orbs, or you drive between two pre-determined 'checkpoints' against the clock. That's it. There are no computer controlled vehicles to race against, and there is no championship or career mode. You can either collect powerballs, race against the clock...or fuck off. You could play against a friend in two player mode if you chose to, but I guarantee they wouldn't be a friend for much longer afterward.

The visual and aural aspects of Club Drive leave me in a bit of quandary. The music I really like - it's so mismatched, and totally unsuited to the style of game - really bouncy and light-hearted; but the sound effects are just plain stupid. The voice sample when you collect a powerball sounds like a Somerset farmer saying "alright," while the engine effects sound like somebody is playing a flute down your lughole. The visuals too, are a bit of a mixed bag - on the one hand I can't help but be impressed by the general 'free roam' nature of the environments, but on the other hand it just looks atrocious. Look at that cat! Look at the flat-shaded horror! If you manage to spin your car - which you will, due to the invisible humps in the flat shaded roads - you can end up facing a flat shaded wall...and have no idea which way you're facing! Club Drive looks like a virtual reality simulator from 1989, frankly. And even in 1994, this looked bad...but these days it has a certain naive charm. There is no doubt in my mind that the Jag wasn't really up to the job of throwing around textured 3D visuals at playable framerates, but good God...did the playtesters and programmers of Club Drive really think Jaguar owners in 1994 would be happy with this?! One look at Ridge Racer on the fledgling PS1 would have told them otherwise.

The thing is, even though it looks like a dog's dinner and has practically no (well, three) gameplay modes or replay appeal, I can't help but feel really drawn to Club Drive. It feels like an unfinished experiment, a tech demo even, and for that I love it. You may have read bad things about Club Drive, and for the most part they are true, but you can't deny that it's original, odd and laughable...but for that I applaud it.