Hardware, Software, Jag-Ware!

Atari clearly imagined a mid-90s dystopia where the Jaguar was all powerful and swept aside pretenders to their gaming throne. Nintendo, Sega and the 3DO company could go to Hell as far as Atari were concerned. There was a problem with this ideology, however: once the Jaguar had destroyed (chewed up?) the competition and the only platform worth owning was a sleek, 64-Bit monster...what kind of apparel were gamers expected to wear as they ventured to their local game store to purchase Alien Vs Predator 2?

The answer: Jag-Ware. What is Jag-Ware? Well, that's an extremely good question...and one that can be answered very easily. Jag-Ware is a range of extremely cool, wearable and functional merchandise designed to make anyone - anyone - the single most badass dude/dudette on the planet. Well, their street. Or perhaps just in their bedroom. Here's a nice selection of the best Jag-Ware from a catalogue of the same name that could be ordered from Atari after they struck a deal with merch-maker Norscot Group, Inc. No, me neither.

What follows is a press release from the era:

CHICAGO — June 23, 1994 — Consumer Electronics Show — Atari Corporation announced today a new full-line gift catalog especially for Atari Jaguar gamers. The catalog, shown publicly for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Chicago, features nearly 20 popular consumer items fashionably adorned with the licensed Jaguar logo. The Atari Jaguar is the world's first 64-bit interactive multimedia home entertainment system and is the only system of its kind manufactured in the United States. The Jaguar has been awarded multiple awards for technical achievement, design and innovation.
Effective July 1, 1994, consumers throughout the world may order products exclusive to the new Jag-Ware collection. Items range in price as low as $2.95, but no item is more than $100 and include watches, T-Shirts, waist packs, caps and more. 
"We have been bombarded by Jaguar users asking for items they can wear or give as gifts with the Jaguar logo on it," explains Mr. Greg LaBrec, Director of Creative Services for Atari Corporation. "The traditional and new Atari consumer has fallen in love with the Jaguar and wants to show everyone that they've already moved up to the world of 64-bit entertainment technology."
Offering apparel and gift items is new for Atari and is a reflection of the growing popularity of the Jaguar system and Atari's commitment behind it. The items selected in the 8-page, full-color catalog have been carefully chosen by Atari with the advice of Norscot Group, Inc.; suppliers of Corporate namesake specialty catalogs for nearly a quarter century. Each item was chosen on merits of popularity, durability and practical application. All items are protected by a 100% satisfaction guarantee and typically shipped within 48 hours as long as they are in stock. 
The Jag-Ware catalog will be mailed to existing Jaguar owners registered with Atari Corporation within the next 120 days. Those wishing to obtain a copy sooner may request one by mail by writing: "JAG-WARE Catalog", Atari Corporation, P.O. Box 61657, Sunnyvale, CA 94089-1657. Catalogs will also be supplied with new Jaguar systems. Additionally, modem users will find text based copies of the catalog distributed in publications such as Atari Explorer Online and Silicon Times Report. 
Those wishing to place orders may call 800-653-3313 toll free. International orders accepted by calling 414-241-3313. Faxed orders accepted by dialing 414-241-4904. Orders may be mailed to: Norscot Group, Inc., 10510 North Port Washington Road, Mequon, WI 53092. Money Orders, MasterCard, Visa and American Express accepted. Dealers and Distributors should place their fall orders now. 

I'd personally love to get hold of some of the items featured in the catalogue but it appears that most of the stuff is now very rare and highly collectable. I'm not really in a position to splash hundreds of pounds and/or dollars on cups and pens with Jaguar logos printed on them...but if I ever come across any of this stuff for a reasonable price, I will be parting with my cash.

Project Cybermorpheus

OK, before I start this I just want to assure anyone reading that I'm not a PS4 basher. Neither am I an Xbox One hater. I'm a fanboy, yes - but I'm a fanboy for games in general. Of all types, colours and creeds on all systems from the past, present and the future. But the future ones, I cannot talk about without revealing my inter interdimensional time portal. Shit. Forget that last bit.

Right, lets get to the point. When the PS4 was revealed on that webcast event-a-thon a few years ago (Jesus...doesn't time fly?!), as soon as they showed footage of Drive Club I instantly thought of everyone's favourite Jaguar driving...thing. I was going to say 'racing game'...but Club Drive's not really a racing game (it's only just a game, to be honest) and I'm not in the business of libel. Fair enough, I thought - they've taken two totally unconnected words that just happen to constitute the name of a 1994 Atari Jaguar game that also features cars (of a fashion), and just rearranged the words and come up with magic. Fabulous. I can totally live with that. But fast forward to this very week and Sony announce Project Morpheus. And that's just a highly pretentious name for a virtual reality headset. A VR headset. Excuse me, but am I the only one seeing any connections here? I'll try to make it easier:

The PlayStation 4 is the Atari Jaguar reincarnated. There, I said it. I'll bet if you crack open a PS4 it's just 12 Jaguar PCBs sellotaped together. And that is totally fine by me! Now, if only they'd do a HD remake of Cybermorph. They could call it Cybermorpheus. Good GOD, I'm a freaking GENIUS!


Edit: After writing this, it was brought to my attention that the PS4's CPU is also codenamed 'Jaguar.' I rest my case.

Downfall+ Promo Video

The video says it all: Reboot is releasing Downfall+ - a new homebrew Jaguar game in cartridge form in 2014! Check out the video below and then head to the Reboot website for further info. Do it now...do the math!

Retro Video Gamer Pro Controller Review

I didn't make this video - it was made by Laird from the excellent Retro Video Gamer website and forums. You may also know Laird as the author of this Jaguar feature from Retro Gamer magazine, and in this video review he looks at and explains the benefits of the Jaguar Pro Controller. As he states in the intro, I wasn't aware that such a controller even existed before my Pad Reviews video was posted and discussed on the forum...but now I've seen this vid, I am fully enlightened! There was also a Jaguar flightstick too, apparently...!

Iron Soldier

It seems that the entire planet is going crazy for Titanfall at the moment, which is understandable as any game featuring first person combat and gigantic mechs will always get a thumbs up from me. Not overly keen on the 'online-only' side of it, but maybe that will change in the future or with a sequel. Titanfall isn't new though - mech games have been around for donkey's years. Who can forget Mech Warrior, Amok or Metal Head? And more recently Hawken has been tearing it up on the PC. But let's not forget that the Jaguar has a mech game too (well, two if you count the lesser spotted sequel): Iron Soldier. Released in 1994 and developed by Eclipse Software, Iron Soldier sees you piloting a 42ft tall robot that's armed with guns, missiles and a chainsaw. Yep - a chainsaw. Good luck finding enough lubricant to keep an 8ft chainsaw oiled...but that's the least of your problems in Iron Soldier.

There's a fairly interesting plot in Iron Soldier - a corporate giant called Iron Fist has taken over most of the planet and keeps everyone in check by locking down the world's cities with it's military arm. Iron Fist has also just developed a new weapon to patrol the towns and cities it controls - the titular Iron Soldier mech. However, a group known only as the Resistance has managed to steal one of these units and it's up to you to pilot it and use it to ram an iron foot up Iron Fist's ass. So you strap into the pilot's cockpit and battle through 16 missions blowing up enemy choppers, stamping on tanks, throwing grenades at skyscrapers and generally making a bit of a mess. Iron Soldier was lauded at the time of release for it's rather excellent visuals. You play the game from a first person perspective and get to wander around in fully 3D, partly textured cityscapes and everything in the levels is destructible. Like I said earlier - you can level entire city blocks with your rockets and stamp on smaller residential dwellings with considerable ease. Enemy units do tend to put up a stiff fight though, so you won't get much opportunity to just wander around blowing stuff up, but it's cool knowing that you can if you want to. Back in 1994, just being able to navigate a fully 3D environment was impressive in itself - being able to destroy everything was off the hook. The explosions themselves look quite comical now - buildings and enemies literally shatter into hundreds of pieces - but when put next to what was available on other systems at the time, Iron Soldier was head and shoulders above above the competition (quite literally).

It's not just the visuals that impress either - the way the game plays is very slick. The controls are well mapped to the Jaguar's pad and the keypad buttons all represent different weapon attachment points on the Iron Soldier's anatomy. This means that you can equip different weapons to different anchor points in the loadout screen - for example you can have rockets on a shoulder mount, grenades on a hip mount, a chainsaw in one hand and a rail cannon on the the other shoulder. Would you mess with that? Didn't think so. Just as a side note about the weapons - Iron Soldier also features a remote control missile that lets you fly around the entire level and then into your target. Very cool. Missions are a well mixed bunch - some are basic seek and destroy missions, other have you taking out bridges or destroying enemy convoys and occasionally you'll be fighting against other Iron Soldiers, which is very cool when you can see each other through the skyscrapers and buildings are being demolished left, right and chelsea.

In summary then, Iron Soldier is a solid first person mech shooter. it looks great and has a fitting soundtrack. Controls are well suited to the style of game and there are plenty of missions and the difficulty level, while challenging, will keep you entertained for a while. There was a sequel released in 1997 by Telegames but most of the copies I've seen are Jaguar CD versions. I did have a brief play on Iron Soldier 2 CD at Play Expo 2013 and from what I could tell it is more of the same with slightly better graphics and sound. There's a cartridge based version available too, which is virtually identical but doesn't have the FMV cutscenes and I'd really like to get hold of it and give it a proper play through...but as usual with the rarer Jag games, prices start silly and increase to comical levels. Maybe if I win the lottery it'll get it's own page here! There was a further sequel - Iron Soldier 3 - released on the PlayStation and Nuon in around 2000...but I haven't played that one...yet.

You can also check out JagCorner's video review here if you so wish.