Atari Jaguar
Type Console Developer Atari
Release Date 1993-Nov-18 Region(s) North America, Japan, Europe, Australia
Initial Price $249 USD Games Released 55
     by Dark Watcher
With Sega and Nintendo battling neck and neck with their 16-bit platforms, Atari seized the opportunity to return to the console market after 7 years.  A small company calling themselves 'Flare 1' were on the verge of developing a multiprocessor console.  Needing the funding to develop it further, they approached Atari Corp.  Atari was trying to develop their own console code named 'Panther' at the time.  They jumped on the offer and development for the 'Flare 2' continued alongside the 'Panther'.  Eventually plans for the 32-bit Panther were scrapped for the renamed 64-bit Jaguar.
The Atari Jaguar was released in the United States in November of 1993.  The console was manufactured by IBM.  Atari boasted the system as being the first 64-bit console.  They also boasted about a host of developers and a hundreds of games being created for the system.  The system had amazing technical specs for its time.  The console contained 5 processors mounted on 3 chips.  One was a traditional Motorola 68000 and the other two were nicknamed 'Tom' and 'Jerry'.

The use of the Motorola 68000 was a reason that the Jaguar's validity as a 64-bit was put to question.  You see... the Motorola 68000 is a 16-bit processor and 2 others were 32-bit.  Only 2 processors were actually 64-bit, but all the registers and buses were in fact 64-bit.  Regardless the machine had a ton of potential.
So what exactly happened?  Even with so many developers announced (158 developers) many of the game titles never saw the light of day.  Many never got further than the planning stage.  It was not just game titles that failed to arrive, neither did some of the consoles peripherals (an overly hyped virtual reality headset for example).  The Jaguar's cartridge game media had limited storage space and failed to tap the abilities of the Jaguar.  Out of 55 total carts made for Jaguar only 22 were created by outside developers.  Developers were simply not ready to handle a console with multiple processors.  This became obvious with many of the game released.  Some games were simply ports of 16-bit titles with improved color.  Others were enhanced ports of older Atari classics (though this was not a bad thing with some of them - Tempest 2000 was a best seller for the system).  Others still seemed to be rushed afterthoughts in an effort to cash in. Third party developer support was pretty much nonexistent.
The Jaguar could have been an amazing console if software took better advantage of its 5 processor capability.  One game however appeared toward the end of Jaguars life cycle and showed what the console could do.  The graphics in 'Aliens vs Predator' were amazing for their time and could have possibly inspired a Jaguar purchase, if only it arrived sooner.
FACT:  The Atari Jaguar featured many ports. Among them was a COM I/O port capable of networking up to 26 Jaguar consoles for multiplayer play, or linking to the Atari Lynx as a specialized controller. Both features were never utilized, but eventually would be features found in future videogame consoles.
     by Tan
I admit I've always had a fascination with the Jaguar.  To me, it has "cool" written all over it.  From the all black, cat-eyed box it comes in, the name of the system which is synonymous with fast cars and deadly predators, to its cocky attitude and boasting of its technical prowess.  This system's first impression upon release was one of confidence and maturity from a household name (Atari).  A decade and a half later as a gamer and a collector, little has changed from my initial impression.  The only difference is that I know how things turned out for both Atari and the Jaguar itself.  A mix of enhanced 16-bit ports, remade classics, blocky 3D simulations and a few gems thrown in, it almost sits apart from the timeline of gaming history while dabbling in several generations of gaming all at once.
As a hardware enthusiast, I'm of a mixed opinion as far as its design.  I like that it's a low, wide console with a unique shape.  Very stable with no worries of sliding or tipping and it's unmistakable when sitting in an entertainment center.  I don't like the fact that the cartridge port has no cover.  The opening is slightly larger than a cartridge so even leaving a game in the machine won't stop dust from collecting inside.  Depending on your house, habits and environment, this could lead to early hardware failure should a neglected buildup of dust cause overheating or friction on the pins from swapping cartridges.  There is also too much leeway to wiggle the cartridge back and forth because of the opening so you really have to be careful when you yank out a cartridge from the Jaguar's tight death grip the cartridge connector has.  My other peeve is the DSP and AV ports.  Having a slim male pin out connector sticking out of the back makes me nervous.  With an AV cable that has a big blocky female end on it, it's like a hippo clamping its jaws on a diving board.  It makes me paranoid that I'll crack the circuit board somehow, especially if there is tension on the cable itself.  I will note however that the AC adapter and RF adapter ports are solid as a rock.

Atari Jaguar
One thing you'll hear about in just about every forum and discussion group, is the hatred some people have for the controller.  Oh sure the d-pad won't win any awards but the buttons and overall ergonomics are well thought out and well-built.  As far as the keypad, well it worked for the Intellivision, the ColecoVision and even the Xbox 360 (chat pad).  So why all the hate?  My theory is it's mostly bandwagon bashing by people who never really gave it a chance or who have never even used one.  Play Doom on any console and you'll appreciate being able to switch weapons without cycling through the list.  Other games you'll appreciate having overlays that label extra functions.  It can turn a simple game into a more fun and challenging one.  More on that later.
I have just as mixed an opinion of its games as I do the hardware.  This really is a system that requires a particular taste in games.  With only a few dozen titles outside of ports to choose from, you won't find a huge selection of "must haves" even if you include the Jaguar CD attachment.  That said, grab yourself a copy of Alien Vs. Predator, Iron Soldier (awesome!), Missile Command 3D, Super Burnout and Tempest 2000.
There are also some awesome ports like NBA Jam TE, Doom, Zool 2 and Syndicate which are great games in their own right but really shine on the Jaguar.  You also have a tight-knit homebrew community and post system lifespan developers who are putting out some awesome games like Protector: Special Edition, Total Carnage and Mad Bodies.  How many older game systems can still boast of game development in 2010?

I had mentioned the extra functionality of the keypad earlier.  Games like Doom, AvP, Syndicate and Iron Soldier use this to great effect.  Where you could play these on competing systems with three or four buttons, the Jaguar opens that up to a dozen or more.  A game like Syndicate, originally on PC, works great once you memorize the button layout.  I daresay even better than the PC version when coupled with the easy plug'n'play aspect of a console and the exclusive zoom feature this version has.  Iron Soldier as another example, turns from a simple mecha shooter to a full-out functioning war machine simulator by putting all of the individual controls and armaments of your mech at your disposal.
Are you looking for something that sits just inside the mainstream umbrella yet makes a great conversation piece because so few people have one?  Get a Jaguar.  Or are you looking for something fun to collect or unique to play that won't break the bank?  Get a Jaguar!

     Officially licensed releases
Atari Jaguar
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Atari Jaguar Atari Jaguar
Atari Jaguar
Atari Jaguar
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Atari Jaguar VR
The Atari Jaguar VR was designed to be a peripheral for the Jaguar and Jaguar CD system.  This headset, originally named the Atari 2000, was developed by Atari through a partnership with Virtuality, a manufacturer and developer of virtual reality arcade games.  Scheduled to be released in 1996, the Jaguar VR was to retail at approximately $250 USD, an extremely high price point especially when considering the Jaguar had a relatively low market saturation.  The project would end up being scrapped due to the inability to encapsulate this technology into an affordable device while not bankrupting either company in the process.

There are two working prototype versions of the Jaguar VR that were produced.  The first unit, which features bright red trimming, was the 'low resolution' model that Atari would reject due to the low quality of the visual output.  The second, 'high definition' model was trimmed in bright blue and a bit larger than the first release.  The pack-in game was to be Missile Command 3D VR.
There seems to be some debate as to how many actual working prototypes there are in existence, but all sources seem to agree that there are less than four of each model out there in the wild.  We can confirm that there is definitely one working Jaguar VR out there for sure, courtesy of our good friend Marco at BrainFusion Video Games.

Marco contacted me (Marriott_Guy) concerning this holy grail of video gaming hardware and has graciously offered for us to host his pictures of his working Atari Jaguar VR.  In addition to running an excellent website, Marco and his friends host a yearly gaming conference, the Italian JagFest.  This conference obviously features plenty of Jaguar content, but has also grown to showcase other hardware oddities.  This event is also the only place that I am aware of where you can actually take the Atari Jaguar VR for a test ride.  If you are looking for a great gaming road trip, or are in the local area, please be sure to check them out!

A big thanks to Marco for providing the following pictures of the Atari Jaguar VR!
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Atari Jaguar VR Atari Jaguar VR Atari Jaguar VR
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     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
     by Tan
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent. Atari Jaguar

Atari Jaguar - Battlesphere
Console Design 6.5  
Console Durability 5.5  
Controllers 6.5  
Graphics 7.0  
Audio 6.0  
Media 7.5  
Game Library 3.0  
Gamer Value 5.5  
Collector Value 7.0  
     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Atari Jaguar was distributed in the cartridge format.  The game carts have a rather odd design which featured an enlarged, concave-shaped top.  In addition to the instruction manual, controller overlay(s) were included within the packaging.

Large cardboard boxes were utilized for packaging Atari Jaguar games.  These monsters are extremely fragile with very little (if any) structural support provided for its contents.  As you can imagine, these are very prone to being accidentally crushed so ensure to take caution when storing or displaying them.  Most cartons feature bright, richly colored graphics that would include an actual screenshot of the title on the front cover.  The Atari Jaguar logo resides on the spine as well as on the lower right of the front of the game box.

The holy grail within the Jaguar library (excluding protos) is Battlesphere.  This space combat simulator can run you close to $350 USD for the boxed version.  Though pricey, this title truly shows off the complete capabilities of the Atari Jaguar system.

applemctom's Games that Defined Compiliation

Atari Jaguar Game Boxes

     Captured in-game images
Alien vs. Predator
Alien vs. Predator Screenshot
Atari Karts
Brutal Sports Football
Brutal Sports Football Screenshot
Cannon Fodder
Checkered Flag
Cybermorph Screenshot
Defender 2000
Fever Pitch Soccer
Flashback: The Quest for Identity
Hover Strike
Iron Soldier
Iron Soldier Screenshot
Kasumi Ninja
Missile Command 3D
NBA Jam Tournament Edition
NBA Jam Tournament Edition Screenshot
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventures
Power Drive Rally
Power Drive Rally Screenshot
Protector SE
Protector SE Screenshot
Raiden Screenshot
Rayman Screenshot
Ruiner Pinball
Skyhammer Screenshot
Soccer Kid
Super Burnout
Super Burnout Screenshot
Tempest 2000
Tempest 2000 Screenshot
Total Carnage
Troy Aikman Football
Ultra Vortek
Val d'Isere Skiing & Snowboarding
White Men Can't Jump
Wolfenstein 3D
Zero 5
Zool 2
Zool 2 Screenshot
Pictures courtesy AtariAge
     First and third party system emulators
Virtual Jaguar

Windows based emulator for the Jaguar/Jaguar CD.
Not fully functional, but is still being actively developed.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
5 processors contained in 3 chips: "Tom", "Jerry" and Motorola 68000 "Tom" (26.6 MHz), "Jerry" (26.6 MHz) and a Motorola 68000 (13.3 MHz) See 'Other Details' below 2 MB of fast page mode DRAM
(4 chips x 512 KB)
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
800 x 576 (max) 16.8 million colors Rendering Speed 850 pixels/second CD-quality sound (16-bit stereo), two DAC's convert digital data to analog sound signals; full stereo capabilities, wavetable synthesis, FM synthesis
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Cartridge Up to 84 MB 55 CD-ROM (with optional Jaguar CD attachment)
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
None (games saved to cart) None 3-button Joypad with Numeric Keypad Various controllers, CD, CatBox, etc.
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (2) Can be networked with up to 32 other Jaguar units via the DSP post Digital Signal Processor port
(includes high-speed synchronous
serial input/output)
Composite, S-Video
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
Input: 120V, 60Hz
Output: DC 9V, 1.2A
Support for ComLynx I/O
(via DSP port)
5 processors were assigned to Object Processor, Graphics Processor, Blitter and Digital Sound Processor and a general purpose CPU
Atari Jaguar Owners Manual - NTSC (PDF) - 1.38 MB
Atari Jaguar Owners Manual - PAL (PDF) - 3.04 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Atari Jaguar Television Commercials

Atari Jaguar Advertisements

     Visitor insights and feedback
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