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Gadget Hall of Fame: Atari Jaguar

Atari's final home console is a cat cut from a different cloth to Sega and Nintendo contemporaries

What’s the story?

Atari won the first Great Gaming War in the 1970s before battling Commodore for European dominance in the late ’80s. Then came the Japanese invasion of the ’90s, blitzing all with the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo – making Atari resemble a dinosaur overnight. The Jaguar, which incorporated some 64-bit technology, was meant to crush this new wave, but it didn’t even scratch Ninty’s paint.

However, there are plenty of reasons you may want to seek one out today. The Jaguar had a special niche all of its own, thanks to attracting some very oddball games. The “hardcore” element was taken care of by a faithful conversion of Raiden, possibly the best-ever scrolling space shooter, while Jeff Minter’s amazing Tempest 2000 stands as one of gaming’s finest moments. If you’re bored of playing the same old Sonic the Hedgehog games, give the Jag’s insane back catalogue a try.

Stuff’s favourite Jaguar games

Doom

Having Doom running on a console was a big deal in ’94, and the Jag version managed to capture the horrifying atmosphere of the PC shooter very well.

Tempest 2000

The ultimate in psychedelic gaming, Jeff Minter’s crazy tunnel-based shooter remake pushed the Jaguar, and human reflexes, to the limit.

Rayman

While the PlayStation version was bogged down by loading times, cartridge-based Jag Rayman was super- fast and a fine example of a modern platformer.

Alien vs Predator

The Jag wasn’t great at dealing with complex 3D, but AvP managed to offer convincing and pretty gruesome scenes of green- blooded warfare.

Once you’ve found a decent Jaguar you should track down one of the matching CD units, which sat atop the console with the unfortunate side effect of making it look like a teddy bear’s toilet. You were then empowered to play the interactive CD-ROM titles of the day, such as Space Ace and Myst. It’s easy to find boxed examples for sale too, thanks to there not being many reasons to take a Jaguar CD out of its box once you bought it.

Search eBay for Atari Jaguar consoles.

Also in 1994:

Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino dragged John Travolta from a gutter and started his lifelong obsession with Uma Thurman, perfecting his trademark formula of sweary dialogue blended with ultra-violence in the process.

Friends

Launching in 1994, the show that would soon become the only thing ever shown on Channel 4 at the weekends quickly grew into a global phenomenon. And it did it without ever really making any proper jokes.

Netscape Navigator 1.0

Thanks to a new wave of browsers such as Netscape, the internet went from being a geeky bulletin board for trading porn and stolen software to… a much more accessible place to trade porn and stolen software.

Portishead: Dummy

With a throbbing bass sound that infuriated neighbours of students across the UK, Portishead pretty much invented modern post-club chill tunage with its soundtrack of sobbing and scratching.