A Eulogy for an Atari Jaguar


My Jaguar gave me many hours of joy. With a solid port of Wolfenstein 3D, a superb Tempest 2000, and the digitized hilarity of Kasumi Ninja, I will remember it well.

In a move, my Jaguar was unceremoniously killed. It looks happy as it always did – despite limited play time – but became victim of a power surge. Accidentally, the wrong AC adapter would fry its internals. It was a stupid mistake that cost the console its electronic life.

I acquired a Jaguar in 1998. The system was tossed aside in a used game store with a bevy of games, and being discarded gaming hardware, held little value at the time. For $20, I had one of the oddities of the clustered 32-bit era, joining the likes of its entertainment center cousin, the oddball Amiga CD32.

The Jaguar, like many Atari consoles after their major success with the 2600, was a technical beast. Few systems display Rayman with such generous saturation like the Jaguar, the palette enormous and exploited. So saturated were the console’s games, they appear soft as blending from one hue to the next appears seamless.

However, like the Mode-7 portable powerhouse the Atari Lynx, developers never seemed to grasp the intangibles. Atari never secured a solid backlog of sports games – the dud Troy Aikman Football a rare entry – and its action titles also lagged behind its counterparts on the PlayStation, Saturn, or even 3DO. Don’t blame the cart technology; blame it for being a hair ahead of its time.

This specific Jaguar can rest knowing it was owned by someone who cared and appreciated its goofy quirks. We had good times, many particularly awful ones, and final puff of smoke (and electrical burn odor) to remember our time together.

Atari Jaguar: 1998-2013