Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cover to Cover: Jaguar EGM Promo (pp. 8-9)

We're paging through Atari's 1994 promo insert for the company's Jaguar console, published with an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine.

Page 8 features the Jaguar's most indelible exclusive -- Jeff Minter's Tempest 2000, a throbbing techno reimagining of the classic Atari coin-op designed by Dave Theurer.  Minter reportedly didn't have access to an actual Tempest machine during the game's development, so he was going on memory, but the resulting game remains technically impressive and highly playable, with an excellent soundtrack.  It was hard to promote this kind of experience in a print ad -- still shots tend to look bare and simplistic -- but Atari did its best:

Page 9 gets us past the big titles and into the second-tier games, with half-pages devoted to id's Wolfenstein 3D and the freewheeling polygonal racer Club Drive.  I confess to playing through the Jaguar version of Wolfenstein 3D before I ever went back and played through the PC version, and it's actually quite a bit different from the original, with different levels and some additional weaponry, though the basic technology remains the same.  id intended this port as a test before tackling DOOM, but Atari was impressed (and desperate for software) enough to urge release of Wolfenstein 3D as well.

Club Drive was meant to be a 3-D Micro Machines sort of game, with a style reminiscent of Atari Games' Hard Drivin', but the game was not well received by critics or players.  The untextured polygon graphics were already starting to look outdated, and the engine didn't use the complicated Jaguar hardware very efficiently.  As a result, the game was sluggish, with imprecise controls, and the handful of imaginative racing environments were not enough to make it playable or successful.

Next weekend, we'll continue...

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