Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cover to Cover: Jaguar EGM Promo (pp. 14-end)

Life has settled down a bit, so I'm finally getting around to wrapping up our most recent cover-to-cover series.  Atari and EGM collaborated on this paid advertising insert in 1994, as the legendary videogame company tried to convince gamers to adopt t its newest (and final) console, the Atari Jaguar.

Page 14 includes a couple of Amiga ports, the weakest entry in a popular series, and the beginning of a long-running modern franchise:

Cannon Fodder is still one of my favorite Jaguar games, even though it's a port; the comical action/strategy is augmented with a simultaneously cute and dark British sense of humor about the horrors of war.  Theme Park is also a great game, a forerunner to the modern Tycoon games, though it was slightly clunky running on Atari's powerful but unwieldy console.  Double Dragon V sullies its family name with lame one-on-one fighting action. And Michel Ancel's beautiful platformer Rayman was slated to premiere on the Jaguar -- but cartridge manufacturing lead time meant that the Playstation version arrived a little bit earlier, and I was one of many Jaguar gamers who ended up buying it for the PSX instead.

Page 15 features one original title, a couple more PC/Amiga ports, and an actual sports game:

Flashback remains a classic, though its polygon graphics occasionally chug a bit on the Jag -- the system's multiprocessor power remained difficult to harness, with many ports relying on the 16-bit CPU with minimal optimization.  Syndicate's cyberpunk mission gameplay translated well, throwing followers and flamethrowers around with aplomb and making good use of the Jaguar's multi-button controller to handle weapon changeups.  Ultra Vortex was another Mortal Kombat-inspired fighting game that failed to better its inspiration.  And Troy Aikman Football made it to market, at least, unlike many of the licensed Jaguar sports titles planned, but it felt a lot like the Genesis/SNES versions and couldn't compete with EA's Madden juggernaut as the Playstation and Saturn came to market.

And the back cover's "LET THE GAMES BEGIN" once again serves as documentation of Atari's hopes for its fading console, listing a bevy of upcoming titles, many of which never saw the light of day even in prototype form:

Note a few artifacts of the pre-World Wide Web era -- Atari had a presence on Compuserve and Genie, promoted in the ONLINE FEVER! section of this page. 

And I wonder if anybody called the "exclusive" ATARI TIP LINE! to find out what the pre-release testers were up to.  Was there ever a time when they answered "Pffft... not much"?  Or had the line already shut down as the software pipeline dried up?

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