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November 2015 Retro Gaming Article


November 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I recall & cherish buying the last Atari game console to adorn retail shelves

I remember my senses perking up when I learned it was coming. I hadn't heard that name for many years. It felt good, like an old friend returning.

It was 1993 and the Atari Jaguar was going to be released! Atari products were going to be back on retail shelves! I wasn't sure who owned the Atari name at the time, but it's iconic logo remained the same and that was enough to excite me.

Cybermorph for Atari Jaguar The day it released, my friend (and coworker) and I took an extended lunch at Nobody Beats The Wiz - a now-defunct electronics box-store. We raced into the store and headed to the video game area. There was a lot of Jaguar signage, Atari banners, and those black boxes with the red text and yellow eyes. It was an astounding site!

We were chastised upon our return to the office. The two of us represented 50% of the Tech team, so our disappearance had not gone unnoticed. We tried to assuage the complaints by semi-confessing to our Atari mission and were quite surprised at how many people had their own Atari stories and were willing to share them on the spot rather than complaining about our absence.

That night we played hours of Cybermorph and Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy without a care in the world about 64 or 32 bit nonsense. The games were fun, new, and Atari branded. What else could one ask for?

Atari Jaguar it was soon clear there were 2 types of Jaguar games - those that were terrific and those that were awful. I was fully stoked to buy Jeff Minter's Defender 2000, but also bought Club Drive because it existed. The Jaguar was the first console where I was aware that it was fading. I went on a buying spree in the hopes of garnering a substantial game library to enjoy down the road. The final games I found via retail were at a huge comic book shop that had a small video game area. They laughed at the games I was buying. I laughed too - they were sealed, and complete in-box for $5.

Although the Jaguar was considered a comercial flop and is much maligned, I still play jaguar games frequently. Many titles were exclusive to it and are just fun to play. It's games also bring me back to a time when video gaming sprang to life for me. I've always loved video games, but the intense passion came in waves. The Atari Jag rel;ease marked my permanent return to loving all things comprised of pixels.

translucent Jaguar console shell In May 2015 I purchased a translucent Atari Jaguar console and game cart shell from a company touting a new kind of cartridge-based game console. Called the Retro VGS, they bought the old Jaguar console molds from a dentist who'd used them to create housings for dental equipment. They wanted to use the molds to create shells for their upcoming game console.

translucent Jaguar console shell I was excited to hear about this project, even though it had nothing to do with Atari or the Jaguar outside of physical appearance. They wanted to bring a cartridge based game console to market with games that would last a lifetime and be playable without Internet connections and server farms. Alas, it turned out that they wanted to crowd fund $2 Million dollars without having a working prototype.

I'm glad I bought one of the shells they produced. I was thinking it would be fun to have as a Jaguar fan. I also thought it would be cool to own when the Retro VGS was released. Now It serves as a marker in time when modern gaming tried to go back to it's roots. I hope the Retro VGS can find a way to bring their cart-based console to market... with a slick Jag look!

When my son showed interest in video games and wanted a Wii, I made sure he had intermittent doses of Atari. We bagan with my old 7800 so we could also play 2600 titles and explored the various carts I had for the Atari 800 computer. He really enjoys Donkey Kong and DK Jr since he loves Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze.

I'm glad we began with the 2600 - it made the leap to the Jaguar an amazing change for my son. He was stunned at the difference between 8-bit and 64-bit. He assumed all of my "old" games were much the same. :)

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