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The Fascination with the Atari Jaguar


Clint Thompson

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The Jaguar has got to remain one of the coolest, most fascinating pieces of hardware to ever emerge as a gaming console. At least for me, anyways. 
 

On one side, you have these incredibly powerful GPU and DSP chipsets. Even with the hardware bugs they may contain, they’re capable of doing some impressive things given the 1992/1993 time frame and price point they were released in. 
 

On the other hand, it’s completely bottlenecked by Atari’s cost cutting decisions and hand-forced limitations due to memory constraints and a unified system bus architecture that is further diminished by the 16-bit Motorola 68000.

 

The system was originally designed around a 32-bit 68030 and 4MB of RAM. Imagine how much of a difference having twice the available RAM and a far faster CPU with proper bus access would have made! Alas, that was not to be the case. Hindered performance be damned, we still got one hell of a cool cat that certainly has a unique personality. 
 

So, yadda yadda yadda. Why am I still rambling about this sort of stuff in 2024? Well, because from a hobbyist homebrew developer standpoint, we’re on the brink of a major turning point.

I started my homebrew development journey in late 2017 on the Jaguar with Raptor Basic and have worked on dozens of things (mostly unseen) during this time. It had been somewhat a lifelong dream to create games for one of my favorite consoles of all time. So, I set out to learn 3D modeling and rendering, music composition and programming. This is pre-Jaguar game drive mind you. Rb+ evolved and matured into what is now JagStudio. For those who may be unaware, it’s a free and rather incredible software development package aimed at allowing anyone to make games on the Jaguar in c, assembly or even basic.
 

Snag it here: https://reboot-games.com/jagstudio/
 

All this, thanks to several hardcore and dedicated hobbyists who continue to devote their free time to improve these tools for others to make cool things as time goes on. Jaguar community gets a lot of static for ruffled feathers but this is the gold standard of community driven inspiration that fuels fun and creativity.

 

JagStudio is getting a major update soon. One that will allow things to be done that was seemingly impossible on the Jaguar before. I won’t let the cat out of the bag until it’s ready, but the guys working behind the scenes to make this pivotal shifting point possible (CJ and Rik) deserve some major kudos! Granted, the roadway here has been a long one. So many other devs have contributed to what has morphed into and become JagStudio, where do you even start. Maybe a proper credits page should be added on the site.
 

(inserting major kudos to all here!)

 

Anyways, on to bigger and better things. Here’s to 2024 being a super cool year for the Jag all-around. It’s a really exciting time to be a Jag fan. I’m pretty excited with the little things I’ve been able to achieve with it all behind the scenes, that it almost feels unreal.

 

Soon….

 

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