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Back into the Jag


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Quick backstory and a few thoughts. I picked up an Atari Jaguar back when I was a Midshipman at Annapolis back in 1999. I got it for a song, and the only reason why was cause I thought it would be 'cool' to collect one. I played it a while, had fun with the VLM and use to browse some of the forums that were popular at the times. For the most part, I wasn't impressed, but kept it for nostalgia's sake. So about 3 weeks ago, my 10 year sees the box and wants to hook it up, so we throw it on the big screen and, for whatever reason, he was totally enamored with the whole thing! From having games on Carts, to the wired controller, to CD, he thought it was cool. So since then, I've decided to finally buy some of the games that I never did previously, pickup some homebrew titles, as well as explore some of the games I hadn't played in a very long time. Plus, I found this website, joined up and have been reading up on the current status of the community. Here are my thoughts on a few marquee games as I've been getting back up to speed on the library and the reviews and felt like I should toss in my own thoughts on some of these:


DOOM: I gotta say, I really struggled with this game. Perhaps it was because I was playing it on a large screen, but I found it super choppy...controls seemed to float, and overall don't understand how this was ever considered the best version of this game. Perhaps I'm missing it, but I became really bored with this game really quick.


Rayman: My kid absolutely loves this game! I concur...as it was fun, a little slower paced, but found it entertaining, and kept me and my boy pulled in for quite a while. Good pick!


T2K: Still awesome! My youngest, the 7 year old, giggles everytime the chick says 'Superzapper Recharge. Lots of fun! Now I need my rotary controller...arrggghhh!!! Somebody make them PUHHLLEASSSEE!!


SuperBurnout: Super fast....super ok. My 10 year old liked it...I find it a bit borning.


Atar Karts: Ok...somebody answer me this? Why is the music between races so damn depressing? Its like the programmers knew Atari was dead, and used the music of this game as an outlet for their depression. The game itself is fun...my boys like it. I would like a little more control, but the music is so blahh, and deep, and sinister. It is way to serious for a game that makes its existence about animals riding around on go carts. Maybe I'm missing something here???


AvP: Ya know, this game I use to think was the 'Shiznit' back in the lates 90's. Now that I play it again, it still seems to hold its chops given the era it was made. I love being Predator....walking upto a Marine, turn off invisibility, and then turn it on again! Hehehe.


Zero 5: Holy cow this game is friggin hard!!!!! But....I stayed up for hours playing it last night. I don't understand how this game can be soo smooth given some of the other games on the Jag!! It loads up quickly and presents pretty impressively from the moment you start. I would LOVE to see a Second Edition of this game cleaned up by the Homebrew guys and available. The graphics seem to have a bit of a 'rushed' feeling to them and it makes me think there is more room for improvement. But I do gotta say, the gameplay is hard a hell, but awesome! Great music, great explosions....I couldn't put this game down! The trench runs are pretty much impossible right now and I'm assuming it'll take some time to get better. I played last night in the dark and just had a blast of a time!! My boy likes watching it, but doesn't want to play.


NBA Jam: Hehe...funny game. I can't play it worth crap right now, but it looks good, is fast as all get out and my boys think they players look funny with their big heads. I need to spend more time on this one.


Cannon Fodder: Am I the only one who actually mourns the loss of Jops or Jools when they die??? Poor little Sargent's....Rest In Peace men. Fun little game...nothing fancy, but fun.


IS2: Did somebody put gum on my Mechs shoe cause I get stuck a lot???


Protector S.E.: Why in the world are the explosions in this game so damn awesome!??? The resolution looks ridiculous and the speed of this game is downright stupid fast! I'm really glad I picked this one up as I followed it for quite a long time. Good quality product all around.


Battlesphere: Another game I followed and purchased when finally made available. Good game. Nice and smooth. I just haven't spent a lot of time with it and will work on that the next few weeks. Indifferent right now with my opinion.


Brutal Sports Football: I like the premise of this game. However, the controls are sloppy, the animation is choppy, and I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing. However, I love taking a dude out and getting the ball!!! Comically fun game :)


Fight For Life: Now this game intrigues me. It has a weird smoothness and flow to it, and is unlike anything I've ever played before. You really have to think about your move before proceeding and I find it much more mentally stimulating than typical button masher games. This is another game that I think would be ripe for a Second Edition cleanup. Seems like, with the proper person, you could tweak a little more out of it and improve it significantly (cleanup graphics, gameplay). I need to spend more time with this one and really learn a characters moves, but this, I feel, is a neat game.


I think that's all I got for now. Thanks for all the great folks on here sharing thoughts and ideas with this system. What could have been right? Awww....the frustration of it all!


See ya!








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"Zero 5: Holy cow this game is friggin hard!!!!! But....I stayed up for hours playing it last night. I don't understand how this game can be soo smooth given some of the other games on the Jag!! "


No texture maps. Apparently the Jaguar's built-in texture map support is limited, and mooving textures into & out of the GPU's limited cache takes up a lot of the bus' bandwidth, which slows down other processes & hurts the frame rate. Someone else can explain it better. (And, being the Jaguar forum, they probably will. ;))

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"Zero 5: Holy cow this game is friggin hard!!!!!

Yeah, but isn't it quite rewarding once you finish the stage after 5-10 attempts :) ?

I would argue that it's always a good idea to provide a difficulty for retirees, but this way the game retains its aura :)


I don't understand how this game can be soo smooth given some of the other games on the Jag!! "

1. Polycount is minimal - around 100, but ship design is really good and makes great use of contrasting colors

2. Clearly whoever wrote it, spent some effort on reasonable usage of jaguar's chips, as it's always very easy to botch the framerate


No texture maps. Apparently the Jaguar's built-in texture map support is limited, and mooving textures into & out of the GPU's limited cache takes up a lot of the bus' bandwidth, which slows down other processes & hurts the frame rate. Someone else can explain it better. (And, being the Jaguar forum, they probably will. ;))

I don't have the game, but from YT vids I could surmise:

1. Some stages are completely flatshaded - no textures whatsoever

2. Some stages (like the tunnels) - are fully textured, but the texture is lowres enough to fit into the 4 KB cache alongside the code with it, so there's no need to keep uploading textures&code back and forth - hence it runs smooth.

3. Occasionally, some ships will have literally one polygon with a small 8x8 texture


Framerate varies linearly based on 3d scene complexity - so no surprise there. Regardless, this is -most obviously- very well written 3D engine.


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I agree with you that Zero 5 is friggin hard! Maybe even a settings option for that to be able to drop the difficulty down to easy would be nice!


Everytime I see someone talk about AVP they always play as the Marine, or in your case the Predator. I never see any love for the Alien! I like the alien due to being able to chop marines and regenerate more lives.


I will also agree with brutal Sports Football, I can't understand the controls or what I am doing but it is fun as shit to hit people and steal the ball away!


Congrats on getting back into the Jag!

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Coder was interviewed years ago and the following will explain how things are achieved:


12)What resolution does the game run in. What color depth?


256 colours. Most of the polygons are flat-shaded, so running in 8-bit colour gives a blitting speed around twice as fast as 16-bit.


>13)Can you tell us how fast the framerate is? i.e. FPS.


It's usually around 30fps. The display is triple buffered, so it can simulate any frame rate - if we're running just below 30fps we don't have to drop to 20, it can do 29.


The frame rate is limited to a maximum of 30fps on NTSC, otherwise the slowdown would be too noticable. On the PAL version, we allow it to run at 50FPS but not for 2 consecutive frames, so the max limit is around 35FPS on PAL. It needs this, as the engine stretches all polygons vertically to keep the aspect ratio the same as NTSC, and 25fps is just slightly too jerky.


The polygon performance is around 20,000 per second if I remember correctly. That's when it's around 10% textured, and with 8-channel sound over the top (this affects performance). We used a very fast Z-sorting algorithm, we found that Z-buffering is really really slow, although Atari said Z-buffering was the fastest way of doing it, unfortunately that's complete crap. Z-sorting does mean there's a few polygon glitches, but at least it's not running at 5fps =)


>14)Are there any special effects in the game? i.e. Light sourcing,animated textures, etc.


There is no lightsourcing. Some people thought there was gouraud shading, but this is not even possible in 256 colours, the effect comes from the high polygon count in BamBam, with subtle colour changes between polygons.


>15)How did you pull off those explosions?...How were they made? Theyseem to be somewhat pixelshatter.


The blitter can scale a bitmap out by spreading out the pixels - it's quite a straightforward thing for the blitter to do, I actually had the idea before I saw T2K, then I was really pissed off that it had already been done!


The main reasons why we used particle explosions were:


(1) speed. It doesn't matter how big or small you scale the bitmap, the speed is only affected by the size of the source image (in our case 32x32 pixels), so you can spread the pixels out really wide for a huge explosion without slowing down.


(2) gameplay. Because of the way that the camera can sort of zoom out (when in BamBam mode) when your ship is surrounded by aliens, what often happens is that you shoot "out" of the screen at aliens that lie between your ship and the camera. If we put a huge solid explosion there when you took out one of these aliens, it would completely obstruct the screen and you wouldn't be able to see what the hell you were doing. So basically it allows you to still see what you're doing, as you can see through the explosions.


In T2K, it scaled up static images (like the "2000" thing and the "excellent" text), but what I did was to scale up an animated image. The explosions use something like 20 frames of animation, so you have an animated explosion being particle-exploded at the same time, it's a nice effect.


In BamBam mode, when you take out an alien, it actually triggers about 4 or 5 particle explosions on the same spot, but with slight differences in the scaling speed, so each pixel in the explosion appears to have a "trail" of about 4 other pixels. (Wes says that sounds awesome)




Edited by Lost Dragon
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