Why do I own a Jaguar?
And if I could only have 5 games for my collection, what they be?
It’s because there’s a lot of exclusive games that just haven’t been emulated properly. I wanted to do a top 5 list but I didn’t want to tackle the ‘best’ the Atari Jaguar has to offer. I wanted to tackle the Top 5 Atari Jaguar I’d keep. The games that can’t be emulated, the games are a lot of fun to play with friends, the games that create that Atari Jaguar experience for me.
I also wanted to ensure I had a cross-section of genres to pick between. If I could only keep 5 Atari Jaguar titles, I’d want to make sure they’re a good representation of the games on the system. This list is going to be different than yours, so please, comment below after watching.
Top 5 Atari Jaguar Games I’d Keep
The Atari Jaguar did an awesome job with porting PC titles, especially the First-Person Shooters like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. Alien vs Predator stands out as the exclusive FPS game for the Jaguar, developed by Rebellion (who would later go on to tackle the Alien vs Predator franchise on PC, PS3 and XBOX 360).
The game itself isn’t as smooth as Doom, but I really enjoyed the concept. 3 different races; Marines, Aliens and Predators, fighting it out with 3 different objectives. The marines need to activate the self-destruct mechanism on the ship, whereas the Aliens need to locate the Queen on the Predator ship, and the Predators need to destroy the Queen which is located deep in the Hive for their campaign.
The game itself made good use of the 12 button ‘keypad’ on the Atari Jaguar controller. Each character had their own overlay for use in the game and despite a somewhat choppy appearance, Rebellion managed to make a really enjoyable FPS game (and would later go on to kill it on the Jaguar with Skyhammer. This is what I’d consider the best looking Atari Jaguar game available). Alien vs Predator does emulate okay on ProjectTempest but I’ve always had issues with transparency on some of the sprites. The Atari Jaguar is still the only way to enjoy the game without graphical glitches.
This game has you piloting a massive mech on various missions, across various cities. Naturally, you’re the last hope for the good guys to win, but you’re well equipped for it. I loved the way this game broke down the missions and introduced some variety with different objectives, enemies and winning conditions.
As an early 3D game for the Atari Jaguar, they made Iron Solder big, bright and colourful. Big polygons without any texture. Once I got used to the controls here, it became really easy to appreciate what they’ve accomplished with the Jag and for anyone looking for an entry-level, easy-to-find title to start their collection, I’d recommend Iron Soldier.
The game itself won’t emulate (yet), but you’ll be able to easily find copies of Iron Soldier 3 on the Playstation. I feel like it doesn’t have the same Jaguar charm, but you could also hunt down a copy of Iron Soldier 2. Telegames released the CD version in 1997 to a (small?) Jaguar fan-base. A cartridge version was also produced a small time later. These are for the collectors out there, I’d recommend sticking with the original Iron Soldier.
Again, we’ve got a fun, simple, 2-player game. I feel like this is what the Atari Jaguar needed more of. It’s not technically impressive, but compared with the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, it does stand out.
We’ve got a bunch of different teams; Goats, Lizards, Warlocks, etc. Competing in a generic ball-game where the real focus is on how badly you can physically beat the other team.
The game-field is strewn with weapons and powerups you can use, or simply use your attack to take down opponent players. Even if you lose badly, it’s fun to watch the whole game fall apart as less and less players remain on the field… It also was surprising taking an opponent’s head and using it as a weapon in the game. It’s chaotic fun, and I’m still surprised by what can happen in the game.
The game itself is a port of an Amiga computer game, but I’ll consider it an Atari Jaguar ‘console’ exclusive. It emulates well, but when it comes to 2-player games for the Atari Jaguar, the library needs all the help it can get. This is an awesome addition.
Here’s a controversial title for any ‘top’ list. White Men Can’t Jump got appalling reviews, but you can’t deny that classic 90’s attitude.
This is a 3D, 2-player game that can’t be emulated… And it shows off where Jaguar development was heading. We’ve got a game that uses 2D sprites arranged in a 3D world. The camera shifts and tilts to show off the court but being a half-court street basketball game, it doesn’t have to travel far.
One of the biggest marks against White Men Can’t Jump has been the tournament mode. It’s incredibly anti-climatic and doesn’t feel satisfying. After completing all the street court games and making it to the stadium for the final, you get to play one game in the spotlight before walking away with the trophy.
I still feel this game was severely overlooked, it’s competent, carries a lot of 90’s ‘tude and is incredibly fun to go back and explore. I was also super-impressed with the amount of effort they put into the manual here and the descriptions for each of the teams.
What a way to finish this top 5 list. Fight for Life is here for a lot of the same reasons as White Men Can’t Jump. We’ve got a 2-player, 3D, Jaguar game that can’t be emulated (it’s just too intense).
Again, the game itself wasn’t received very positively, but everything feels like it was stacked against this one Jaguar title. Nearing the end of the life of the console, Fight for Life is the last game Atari Produced for the Atari Jaguar. Resources, time and spirits were in short-supply, but what we got was the only 3D fighting game for the system and starts to show what was possible on the hardware. The polygons here have ‘some’ texture mapping, there’s a handful of fighters, each with their own moves but it’s obvious the game simply ran out of time. Programmed by one guy, Francois Bertrand, who previously managed the camera in Virtua Fighter, Fight for Life carries a lot of similarities to that franchise but lacked a lot of the polish.
The fights are slow, long and sluggish. You’ll quickly learn to use moves that can push an opponent around the ring, dominate the field of play and work towards getting a ring out as quick as possible.
Fight for Life gets a bad wrap in Atari Jaguar circles, it’s not a great game, but it was the end of the line for Atari, and this game shows me what the Jaguar could have been capable of.