Jaguar Reviews T

Tempest 2000
Grade: A
Publisher: Atari (1994)
Reviewed: 2016/2/10

screenshotrotaryThis critically-acclaimed shooter is so good you wonder why Atari didn't leverage it to sell more Jaguar consoles. Tempest 2000 is based on a 1981 arcade game featuring color vector graphics, a rotary controller, and frenetic 3D gameplay. The idea was to move a claw-shaped cannon around the upper edge of a 3D object, firing downward at spider-like aliens that creep up the sides. Tempest 2000 is a spectacular update, retaining the classic gameplay while incorporating awesome power-ups, psychedelic eye-candy, and an electrifying soundtrack.

This is truly a feast for the senses. Each stage assumes the form of a unique geometric shape, and it seems as if there's no end to their creativity. Basic circles and triangles give way to spirals and objects that wrap around on themselves. My friends refer to one of the stages as the intergalactic vagina. As you unleash your rapid-fire bursts the screen explodes with mesmerizing particle effects and blinding bonuses. The explosions are thunderous and the pulsating techno soundtrack is so good it was released on CD! When you're about to be overtaken you can hit your super zapper button or use "jump" to propel yourself outward far enough to blast the converging invaders.

The standard Jaguar controller doesn't do this game justice so I picked up a custom rotary controller, and boy does it ever make a difference! You configure it via a hidden menu accessed by pressing pause on both controllers. I find it peculiar that Atari included this awesome feature but never provided any hardware support. The rotary controller feels so good and offers such a high degree of precision my friends argue it makes the game too easy. Tempest 2000 dispenses power-ups, bonuses, and free lives liberally, dramatically extending the length of each game. Fortunately it's possible to skip ahead to the more difficult advanced stages.

Secondary modes include "traditional" which is not so much the original Tempest as it is Tempest 2000 without the bells and whistles. It's actually a lot more challenging without the rampant bonuses and power-ups. Tempest Plus mode offers the best of both worlds, combining reasonable difficulty with just enough razzle dazzle. High scores are saved but only for Tempest 2000. The two-player "duel mode" is nothing to write home about, but there's no question Tempest 2000 is an amazing game that's aged extremely well. . © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: SDZ 447,247
1 or 2 players 

Theme Park
Grade: B
Publisher: Ocean (1995)
Reviewed: 2002/2/20

screenshotThe idea behind this simulation game is intriguing. You build and run your own theme park, with rides, food stands, rest rooms, and employees. It plays like most "sim" games, but what's really surprising is the level of depth and detail in Theme Park. Not only do you control the placement of every bush or tree, you even control your food inventory and the price of each item. You can fund research, sell stocks, and negotiate with suppliers.

While this level of detail will please some players, it's sure to turn off many others. A helpful tutorial gets you started on the basics of laying out your park. You have a ton of options, but the interface is confusing, and I became frustrated just trying to figure out how to open the park! Once you get going, your park comes alive, and it's fun to watch tiny people buy food and enjoy the rides. The graphics are attractive and fun. Theme Park has a serious learning curve, but players who are looking for a thoughtful strategy game will find it rewarding. . © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Towers II
Grade: B
Publisher: Telegames (1996)
Reviewed: 2011/11/25

screenshotTowers II is "a genuine RPG for the Jaguar", and if you don't believe me, just read the box! This first-person dungeon crawler is a D&D-style adventure along the lines of Slayer and Deathkeep (both on the 3DO). You'll explore multi-leveled dungeons while collecting items, casting spells, and engaging in swordplay.

Don't let the pixelated graphics deter you from giving this game a fair chance. The controls are well designed. The fact that you can slide around corners makes it easy to navigate hallways, and you'll break into a trot if you continuously push in one direction. Manipulating items is fun, and I love that "body diagram" that lets you outfit your character from head to toe.

The first level of the dungeon is pretty tame. In fact, it appears to have a food court and some of the cleanest medieval restrooms I've seen. I felt bad about killing the janitors (guys carrying mops), but I needed their keys! Eventually you'll face more fearsome enemies like knights, wizards, purple ninjas, and floating eyeballs. During a melee it looks a little like you two are dancing, but those giant red pixels provide warm affirmation that a proper bludgeoning is taking place.

Towers II makes excellent use of the keypad button, so it's a shame there's no overlay. It's handy to call up a map at the press of a button, but I really wish your position was indicated by an arrow instead of a dot. Towers II is not as polished as it could be. The "stairs" look awful, and if you don't set up a spell correctly, you'll get a confounding message like "I can't remember any words".

The scenery is repetitive, but one key to avoid getting stuck is to keep an eye out for secret doors. These are often indicated by sound cues such as thumping and scratching noises. The game's stereo sound is surprisingly effective and the music is appropriately menacing.

Best of all, you can save your progress at any time. Heck, a lot of modern games don't let you do that! Towers II is the real deal. I was skeptical at first, but after sinking many hours into this I can vouch for this captivating adventure. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Trevor McFur In The Crescent Galaxy
Grade: C
Publisher: Atari (1993)
Reviewed: 2006/10/10

screenshotApparently Trevor McFur has become the honorary scapegoat of the Jaguar console and its dismal fate. People just love to trash this game but it's about par for the Jaguar library. This side-scrolling space shooter tries to emulate Thunder Force 3 (Genesis, 1991) but doesn't come close. The first alarms go off during the ridiculous intro screens featuring military officers with cat heads! Boy, does that look bad. You can select one of several planets to begin, but in order to reach the planet, you must first endure a tediously long space stage, blasting generic asteroids, blobs, and assorted geometric shapes.

Trevor McFur's graphics are sharp but totally unimaginative, and the stiff bosses look more like floating statues. The audio is abysmal, with muffled explosions and a lot of "bubble popping" sound effects. Worse yet, there's no background music whatsoever, making this feel more like an unfinished project than a real game. Your oversized ship is armed with default missile and bomb weapons.

Your main cannon can be powered up, but losing a ship means you're back to the default pea shooter. Special weapons are collected from pods, and these are clearly the highlight of the game. The innovative "magnet" sucks everything into it as it flies across the screen, and the "tracer" is a homing missile that feverishly bounces between enemies. The "beam" is a high-intensity laser that obliterates everything it touches, and it's satisfying to "sweep" the screen with it.

Other special items include smart bombs, shields, and the ability to call in another ship for help. Trevor McFur is no cakewalk, so apply your special weapons liberally. Just be sure to save one for the boss, because those things take forever to wear down. Trevor McFur is perfectly acceptable if you're looking for an uninspired shooter with no soul. But if you're looking for a really good shooter, go buy yourself a Genesis! © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 82500
1 player 

Troy Aikman Football
Grade: F
Publisher: Williams (1994)
Reviewed: 2006/11/1


screenshotWhen you consider this was the one true football title available for the system, you have to feel bad for Jaguar sports fans. Initially I had high hopes for this - and super low expectations. The main menu offers a wide range of settings, including playing surfaces, weather conditions, difficulty levels, and quarter length. You can even customize your own season. On the field, the game looks pretty good - until the players start moving!

The animation is so jerky and erratic that you can't even tell what's going on half of the time! You'll appear to have a clear path to the end zone, and suddenly some tackler will magically appear wrapped around your waist! Completing passes requires pure luck, and ludicrous instant replays reinforce the fact that this game is a visual mess. It's absolutely shameful how the box describes the animation as "super smooth".

Frankly, Troy Aikman Football has no redeeming qualities at all. The game's single original feature, the ability to adjust player salaries (during the game no less) is utterly idiotic. Atari's poorly written manuals are usually good for a laugh, and this one is no exception. Check out the homoerotic drawing on page 34 - is that guy making his "O" face?? I recently played Troy Aikman Football with my friend Scott, and if not for the fact that we were laughing our asses off, it would have been a complete waste of time. . © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, Rotten Tomatoes, Songbird Productions, NerdBacon.com