Game Trivia

  • The Atari Jaguar is known for being difficult to program, due to its unconventional hardware architecture in addition to the bugs that plagued the system; particularly a flaw in the CPU's memory controller, and what's been described as a "buggy UART (Universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter). Game programmers had to micromanage small pieces of code as a result of this. Further hindering effective development was the console's GPU or DSP being capable of acting as a CPU, leaving the Motorola 68000 to read controller inputs. Atari's Leonard Tramiel specifically suggested developers not to use the 68000, but developers used it anyway due to their familiarity with this processor in addition to the many bugs that made the new hardware unreliable. Because of this, many Atari Jaguar games did not fully utilize the console's capabilities.

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  • In late 1995, Atari ran early-morning infomercial advertisements to sell the remaining stock of Atari Jaguar units. The infomercials ran most of the year, but did not significantly sell the remaining stock of Jaguar systems. By the end of 1995, Atari profits had dropped by more than half from $38.7 million in 1994 to $14.6 million in 1995. By November of that year, many employees had been laid off and Jaguar developers High Voltage Software and Beyond Games were no longer receiving inquires from Atari regarding Jaguar development. Atari still had an inventory of 100,000 unsold Jaguar units by December 31, 1995.

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  • The Atari Jaguar system runs on four different CPUs for its architecture. The first two of these are the "Tom" and "Jerry" chips, both 32-bit CPUs each clocked at 26.59 MHz. A 32-bit DSP (Digital Signal Processor) with 8 kilobytes of internal RAM is also used, and finally the Motorola 68000 which was meant to act as a manager; a 16/32-bit processor clocked at 13.295 MHz. The system also features 2 MB of RAM on a 64-bit bus using 4 16-bit fast page mode DRAMs (80 ns). Cartridge games hold up to 6 MB of storage. The console itself also supports RF modulation, composite, S-Video and RGB video output.

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  • The Atari Jaguar console is equipped with a color-coded LED that lights up when the system is turned on. NTSC systems have red LEDs and PAL systems have green LEDs.

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  • In a 1995 interview with Next Generation magazine, Atari's CEO Sam Tramiel declared that the Jaguar was at least "as powerful, if not more powerful than the Sega Saturn, and slightly weaker than the PlayStation." Sometime after this interview was published, Next Generation received many letters complaining about Tramiel's comments, mostly his threat to bring Sony to court for price dumping if the PlayStation entered the U.S. market at a retail price below $300 and his remark that the small number of third party Jaguar games was profitable for Atari. Jaguar owners were very upset about this comment due to the already small number of games available and the very slow rate at which new games were being released.

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  • The launch of the Atari Jaguar was backed with a $500 million manufacturing agreement with IBM. The system was first test-marketed in New York City and San Francisco before being given a wide US release in early 1994, marketed with the slogan "Do the Math!" claiming the console was more powerful than any of the competition at the time.

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  • The Atari Jaguar was first unveiled at the August 1993 Chicago Consumer Entertainment Show.

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  • Development of the Atari Jaguar began at a company called Flare Technology, founded by Martin Brennan and John Mathieson. They claimed that they could make a console physically superior to the Genesis and the Super NES, and that it would be cost-effective. Atari was impressed by their work on the cancelled Konix Multisystem, and persuaded the team to close Flare Technology and form a new company called Flare II, with Atari providing the funding for the project.

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  • This was the last video game console to be produced by Atari before leaving the home console business entirely, excluding the Atari Jaguar CD add-on peripheral.

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  • The Atari Jaguar console is considered a commercial failure, selling no more than 250,000 units worldwide. It was discontinued in 1996, just 3 years after its North American debut.

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  • During development of the Atari Jaguar, a second console named the Atari Panther which used a 32-bit CPU architecture was also being developed at the same time. However, development on the already-more powerful Jaguar progressed much faster, so Atari cancelled the Panther project to focus exclusively on the Jaguar. There is one rough sketch and one reconstructed design of the cancelled Panther console available to view on the internet. An Atari Panther development system was also made.

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  • By the end of 1995, sales of the Atari Jaguar system had slowed down significantly, as Sony and Sega had released their PlayStation and Saturn consoles respectively. Extensive delays of game development and limited software releases contributed to this problem further, while Atari did not have the financial backing to heavily promote and advertise the console.

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  • The Atari Jaguar first launched in North America on November 23, 1993 with a launch price of $249.99 US dollars. The game Cybermorph was packaged with the console.

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  • The hardware architecture of the Atari Jaguar caused much debate over whether or not the console is truly a 64-bit machine when it was first being unveiled to the public, a debate that still continues to this day. The console itself does not contain a 64-bit CPU, but instead two 32-bit CPUs named "Tom" and "Jerry" which send instructions to the 64-bit graphics co-processors. Hardware designers claimed that both CPUs working in tandem add up to "64" which was ridiculed by Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine, which commented "If Sega did the math for the Sega Saturn the way Atari did the math for their 64-bit Jaguar system, the Sega Saturn would be a 112-bit monster of a machine." Next Generation magazine however supported the argument that the Jaguar is in fact 64-bit, on the grounds that the data path from the DRAM to the CPU and Tom and Jerry chips is 64 bits wide. Atari later dropped the "Do the Math!" slogan from their marketing campaign.

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