Four Days With A Jaguar (Nov.23,1993)

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 02/20/94-01:44:15 AM Z

From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: Four Days With A Jaguar (Nov.23,1993)
Date: Sun Feb 20 01:44:15 1994

 :: Volume 2 - Issue 20      ATARI EXPLORER ONLINE      23 November 1993 ::

 |||   Four Days With A Jaguar
 |||   By: Albert Dayes
/ | \  CIS 70007,3615    GEnie: AEO.1

      JJ       AA  AA    GG         UU     UU    AA  AA   RR     RR
  JJ  JJ      AA    AA   GG     GG  UU     UU   AA    AA  RR   RR

             64-bit Interactive Multimedia System

After hearing about the Jaguar I was skeptical about the system. After
hearing the phrase "It's just like the arcade!" I became even more
skeptical. (I've heard that ever since the Atari 2600 (Video Computer
System, 1977) days.) Especially when someone talks about a Missile
Command being "just like the arcade" I just laugh. Owning the real
arcade game version of Missile Command, I know nothing will ever come
close to being the real thing. For one thing, a trak-ball of that size
has never been duplicated in the home video game environment and the
game play always suffers tremendously because of it.

One thing I always enjoyed about Atari's arcade games were the
military simulations. Games like like Missile Command (1980),
BattleZone (tank simulation, 1981), Red Barron (World War I style
bi-plane, 1981), and my current favorite Steel Talons (a one or two
player helicopter simulation with rockets, 20mm cannon and Hellfire
missiles) are just some of great ones. They key point across all of
Atari games is the game play. They always did an excellent job with
the design of the controllers and how they interface with the game
itself. That is something I can always count on with Atari coin-ops.
Their outstanding graphics is just another reason to play.

NOTE: These games were/are from Atari's Coin-op division which is now
      Atari Games corporation. Atari Games corporation is a private
      company and is not related to Atari Corp (which manufacturers
      computers and home video game systems).

After looking around Comdex I found the Jaguar in the IBM OEM
(original equipment manufacturers) section. There was a crowd around
the machine so I had to squeeze in and get a good look...

//// Evolution Dino-Dudes

   This version of the popular caveman survial game combines 50 of the
   best levels from the previous version with all new 3D true-color
   background graphics and CD-quality music. In this multi-platform
   puzzle, caveman must survive by avoiding man-eating dinosaurs,
   discover the spear, making fire and physically running, jumping and
   climing their way up the evolutionary ladder.

The background is a partly darkened cave that has reddish color walls.
It's amazingly detailed and is definitely awe inspiring. One can see
that the texture mappping capabilities of the Jaguar are very
impressive. Basically, the game takes place in the beginning of time
and one has to discover a spear, fire and a few other things. This was
the one game I did not try hands on. This game is a platform puzzle
type and it's supposed to have a man-eating dinosaur. This game was
not in the console long enough to even come close to seeing all the
levels. This was created by Imagitec Design and is available now.

As one looks at all Jaguar games one is impressed by the brillance of
the colors. In most home video games the color has a washed out look
compared to their arcade counter parts.

//// Raiden

    The player pilots the aircraft over enemy territory, shooting
    realistic military tanks and other aircraft while avoiding enemy
    gunfire and hidden missiles. This is the ultimate arcade game
    conversion, allowiing the player to use a vertical scrolling
    motion to simulate aircraft flying.

This is a game that really shows off the brillance of the colors
involved. This is a one or two player game similar to Xevious
(Namco-Atari, 1983). An arcade conversion from a 1990 game of the same
name, this is a very fast action game and it's great with two players.
In most arcade games if too many objects are on the screen at one time
they slow down. These arcade slowdowns are very annoying since the
screen can jerk by 1/4 screen increments. On the Jaguar version, there
is no slow down at any point even with two players blasting away.

In this game one can fly all over the screen while the landscape
scrolls downward. As one looks at the game one can see how much
colorful detail is on every object. To notice this one can not be
playing the game. <grin> With all of the colors the depth perception
of the different objects is very, very clear. This one should be great
game for those who love shoot-em up style games. This was also created
by Imagitec Design and is available now.

//// Crescent Galaxy

   The player, Trevor McFur, and his sidekick, Cutter Lynx blast
   through five worlds filled with asteroids, horrific creatures and
   digitized protagonists. The game features full textured 3D
   rendering of creatures and planets with nine levels reflecting five
   different worlds.

This game is a sideways shoot-em up style game. If anyone remembers
Space Duel (a one or two player asteroids style game with color vector
graphics and 3D rotating rocks, Atari 1982) this has similar features.
The rocks are really outstanding texture map creations. Some of them
look like polished marble while others look just like black lava. They
tumble so gracefully through space - its really incredible. The
background looks just like the Great Nebula, in the constellation
Orion. I wonder if they digitized that picture from an astronomy book?

The monsters look very well done and it's amazing how many different
ways one can modify an object. For example there is a dinosaur like
creature with wings (in a dull blue-grey color) while the bottom is
that of a snake. The tail snake like section looks just like a normal
snake on a coil. (Editor: This was what shown on a monitor in the CBS
This Morning segment in October that many people asked about) The
amount of colors and texture mapping gives one a very good idea of
what the Jaguar is capable of. This one is created by Atari and is
available now.

//// Cybermorph

   Cybermorph, which is bundled with Jaguar, makes the player a One
   Man Rescue Probe sent into an interplanetary battlefield to rescue
   stranded survivors of a dying war. As the player files into a
   real-time, light shaded, polygon-based world, his craft, the
   Cybermorph assumes differnet forms to blend into the landscape
   below. A Holographic face speaks to the player, giving him
   information as he races toward all 50 moons to save final

I spent more time with this one title than all of the others put
together. With this game I will also illustrate the different features
of the Jaguar itself. It was created by Attention To Detail and is
available with every Jaguar system.

//// Boot Up

When the Jaguar is turned on with a game cartidge installed, the
screen turns jet black and the blood red Jaguar name appears on the
screen. This is also accompanied by an audio roar. An interesting
feature about the Jaguar is if the cartidge is not inserted properly,
the machine boots but the entire screen is a dull red. This is great
so one has a visual clue immediately when there is a problem.

In continuing with the normal bootup sequence the white letters
"A t a r i" fall from the top of the screen to the bottom. A short
tune plays... I think it's "Have you played Atari today?" The red
Jaguar name moves from the center of the screen to the top. Then a
rotating, texture mapped cube of the Jaguar appears in the middle of
the screen.

After this the Cybermorph game starts. A craft appears on the screen
and then it morphs into the word Cybermorph. One then chooses which
planet he/she wishes to visit. The planets are arranged around the
outside of the screen. Moving the joypad controller to the appropriate
planet selects it. This selection is signalled by red square brackets
around the planet. By pressing the fire button one jumps immediately
to the planet itself.

//// The Controller

Before the game itself is discussed, let's look at the controller. At
first glance the controller seems very big and bulky. But after
picking it up, one realizes how light it really is. It seems like it
should be very hard to adjust to, but it's very easy.

        | |                                       XXX
      --   --                                     XXX
      | JOY |                                XXX
      --   --            P     O             XXX
        | |             P     O         XXX
        ---            P     O          XXX

                   KPAD   KPAD   KPAD

                   KPAD   KPAD   KPAD

                   KPAD   KPAD   KPAD

                   KPAD   KPAD   KPAD

The cross in the upper left is the joypad controller. The three Ps are
the pause button. The three Os are the option button. The three groups
of X's represent the three fire buttons. And lastly the 12 KPADs
represent the 12 keys on the keypad. The feel of the controller is
supposed to be similar to the Lynx, when held. Since I have never used
an Atari Lynx myself, I can not make a judgement on that point. The 12
keys of the key pad can handle overlays. This will be most useful in
sport simulations, but I'm sure its not limited only to that.

One nice feature about the Jaguar is that one can remap the keys to
their own preferences. For example in the game Cybermorph the three
group of X's represent a forward thrust, fire button, and reverse
thrust. One can change this to any possible combination that he/she
feels comfortable with. The combination I used was the top, outer
right button signifies the fire button, the middle for forward thrust
and the bottom for reverse thrust.

The game starts out with a large polyhedron flying out of the top left
corner of the screen and unfolding, unveiling the ship, Cybermorph.
(This is difficult to describe - you have to actually see it.) One can
think of a clenched fist unfolding, and then opening to display an

Then the SKYLAR apprears and says "Good Luck." SKYLAR is a green,
bald, female face that speaks to you during your mission. The phrases
she speaks are crystal clear too.

One of the first things most people who played that game at Comdex
wanted to do was to fly at top speed. This is accomplished by pressing
your forward thrust button, and flying into your "virtual" world. It's
amazing that you are not stuck in a rails-style game with only one
direction. Everything moves very fast and very smooth - its really an
incredible experience. It's great to be able to over fly a target and
then just swing all the way around to make another pass. As one flies
into the turn, one can notice how the light sources change on the
wings of your craft. The shading goes from light to dark to light

As one flies around searching for pods the terrain moves by very
smoothly. The shape of the craft changes as one speeds up, slows down,
flies backwards or turns. The shading of the terrain changes are
subtle and very fluid. There is no jerking or slowdown at any time
during the game due to objects being created on the fly.

//// What you see....

Before we get more into the game the screen needs to be defined. At
the bottom of the screen is the cockpit console. It indicates the
status of the following:

A) Shields
B) Weapon Systems
C) Energy
D) Pods remaining

When one loses all of the energy the craft crashes and even the
console looks smashed. The screen is defined below.

                                                         R    G
     SKYLAR's               Radar -------------------->  R  G
      FACE                  (transparent)                R
    (your best friend,                               RRRRRRRRR
     only on screen when                                 R
     speaking )                                          R  /\

                   ALTITUDE indicator --------------->   A
                    (transparent)                        A

                     C             C
   E   S              C           C
   N   H               CCCCCCCCCCC
   E   I
   R   E           The console area which indicates the status of the
   G   L           different weapon systems, energy, shields, etc.
   Y   D

The face in the upper left corner is SKYLAR's (she is your best friend).
One can not really turn her off completely since she does give important
messages like:

"Portal Open"
"Only one more"

The radar and altitude display are transparent so one can still see
the game beneath it. It similar to a HUD (Heads Up Display) found in
many of today's modern aircraft. When pods are in range they are
indicated on the radar screen as yellow V's. When one gets very close
they change to diamonds. Enemies are indicated by different colors.
Cargo carriers are green while fighters are red. Also some enemies do
not show up on the radar screen at all.

//// Keeping SKYLAR silent?

As one attempts to fly around at top speed a lot, one will hit the
ground at some time. When you do hit the ground you lose part of your
shield (indicated by a yellow bar). To the immediate left of this bar
is a green one that indicates the entire craft's energy level. These
items are on the console which lies across the bottom of your screen.
In addition to losing part of your shields, SKYLAR starts nagging you.
At first, she says. "Avoid the ground." If you hit the ground more
than a few times consecutively SKYLAR gets sarcastic. "Where did you
learn to fly?" There is a solution to the problem of this pesky face
however and its a great feature I hope a lot of developers can copy.

To turn off SKYLAR, first press the pause button on the controller. At
this point, one is given the option of adjusting several different
things, the first being SKYLAR's voice. By moving the joypad up or
down the loudness of the voice changes. The next option is to change
the loudness of the engine and finally the loudness of the effects.
The best part is these options (in addition to the top 10 scores) are
saved to the cartridge. So the next time you play the game these
options are still the same. There is some SRAM in the cartridge itself
to accomplish this feat.

There are several things you can do in this game:

A) Fly around avoiding all contact with the "bad guys".
B) Fly around collecting pods and advance to the next planet.
C) Fly in very agressive manner and destroy anything in your path.
D) B and C.

One can mix and match any of these options at any time. The D option is
one of the most exciting!

The planet itself is a very exciting "virtual" world. It's a complete
sphere and one can fly in any possible combination of directions. Each
planet has a complete different combination of terrain. The following
is a short list of some of the non moving objects you will see. These
are my own names and may be termed differently in the manual.

//// "The Virtual World contains...."

1) Mountains (too high to fly over)
2) Rivers
3) Trees
4) Canyons
5) Bridges
6) Small towns
7) Plains (a great expanse of flat land)
8) Energy Rings

The moving objects differ from "virtual" world to world.

1) Cargo Carriers
2) Defense Fighters
3) Harrassing Scout Fighters
4) Pods (a golden, dual tetrahedron shaped object similar to a solid
         3D diamond )
5) Kidnappers
6) Fixed Weapon emplacements
7) Flying Worms
8) Ground Poisoners
9) ??????

//// "Cargo Carriers"

In the default planet the cargo carriers can go over any of the
mountains. On this planet Cybermorph can not obtain that altitude.
When a cargo carrier starts up a steep mountain, one can fly around it
at full speed and attack the cargo carrier as it comes down the other
side. If one fails to destroy it, then one can either go backwards and
make another attempt. Or one can make a half circle and take another
shot. Unlike other games your shots do not follow where your craft
flies. Each shot once it leaves your craft is completely independent
of you.

Cargo carriers contain special items such as speed boosters, missiles,
or energy. After one is destroyed the contents are left floating in
the air. Running into these objects will add them to your current
inventory. When one runs into any of these particular objects a "gulp"
like sound is heard. These objects do not last forever when exposed
(floating in the air) and will disappear after a given length of time.
The Cybermorph is very fast already, and I have never found a speed
booster to see how much faster one can go. There is no method to
determine what is in a cargo carrier before destroying it. Also, cargo
carriers do not carry any weapons for defense against your attacks.
Cargo carriers change in shape and size depending on which world one
is currently on.

//// "Fighters"

There are two types of fighters in Cybermorph. Scout types and
Defender types. Scout types fly all over the world and just show up in
the most difficult times. They fire shots and leave but may turn
around and attack your or continue on their predestined path. These
craft vary in shape and size as well. Some look like low sillouette
style triangles, while others look similar to X-wing craft from Star
Wars. The defense against these is to change altitude often. These
craft fly at the altitude that you fly at the most. So if you are
flying low most of the time to gather pods when they attack they will
be at the same level. When you're stuck in a dead-end canyon, picking
up a pod, one of these scouts always seems to fly into the area.

The other type are defender type of fighters. When large groups of
pods are gathered in one place, these defender fighters can also be
present. These fighters just fly around in a circle guarding their
bait. It's possible to fly in at high speeds and snatch a pod or two
before the defenders even notice. Also one can hover (or fly) at a
great stand off distance and fire into these fighters without a
counterattack. Once within range however, they will all open fire and
a retreat is the best option. The shots that these defender fighters
shoot look like a long, barbed tetrahedrons. These shots come fast and
furious so be careful.

The problem with using only stand off techniques to attack defender
type fighters is scouts always seems to end up behind you. Since
scouts can fly anywhere one has to be very careful not to get stuck in
the crossfire. Fighters (scout and defender) are present on all
planets in Cybermorph.

//// "Pods"

Finding a pod is usually straightforward, using your radar as your
guide. But when flying at high speeds (around mountains, over rivers,
under bridges, and through mountain passes) one can easily overshoot a
pod. There are several options to choose in this case. One can make a
180 degree turn and make another pass, or they can go backwards and
then make another attempt, to rescue the pod.

To control the speed of Cybermorph the one uses a combination of
forward and reverse thurst. To go backwards one presses the reverse
thurst until the desired backward movement is achieved. To pick up a
pod one just runs into with the craft. A single clink is heard when
this is successfully accomplished. SKYLAR sometimes appears and says
"Well done."

//// "Kidnappers and Poisoners"

These are present on some planets and take completely different forms
depending on the planet. One one planet they looked like a crab with
three or four long legs. The legs are about twice as long as the body
and the unit moves erratically across the planet surface. Actually
they remind me of Jellyfish or Portuguese Man-O-War in their looks.
These kidnappers grab pods and carry them to different locations on
the planet.

One of the locations is where the "Ground Poisoner" lives. It looks
like 7 or 8 solid, 3D triangles or rather tetrahedrons piled on top of
one another. The area that is poisoned looks like a very jet black oil
slick. To reduce its activity one fires at it until it disappears back
into the ground. With each hit it changes color until it descends back
into the ground. It reminds me of a morey eel in some ways.

One strategy is to wait for the kidnappers to bring all the pods to
this place and pick them up as they are dropped. It's more exciting to
race over the planet's surface looking for kidnappers. Also in some
locations, kidnappers have pods tied down on the ground and these must
be liberated. Unfortunately I do not recall if these imprisioned pods
show up on the radar or not. Probably not.

//// "Fixed Weapon Emplacements"

These are standard AA (anti-aircraft) style weapons that either alone
on the ground or in groups. High speed passes are the best way to deal
with these. These can unleash a huge volume of firepower very quickly.

//// "Flying Worms"

Flying worms stay in their specific areas or so it appears. These are
very difficult to destroy, if they can be damaged at all. My best
solution was to avoid them. The Worms look like a large string of
cubes and are very unpredictable. Beware, these are very dangerous and
are not intimidated.

//// "Energy Rings"

There are several type of "energy" rings. Some replenish lost energy
to your craft while others provide some sort of transport. The solid
ring versions provide energy and can be found by flying around the
planet (or "virtual" world).

The second type are transport types. The type of different colors are
portal to leave the planet. These appear on your radar screen as a pod
when you have completed your mission. SKYLAR also informs you that a
portal is open as well. This are made up of rotating triangles of red
and blue usually. After one flies into this a polyhedron envelops your
craft and it goes off the top of the screen. Then the player chooses
another planet to rescue more pods from.

The other transport types are of the same color (usually red or blue
rotating trangles), and take you instantly to different parts of the
planet. In many cases this is the only way to get to a pod, which is
completely surrounded by mountains (which are too high to fly over).
Scout fighters always seem to be in these areas as well, so watch out.

//// Cybermorph weapon systems

The available weapon systems include bombs and missiles. To switch
from your normal cannon to a different weapon, one uses the option key.
Several types of items can only be destroyed by such weapons.
Buildings which contain pods are the best candidates for these weapon
types. Many times there are groups of buildings with many pods
scattered around them. It takes a skillful hand to navigate between to
reach them all but it's not too difficult.

In many games in the past, I've noticed that sometimes when one
attempts to perform such an operation it's near impossible. The
software's collision detection of where the game (computer) sees an
edge is way off. (Compared against what a player sees on the screen.)
Cybermorph DOES NOT have this flawed characteristic. One can fly full
speed out of a mountain place, gracefully glide in between the
buildings to rescue pods, and come out the other side completely

The best weapon system is just being to handle the craft speed and
direction. This makes a big difference between "players" and
"outstanding players." One such outstanding player is Jay Patton
(Projects Manager) at Atari. He was watching over the Atari exhibit in
the IBM OEM section most of the time, but when he was demonstrating
Cybermorph it was awe inspiring. He could make the most incredible
moves to accomplish the necessary goal. The reason this is important
is that players are not hindered by the controls when playing the
game. With the right touch, one can really do some incredible things.
Everyone gets turned off by a game if the controls do not allow you to
perform what you need to. Cybermorph has excellent handling
characteristics and no one will be hindered in what he/she can do.

//// "????????"

According to the literature there are 50 planets (moons) to "fly" on.
There are about nine different planets to choose when one first starts
out. After these planets are cleared then another group will appear.
On one planet I was flying around and suddenly, this brillant red
laser beam just destroyed my ship. Unfortunately I never saw the
source of this beam so I do not have any idea what it was. And I do
not remember which planet it was on either. So as SKYLAR would say

//// Alien vs Predator

This game IS NOT FINISHED yet. So this is just a preview of what will
be coming in first quarter 1994.

   This tunnel/maze game has texture-mapped walls and striking
   renderings of monsters. The player selects to be the Alien, the
   Predator or the Marine Corporal. The Alien, complete with a tail
   that whips around and nasty jaws, smoothly scales walls to pounce
   upon his unsuspecting prey; the Predator uses sophisticated
   weaponry and superior infrared night vision to seek out his victims
   and the Marine Corporal depends on his piles of ammunitions and
   sophisticated military combat computer skills to hunt and defend.
   Camera speed races at a high frame rate to create the ultimate in
   chase sequences.

The amount of time I had with this game was limited but it was very
impressive nonetheless. The speed of going through the maze is
incredible with the hallway getting lighter and lighter as one
approaches the end of the hallway. The walls differ in different parts
of the maze with a very strong green metalic look. In other places it
a brownish tan look. The real-time scaling and texture mapping
capabilities of the Jaguar really come to life in AvP. In addition to
the texture mapping, there is a transparancy overlay that show
weapons, ammunition and other important status indicators. As one goes
through the ship at full speed, it feels just like running. And run
you should once you (as a Marine) see either Predator or Alien.

Imagine this: as you round a corner there stands the Predator: a
large menacing monster, and as soon as you turn to run it is on your
tail. As you turn around to see how close it is behind you you can see
him running at full screen after you. You suddenly turn around and
realize that Predator took a short cut and cut you off completely.
Turning around you face the evil looking Predator. Firing your weapon,
the Predator disappears into thin air.

After you catch your breath, you continue down the different halls.
Past the elevator, into the armory, and then... lost. The scheme of
the ship lightens up as you run into the medical lab and there you
find a Predator again. He is behind some glass and follows you as you
move around within the medical lab. By going to the exit, Predator
jumps through the door and starts chasing you again. Turning, you fire
your weapon and Predator disappears for a season.

Upon entering a dark, green metalic room you notice dark, large oval
shaped objects. They appear to be hatching eggs (that bring forth
Aliens). You wander aimlessly throughout the ship, cautiously looking
this way and that. You open one door and reload your weapon looking
for the second door. The second door opens and Alien surprises you. As
you run backwards down the hall you see Alien coming full speed after
you. Its gleaming white teeth increase in intensity as it closes in.

While its tail whips from side to side, you fire your weapon with no
effect. The fire belches from your weapon as you attempt to at least
slow down the monster. Finally you run into a wall and see that you
are trapped. Alien slows down and stops in front of you. You muster
your courage and charge directly at Alien, firing your weapon. You go
right through Alien unscathed... sorry, collision detection was not
completed yet! Neither was the sound, so you'll have to look for this
completed title in first quarter 1994. This one is going to be hot!
Written by Rebellion Software.

//// Checkered Flag II

  Jaguar Formula Racing hits its peak using real-time 3D generated
  action that allows the game player to customize racing cars. Cars,
  buildings and roads are rendered in real-time 3D. Racing speed is
  intensified by 100 percent-true sound effects; crashes are realistic
  in both sound and imagery, with parts flying and tires screeching.
  With this sweaty-palms racing racing game, players will practicallly
  feel the wind in their hair.

This one still has some work to do like collision detection and sound
effects also. Also the graphics needs to be improved in some places.
Since this is a work in progress, it was expected to be in this
format. Look for this in early 1994, from Rebellion Software.

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