Retro Game Consoles – Atari Jaguar

Atari Jaguar

In 1993, Atari released the Atari Jaguar after a seven year absence from the console market. In fact, Atari skipped over the fourth generation game console market.

Atari Jaguar Game Console

Above: Atari Jaguar Game Console

The Jaguar had a stunning supply of five processors scross three chips: with a 16/32-bit Motorola 68000 and two 32-bit chips with the registers and busses operating at full 64-bit. However, software developers were lazy and did not want to spend the time to program code access so many processors.

The 68000 was intended for bootstrapping only to direct the other processors on loading their code. The Motorola Was not intended to be used as the main processor, though some developers that ported games over from the Genesis did that.

The graphics processing unit (GPU) the Jaguar’s graphics processing is actually split up between this and two other processors instead of a single GPU processor. Hence the GPU is only 32-bit RISC. The object processor – 64-bit RISC, is responsible for the actual graphics architecture, it runs it’s own code. The blitter Processor, on the other hand, is a 64-bit RISC that was responsible for handling graphics logic operations, z-buffering, shading, etc. The DSP is a 32 bit RISC and the system bus: 64-bit.

This is the same complaint that developers wained about with the release of the Playstation 3. However, the Playstation 3’s main competitor, the xbox 360, was just as hard to program for. Unfortunately for the Atari Jaguar, which was an engineering marvel, its competitors were much easier to develop for and had a larger market share.

Atari Jaguar CD

Above: Atari Jaguar CD

And to be fair, the cost to produce more advanced games would have come at a premium.

Games that became available for the console were most often ports of other 16-bit consoles. In fact, there were only about 60 cartridges ever made for the Jaguar before it was pulled from the market in 1996.

Atari Jaguar Mario Cart

Above: Atari Jaguar Mario Cart

In 1995, Atari released a CD-ROM add on capable of accessing the 700 megabit format and retailed the device for a modest US$150.00. The CD-ROM could play video games, Audio CDs, CD+Gs and full motion video at 24 frames a second.

Had Atari released this item a few years earlier, the outcome might have been different.

In 1996, Atari restructure and put an end to development of game consoles.