The Atari Jaguar was the 6th, and last, home console developed by Atari. The console was marketed as the first 64-bit system (though really only ran off two 32-bit processors to emulate a 64-bit display).
The origins of the console began when Atari approached a company named Flare Technology to develop two new games consoles for them. Atari funded the small team to open a new sector called ‘Flare II’ in which they would develop these machines. The two consoles Atari briefed to the company for were the ‘Panther’ and ‘Jaguar’. The Atari Panther was a 32-bit console, which was ultimately scrapped due to the ‘Jaguar’ release being brought forward. The Jaguar being a 64-bit console from the deal.
Upon launch, the system was sold for the high-price of $249.99. The Jaguar was initially launched only in New York and San Francisco. Though units did sell, from the offset only a small amount of consoles sold in this test launch. The overall reception to the console was poor and it failed miserably in the market due to lack of games. Some games, however, have been praised such as Doom and Alien Vs Predator.
What is seen as a huge failure of the system is the fact that it ran off of a multi-chip processor, which made it extremely difficult to develop games. Due to the success of the SNES, PlayStation and the Megadrive, large game developing companies had begun to show a brand-loyalty. With the Jaguar proving difficult to not only develop games but also to sell, third-party game developers steered clear of the complex system. This contributed to there being a minimal 67 licensed games, as Atari were in decline and were showing the console little internal support.
By 1995, Atari were showing major signs of being in decline with their revenues declining by half. Atari soon had to start having mass lay-offs of staff, and department shutdowns. Eventually, by the time that the company was next to complete closure, they had only sold 125,000 Jaguar units and still had approximately 100,000 units left in storage. The company was later bought out by Hasbro interactive who then released patents to the console into public domain wherein they declared it was an open system for homebrew developers.
Seeing that the Jaguar was not doing well in the market, Atari attempted to expand the life-cycle of the console by developing the Atari Jaguar CD. To make this more appealing to the public, this was priced at $100 less than the next least expensive market competitor. This was launched a whole two years after the initial launch of the machine, and a mere twelve games were developed.
As well as the Atari Jaguar CD, a variety of peripherals were announced, however, Atari never followed all of these through. Plans were in the works for a dial-up internet link and even a VR headset. The only peripherals released for the system were a redesigned controller, a four-player adaptor and a link cable for LAN gaming.
The ‘Pro-Controller’ was a redesigned controller from Atari as they had received a lot of negative feedback from the packaged one, which has in recent days been named the worst controller in gaming history! Though, this was never released with the console and had to be bought separately.
The four-player adaptor was names the ‘Team Tap’ and was only compatible with two games (‘White Men Can’t Jump’ and ‘NBA Jam Tournament Edition’).
The Jaguar VR, though never released made it to the prototype phase of production. It was made in response to Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, however the project was cancelled. It was rumoured, after Atari had shut their doors, that all prototypes had been destroyed. However, two of these have been found. One featuring red and grey graphics and the other with blue and grey. No games had been developed for the VR headset though a demo of the hit game Missile Command has been uncovered.