Atari was known as one of the frontrunners of the video game industry throughout the late ’70s and into the ’80s, thanks to the success of many of their arcade cabinets as well as the 2600 home console. Though it was overshadowed by the success of its competitors, the company continued producing consoles into the 1990s, and its last effort with console hardware arrived 25 years ago – the Atari Jaguar.
The Jaguar first arrived in North America in 1993 before making its way around the rest of the world the following year. The console was developed in an attempt to out-perform both the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis while still being cost-effective. Marketed as the first 64-bit console on the market, the Jaguar’s slogan was simply “Do the Math.” Initial responses to the system were mixed, with many praising the technical specifications of the console but criticizing the lack of quality software available. The Jaguar had a handful of hits in the library, such as Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Alien vs. Predator – but was overall lacking in available titles.
Unfortunately, largely due to a lack of third-party game support, the Jaguar was never able to find much of a foothold in the world console market. Though technically superior to the Genesis and the Super Nintendo, the Jaguar was unable to match the popularity of either system – and the fact that Sony entered the market with the PlayStation in 1995 only complicated things further. The Jaguar was also difficult to develop for due to a CPU flaw, meaning that software developers weren’t exactly excited to make new games for the system.
The system was discontinued by 1996, having ultimately sold less than 250,000 units worldwide. What’s interesting about the Jaguar is that when Hasbro bought out Atari in the late 1990s, the company declared the Jaguar an open platform – opening it up for a lot of homebrew content development. Several companies released previously unfinished games for the Jaguar and the system has been home to indie development as well.