JTS Atari has finally seen fit to release the JagCD in the UK, but was it worth the wait?
First let me describe the package you recieve, the JagCD comes in a fairly large box considering it's size included are 4 disks which consist of two full games (Blue Lightning and Vid Grid), a Audio disk (the Tempest 2000 soundtrack) and one demo (Myst). You also get the much touted Virtual Light Machine (VLM) by Jeff Minter.
One surprising thing was the lack of instructions, I don't know if this is a standard thing but it didn't make it any more difficult. Fitting the CD Player to the Jags base is relatively simple, it is just a matter of pushing the connector into the cartridge port. The unit fits seamlessly into the Jag. On top you get an additional port to use for games or the Jaguar CD Memory Track cartridge which you need to purchase separately.
The player it self has one button which is used to open the lid - there are no play, pause, stop, forward or rewind buttons on the unit, all these functions are carried out with the Jags powerpad.
The CD drive lacks any outputs so it is therefore impossible to use headphones or to connect stereo speakers to the unit it self without additional equipment. You can connect the Jaguar to a stereo TV or to a Hi Fi to achieve stereo sound however.
The unit is solidly built and feels as if it'll last a long time, it is simple to use and users will have no difficulty in setting it up.
Blue Lightning is an update of an under rated Lynx game, you can choose from three planes and you must carry out various missions against some bloke called Drako.
The initial presentation including the various 'movies' is excellent with some clear graphics and superb animation. The music is good, but could be better especially on a CD.
The game it self is a bit of a let down, the graphics are uninspiring and the plane doesn't feel especially good. In fact, it could be said that the actual game would be just as good if it was on a SNES. The in game samples are fairly clear but not spectacular.
Gameplay wise, the game is fairly average. It is very easy to crash your plane and it jolts about the screen eratically at times.
All in all not a very impressive release title for the Jaguar CD.
Vid Grid is the second game to be included, and in my opinion it's the best.
The aim is to solve various puzzles out of music videos by rearranging the pieces. Your task is made harder by the fact that the videos are continuously moving.
Along with the videos, you get the complete song which is superbly rendered.
Songs/videos included are: Cryin' - Aerosmith, Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel, November Rain - Guns N' Roses, Are You Experienced - Jimi Hendrix, Enter Sandman - Metallica, Right Now - Van Halen, No More Tears - Ozzy Osbourne, Give It Away - Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Spoonman - Soundgarden.
The game is a original twist on an established concept and the variations in the puzzles mean you'll always be faced with a challenge.
Myst is the highly rated PC game which has made a splash in the States. Graphically, it is flawless with some excellent graphics and sound effects.
In the demo version you get to explore the library which although it is very small, gives you a good impression of what the game will finally be like. You also get a slide show of some other locations in the full game.
The voice overs are superb and add to the atmosphere of the game, one to look out for in the future.
What was originally intended to be just a gimmick has turned out to be the star of the pack. The Virtual Light Machine (VLM) turns your CD collection in to a psychadellic audio-visual experience.
Just pop in a ordinary audio CD and the Jag takes over, you get full control over all the options available. Alternatively you can just set it all to random and let the JagCD do it all for you.
The lack of instructions can make things a bit difficult at first, but if you persevere you'll have it all worked out very quickly. There are over 80 different effects which pulse, swirl and fade to your music, different effects are better for different types of music.
Jeff Minter has his second hit on the Jag (third if you count the loved/loathed Defender 2000) and he certainly has done more for the big cat than Atari ever has, lets just hope it's not his last project.
Without the VLM, the JagCD would have been just an average product. The included software was relatively lackluster and the demo restricting. However with the VLM, the unit is an essential purchase for any Jag owner and if you shop around you should be able to pick up a bargain - I bought mine for just £49.99 brand new.
With some really high quality titles available such as Highlander, Myst, Primal Rage and Battlemorph, the JagCD adds a bit more life to the failing beast.
Product: Jaguar Author: JTS Atari Contact: JTS Atari on 01753 533344