Iron Soldier

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Iron Soldier isn’t the greatest game in the world – put amongst the software libraries of the N64, Saturn or Playstation it’s positively mediocre. ~Simon Reed

Iron Soldier

A Jaguar exclusive, Iron Soldier also happens to be one of the most common titles on the system.

Fortunately it’s no disaster like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (another common Jag title), but instead a fairly solid game that’s worth picking up if you’ve had a Jaguar inflicted upon you.

You take control a robot/mech, helping what sounds like a resistance group. There’s no real explanation of the over-riding plot, but it would be foolish to suggest that makes the building destroying action any less satisfying.

Iron Solider - Atari Jaguar - Gameplay Screenshot

At the start you have four missions to choose from (with 16 overall), which can be tackled in any order you wish.

Or at least, it seems that way. Some stages can be a real struggle if you aren’t equipped with weapons gathered from certain other levels.

Before you enter a mission you can tool up your mech with any weapons you may have, and you’re given a brief rundown of your objectives.

Iron Solider - Atari Jaguar - Gameplay Screenshot

This quick briefing has to be studied carefully – as not knowing exactly what you’re doing in a stage is suicide.

As soon as you enter a level you’ll probably be struck at how blocky the game is. If you needed any more evidence that the Jaguar wasn’t really 64-bit then here it is.

The next thing you’ll realize is that the controls aren’t the easiest to grasp.

Iron Solider - Atari Jaguar - Gameplay Screenshot

The simple task of movement requires you to press A and either up or down to start going forward or backwards respectively.

Once you’re moving (you can adjust the speed accordingly) you simply have to steer and shoot. Changing your weapons is tasked to the option button and – this took me a little while to realize – the numbered keys at the bottom of the pad.

Shooting is something you’ll be doing a lot as well, with endless streams of tanks and helicopters firing at you non-stop.

This is why knowing your objective is an absolute necessity, with missions being reasonably varied. Even if most basically just involve destroying stuff.

Iron Solider - Atari Jaguar - Gameplay Screenshot

The first stage, for example, sees you going around a city to destroy a warehouse. The second has you sinking docked boats, and another involves reducing a bridge to rubble with the use of grenades.

There’s no hugely complex action here, and the game is probably all the better for it.

Yes, the graphics may be ridiculously blocky, but the game still has some impressive explosions, and the way buildings dissolve into showers of cubes is actually rather charming, in a retro kind of way.

Iron Soldier isn’t the greatest game in the world – put amongst the software libraries of the N64, Saturn or Playstation it’s positively mediocre – but for the Jag it offers up some solid robo-destruction action.

Kasumi Ninja

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Kasumi Ninja is a fighting game that I unfortunately find fairly repellent. As soon as you boot it up, it’s clear that the game has an almost worrying fixation on blood.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

I’m aware that many classic fighters – Mortal Kombat springs to mind – use gore to give fights more of a violent edge, but Kasumi Ninja goes way overboard.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Blood trickles from the top of the menu screens, for example – which doesn’t make the game feel sinister, just feel incredibly cheap and second rate.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Diving into the story mode, things struggle to improve. The character select is viewed from a first person perspective, with one of the choppiest frame rates i’ve ever seen. It’s not like much is going on in this section, so I have no idea why it chugs along at such an alarming rate.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Pick your ninja and opponent, and you can then begin your fight (in an unusually nice touch the game classes your foe as being played by the ‘Jaguar’ rather than ‘CPU’), which is introduced by an unintentionally amusing oriental style announcer.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Fights take place in a range of very 16-bit looking environments, and where you fight seems to depend on your opponent. This brings me onto my next point – what exactly is up with the oddball characters used here?

You can play as a ninja, fitting in with the game’s title, but your foes can range from deranged Scotsman to scantily clad seductress.

There’s even a woman who’s an assistant Defence Attorney by day, and a fighter by night. I mean, what the heck? Why not call the game ‘Kasumi Random Selection of Weirdos’ instead of ‘Kasumi Ninja’ – it would be far more accurate at least.

The game fatally contradicts itself in tone in this regard – the light hearted nature of the characters is offset by the gore used throughout, making the title feeling a tacky mess as result.

It doesn’t help that the fighting itself is atrocious, with controls that you’ll struggle to grasp with any ease. You’ll probably have long since lost interest before you begin to ‘master’ the special moves.

Kasumi Ninja is most definitely your best bet if you’re looking for a fighting game on the Jaguar – but that is ultimately saying very little indeed.

Wolfenstein 3D: Atari Jaguar

Format- Atari Jaguar

Genre- FPS

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

You’ve no doubt played Wolfenstein, or are at least aware of its existence. But have you played it on the Jag? You really should you know – it’s really rather good.

Remember back in my Power Drive Rally piece I said there were a few reasons why the Jaguar wasn’t completely rubbish? This is another of those reasons.

The Jaguar wasn’t 64 bit, but it could churn out a simple game like Wolfenstein with nary a glitch. The whole thing is super-smooth and one of slickest versions of the game it’s possible to play.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

Enemies are large and detailed, and their soundbites always make me laugh. Why they say their positions (‘Luftwaffe!’ ‘SS!’) when they strike is beyond me. It’s like they’re Pokemon trained Nazis or something. No wonder they didn’t win the war (check this great Youtube video of Hitler’s reaction to the Wolfenstein story unfolding).

The bosses add a much needed shot of variety as well, and their catchphrases are often repeated by me in real life, i’m that sad. Classics such as ‘i’m coming for yer!’ have lived long in my memory.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

In many versions of Wolfenstein there are far too many levels between boss stages, and they wear you down at times with their somewhat monotonous layouts. Here though, a fair few levels have been snipped, and this results in a far more manageable and fun experience.

Although it’s archaic in many, many ways the game is still good for a quick shot of retro blasting fun. Talking about it actually makes me want to play it again, which is always a good sign.

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

The Jag version also has the useful feature of three save slots which can be saved to while playing, by tapping either the 1, 2 or 3 buttons on the controllers keypad. No pausing is necessary. Just make sure you don’t press them when you mean to look at the map screen number button. This feature really helps to make the game an even more instantaneous, fuss free fun-fest.

There’s is an oft-cited problem that the game’s enemy sprites were 2D however, and could therefore only be seen facing you. This mean that there was no way to sneak up on them. This isn’t really a problem for me though – who really attempts to be stealthy in Wolfenstein?

Wolfenstein3D_Atari-Jaguar

The only minor annoyance this 2D enemy issue really creates is when you enter a new room. Enemies can open fire on you from the sides, with you having no chance to fire back and avoid damage. This results in you bobbing into a room and quickly back out again, a tactic you have to use for the later, tougher levels.

As with most Jag games it’s hard to find cheap, but if you have the console it’s worth picking up. I’ll be looking at the other retro Wolfenstein titles I have over the next few months, but this is definitely one of the best.

Tempest 2000

Tempest 2000

Format: Atari Jaguar
Year: 1994
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Llamasoft (Jeff Minter)

It has been a long time coming. Nineteen years to be exact. Nineteen years to finally take Jeff Minter’s game for a proper review spin.

Tempest 2000, the beefed-up remake of Dave Theurer’s 1981 arcade classic, was Atari’s  killer game that helped it shift lots of Jaguar’s upon its release in 1994. This game was never going to be a straight ‘pretty up’ by Jeff Minter. The great Yak added his usual quirkiness to this seminal favourite. What he produced was nigh on perfection.

You may ask, what is so damn good about Tempest 2000. Well, if you are patient for one second, I will let you know. Yak (Jeff Minter) took a first generation arcade game and injected crisp 3D polygon graphics, an awesome techno soundtrack and oodles of new enemy types and obstacles.

Don’t think that Tempest 2000 is just an audio visual enhancement to the original – Yak also added 100 varying webs (levels), new opponents, collectable power-ups like the particle-blaster/laser, jumps, and A.I. Droids who destroy anything that gets too close. Thrown in this awesome gaming mix was the new ”Melt-O-Vision” transition effect – very psychedelic (very Jeff Minter) indeed. Add the different types of play options – two-player cooperative and competitive play modes and you got yourself one awesomely gorgeous masterpiece.

No game, no matter how great it looks and sounds is complete without a complimentary control system. There is only one way to play Tempest 2000, and that is with a rotary controller. You could use the standard Atari pad, but it just doesn’t do the game justice. The rotary control enhances the enjoyment of the game and it definitely helps in achieving those lucrative high scores. Tempest 2000 is a an incredibly great title which was released on an incredibly obscure system. This game is the jewel in the Jaguar’s crown. If you haven’t played it, you are missing out big time!

GraphicsSuperbly crisp 3D polygons that only the Yak can produce. Yes, the Jaguar can handle it.

90%

SoundA perfect techno soundtrack. Light-synthesizer tunes throughout with very meaty sound effects. It is an awesome aural pleasure. Turn it up!

95%

PlayabilityGetting into the game is quiet easy – spin around on the web and blast away the encroaching enemies. To truly experience this game, it must be played with a rotary controller.

90%

LastabilityConsidering there are 100 levels to complete, this game will last forever.

91%

OverallJeff Minter can seriously do no wrong. The Yak knows how to produce brilliant games. This one is no exception. Even Dave Theurer approves of it (I made that up)! Get it and play hard.

91%