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Much Love for the Jaguar 3D Games

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16 minutes ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Not technically - I figured we were talking 3D polygons (shaded or textured), while stuff like Avp, Wolf3D, Doom, Towers II is raycasting

Sure, though most people, me included, would throw these games into the general "3D" bag too.

 

The thing is, they were Jags strongest points, and the rest of "real" 3D really wasn't anything special (even if some were actually fun), as agradeneu mentioned above. At least when compared to what was going on home computers already up to this point. But, I'm all up for giving them some more love from today's POV.

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Yeah, I'm not a hardliner about it :)

 

Also agree that the raycast games were really a strong point on the Jag - Most of the playtime I spent on the Jag was with those titles, particularly AvP. I'd have been happy with more of them BITD, so it's been a shame that it didn't get them (since everyone wanted to move onto Doom, then Quake, etc.). Blake Stone and Catacombs Abyss would've been really good entries for the Jag library; and there were a few unreleased titles that were going to use such an engine (Legions of the Undead, AvP 2 and I think Dungeons?)

 

Since I'm not much of a programmer, I'm guessing that the reason we don't see many raycasted games among homebrew titles is the difficulty in creating such an engine from scratch or is it some other technical obstacle? 

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56 minutes ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Not technically - I figured we were talking 3D polygons (shaded or textured), while stuff like Avp, Wolf3D, Doom, Towers II is raycasting. I do enjoy the raycasted games and would put them all into the 'great' category though. IMHO, the Jag version of Wolf3D is the best rendition of the game from that era, I liked it more than the PC version. 

I heard Towers II is textured polygons, as well as AvP. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Dang, never heard of No Second Prize before, but that should've been a launch title.

 

I agree that Jag 3D has some odd charm to it, it just sucks when you have to imagine how much better the games would've been if they all could have run at a consistent and smooth frame rate (60 best of course, but 30 would've been acceptable). Or if you hopped over to the PSX or Saturn and found much better efforts.

 

In my opinion, I rate the 3D games as such, just from an overall perspective. I'm sure opinions here will vary a bit:

 

Club Drive: Terrible (except Tag mode)

Checkered Flag: Terrible

SuperCross 3D: Terrible (I likewise remember becoming decent at it after some practice, but it wasn't fun to come back to)

Air Cars: Terrible

Highlander: Terrible/Okay (mainly due to the last sequence of running down a long corridor with snipers that you can't do anything about other than cheat)

Fight For Life: Okayish (the beta was a solid okay, but this was no Virtua Fighter or Tekken either way)

Hover Strike CD: Okay (mainly just for the lighting effects and great texture work :P )

CyberMorph: Okay

I-War: Okay (Could've used some linked VS. play, great music though)

Skyhammer: Okay

Robinson's Requiem: I only got to play this a little before my CD drive stopped working, so in-between Okay & good, from what I tried

Zero 5: Good (But that difficulty and button mashing made me break the fire button on a Pro Controller)

Gorf 2000: Good

World Tour Racing: Good

Missile Command 3D: Good

Iron Soldier: Really good/great

BattleSphere: Great

Iron Soldier 2: Great

Tempest 2000 (I think this counts, all characters are 3D polys): To quote the game itself: Excellent!

BattleMorph: Excellent!

 

I dunno about the likes of Space War 2k, BI/WN and Phaze Zero, just because they weren't finished. 

60 FPS for 3D games is totally out of range for Jaguar, 20-30 FPS would have been great.  Most Saturn/PS1 games are running at 30 FPS. So that was the sweet spot I think.

N64 games were mostly under 30. 

Edited by agradeneu
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3 minutes ago, agradeneu said:

I heard Towers II is textured polygons, as well as AvP. 

Not sure where you heard that, but they are raycasted engines in the same way that Wolf 3D did it (Wolf 3D just didn't texture the floor/ceiling). All of the characters/objects in the game are 2D sprites. Otherwise they would be running like Quake, which was true 3D, texture mapped polygons, was it not?

 

Regardless what was going on under-the-hood, they did look really nice!

 

2 minutes ago, agradeneu said:

60 FPS for 3D games is totally out of range for Jaguar, 20-30 FPS would have been great.  Most Saturn/PS1 games are running at 30 FPS. So that was the sweet spot I think.

N64 game were mostly under 30. 

Sure, I just throw out 60 since that would have been nice, but definitely impractical for the era. I might be misremembering, but T2k was one exception, it could hit 60, I thought. 

 

I-War jumps up on frame rate when you're in one of the small rooms with no enemies and just look at the shaded wall :P 

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1 minute ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

but T2k was one exception, it could hit 60, I thought. 

Not even close except maybe in the menu screens.  I remembered T2K being much faster and smoother.  Then I went back and played it last year - holy shit.  Jumpy framerate and non consistent either.  While the gameplay on the Playstation version of Tempest X3 suffered, the visuals and framerate were almost a generational leap above the Jag.  Play the two side by side, and you'll see what I mean.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Not sure where you heard that, but they are raycasted engines in the same way that Wolf 3D did it (Wolf 3D just didn't texture the floor/ceiling). All of the characters/objects in the game are 2D sprites. Otherwise they would be running like Quake, which was true 3D, texture mapped polygons, was it not?

 

Regardless what was going on under-the-hood, they did look really nice!

 

Sure, I just throw out 60 since that would have been nice, but definitely impractical for the era. I might be misremembering, but T2k was one exception, it could hit 60, I thought. 

 

I-War jumps up on frame rate when you're in one of the small rooms with no enemies and just look at the shaded wall :P 

 I heard Skyhammer is running on an advanced AvP engine and that one is a full 3D engine. 

Tempest 2000 is below 20 FPS, no Jaguar 3D game is running over 30.

The fastest games are Zero5 and Iron Soldier. (Fastest means rendering speed) But both are targeting 30 FPS (or 25 on PAL), but are average aorund 20 I guess.

 

Having 30 FPS locked on the PS1 was a big deal in the early 90s ;-)

 

Edit: Battlesphere is said to be unlocked 60FPS, but only if there is nothing rendered on screen ;-) Its averaging around 20-30 like Zero5 or Iron.

 

 

 

 

Edited by agradeneu
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2 minutes ago, agradeneu said:

 I heard Skyhammer is running on an advanced AvP engine and that one is a full 3D engine. 

Tempest 2000 is around 20 FPS, no Jaguar 3D game is running over 30.

The fastest games are Zero5 and Iron Soldier. (Fastest means rendering speed) But both are targeting 30 FPS (or 25 on PAL), but are average aorund 20 I guess.

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I forgot about Z5's speed. It would be interesting (and a little sad) to get the equipment together to analyze exactly what framerates each of these games run at.

 

As for Skyhammer & AvP, perhaps they meant that some engine code from AvP was re-used? Legions of the Undead I've always read was using an enhanced AvP engine where it would've done something different with the ceiling, but Skyhammer would have had to use such giant modifications to do what it did that I'm not sure it would have been in the same ballpark, regardless what code was re-used.

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7 minutes ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Yeah, I forgot about Z5's speed. It would be interesting (and a little sad) to get the equipment together to analyze exactly what framerates each of these games run at.

 

As for Skyhammer & AvP, perhaps they meant that some engine code from AvP was re-used? Legions of the Undead I've always read was using an enhanced AvP engine where it would've done something different with the ceiling, but Skyhammer would have had to use such giant modifications to do what it did that I'm not sure it would have been in the same ballpark, regardless what code was re-used.

There is an analysis of Jaguar Doom by Digital Foundry. Since Doom was considered one of the most smooth 3D games on Jaguar, it's a nice reference. 

 

 

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What is wrong with Cubanismo saying he finds some of the "bad" games fun?  It can be tremendous fun to play bad games.  I've hosted entire parties with the goal of having fun with terrible games.  And Jaguar fans should know better than most that there's good things to be found even in some genuinely crappy products.

 

I can totally understand somebody enjoying stuff like Checkered Flag and Club Drive. Hell, Checkered Flag has some pretty good things going for it, it's just that its terrible controls bring it way down...and those controls are even workable once you get the hang of them.  Reading the original post makes me want to go back and give Supercross 3D another try, because I barely spent any time with it at all.  Maybe it is complete trash.  But if somebody was able to enjoy it, maybe I can to.

 

People tend to trash Syndicate on the Jag.  And I've put hundreds of hours into it.  I love it to death.  But the majority of Jaguar fans write it off as one of the games not worth their time.

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5 minutes ago, PFG 9000 said:

and those controls are even workable once you get the hang of them

I've yet to discover the trick to controlling Checkered flag, and I've put mid-double-digit hours into it at this point. I've seen multiple people allude to figuring it out. Any tips? I've tried tapping the steering, tapping the accelerator in turns, letting off the accelerator in turns, tapping steering and the accelerator, tapping break, tapping break and tapping steering, breaking before hitting turns, pretty much everything I can think of.

 

I've tried the steering fix patch too, though I've put far fewer hours into it. It's definitely different, but I'm hard pressed to say it's actually better. Sometimes I think it is, sometimes I think it's just as hard.

9 minutes ago, PFG 9000 said:

Reading the original post makes me want to go back and give Supercross 3D another try, because I barely spent any time with it at all.

In contrast to Checkered Flag, it took me less than 30 minutes to get the feel for this one, and then it was really fun for me. I could take the turns no problem, maneuver around opponents, and it was cool having the big-screen up there to check myself out when I hit a big jump. When the controls are tight, low FPS just doesn't bother me, and I personally think the game looks great.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, PFG 9000 said:

What is wrong with Cubanismo saying he finds some of the "bad" games fun?  It can be tremendous fun to play bad games.  I've hosted entire parties with the goal of having fun with terrible games.  And Jaguar fans should know better than most that there's good things to be found even in some genuinely crappy products.

 

I can totally understand somebody enjoying stuff like Checkered Flag and Club Drive. Hell, Checkered Flag has some pretty good things going for it, it's just that its terrible controls bring it way down...and those controls are even workable once you get the hang of them.  Reading the original post makes me want to go back and give Supercross 3D another try, because I barely spent any time with it at all.  Maybe it is complete trash.  But if somebody was able to enjoy it, maybe I can to.

 

People tend to trash Syndicate on the Jag.  And I've put hundreds of hours into it.  I love it to death.  But the majority of Jaguar fans write it off as one of the games not worth their time.

After a couple of beers, even bad jokes become somewhat funny. There is nothing wrong about that. ;-)

 

BTW Syndicate is a really good strategy game and a classic, the Jaguar port runs somewhat slow but I think I actually beat that one. 

  

Edited by agradeneu

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Posted (edited)

What puzzles me about 3D on the Jaguar is that compared to the PS1, it appears a much older generation than it actually is:  When Iron Soldier was released in 1994, Ridge Racer came a month later in Japan (Dec 1994). 

So there are max 1,5 years between the Jaguar and the PS1, but the PS1 made it look like much older tech. Maybe the hardware design was not that forward thinking after all?

 

Reading through some old fanzines and mags, many Atari fans voiced some sort of disappointment regarding the detail of Iron Soldier: the flat shaded polygon enviroments had surely some 80s vibe to it, while the texture mapped objects and smooth animation was a clear evolutionary step forward.  So maybe the Jaguar was designed rather to be an evolution of what was already there, than being something revolutionary and a big step forward?

So why was the PS1 that much better? My guess is that both Sony (and Sega) had access to the newest Arcade 3D hardware, which was powerful enough to render fully texture mapped 3D with 60FPS.

So for the PS1, e.g. System 22 hardware specs was the benchmark for the hardware design, because Sony wanted the console capable enough to run Ridge Racer and Sega tried the same with the Saturn and Daytona. 

Now guessing, the benchmark for the Jag seem to be mainly contemporary 386/486 PCs and the Falcon, as far as console competition goes, the FX and SVP chips.

 

Nontheless, Ataris 3D offerings, though routed somewhat in the past, still failed to impress 3D veterans, e.g. Club Drive was a lackluster attempt to revive the 80s classic Hard Drivin, Checkered Flag a poor mans clone of Virtua Racing with horrible controls and AI. The Jaguar version of Lynx classic Blue Lightning was a sore disappointment as well, looking bad compared to 80s classic Afterburner. 

 

With failed attempts like these Atari ruined the reputation of their new flagship in record short time, even highlights like Iron Soldier, Doom and AvP that showed some real promise,  ultimately could not save it. 

Since the Jag is not far away from a 486 Hz, there was still a lot of potential, some really impressive 3D games could have been done: We dreamed of a Jaguar version of X Wing and TIE Fighter, a version of the classic "Grand Prix" by Geoff Crammond, which was one of the most authentic F1 racing simulations out there. Descent, Gunship, Dark Forces to name some other proven PC games that could have been right at home on the Jag. And last but not least some more "Doom" engine games, like Hexe or Heretic.

 

Now the important thing is, none of these games were technically as spectular as new PS1 games, but....they were still great games with deeper gameplay mechanics and interesting simulation aspects. Iron Soldier is a nice example how good gameplay/design and smooth frame rate offsets lack of world detail/texture mapping.

So why there was not more of it? (I think that was answered a 100x times and any Atari fan from the 90s knows  exactly why that was ! ;-) )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by agradeneu
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I actually loved Highlander back in the day! 
However- Checkered Flag and Club Drive were not enjoyable in any shape or form. 

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1 hour ago, agradeneu said:

What puzzles me about 3D on the Jaguar is that compared to the PS1, it appears a much older generation than it actually is:  When Iron Soldier was released in 1994, Ridge Racer came a month later in Japan (Dec 1994). 

So there are max 1,5 years between the Jaguar and the PS1, but the PS1 made it look like much older tech. Maybe the hardware design was not that forward thinking after all?

 

Reading through some old fanzines and mags, many Atari fans voiced some sort of disappointment regarding the detail of Iron Soldier: the flat shaded polygon enviroments had surely some 80s vibe to it, while the texture mapped objects and smooth animation was a clear evolutionary step forward.  So maybe the Jaguar was designed rather to be an evolution of what was already there, than being something revolutionary and a big step forward?

So why was the PS1 that much better? My guess is that both Sony (and Sega) had access to the newest Arcade 3D hardware, which was powerful enough to render fully texture mapped 3D with 60FPS.

So for the PS1, e.g. System 22 hardware specs was the benchmark for the hardware design, because Sony wanted the console capable enough to run Ridge Racer and Sega tried the same with the Saturn and Daytona. 

Now guessing, the benchmark for the Jag seem to be mainly contemporary 386/486 PCs and the Falcon, as far as console competition goes, the FX and SVP chips.

 

Nontheless, Ataris 3D offerings, though routed somewhat in the past, still failed to impress 3D veterans, e.g. Club Drive was a lackluster attempt to revive the 80s classic Hard Drivin, Checkered Flag a poor mans clone of Virtua Racing with horrible controls and AI. The Jaguar version of Lynx classic Blue Lightning was a sore disappointment as well, looking bad compared to 80s classic Afterburner. 

 

With failed attempts like these Atari ruined the reputation of their new flagship in record short time, even highlights like Iron Soldier, Doom and AvP that showed some real promise,  ultimately could not save it. 

Since the Jag is not far away from a 486 Hz, there was still a lot of potential, some really impressive 3D games could have been done: We dreamed of a Jaguar version of X Wing and TIE Fighter, a version of the classic "Grand Prix" by Geoff Crammond, which was one of the most authentic F1 racing simulations out there. Descent, Gunship, Dark Forces to name some other proven PC games that could have been right at home on the Jag. And last but not least some more "Doom" engine games, like Hexe or Heretic.

 

Now the important thing is, none of these games were technically as spectular as new PS1 games, but....they were still great games with deeper gameplay mechanics and interesting simulation aspects. Iron Soldier is a nice example how good gameplay/design and smooth frame rate offsets lack of world detail/texture mapping.

So why there was not more of it? (I think that was answered a 100x times and any Atari fan from the 90s knows  exactly why that was ! ;-) )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think there is even an interview with some of the designer somewhere where they said that the Jaguar was designed for 2D and 3D but that they didn't ancticipate that 3D and especially textured 3D would become the next big thing as it became. So while the Jaguar was designed with fast 3D graphics in mind it was not well suited for what everyone wanted once the textured 3D games came flowing in... at least that is what I remember, might also be from one of the endless conversations here. 🙂

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1 hour ago, agradeneu said:

So there are max 1,5 years between the Jaguar and the PS1, but the PS1 made it look like much older tech. Maybe the hardware design was not that forward thinking after all?


Interesting question ;)

I think its a combination of things, first the Blitter was one of the first components designed
at the end of 90 (The Netlist has a date of 29/11/90). At this point in time there was certainly
not much talk about texturemapping.

The second is that the market start for the machine probably was not late 93 but more like late 92
or early 93 but as the software was not even ready for late 93 that would have never worked out


As the developers were from the UK and the Amiga was the dominant machine at this time it looks like
they got a lot of inspiration from there so they made the Jaguar an all around flexibel machine
with Sprites and the possibility of line drawing support.

The main 3d performance problems are very well known today and have been discussed frequently.
- No triangle rendering so a lot more complexity in your code.
- page misses when texture mapping.


There were some changes made between the prototypes and the production machine which slowed down
texture mapping according to the eclipse coders, i don´t know what exactly was changed but the
only thing that would make sense is that the production machine used some different memory maybe
for cost cutting reasons.

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I think the only Jaguar 3D (cartridge) game I have no fun with whatsoever is Checkered Flag. Supercross is a muddy mess, but it’s better than Motocross Championship on the 32X. Fight for Life is dull, but can be entertaining in a stupid way. In Club Drive I genuinely enjoy the “collect the ball” mode.

 

Everything else I genuinely do enjoy, from Aircars to Zero 5. And I only briefly played a Jaguar at a friend’s house in 1993, and only bought one last year, so I don’t think it’s nostalgia.

 

Do PS1 and Saturn games blow them away both graphically and in terms of deep, satisfying gameplay? Sure. It’s clearly a transitional period in gaming. But honestly I am finding pick up and play games more fun and more attractive the older I get, and the older I get the less I care about framerate or good graphics.

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I find the 3D Voxel (homebrew) game Fallen Angles by @DrTypo very interesting (once you understand which button(s) you need to press to dock with the mother ship?),... also the 3D flat shaded polygon (homebrew) game Tube 2000 is cool. I actually prefer flat shaded polygons on planar surfaces, I think that gouraud shading only makes sense on curved surfaces (like spheres), but when it is used on flat surfaces it looks rather silly. Therefore I think it was a wise decision to use flat shading in the tunnels of Tube 2000.

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On 4/6/2021 at 1:37 AM, LordKraken said:

The one I really want to give a try is Battlemorph which, according to the video here and there, seems to be still enjoyable today. And I kind of like this early 3d games with a lot of gouraud shading. On the other I can't PSX visuals and the deformed textures...

Battlemorph is really cool and it still impresses me. When I look at the way this game runs on the Jaguar I'm blown away at what they were able to pull of on hardware that was a bit out of date for what 3d games were doing by then. It has quite a bit of texture mapping and runs pretty smooth. It's a fun game as well.

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On 4/6/2021 at 6:22 AM, agradeneu said:

The PSX blew the Jag out of the water.  And it had great racing games and 3D platform games.  

It would seem Sony had an advantage with the PSX over the Jaguar. Sony wasn't cutting corners on hardware like Atari was and the design for the Jaguar was very old by comparison to that of the PSX. One would expect the PSX to blow the Jaguar out of the water.

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20 hours ago, cubanismo said:

I've yet to discover the trick to controlling Checkered flag, and I've put mid-double-digit hours into it at this point. I've seen multiple people allude to figuring it out. Any tips? I've tried tapping the steering, tapping the accelerator in turns, letting off the accelerator in turns, tapping steering and the accelerator, tapping break, tapping break and tapping steering, breaking before hitting turns, pretty much everything I can think of.

 

I've tried the steering fix patch too, though I've put far fewer hours into it. It's definitely different, but I'm hard pressed to say it's actually better. Sometimes I think it is, sometimes I think it's just as hard.

It's been a really long time since I "mastered" Checkered Flag.  I got it for Christmas around 1995.  Back then I only had three other Jaguar games, and I was young enough to pour hours into every game I owned, because I didn't have all that many.  I do remember tapping left and right for steering - holding either one down is sure to activate the wall magnet.  I don't think I used the brake much at all, a strategy that my wife seems to have picked up in real life.

 

Sorry, but it's been too long for me to remember.  I do want to put more time into it for nostalgia sake.  I was really hoping to play the steering patch version, but I can't get it to work on GameDrive.

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On 4/6/2021 at 2:24 PM, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Dang, never heard of No Second Prize before, but that should've been a launch title.

 

I agree that Jag 3D has some odd charm to it, it just sucks when you have to imagine how much better the games would've been if they all could have run at a consistent and smooth frame rate (60 best of course, but 30 would've been acceptable). Or if you hopped over to the PSX or Saturn and found much better efforts.

 

In my opinion, I rate the 3D games as such, just from an overall perspective. I'm sure opinions here will vary a bit:

 

Club Drive: Terrible (except Tag mode)

Checkered Flag: Terrible

SuperCross 3D: Terrible (I likewise remember becoming decent at it after some practice, but it wasn't fun to come back to)

Air Cars: Terrible

Highlander: Terrible/Okay (mainly due to the last sequence of running down a long corridor with snipers that you can't do anything about other than cheat)

Fight For Life: Okayish (the beta was a solid okay, but this was no Virtua Fighter or Tekken either way)

Hover Strike CD: Okay (mainly just for the lighting effects and great texture work :P )

CyberMorph: Okay

I-War: Okay (Could've used some linked VS. play, great music though)

Skyhammer: Okay

Robinson's Requiem: I only got to play this a little before my CD drive stopped working, so in-between Okay & good, from what I tried

Zero 5: Good (But that difficulty and button mashing made me break the fire button on a Pro Controller)

Gorf 2000: Good

World Tour Racing: Good

Missile Command 3D: Good

Iron Soldier: Really good/great

BattleSphere: Great

Iron Soldier 2: Great

Tempest 2000 (I think this counts, all characters are 3D polys): To quote the game itself: Excellent!

BattleMorph: Excellent!

 

I dunno about the likes of Space War 2k, BI/WN and Phaze Zero, just because they weren't finished. 

I'd say for 3D games the Cybermorph/Battlemorph, Battlesphere, the Iron Soldier games, and Zero 5 did a great job.

 

Was Gorf 2000 ever released?   And I'll throw in 3D Stooges' game "Surrounded" as a "Okay" 3D game.   Fun to play (I think) just simple 3D game.

 

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6 hours ago, doctorclu said:

I'd say for 3D games the Cybermorph/Battlemorph, Battlesphere, the Iron Soldier games, and Zero 5 did a great job.

 

Was Gorf 2000 ever released?   And I'll throw in 3D Stooges' game "Surrounded" as a "Okay" 3D game.   Fun to play (I think) just simple 3D game.

 

Well that's a big 'derp' on my part :P Scratch Gorf Classic from the list. I'm pretty sure I got to play the 3D mode in a demo or something way back, but that can't count.

 

Surrounded was okay, but the game it was based on was kind of boring. Never cared for Space Zap

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On 4/6/2021 at 3:15 PM, JagChris said:

Some of these games may be fun in their own right but I wouldn't call any of them exciting. Back in the day we'd be playing battlemorph then jump over to the psx with exciting games like Warhawk etc. 

I think the judgement on Jag games are relative to that but I understand where cubanismo is coming from. 

The thing is time has been jags friend, as a retro console it is not expected to compete or com close to ps5 or xbox.

 

But at the time it claims was 64bit, meaning at least 4x what snes/genesis could do and double 3d0/Cdi, at least as good as saturn/playstation.

 

It had trouble consistently outperforming 16 bit systems, on a 3rd of the games they were either slightly improved copies of their 16 bit competitors or missing a fundamental of gaming controll/in game music/low frame rate(slow down)

 

Then add to that games would trickle out...owning a Jag paying full price for club drive because it was one of 10 games out after a yr in a half, and it has to be better than checkerd flag.

Was frustrating, luckily T2k. AVsP, IS, Doom, and w3d were out.

 

Bad 3d, zero sports, bad fighters...oh memory lane.

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