Kevin's Officially Unofficial
JagFest '99 Report
June 24th, 1999
Three years and still running strong, the JagFest
has become quite an impressive little showing from the Jaguar
community. The fact that we have continued enthusiasm for this
little videogame system called the Jaguar (thanks, in part, to
new games that continue to emerge) is cause enough to celebrate
and JagFest continues to be that venue. Providing a chance for
fellow Jaguar enthusiasts to meet face to face, play some Jaguar,
Lynx and classic Atari games, along with getting the chance to
play new, unreleased games is what the Fest is all about. And
this year was no exception.
With Carl Forhan's Songbird Productions taking
hold of this year's event, things were bound to be interesting...and
indeed they were. Carl did an excellent job of bringing together
sponsors, bringing lots of games for sale, showing new and unreleased
games (BattleSphere, Protector, Skyhammer, etc), organizing tournaments,
and doing all those other JagFest-host kinds of things. Hats off
to Carl for being an excellent host!
The day began at about 8:00 am, with everyone
getting their stuff set up for display/play. I was impressed with
the number of unique items that were on display. From 7800 Klax
to an official Lynx development kit, everyone brought out the
best of the rare and unusual for everyone to see and generally
drool over. Everybody kinda had free play and got to know each
other until mid-morning when Carl suggested I drop my Flash ROM
loaded with Protector into the large TV in the corner. So I did
and started playing and instantly there were many people standing
around watching the first of three unreleased Jag games to be
shown that day. I think many people were taken by suprise as they
were expecting just another Defender spin-off. But the excellent
gameplay and smooth visuals really impressed. There was more than
one occasion when I heard someone say "This is how Defender
2000 should have been" or "I like it better than D2K".
The tournaments began and while everyone did
fairly well, there were definitely a few people that dominated.
Clay wiped the floor with all competitors (including me) at Zero
5. I went first and Clay came up second. I went away for awhile
and came back and said "Man, is Clay STILL playing!?"
...he really ripped it up. Micah Rowe (AKA ETHunter) kicked butt
at the Tempest 2000 and Breakout 2000 tourneys, and Carl's brothers
ripped up at some of the Lynx tourneys like Raiden. I still say
it was rigged ;-).
All during the event Carl had a TV/VCR playing
various Jaguar-Related videotapes. We saw some good footage of
HyperForce (one of the upcoming games from Songbird) on one of
the tapes, along with interviews of various Jag developers like
4Play at E3 '95. A while later into the day, Carl asked if I had
brought my videos and I had, so I threw in the Jag Demo tape I
got from Wes a while back. Everyone kinda digged that tape, so
when it was done, I decided it might be fun to see what would
happen if I put in a copy of the dreaded "The Cave"
Jaguar Infomercial. So I put it in and everyone sorta laughed
and said "this is pathetic" but suprisingly, I think
this tape drew the biggest crowd all day. I was in such disbelief
that I had to snap a picture (and a few others did as well) to
capture the moment the most people had actually simultaneously
seen that infomercial. It was great.
Deathmatch Doom was going on most of the day,
and people were having a ton of fun with it. But, I didn't hear
anyone complain when Carl took out the two copies of Doom and
set up a 2 Player Network of the infamous BattleSphere. Those
who were seeing it for the first time pretty much stared in awe,
while those of us who had seen it before confirmed "yes,
this game still rocks". I know we've been saying it for years
now, but next year it would rock to have an 8 player Sphere network!
Then it happened....Carl got everyone's attention
for a special announcement. Letting it speak for itself, Carl
booted up the Jag with a mysterious Flash ROM in it. And then,
there it was...
...the dreaded Red Screen! Carl tried again
and yet another Red Jag screen. We were all so impressed that
we started hooting, hollering and clapping. Carl took a bow in
acceptance of our gratitude.
Thankfully the third or fourth time the game
booted up to a "Rebellion" screen and we all knew what
was coming. Then the Skyhammer title screen hit and we were all
just kinda staring at the screen saying "cool" and "wow".
The game looks and plays amazing. I put a good hour (or so) of
play into the game and I'd say it definitely pushes the Jag graphically
(while keeping a smooth framerate), has excellent control, deep
gameplay and smooth audio. This game screams Rebellion Quality,
and I'd say it definitely impresses.
Toward the end of the day everyone was getting
tired and was kind of just walking around and playing games here
and there. Carl did mini-interviews with some of the guests (me
included) to be included in the upcoming JagFest video. Prizes
were awarded to the best contestants in the tournaments, and even
to some of the not-so-good :-). Carl was VERY generous with his
inventory of games to the winners, giving away Lynx, 7800, 2600
and Jaguar titles to all of the first, second and even a third
place winner(s)! I'm still enjoying my copy of Toki I won for
getting third place in Co-op Lynx Raiden. Heh.
Speaking of Lynx...Songbird Production's Ponx,
a Pong clone for the Lynx was released right there at the Fest.
I got a copy and it is very cool both single and two player. Pong
is a perfect game for the little Atari Handheld, and Carl did
an excellent conversion with lots of little extras to boost playability
and re-playability. The game comes in an impressive-looking CD
jewel case and includes and instruction booklet, very much like
the newer Telegames releases like Raiden, Fat Bobby and Bubble
And so the Third Annual JagFest came to a successful
conclusion, with everyone packing their things and heading back
home or to their hotel rooms to collapse after 12+ hours of intense
Jaguar gaming. Once again I'd like to thank Carl for doing one
heck of a job on this year's event, and say a quick "hi"
to many of the people I got to meet or reunite with including
Scott Walters, Micah Rowe, Dan Loosen, Dan Iacovelli, Clay Halliwell,
Carl Forhan (of course) and his brothers Pat and Jake. It was
great meeting you all (and everyone else I forgot too!). Talk
of JagFest 2K has already begun and here's hoping I can make it
to Texas or wherever it ends up being held.
See you next year!