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June 18th, 1999
Location: Rochester, MN
Host: Carl Forhan

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". Enough said.

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! C'mon 4Play!

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 Trouble.

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!

-Kevin Manne

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