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June 30, 2001
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Hosts: Dan Loosen, Gary Heil,

I Survived JagFest 2001

By Micah "ETHunter" Rowe

The story goes something like this...

As some of you were aware, I got a kidney stone "attack" just 2 days before I was to leave for JagFest. I really shouldn't have gone with the risks of things going bad not just hundreds of miles from home, but also carpooling with Carl Forhan from Rochester. But being the hardcore Atarian that I am, no stone was going to prevent me from attending the fest I had waited anxiously for so long. You would think that things could only get better when we made it to Milwaukee. Not exactly.

When we got into Milwaukee at about 8:00pm, Carl and I first went out Motel to check in, check out what our rooms looked liked, etc. Carl wished the rooms were a little nicer, but I didn't care what they looked like, I was just happy to be there. Unfortunately my opinion of our place took a 180 degree turn within a short 24 hour period, but that story will come later.

After checking out our Motel, we went to the place Jagfest was being held at. Carl brought a full van of systems and software and needed to get a head start at setting up the table Friday night. I think we got done setting up everything around 1:00 am Saturday and called it a night while Dan, Gary and Max hung around till 3:00am setting up all of their belongings.

The fest itself was very well done. The amount of work The Goatstore put into the event to make it successful was remarkable. The turnout was also very impressive, with more than 80 attendees for the day. Several tournaments were going on throughout the day, unreleased games like Brett Hull Hockey, Total Carnage, BHH CD, Phaze Zero were on display, prototypes such as the JagVR and AvP Lynx were playable and we even managed to get a 10 BattleSphere network going.

The tournaments were agonizing to say the least. For instance, the rules for the Tempest 2000 competition was the starting point at level 61. Ouch! If that didn't hurt bad enough, I lost to Fard by a lousy 1,000 points! I choked when I knew I was closing in on his score and let my excitement get the best of me. The starting point was a little extreme as only 3 players actually completed level 61, while the other 10 were done in just seconds. Other tournament favorites such as Combat, Ponx, Ram It, and the big BattleSphere network were a ton-o-fun!

But playing games is only a small part of what made this JagFest so cool. It was very cool meeting all the JI2 users, seeing again those I met at JagFest '99, and meeting several I had never seen before. It's always interesting putting a face to the name. Nice to see guys like Kevin Mosley, Ted Rusniak, Clay Halliwell, Clint Thompson, Fard Muhammad, Chad Tindle, Randy Femrite and his wife, Jason Data, Terrance Williams, Dan@AVC, Eric Armstrong, Max and the Goat crew, Dan and Gary. As you can tell, several JI2 guys were present and every single one of them were a pleasure to meet.

During the fest, Carl showed off the soon to be released Protector SE _WITH_ the CD bypass built in. Using that cart, he loaded Brett Hull CD on a normal JagCD. With that device, the possibilities are plentiful for new software to be released far into the future and at a low cost not just for the developer, but also the buyer. As for Protector SE, the game, very impressive! The updated graphics have been done nicely in fact that some wondered if there are additional layers of scrolling. Not the case, according to Carl, but it appears that way due to the more colorful background. All you guys should be saving your nickels for this one! The gameplay tweaking really makes this game playable for everyone, not just the defender junkies anymore! ;-)

What probably caused the largest amount of excitement to this years Jaguar festival was the BS network. It took about a dozen tries to get all ten systems to hook up with one another. We continued to have problems with one console. The problem was fixed when we realized the phone cable we had connected to the Catbox was a different type. We all applauded when all ten systems finally entered the network.

We played only Free-for-All, setting the kills on 10 and went at each others throats. I took the first 2 victories, with Fard coming in 2nd each time. Then Fard took the next 2 victories with myself coming in 2nd. It appeared when the tournament was to begin that it was going to be a dogfight between The UA and ETHunter. Unbelievably, a pilot that never played BS before won the tournament! Obviously, he lucked out by not constantly being targeted by the BS experts! Having ten players together, it's hard to keep track of everyone that may be quietly getting kills while staying out of harms way. Grrrrrr!

With the initial problems of getting everything to work, the tournament wasn't over and the fest near closing till after 11:00pm. Exhausted, we all packed our stuff while visiting with others till after 1:00am. Fard missed his bus back to Chicago and had to wait until 3:30 for the next departure. With a long wait at the bus terminal, I told Fard he could come to my place and get a cab in a couple hours to take him to the bus. Fard accepted my offer, and this is where it gets wierd.

We got to the Motel and went to my door with my key in hand. Trouble was, my key couldn't get into the lock! I went the the office...CLOSED! But a caretaker of the facility saw Fard and myself standing outside and asked if he could be of any assistance. After say "you're screwed, dude!" when inspecting my lock, he attempted to pry the lock open when we heard someone yelling from inside my room! We told him to open up since that was not his room, but he countered saying it was indeed his room, the front desk giving him the keys. Now the guy said I have no chance to get my room back now, and all I can do is call the emergency number located on the door. So Fard, Carl and myself are standing outside, 2 in the morning, attempting to call the owner, but there was no answer.

If going to the fest with a kidney stone and choking at all the tournaments wasn't enough, now I lost my room I had paid for! Carl offered his room so we all piled into Carls room. With Carl laying on the bed and Fard and I sitting on the vinyl chairs, we chatted about all things Atari until his cab arrived at around 3am.

Needless to say, when the office opened, they had to deal with a very angry ETHunter about my room being given away! Getting my money back (and then some) for that night, Carl and I made the journey back to Minnesota today.

I will have to say, though, that experiences like this make great, great memories. This will always be remembered by me as a time when I got to meet new friends, and strengthen the friendships of those that I have considered to be buds of mine for the last few years. I am so happy I was able to attend. Here's to hoping the next JagFest will be just as great of an experience...but with a nice, compitent motel next time. ;-)

Micah Rowe


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