Songbird JagFest 2K1 Report
By Carl Forhan
I am thrilled that Songbird had a chance to
attend JagFest2K1. My hat is off to Dan Loosen and company; he
did a fantastic job of finding a great location, bringing in lots
of interesting collections, and keeping the whole day running
with all the tournaments planned. We had a record-breaking attendance
of over 80 people. Nice job, Dan!
The GOAT Store and Songbird were the only two
vendors I was aware of at JagFest. And really, that was plenty
for the Atari systems, although I could see in the future more
vendor coverage for other classic/neo-classic systems. Telegames
had allowed me to vend some of their merchandise as well, so Songbird
had three tables chock full of cool stuff, from Aircars to Rapid
Fire Controllers (which were a hit, BTW!) to Lynx Champ Rally.
It was great to see all the cool collections...
everyone hauled out their best and shiniest protos for display
and play. Kevin Mosley is truly an Atari fan with that Lynx AvP
cart! That's an absolute one-of-a-kind item you'll likely never
see elsewhere. The Museum of Classic Gaming was incredible, I
couldn't believe all the stuff in there. Thanks to Marty and company
for making that possible! Terance brought a Gorf demo for the
Jag, but unfortunately no one had a laptop with the Jag dev kit
installed. An early alpha of OMC's Dark Guardian was there --
very nice, James! Looking forward to another cool shooter on the
The JagVR units were definitely a highlight
of the show for me personally. I only tried it for five minutes,
and it was jumpy due to all the handling that day, but to think
that Atari had pioneered VR for a home system is incredible. The
responsiveness of the unit and the speed of the game were quite
impressive. Thanks to Ted and Clint for making this possible!
The 10-player BattleSphere network was another
highlight. They spent a LONG time trying to get it to work --
so long, that I was encouraging them just to live with only 8
or 9 Jags networked. But their perseverance paid off, and everyone
cheered and clapped when it all got running. This is the kind
of thing you will only see at JagFest.
Thanks to Dan's family for providing all the
food at a reasonable cost for the event, I surely appreciated
I loved the tournaments. We fell behind schedule
at times, and some people had to leave early which kept them from
participating, but it was a lot of fun seeing Ponx and Champ Rally
and Protector SE being put through the paces. A lot of people
are still impressed at how much fun Ponx is (it's the best selling
Songbird Lynx game, BTW), and Champ Rally is quickly becoming
a Lynx favorite as well.
I got lots of good feedback on Protector SE.
Several people asked throughout the day if I had added new layers
of scrolling to the game, and I hadn't! It was just the new graphics
-- all modesty aside, they really turn the game into a graphical
knockout, and everything stands out so much more. People also
liked the gameplay adjustments; anyone who has complained the
game gets too hard too fast will be pleasantly surprised with
the easy pace of the first 10 levels or so.
The CD Bypass announcement was the Songbird
highlight for the show. I gathered everybody around and showed
them a BHH CD, which, since it's unencrypted, won't boot up on
a regular Jag CD unit. I then inserted a Protector SE cartridge,
and after a couple of tries, the CD did boot up and start playing.
I then explained that once Prot SE is released, anyone who knows
their Jag programming stuff should be able to burn and release
new games on CDs. You can even turn an unmodified Jag/CD combo
into a developer system. No custom chips or cables necessary,
just Prot SE on cart! This is a cool and exciting development
for the Jag community, and I sincerely hope any current or aspiring
Jag developer out there will take advantage of this to self-publish
their upcoming games or work with Songbird to do the same.
Finally, I didn't play a single game at the
fest. The only exception was a couple seconds here and there,
to show off a Rapid Fire Controller or help someone learn Total
Carnage. But you know what? I still had a blast. Why, you ask?
Because of the fans. You guys, the Atari Jaguar and Lynx fans,
make these shows worthwhile. It is so much fun to rub shoulders
with such incredible, dedicated, and friendly fans. I love answering
questions (when I know the answers :) ) to why such-and-such was
never released, or do you know which company worked on this game,
or are there cheats you haven't published yet, what is Songbird
working on next, etc. It was great to see the familiar faces,
and meet lots of new people as well. Meeting and talking with
the fans is really what makes JagFest such an incredibly unique
opportunity. I'm already looking forward to next year's fest.
To everyone, organizers and fans alike, who
made this year's JagFest possible, a sincerest thank you from
Carl Forhan at Songbird Productions. Let's keep the Jaguar and
Lynx alive for another five years.