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

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 Jaguar.

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 it!

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.

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