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Atari Panther preview w/ Jeff Minter - August 1991

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#1 Justin


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Posted 28 July 2016 - 02:09 PM

"Just after Atari announced the shock decision to kill off its Panther console and just before it finally consigned it to the dustbin (taking out all of the useful bits first of course) the hardware giant invited The One to its Slough offices to see what might have been."




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#2 Lost Dragon

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 02:50 PM

And this was the very article that set myself on the path of contacting Lee etc from Domark, to find out Pitfighter was not, as the magazine claimed, ever started and from there i contacted Joel, Jim to discover Elite was up and running, Peter Johnson who confirmed the SOTB claim and Guildo with his Panther RPG.


From small acorns as they say...

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#3 The Professor

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 03:47 PM

Being that so many developers ignored the Jaguar's custom Tom chip and wrote direct,y for the Motorola 68000 (which resulted in a lot of basic 16-bit looking games on the Jag) I wish Atari had been more on the ball and released a competitive panther, maybe even with that RPG, around the time Super Nintendo launched. Waiting more than two years later to launch the Jaguar had far more downside then benefit in my opinion.

#4 Lost Dragon

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 05:59 PM

Thing as Atari UK's Marketing Manager at the time, told the UK Press, Panther was struggling in R+D terms, where as Jaguar was steaming ahead and by Atari UK's reckoning, by the time the bugged Panther hardware was sorted and ready to roll out, there would only of been 6-9 months of it being on sale before Atari would of been ready to launch the Jaguar.


Whilst Guido and Jeff Minter seemed keen on the hardware, they are in the minority.


Hand Made software didn't rate it/explained issue with hardware:


Unfortunately we found a BIG bug in the core chip.

In those days there were no FPGA type chips and so the main chip was a

committed block of silicon. That meant that Atari had paid a big chunk of money

to make the die, ready to ramp up production.


"If I remember correctly it would totally freeze without any way to recover

except with a full power cycle. The bug was related to divide-by-zero problems.

It was not possible to 'just avoid dividing by zero' to make it usable.

We sent them a chunk of code that would easily recreate the issue to show

the problem. When we reported the issue we were met with disbelief then

annoyance as if WE had caused it to fail..."



And Jim talks of at least 1 other developer finding same issue....


There's another key coder i've spoken to, who described the hardware as being poor and would of done nothing to save Atari, but i cannot name him as he does not wish to be quoted.


Joel Seider said Panther was average hardware....



Atari needed far more than equal too SNES level hardware as they'd of been up agains't SNES, then Mega CD, then SNES FX chip, Sega SVP chip....



Even the very folks who worked on Crescent Galaxly have admitted they knew it was a dog from the start, put it next to SNES :Super Aleste, U.N Squadron, Axelay, Gradius III, Super R-Type etc or Mega Drive Thunder Force 4, Forgotten Worlds,Ranger-X, etc...



Cybermorph would of looked far more basic


AVP would of been 2D if done at all...


That'd just leave: Shadow Of The Beast which was converted to MS, MD, SNES, PC Engine, ST, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

C64, Lynx etc..



Paul Howarth himself has said: "The FM Towns version was pretty good as was the PC Engine version...other ports weren't so good"..i suspect given he liked the fact the FM Towns version had 256 colours would of seen him like the Panther version, but it was hardly an exclusive console title...


Rather than see the Panther itself released, i'm personally of the mindset i'd rather of seen what COULD of been it's killer-app games, appear instead on The Jaguar.....



Guildo's RPG would of been a real shot in the arm, bought enough time perhaps for Rebellion to finish Legions Of The Undead...



Minter to of gone onto write that Star Raiders-esq Space Epic he had planned/written those Panther test demo's for, after finishing Tempest 2000, rather than delivering the dreadful Defender 2000....

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#5 Lost Dragon

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 08:32 AM

Nice to see a LOT has been discovered since this article and later look by pixel nation magazine...

Jeff telling Edge what antelope demos were for...star raiders esq game he planned, not Llamazap..

Pitfighter being started is a myth..

Guildo and The Crypt,along with HMS getting Elite running being 2 actual Panther games...

ATD cannot recall much on Cybermorph sadly, so using an early version screen of Jaguar version not much help for Panther version.

No one can confirm talk of Panther Raiden or Steel Talons so both still speculation..

As for Panther Crescent Galaxy being related to Lynx Gates Of Zendacon..

That's news to those I spoke to, who worked on the game...

#6 Lost Dragon

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 03:52 PM

:-)) I was recently amazed to hear on a podcast information taken directly from this article, misinterpreted and presented as fact.

I know the article itself isn't faultless, Pitfighter never being started etc, but it made clear the Asteroids demo was just that a tech demo intended to showcase Panther Sprite Scaling and Minter's routines were the same, tech demo's, not as it's since been reported, part of his non existent Panther game, Antelope Attack.

It's fine to use old mag articles for references when quoting on UK aspects of Atari hardware, but guest speakers really need to quote in context...

Otherwise it gives a very poor view of us Brits :-))

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