I must first preface this by saying I have a soft spot for the Jaguar too. Yes, it failed to steal the spotlight from Nintendo and Sega but it was a valiant effort from an underdog who put out some decent games on a console that was years ahead of its time. It hurts my heart to see it so deeply maligned, often unfairly. That happens a lot with Atari, from E.T. all the way up to the Jaguar. I love the Jag very much and respect it for what it is. With that said, I don't want what I'm about to say to sound like a bash.
I had a pre-release console in November, 1993 and totally bought into the Bit Wars that had been going on ever since Genesis and TurboGrafx-16 went that route against Nintendo. "64-Bit! That means Jaguar is EIGHT TIMES better than the NES!" I proclaimed to my friends, who looked at me with a tremendous amount of skepticism.
It became a tradition to have all the friends over for gaming Friday after class. At first everybody wanted to see the Jaguar. In 1993 Cybermorph came across as really impressive. Tempest became a group favorite.
Shortly after these gaming get-togethers became routine, somebody asked about the Atari 7800 sitting under the TV next to the Jaguar. "What games does that Atari play?" asked a friend, picking up the joystick and examining it oddly like a foreign object that fell from space. A decade after its release, with everybody in the room looking on, I put in Centipede and started it on Team Play. From that point on, nothing would ever be the same. We'd still play the Jag, but EVERYBODY came to play these classic arcade games on the 7800, and they would show up energized and excited. Even 2600 games like Warlords did well. We spent countless Friday afternoons playing Dig Dug, Xevious, Joust, Galaga and the rest, but Centipede would remain the favorite among the group.
So to be completely honest, what I love most about "the last true Atari" is that it taught me the most important lesson I would ever learn about play value in Silicon Valley: "Graphics don't make the game."
I have a new post up on the blog about Adam Savage and his love of Millipede. Adam Savage is co-host (along with Jamie Hyneman) of the Discovery Channel television series MythBusters. Adam is absolutely enthralled with Millipede, and has been ever since he first discovered the game as a teenager while working at a bar as a busboy in 1984. He recently purchased a Millipede arcade machine which he found Craigslist, which he then modified and tries to play every day. Adam plays through a few levels of Millipede and gives a good demonstration of the game in a “Show and Tell” video which you can see on the blog.
Check out the article on the blog: http://www.atari.io/atari-millipede-mythbusters-adam-savage/