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Native

version: demo - year: 2001 - developer: duranik - publisher(s): songbird, b&c - format: jaguar cd + bypass cartridge - condition: mint - rarity: hard to find

The Native CD demo requires a Jaguar CD and a Jag Free CD compatible cartridge or a B&C Computer Visions Jaguar CD Bypass Cartridge to run.

 

This section clearly pays homage to one of the most influencial 2D shooters of all time, Irem's R-Type.

 

The demo stops right after this seemingly impossible section , and presumably right before the boss encounter...

 

The following sections haven't been included in the playable demo.There are videoclips which show these footages and the praying mantis is animated flawlessly!

 

an aliens-inspired level with water which looks promising...

 

Another incredibly animated boss, excluded from the demo. Damn!

Review - The tale of Atari is one of great success and miserable failure.

Atari single-handedly controlled the early console market back in the early 80s with its little tech marvel, the Atari 2600 console before being hard hit by the collapse of the console business in 1984.

The company didn’t give up as it gradually came back with a few great machines such as the Atari ST in the home computer segment and that little portable beast that was the Atari Lynx console. Despite the great hardware developed, competition by Commodore on one side, Nintendo and Sega on the other proved to be especially fierce, forcing Atari to gradually leave the circle of the big players, but not without a last attempt!

By the end of 1993, the Atari Jaguar was released, claimed as being a 64 bit system. It competed against the 16 bit consoles Genesis and Super Nintendo and the 32 bit 3DO and was supposed to eclipse them technically. A short lived CD unit was also released, but in the end, based on the released software, the Jaguar proved to be better than a Super Nintendo and about equivalent to the 3DO.

When the Sega Saturn and Playstation hit the US market, the Jaguar was overstocked and its popularity was rapidly fading, while the company found itself with no new products to sell. In 1996, Atari eventually merged with a company called JTS becoming a division within that company and from that point onwards, the Atari brand (and intellectual property) changed owners until its current status as an Infogrames subsidiary.

This little Atari history reminder is needed, mainly to frame the period in which a demo called Native popped up in 1997.

It showcased mind-boggling 2D rendered graphics unseen on Jaguar. All work on the project stopped by October 1997, for an apparent lack of interest by publishers. The lack of interest most certainly derived by the fact that by then, the Jaguar was not considered a viable platform anymore.

This is very sad because what is packed in the level included in the Native demo CD is simply incredible.

60 frames per second, 65000 colors on screen, up to 4 smooth layers of parallax scrolling, transparencies and lighting effects, tight controls and overall, a 2D shooter which oozes quality through its binary DNA like few other games!

Sure, it takes inspiration from Irem’s seminal coin-op R-Type but you have never seen graphics so sharp and beautiful on your Jaguar... In this demo, the music, sound effects and bosses had to be cut out because of Ram-related constraints, and according a couple of very short videos available on the net, bosses were going to be utterly fantastic. Also, it’s impossible to grab power ups although you can see them floating around, just like the coins which were supposed to be used to buy upgrades and new weapons in shops, Blood Money-style.

Native demo is crearly an unfinished product but what is there will make you question why so many other developers weren’t able to achieve similar results in their games. If only the Jaguar had been supported by a greater variety of developers, things might have gone differently for Atari.

What we are left with is a testimony of the untapped potential of the Jaguar and Jaguar CD. If only it had been put in the right hands...

A couple of attempts were made by Jaguar enthusiasts to complete the original game by german codeshop Duranik with projects such as Native Reborn and Native Spirit, but the only developer who could do Native justice is Duranik itself.

Now a little note on the demo: the stomps cylinders seem to be impossible to avoid, unless you use this trick: press "0" (zero) in the Title Screen, to get 99 lives. Also, I used an NTSC Jaguar + Jaguar CD set up connected via composite cables to the TV. On the first TV I tried, image was just black and white while on the second TV set-up, I managed to have colors alas with slight flickering, but still damn good. Not sure if it's a problem related to the code being developed for a Pal Jaguar and me running it on an NTSC machine...

Bottom line: a glimpse of the raw, untapped power of the Jaguar CD. As incomplete as this demo is, it still outshines most finished products on the Jaguar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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