2, Issue 10
January 31, 2000
the Mouth of Madness:
In Search of the Holy Grail
I get into this weeks column, I should apologize for the
scattered updates last week. Sadly, e-mail problems disrupted
my normal schedule, preventing a few of them from going up. All
is well now, however, so dont worry. Weve got lots
of great stuff for you this week
Im going to talk about a favorite subject of mine this week,
classic console systems. As Ive already stated here and
elsewhere, Im a collector of old game systems. In the last
few days, Ive acquired a NEC TurboGrafx 16, a brand new
Atari Jaguar CD, and a boatload of new games. Not to mention that
Ive got my eye on one of those 3DO systems.
any obsessive collector, there are certain items that I would
give anything to get my hands on. In every hobby this is the case...from
comics to baseball cards, no matter what you collect, there are
specific things that are truly the holy grail to collectors.
I thought Id use this weeks column to talk about the
holy grail(s) of console collecting. And hey, if you know where
I can find one, feel free to let me know. :)
are rare systems, all right, like the original Odyssey system
from Magnavox. It was actually the first home gaming system, and
its difficult to find, no question about it. While the Odyssey
2 was released in the late seventies (and is relatively easy to
find if you know where to look), the original Odyssey system was
released in 1972. Thats a full 16 years before the Atari
revolution. The system was pretty pathetic it had no CPU
(they hadnt been invented yet!) and while it took cartridges,
they didnt actually add anything new to the system, they
enabled games already programmed on the hardware to be played.
course, it didnt really have any graphics. It
came with overlays that you taped to your television in order
to get any sort of graphical experience. And of course, it was
black and white. Its not too difficult to find an Odyssey,
they are out there. But finding a working one with all the parts
(it came with quite a bit) can be a bit of a challenge.
least that system actually exists. The real holy grails for collectors
are the systems that never actually shipped...in some cases, the
ones that were never even confirmed to exist by the developer.
up: Ataris Panther. In the late 1980s when Atari decided
they were going to get back into the video game business, they
started a massive research project to get things underway. Those
of us who were hardcore into the console scene back then recall
rumors floating around about first a system called Panther
and then later one called Jaguar. What was really
wacky about the rumors, is that all kinds of numbers were floating
around. It was a 32 bit system. It was a 64 bit system. It used
cartridges, it used CDs. All manner of strangeness was coming
out from Ataris research division.
that saying that theres a little bit of truth in every rumor...well,
in this case, there was a lot of it, but the problem was that
all the facts got run together. In actuality, Atari wasnt
developing one system, they were developing two. There was the
Panther, and then the Jaguar. The Jaguar, a pseudo 64-bit system
(no need to get into technical details there) was eventually released,
first as a console system, and later they released a CD-ROM add-on.
But there was, in fact a second system, which was 32-bit.