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From the Mouth of Madness:
In Search of the Holy Grail

By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
Vol. 2, Issue 10
January 31, 2000

 

It would appear that Atari’s original plan was to release the Panther first, and then follow it up with the Jaguar a few years later. What ended up happening is that the Panther turned out to be a mishmash of technologies from internal Atari development, and Flair, which Atari had purchased to kickstart their next-generation console development. The system was such a mess, that they decided to move ahead with the Jaguar instead (rather than have two half-assed system, they preferred to throw their whole ass into one).

The existence of the Panther has long been confirmed by former Atari employees, but it really entered into the realms of legend when Atari closed their doors. Smart collectors willing to shed some of their dignity went rummaging through their dumpsters late at night, and discovered all manner of things, but there are supposedly three Panther development systems out there. Thankfully one surfaced at the Home Computer Museum, so you can look at pictures of the box online. The other two...well, they’re still out there, possibly in the possession of someone who has no idea what they’re carrying.

Another Atari bit of gold, also from the Jaguar era, comes in the form of the Jaguar 2, or “Jag Duo” as it is sometimes referred to. The system was shown once, at the 1995 summer CES show in Chicago, and more than likely was just a non-working mockup. Still, if it was shown publicly, it must have existed in some form. The Jaguar 2 was a complete redesign of the console, that combined the cartridge base and CD add-on into a single unit. It’s a similar concept to the TurboDuo that NEC released, and like that system it is likely that it contained more RAM or a faster CD-ROM than the individual units. As you can see from the picture here (more are available at AtariHQ) the system sure was pretty, and improved greatly on the original Jaguar’s clunky appearance.

Then there’s the M2, which not only definitely existed, but still is out there somewhere. The M2 was the next-generation version of 3DO’s console, that they sold to Matsushita when the company switched exclusively to software development. Matsushita continued to develop the hardware, and there were even developers working on games (D2, which was just now released for the Dreamcast in Japan, started as an M2 title). The system is supposed to have rivaled the N64 in power, and was eventually scrapped. But again, the system was shown in public, and was in development for several years. A dumpster diver somewhere likely has one, and there are collectors across the globe hunting for these things.

Lastly, there is the real holy grail, Sony’s SNES project. Everyone knows the story – Sony works with Nintendo to make a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo system. Then, Nintendo decides to go with Philips. Sony’s mad, they have a working prototype, which they turn into a full CD-based system, and sell as the Playstation. The rest is history. But, what most people don’t know is that Sony created a dual SNES cartridge/CD-ROM based system called the “Play Station.” This was a different system from the PSX (“eXtension” as in the CD-ROM add-on for the SNES) and was formally announced. It was never shown, but rumors have surfaced that it did exist. If ever there was a holy grail, this is it.

Do I ever expect to own one of these? Well, maybe the Odyssey. As for the rest...well...I can’t say I really expect to. But jeez...would that ever be nice. :)

Until next week, stay loony!

 

- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor in chief here at loonygames.


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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 2000 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you strange, strange lad you.