Interview by Patrick Holstine

In October of 1996, Telegames announced that they would be publishing four new titles for the Atari Jaguar system, including Worms and Breakout 2000. While the Jaguar may have been all but abandoned by Atari (which now exists solely as a brand name within Hasbro), Telegames has "adopted" the Jag and given it new life by picking up the four new titles.

Now, the release of a few new games for the Jaguar isn't going to vault the system back into the 32/64-bit hardware wars. Still, it will come as a pre-holiday treat to tens of thousands of Jag owners who haven't seen a new release in nearly eight months.

Telegames President Terry L. Grantham agreed to an interview with Patrick Holstine, and he asked about everything from whether there will be more games published after these four hit the market, to how effective the Petition to Telegames turned out to be. Here's what we found out:

Patrick: It has come to our attention that Telegames is planning to publish four new Atari Jaguar titles later this year. What are these titles, and who are they developed by?

Terry: 1) Towers II developed by JV Enterprises

    2) Breakout 2000 developed by MP Games
    3) WORMS developed by Team 17
    4) Zero 5 developed by Caspian Software

Describe for me the process of getting the rights to publish these games. Where did the initiative come from? Atari/JTS, Telegames, the developers, C-West? How did it all come about?

The entire initiative came from Telegames. We felt that the loyal Jaguar owners should be supported with new titles, not abandoned. We have an extensive library of titles that could be brought to market if these loyal Jaguar owners support us thru purchases of the four new titles.

The Jaguar is a system basically no longer supported by Atari/JTS, and virtually dead in the consumer market. Tell me about Telegames efforts to reach both Jaguar consumers, and owners of other past systems that Telegames still supports. How many Jaguar owners are out there by your estimates?

One of our original divisions, Telegames USA (now Telegames.Direct), has supported orphaned game platforms on a direct mail (and now Internet) basis since 1986. We still stock and sell new hardware and software for Atari 2600/5200/7800, Intellivision, ColecoVision, C-64, TurboGrafx-16, and Atari Lynx in addition to next-gen machines by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and Atari. We have established a very loyal customer base that appreciates our efforts and service.

There are no credible estimates of Atari Jaguar owners in our opinion.
Previous info released by Atari was dramatically overstated if actual software sales are used as a hardware measurement.

It was rumored for many months that "Towers II" would be published by Telegames. When Atari merged with JTS and put all new releases on hold, a "Petition to Telegames" movement was started to encourage your company to publish other Jaguar titles. Are these additional three titles at all due to that grass roots effort, or the result of something else?

The grass roots effort did not hurt. However, our decision to publish the additional titles was based on other factors as well.

Financially speaking, how much did it cost Telegames to acquire the rights to these games? Are you working alone, or with C-West to distribute the games?

The financial terms are confidential. We have no distribution partners, however, we do sell to a number of independent distributors and retailers.

With the cost of acquiring the rights and distributing the games: a) how much will each cartridge sell for? b) will there be any special deals for consumers who want all 4 games? c) how many of each cartridge will Telegames have to sell to make this deal profitable?

The MSRP of each cartridge is $59.95. We are offering a prelease discount program if a consumer orders and pays for a product by November 29th. Further details are available on our web site at: http://www.telegames.com/prerelease.htm

With regards to the distribution of the games, will we see them on store shelves at Electronics Boutique or other outlets that still carry Jaguar stock? Or will they be available by mail order only?

No national chains will stock Jaguar any longer. Local stores can and will stock the new releases. Encourage your local store to stock these products! For that matter, an organized effort requesting the products that is directed toward EB, or Babbages, etc., might cause these national chains to reconsider their opinion toward Jaguar.

Are there any other deals on the horizon to publish new Jaguar games? If so, what are they, and if not, will a successful effort with these four games spur further development/publishing for the Jaguar? I've heard rumors of a cricket game for a long time.

These four releases are test cases to determine if additional publishing effort is justified. We have a library of additional titles that could be released if the financial incentive is apparent. Additionally, we could pursue new development thru our own contract development division, Telegames CDG.

Will Telegames be involved with the publishing of 4-Play's title, "Battlesphere"?

We have not entered any deal at this time.

Have you played any of the four games slated for release, and if so, can you tell us your impression of them?

All four products are very well done and extremely entertaining. More importantly, the game themes and play mechanics are entirely different from each of the other products.

- Epilogue -

- So to summarize, here's what we learned from Telegames. While it was their initiative that made all this possible, the petition effort did not go unnoticed by the company. In addition, they have other potential new games they could release for the Jaguar, but they will not do so unless this crop of four goes over well with the buying public.

In fact, Grantham even mentions that new Jag development could occur if sales are significant. Therefore if you are a Jaguar owner, and you would like to see your system kept alive, it's possible to vote for more Jag games with your pocketbook. If these four titles sell well, there could be four more, and so on.

Obviously, with PlayStation, Saturn and Nintendo 64 out there, and many Jaguar owners now having purchased one or more of those systems, the prospect of spending $120.00 to buy a couple of new games for the Jag could seem a bit twisted. The games must prove to be high quality titles, with lots of replay value in order to merit a purchase. However, it's not like buying a new PSX game at Electronics Boutique, deciding you don't like it after a week and taking it back. If you send Telegames your money, don't expect to get it back if you dislike Towers II or Breakout 2000.

Therefore, it turns into a dilemma: do you put blind faith in a new Jaguar game and send in your order, or do you buy the latest Saturn offering at EB that you can exchange if you think it's not worthy of your time? It's a tough one, that's for sure. But realize that if you don't take a chance on the new Jag games, then, that will be the proverbial final nail for the Jaguar. If on the other hand you look at the quality of later Jag releases like Rayman, Defender 2000 and NBA Jam TE, you may decide that it's worth the risk. Certainly, the Jaguar proved it could do many games just as well as a Saturn or PlayStation (with Rayman and NBA Jam TE being prime examples).

Don't get me wrong here. I have a PlayStation, and if it came down to buying games for just one system, then Sony would get my money right now. If all the new Jag games coming out were 3D fighting games, I know they wouldn't stand a chance against Tekken 2, VF2 or KI. However, Breakout 2000 is unique to Jaguar, just like Zero Five and Towers 2. As for Worms, while you could buy it for PSX or Saturn, if you have a Jag, why not support Telegames gutsy effort and get the Jaguar version instead? If enough people decide to do so, then Jag owners just might be looking forward to new titles for Christmas '97 as well. And that sounds like a Merry Christmas to me.

Go to previous page