AGH Jaguar Review:

by Atari

Primal Rage
I've been reviewing Atari games since 1979 (way back in 6th grade), but one game genre I've never reviewed is fighting games. Sure, they dominate the arcades and they are the new system sellers (see PSX Toshinden or Saturn VF2 for reference). But fighting games in the arcade always bothered me. They ate my money way too quick, I always got my butt kicked by the kid I was playing against, so it was easy for me to just say "I don't like fighting games." That is until I bought Primal Rage for my Jaguar CD.

I got the game from a friend who got me a discount on it, or else I wouldn't have even considered buying it. Still, the prospect of having something besides Blue Lightning or Vid Grid to pop in the Jag CD excited me.

Now most of the Primal Rage reviews you'll read are by gamers with lots of experience with fighters, combos, quick kills, etc. They are by people who have pumped quarter after quarter into the arcade version of the game, and can give you a great comparison of the two. I can't do that. I have never played Primal Rage in the arcade, let alone executed a combo that turned an opponent into a cow. This review is from the perspective of someone not into fighting games, or into comparing the Jag version to the arcade. If you are seriously into Primal Rage already, this review won't shed much new light on the game for you. However, if you're like me, someone who isn't much of a fighter fan but is willing to approach the game with an open mind, then you can probably relate to this review!

Just a quick overview of the game's premise: A meteor strikes Earth, rearranges the continents and destroys the cities. Even though humans survived, all technology was wiped out. There is now a new Urth (note the new spelling), one which you are out to dominate by defeating your opponent, conquering portions of the world and collecting worshippers.

I popped the game into the Jag CD, and on the first try, it didn't recognize the game. Instead, it accessed the music tracks and brought up VLM! So I checked out some of tunes before re-inserting the CD. This time, it began to load the game. Having read some previews of the game, I was prepared for a long load time and that's what I got. But it turns out the wait was well worth it!

The title screen and music are both very well done, and the menu is easy to navigate and very user friendly. It would be nice if the "reset high scores" section of the menu had a confirm option, so that you couldn't erase your high scores by accident quite so easily.

So, with the difficulty set on 5 out of 10, with gore turned off (I'm a wimp!), I was off to try the arcade mode. Thankfully, I had just picked up a Pro Controller and believe me, the game is *WAY* better that way than it is with the standard Jag controller.

When it came time to select a character, I decided that Sauron looked pretty mean, and he was my first choice. I was off to fight Diablo, and now that I was playing a fighting game at home, I wouldn't be wasting all those quarters if I lost quickly like I did in the arcade! I read the manual a little to learn a couple of moves and Diablo would be sorry I did!

At first I attempted the Cranium Crusher move, but got so busy figuring out which buttons to hit I ended up as a victim of Diablo's Hot Foot! I managed to recover in time to let out a couple of Tail Whips, followed by an Earthquake Stomp and a Primal Scream, and before I knew it, my Sauron was standing over the conquered Diablo! It was great: here I was, Mr. "I Hate Fighting Games", enjoying the heck out of Primal Rage. I could hardly believe it!

Overall, the graphics in the game are very well done and extremely smooth. The music and sound effects are crisp and clear, and the control is responsive with the Pro Controller. While the load times can be a little annoying (especially if you're impatient), and the loading screens are boring (a black screen with a flashing red "loading" on the bottom), once the action starts you won't be disappointed.

After several fights, I ended up getting beat and wound up with a score of just over 90,000. I entered my intials on the very nice high score interface, and the score was neatly saved on my new Memory Track cartridge (a must buy for Jag CD owners!). Too bad Time Warner Interactive doesn't have more big hits like this to port to Jag, because I have thoroughly enjoyed both Primal Rage and TWI's other recent Jag game, Power Drive Rally.

So to sum things up, the graphics, sound and gameplay are all very solid. While the Jag CD is a good value with all the pack-ins and VLM, having good games like Primal Rage to play on it make you feel better about the purchase.

If you want to know if all the Primal Rage arcade combos work on this version, or how it compares to the Playstation version, then you probably haven't learned much here. But I believe there are a lot of us who have no such concerns, but rather are looking for good games to play on our system. Whether you like arcade fighting games or not, give Primal Rage a look. When you get your first total domination or execute a killer combo, you'll know what I'm talking about!

Title Primal Rage
Publisher Time Warner Interactive
System Atari Jaguar CD
Graphics 8
Sound 8
Gameplay 8
Replay Value 7
Overall 8
Reviewer Patrick Holstine

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