Atari Jaguar
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

As one of the leading names in the video game industry, it's easy to see why so many people expected big things from Atari and its 64-bit Jaguar console when the first news reports emerged in the early '90s.

Released when the 16-bit era was just still in full swing, this powerful system was considered to be Atari's last throw of the dice in the home hardware arena – and so it came to pass. The Jag was a costly commercial flop for the once-dominant pioneer, and its failure would result in Atari Corporation reverse-merging with disk-drive manufacturer JT Storage (JTS) in 1996 – an ignominious end for the once-proud gaming giant.

Despite its less-than-stellar legacy, the Jaguar still has its fans; Jeff Minter, for one, thought it was a pretty neat piece of kit at the time (his Tempest 2000 is considered by many to be the best Jaguar game), while id Software's John Carmack was so taken with the hardware he ported Doom to the console himself.

While it failed to unseat the SNES and Mega Drive and was quickly outgunned by the incoming PlayStation and Saturn, the Jaguar is nonetheless home to some decent games – as this list proves. Note that these games aren't presented in any particular order; this is simply a list of recommended titles to play on the Jaguar.

Alien vs Predator (Jaguar)

When people think of the Jaguar, two titles usually enter the conversation – one is Tempest 2000, and the other is Alien vs Predator. Rebellion's FPS was one of the first titles to truly show off the visual power of Atari's console, and while it's not a patch on the likes of Doom when it comes to graphical complexity and speed, it more than makes up for that by offering three different characters to play as (Colonial Marine, Alien and Predator), each with their own weapons and objectives. While modern-day FPS titles have understandably overtaken it, AvP still has a unique feel which makes it a refreshing change of pace to what the genre typically has to offer.

Battlemorph (Jaguar)

Cybermorph was the game which 'sold' many people on the Jaguar, so it makes sense that its sequel, Battlemorph, would attempt to do the same for the Jaguar CD add-on. Developer ATD made use of the increased storage capacity to massively improve things, not just in terms of content but also by offering an amazing CD soundtrack to accompany the on-screen action, as well as cutscenes to propel the story. Like Cybermorph, Battlemorph is one of the best 3D action titles on the Jag, and it's a real shame that the failure of the CD add-on means that very few people got the opportunity to experience it.

BattleSphere (Jaguar)

While it didn't see release until long after Atari had pulled the plug on the Jaguar, 2000's Battlesphere is a fine example of the 3D space shooter (it was almost called Star Raiders 2000, which gives you some indication of where it got its inspiration from). It's one of the lesser-known Jaguar titles due to the fact that it launched so long after the console's death, but it's certainly one of the best – especially if you're a fan of dogfighting in space, X-Wing-style. Following its release in 2000, the game was followed by an enhanced edition called BattleSphere Gold in 2002, and then BattleSphere Trio in 2006.

Cybermorph (Jaguar)

The game that came as a pack-in with the Jaguar in 1993, Cybermorph had to do a lot of heavy lifting in the early years of the console's life. Thankfully, it was a capable demonstration of the 3D power of Atari's 64-bit system, offering smooth gameplay, large environments and full-3D gameplay – unlike Nintendo's Star Fox (released in the same year), which forced players along a linear route. While the Jaguar CD sequel Battlemorph improved on Cybermorph in pretty much every way, the original game is still worth a look and will have nostalgic appeal to those who owned the console back in the day.

Doom (Jaguar)

For many gamers, Doom was a killer app back in the early '90s. id Software's seminal FPS had burst onto the scene via PC, but it required a fairly powerful computer to run – and that was out of reach for many players at the time. Therefore, the console ports of Doom were highly anticipated, and John Carmack himself stepped in to help code the Jaguar version. While it would be beaten to market by the 32X port, the Jaguar version is superior – although it is worth noting that it's not quite a perfect replication of the original, and is missing some enemies and features.

Gorf Classic (Jaguar)

An unofficial but arcade-perfect port of Jay Fenton's Midway-published arcade title from 1981, Gorf Classic features all of the gameplay modes of the original – even the Galaxian-style stage, which is missing from other home ports due to Namco kicking up a stink. This can hardly be described as a title which shows off the Jaguar's power, but if you're a fan of classic coin-op shooters, then you'll no doubt have fun with this one.

Highlander: The Last of the MacLeods (Jaguar)

Based on the 1986 Hollywood movie Highlander (and its subsequent animated adaptation), this Jaguar CD adventure was supposed to be the start of a trilogy of titles, but developer Lore Design folded before the other games were created. Mixing pre-rendered backgrounds with 3D characters, Highlander: The Last of the MacLeods looks and feels very much like Alone in the Dark or Resident Evil, with the player solving puzzles and fighting enemies along the way. While some reviewers compared it rather unkindly to some of the best examples of the genre, it remains one of the Jaguar CD's more appealing titles.

Iron Soldier (Jaguar)

This open-world action title places you in the cockpit of a massive robot with equally massive destructive potential, so it's easy to see why it became such a beloved game back in the day, eventually spawning a 1997 Jaguar CD sequel and a third game in 2000 on Sony's PlayStation and the Nuon DVD player. While the visuals are crude compared to what was appearing on the PlayStation and Saturn at the same time, Iron Soldier packs a punch – even if it could do with a little more variety when it comes to mission types.

Protector (Jaguar)

Developed by Bethesda Softworks, Protector is based on Søren Grønbech's 1989 Amiga title Datastorm, itself a clone of the Eugene Jarvis classic Defender. Never released during the Jaguar's active lifespan, it would eventually see publication in 1999, when it was widely acclaimed for its challenging gameplay, excellent visuals and impressive audio. 2002's Protector: Special Edition is even better, as it improves the original game with new features and content. 2014's Jaguar CD title Protector: Resurgence is perhaps the ultimate version of the game, as it boasts new levels, graphics, music and gameplay mechanics.

Rayman (Jaguar)

While the Jaguar version of Rayman is arguably quite weak when compared to the PlayStation and Saturn versions, the game was, for a brief period, hailed as a system exclusive for Atari. Boasting smooth animation, colourful 2D visuals and plenty of platforming challenge, Rayman would kickstart a franchise which endured to this very day (technically, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is part of this lineage, as the character is included in that particular game). While some would argue there are better ways to experience Rayman's first adventure, it's still one of the best games on the Jag.

Skyhammer (Jaguar)

Skyhammer is another title which only saw release after the Jaguar had ceased to be an ongoing concern for Atari, which is a real shame as its texture-mapped visuals are some of the best on the console. You take to the skies in the titular craft, hunting down enemies and performing missions. Developer Rebellion – which also produced the excellent Alien vs Predator for the Jaguar – really showed what the console could do with this title, but it sadly wouldn't see release until 2000, when Atari's 64-bit platform was all but forgotten by the mainstream games industry.

Tempest 2000 (Jaguar)

The best game on the Jaguar? Quite possibly. Jeff Minter's update of the original Tempest remains one of the most utterly compelling action titles of all time – something which is evidenced by the fact that he has returned to the game more than once since Tempest 2000. Despite the march of technology, there's something about the Jaguar version which makes it feel like the most appealing version; the mix of eye-catching visuals and pumping music is as perfect as it gets, while the gameplay is challenging without getting too complicated. If you own a Jaguar, you need this game. It's as simple as that.

Towers II: Plight of the Stargazer (Jaguar)

As the Jaguar's only real RPG, Towers II: Plight of the Stargazer had a lot of pressure resting on its shoulders. Initially developed for the ill-fated Atari Falcon home computer in 1995 (the original game was an Atari ST shareware title by the name of Towers: Lord Baniff's Deceit), Towers II compares very favourably to first-person RPGs of the early '90s, offering the player a 3D view of the magical 'Land of Towers' with scaling 2D sprites for NPCs and enemies. Due to its relatively late release in the Jaguar's lifespan, the game has become incredibly expensive on the secondary market. A Game Boy Color port was supposed to be released in 2000, but it never happened, despite being completely finished; this was due to the collapse of publisher Vatical Entertainment. In 2023, Songbird Productions released Towers II: Enhanced.