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My "Killer App" - The Atari Times

My "Killer App"

How Super Burnout sold me on the Jaguar
by Brian C. Rittmeyer

August 24, 2001
In the world of video games, an often heard is expression is the "killer app," a game so incredible that it alone is expected to cause masses of people to rush to the stores to buy the hardware just to play this one game.

On the Jaguar, I've heard two games referred to as the "killer apps" - Tempest 2000 and Alien vs. Predator. It was based on this hype that when I did pick up a used Jaguar in the late '90s from a second-hand store, I immediately went to Telegames and paid way too much for both. But hey, these were the "must have" games, and I didn't know I could probably have got both for less somewhere else.

While they both fall in the all-too-short list of stellar games for the Jaguar, they were not what sold me on the system. My "killer app" was the sometimes at best forgotten, sometimes at worst maligned, Super Burnout. If it wasn't for this game, I probably wouldn't be a Jaguar owner today.

Back when I was building my Atari 2600 collection, I stopped in a particular second-hand store so often I was on a first name basis with the owner. He knew I would stop in every week or two to see if he'd had any more 2600 games turn up, and every so often, he did - I found my copy of 2600 Gremlins there. That thrill of discovery was a rush, something that hasn't happened in quite some time it seems, as finding Atari items at second hand stores or flea markets seems to have all but dried up, at least in my area.

But there was a fateful Friday when I stopped in that the owner told me he didn't have anything new come in, except for something called a Jaguar. I'd never heard of it. I may have seen it in a store like EB once or twice before, but never paid it any attention. But since it was an Atari system, I took a look. It was complete, in its box, with three games - Cybermorph, Dragon Bruce Lee Story and Super Burnout. I looked it over, not too sure if I wanted it. But since I knew the store owner so well, I made him an offer - he'd let me take it home for the weekend, I'd try it out and clean it up and if I liked it I'd buy it; if not, he'd have it back minus the substantial dust built up on it. Since we had established such a good relationship, he agreed.

One of the first things I found was that the joypad needed a good cleaning - the "A" button
wouldn't work. After that, and cleaning up the console and the carts, it was time to see what this "Jaguar" could do. Cybermorph was interesting, but not all that impressive, with its lack of detail, stark landscapes and how the world you were flying in just seemed to stop at a wall. Dragon was much like the 16-bit games I had played, which is what it is after all, and was rather infuriating to play. Based on these two games alone, I probably would've returned it to the store and suggested he lower the price to unload the thing.

But then I played Super Burnout. I had played motorcycle racing games before, but not like this. This games was smooth, fast and colorful. It looked polished, professional, and just damn good - even the road was impressive. The music was superb. There are eight tracks to choose from, some of which are built for speed while others demand more attention to get through their twists and turns. Races can go from day to night or night to day. I could race against opponents, or by myself. Officially there are six bikes, which vary in combinations of speed and grip, although a cheat code will give you a seventh, the Punisher, with the best of both.

Sure, the wrecks aren't very realistic - I went over the handlebars on my bicycle as a kid, so I have a pretty good idea what that is actually like. And so what if it was sprites and not polygons. Super Burnout was fun, easy to play and made me want to play again; which, if I wanted to do, meant I had to buy the system.

So I told the guy at the store I'd keep it. He wanted some absurd price for it, but I ended up paying $40, minus $10 for an incomplete ColecoVision console I sold him which I had been given and had stashed in the closet. I'm glad I bought the system, for if I hadn't, I would never have been able to enjoy what the future had in store for me - Iron Soldier, Ultra Vortek, T2K, AvP, BattleSphere, the VLM, and so much more.

And I owe it all to Super Burnout. Not only is it one of the Jaguar's better games, and perhaps its best racing game, it's MY killer app. 

Reader Comments for My "Killer App"

Cool. by LS650 on 2007-01-21 16:47:11
Interesting. Most people, when asked what they think is the "killer app" for the Jaguar, talk about Alien Vs Predator, Tempest 2000, or BattleSphere. I'm glad to see someone really enjoys some of the OTHER games for the Jaguar.
Killer App by Nathan on 2007-03-27 00:38:59
My Killer Ap was Iron Soldier. It was one of the first games I got and it convinced me to keep my Jaguar. Iron Soldier just blew me away the first time I played it.
Surprising... by Darryl B. on 2009-02-05 00:00:40
Must be cool to know a store owner that well who's THAT trusting :)
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