Atari Jaguar Review: Cybermorph Christmas Special on The Jag Bar
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By Brian Thomas Barnhart |
Hey, what is up everybody? Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! This is the Holiday Special for The Jag Bar, I am your host BTB, and welcome to the new set! That’s right, this is a brand new set where we’re going to do all three shows out of. The Jag Bar, Lynx Lounge, and 7800 Avenue.
See, I was doing all of those shows in different places and it was a lot for me to try to get there, do the show, and then come over here and do this show. Well, it’s all in one place now. The new set looks great, and today it’s decorated for Christmas.
“We could not have games like Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and Mario 64 without games like Cybermorph. You have to start somewhere.”
– Brian Thomas Barnhart
“Hey BTB, where’s your guest? You don’t have a guest today!” You’re right, I don’t have a guest. But what I do have is a copy of Cybermorph. I never actually really played Cybermorph back when it came out, this is a new discovery for me. I thought it wouldn’t be fair to bring a guest in to share a game that I never played. Kinda weird.
Since we’re talking about Christmas and holidays, I thought what a great way to talk about the pack-in game that some of you would have got if you got an Atari Jaguar for Christmas.
I didn’t get the Jaguar for Christmas, I got a base model, and Alien vs. Predator was my first game. I never got Cybermorph until recently. I did get Battlemorph later on, but Cybermorph is a new one. So along with Cybermorph today, and my trusty Jaguar Official Gamer’s Guide, I’m going to tackle this game!
“I had one of the very first Jaguars, I didn’t get it for Christmas but got it going into the Christmas season. It just blew people away. It was the first time we played anything like it. To this day, every Christmas we play Jaguar with family and friends.”
So while we’re exploring planets today on Cybermorph, I’m also going to teach you how to make my homemade Kahlua recipe. It’s very easy. You guys are going to love it, and it’s great to give out for gifts at Christmas time. It’s perfect. So let’s get this episode going, play some Cybermorph, make some Kahlua and enjoy the holidays. Let’s do it!
Alright, let’s start on the planet Emeth. Usually when I start a party I usually like to start off with a little bit of Emeth. My steering’s kind of crazy. I need a hot tip!
To avoid oversteering, tap the control pad left or right instead of holding it down.
I’ve been holding it down. I need to tap it! See, this is why you need this. Let’s give it another shot. Don’t go too fast. Don’t repeatedly slam into the sides of mountains like all the reviewers trashing Cybermorph on YouTube. Not too tricky.
You gotta get this book. Jaguar Official Gamer’s Guide. This has got everything in it. Especially if you want, you know, detailed maps on Alien vs. Predator. Get outa here! Maps on Wolfenstein. You know? Where are you gonna get those at? Tips on Kasumi Ninja. Gosh.
Here’s the deal, for real though. The Cybermorph section sucks, man. They really gyp you. It’s only a couple of pages, and even in the introduction it says “Because of the first three stages of the game (they’re not overly difficult) we’re only going to cover the last two stages in detail. But, we also give you a ton of strategies to help you smash through the early stages.”
Now while I head to the next world, remember I promised you my recipe for homemade Kahlua, and I’m going to deliver that to you right now.
Okay so first off, it’s a 3-part recipe. It’s Coffee, Sugar, Vodka. That’s it. A little bit of Vanilla at the end.
Let’s start by gathering our ingredients:
Coffee (cheap is ok)
Sugar (brown sugar or pure cane)
Vodka (bottom shelf)
So the coffee was five bucks, it’s super cheap. You could get really expensive coffee, you could get really cheap coffee. Personally, I’ve done it all. I’ve done really expensive coffee, I’ve done really cheap coffee, and guess what? The cheap coffee tastes just as good so it’s up to you. But if you want to tell people, if you want to be that guy or girl that’s like “Oh, well, I made this with really expensive coffee” knock yourself out. Merry Christmas. Whatever.
Alright so I’ve got brown sugar, and when I run out of brown sugar I’m going to use cane sugar. I mix and match, I don’t care.
And then I’ve got three parts of cheap vodka. Bottom. Shelf. Vodka. If you want to use the expensive stuff, go for it. The vodka is the second-to-last step. You do not want to put this vodka in the mixture of the sugar and the coffee, because what’s going to happen is it’s going to burn off all of the alcohol. Especially when it’s hot.
Give everything some time, you’ll want to wait for that “soup” to cool. Then add three parts vodka, followed by pure vanilla extract. Just a little bit at the end. I don’t even measure it anymore. I’m sure its a couple tablespoons, teaspoons, whatever. Pour it in, it’s good to go.
Now it’s time for you to brew some coffee. If you have a drip brewer, if you have a percolator, if you have an espresso puller, whatever, it’s time to start doing that right now. Now what I did was I used that espresso grind in a percolator. Basically that’s going to give me a nice hearty, dark, dark roast. That’s what I want.
Time to start putting it all together. We’re going to do three parts sugar, three parts coffee, and much later on we’ll add the three parts vodka. (See video). Let’s get on this right now, shall we? By the second cup I ran out of brown sugar and switched over to regular white cane sugar. When we’re done mixing everything together we’re going to let it simmer for an hour. By 30 mins in you’ll be able to see how far everything has cooked down already. It should be getting nice and tasty.
When you’re done with this whole concoction you’re going to need to let it sit for about a month in a dark closet or cabinet, in a dark colored bottle. Now what I do with these bottles is, I used to get all into it and peel off the labels and all that stuff, but lately here’s my technique: What I do is I get some grey automotive primer, I spray the whole bottle down, labels and all. Then I get that really cool rock spray paint that looks like rock fleck, and then I spray paint the outside of the bottle and let it dry for 48 hours. What you’re left with is a very cool looking Tiki-type bottle. I mean how appropriate, right? You’re at The Jag Bar, gotta have a little Tiki bottle to be cool!
Get creative with your bottle. Or not. You could wrap it with tin foil or with a brown paper bag and say “Here you go, Merry Christmas. God bless America.“
Once everything has cooled off we’re going to add three parts vodka. Next we’re going to put the vanilla extract in there. Like I said, I’m just going to go crazy with it. Stir everything up and transfer to the bottle. I usually use a nice big bottle with a topper on it (See video) because remember this is going to have to sit for a month before we put it into our fancy bottles. So I pour it into this bottle before I transfer it to the nice bottles. I use a funnel with a little spoon or ladle to put the Kahlua into the bottle. Take your time and be careful not to spill everything you just made. And away we go!
Cybermorph is pretty darn smooth. It plays pretty well. The thing is, I’m playing it with my original pack-in controller that came with my Jaguar system. It has the grey Pause and Option buttons, it has the grey buttons for numerical keypad. It has a very smooth touch to the directional pad.
But for the last three nights I’ve been playing Cybermorph, I’ve been playing with my other Jaguar controller. This is an official Atari Jaguar Joypad and looks nearly identical to the other controller. I bet a lot of you wouldn’t even have noticed the difference. This is the Atari Jaguar controller that has the black Pause and Option buttons, and the black buttons for the numerical keypad.
Thing is, the directional pad feels completely different than the D-pad on the pack-in controller. This one is very sharp. It’s very noisy, it has a “pop” to it, and it’s very hard to get any kind of smooth control to it. It just feels cheap. It feels cheap for some reason. The cord is very thin. My original cord is very thick. It just has a different feel to it.
The good controller that came with the Jaguar is one of the early ones, it has a robust feel to it, and then I guess for a cost-saving measure maybe they went to some cheaper materials. For the most part, the original pack-in controller is my go-to controller. I always use this one. I don’t know why I was using the other one with the black buttons. I think I was just trying something different, and lo and behold, there’s something to be said about the original controller’s D-pad.
“It’s interesting that the people who get off mocking Jaguar are the same ’90s kids who never had one. It’s almost like they felt left out and still feel bitter that other people had a lot of fun playing something they didn’t have.”
Well I gotta say that I really enjoyed Cybermorph. I enjoyed the gameplay. I enjoyed that it was different. You know, it was a different kind of a game.
Let’s get this straight: This “Cybermorph vs. Star Fox” debate… it’s not a debate. It can’t be a debate. What it is, is lazy video game journalism.
These are two totally different games. Star Fox is on rails, and it happens to be a grey triangle-shaped space ship. Cybermorph is an adventure game, you can go anywhere and do anything within the confines of this grey polygon space ship.
The mechanics for either game are completely different. Sure, you shoot and you blow up ships. But guess what, I would say that Space Harrier has more in common with Star Fox than Star Fox has with Cybermorph. You understand? They’re both on rails. You fight a boss at the end. And you can fly your ship around those rails. That’s Star Fox, and that’s also 1985’s Space Harrier. So check that out, do some research.
Cybermorph is it’s own beast. It’s its own thing. We could not have games like Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and Mario 64 without games like Cybermorph.
You have to start somewhere.
In this time period in video games (1993) I believe that a lot of video game designers really didn’t worry about game mechanics so much as much as they did “how many polygons can we push, how could we round these polygons off, and how could we make this 3-D world possible?” The game play at that time really took a nose dive. But they had to do that. They had to start there. And then you start to get games later on where you see fully-realized 3-D worlds in early PlayStation and Nintendo 64 games.
You could see how going from 16-Bit 2-D games into a 3-D open landscape like Cybermorph would be really, really attractive to an older gamer who was done with Mario, who was done with Sonic. He wants something a little bit edgy. You know, Jaguar’s marketing was all very very edgy, and you get a game like Cybermorph. And you look at it in the magazine and you go “You know what, this is sexy. I don’t want this kid’s stuff anymore. I want something new.“
“Cybermorph was like Combat on the 2600. These pack-ins were the first of their kind and were often the first games we played on these systems. They taught us the basic rules for moving around these little worlds and were gateways to greater things.”
I think this was a pretty good pack-in. Is Cybermorph perfect? It’s not a perfect game. But you know what? It’s not trash either. It’s a pretty good game. I am very surprised with it. In fact, I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t get it as a pack-in back in the day. Because it would have been great for me to get Battlemorph later on and go “You know what, wow, what a step up this game was.”
Well I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Jag Bar. I enjoyed playing Cybermorph with you! I enjoyed sharing that recipe with you on the homemade Kahlua. Because you are going to need it when you make your Atari Twist this holiday season!
So get out there, get in the kitchen, start making a mess, and get in the game room and start playing some Cybermorph. Give it another chance. Don’t listen to what these other guys are saying about how bad this game is. It’s not a perfect game, but you know what, it’s darn fun and I have enjoyed playing it.
If you liked this show you might like the show I do for the Atari Lynx. It’s called the Lynx Lounge. There’s also 7800 Avenue, which is a new show that we’re rolling out. And we are just going to tear through the 7800 library. We’re going to invite friends over, and we’re going to share with them that amazing system that really never got a chance. We are going to give it another chance here, we’re going to play some amazing Atari games, and we are going to celebrate this American company who started it all.
Cheers! Have a great Christmas! I hope you guys get some great gifts. I hope there are some amazing pack-ins as well, and I will see you on the next episode.
Cybermorph was designed for Atari at Attention to Detail by Fred Gill and Brian Pollock. Graphics by Chris Gibbs, Ian Harling, and BJ West. Sound by Andrew Holtom, Dave Lowe, and Ted Tahquechi. Level Design and Game Testing by Shimmy Brandes, Tom Gillen, Hans Jacobsen, Andrew Keim, Sean Patten, Joe Sousa, Ted Tahquechi, and Faran Thomason. Produced by John Skruch and Sean Patten. Documentation by Sean Patten and Hans Jacobsen.
Brian Thomas Barnhart is a classic gaming aficionado, retro pop culture connoisseur, and a Senior Fellow at Atari I/O. He is host of The Jag Bar, Lynx Lounge, 7800 Avenue, and the Atari I/O After Hours Podcast. Brian is a Moderator in the Atari I/O Forums under the name btbfilms76. You can follow him on Instagram and at his YouTube channel.
model # J9000E