Author Topic: The Atari Panther  (Read 11242 times)

Offline TL

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The Atari Panther
« on: May 30, 2013, 21:42:16 PM »

The Atari Panther is a cancelled 32-bit video game console from Atari Corporation that was going to be the successor to the Atari 7800 and the Atari XEGS. It was developed by the same ex-Sinclair team, Flare Technology, who were previously responsible for the Flare One and the Konix Multisystem. It was planned to be a combination of the Atari ST and the Atari Transputer Workstation Blossom video hardware.

Work for the console started in 1988 along with the 64-bit Jaguar project (which was expected to appear two years after the Panther). The Panther was scheduled to be released in 1991, directly competing with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. However Atari abandoned the project, as work on the Jaguar project was progressing quickly and presented a far more impressive technology. The cancellation meant that Atari had no hardware presence in the home console market between the discontinuation of the Atari 7800 on January 1, 1992 and the launch of the Atari Jaguar in November 1993, which is believed to have weakened the brand and likely contributed to the failure of the latter.

Source:  Wikipedia


Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2013, 23:49:11 PM »
Managed to read text (had to fire up PS3, hope it'd connect to BT hub and then wait ages for it to load the page, lol-then copy images to HDD and read).

Good piece, not as much info as some articles i have read, but countered that with a lot more screens.

As impressive as the specs sounded on paper? i think we'd have been in same areas we found ourselves in with 3DO/Jaguar/PS2 etc.Reality very different in terms of what would have been possible, games wise.That 32KB of RAM alone seems very measly and bound to have been a real nightmare, sure developers would have been very vocal about that.

A.T.D's track history i've mentioned on here numerous times, initally crowing about how they'd done the de-bugging for the Jaguar, suggested improvements etc, then in later interviews slagging Jaguar hardware off for being bugged etc.


Don't think ATARI had the funds nor realationships with 3rd parties to really get the system the support it would have needed.Pitfighter VS MK's, Eternal Champions, Street fighter 2 etc etc on other 16 Bits? Raiden, which probably had to keep aspect ratio of arcade, hence border on side, was avaiable on other 16 Bit systems, llamazap-niche market (sadly), Cybermorph VS Starfox, Crescent Galaxy VS Thunderforce 3+4 etc?.

ATARI just would'nt have been able to compete, software wise.Nintendo had things so tightly sewn up, along with SEGA having it's arcade conversions and decent software support from European developers.

Offline Cryptic33

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2013, 11:20:24 AM »
Rouge makes some interesting points and I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of how consoles are developed. I simply play the odd game and enjoy something Atari did well, they could create atmosphere, intrigue and a sense of something potentially being bigger than it is (not to be confused with over-hype). I guess, I love an under-dog and the potential in the Jaguar was immense considering it was two years ahead of the PS1. Given that, its replacement - the Panther, was forward thinking and subject now, to huge speculation but, I will always maintain that had Atari the company, been run properly, we would now be talking about the successor to the Panther. Still, I am grateful for the contribution Laird is making in keeping the dream alive. Long live the cats!
For the record, Alien verses Predator on the Atari Jaguar holds a Guinness World Record!



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Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 12:48:37 PM »
At the time, reading in Zero magazine about the Panther console, i honestly thought it sounded amazing, the tech specs seemed to beat the SNES etc hands down and it sounded like ATARI were damn serious about getting 1 over on Sega and Nintendo.

Next time i encountered the Panther was in a feature done by The One magazine, again, talk of what the hardware could do, the tech.demo's running etc, it all sounded like some uber powerful piece of hardware and if this baby was canned in favour of the Jaguar? then man Jaguar must be something special.Long story short, bought Jaguar on day 1, no regrets.AVP, Tempest 2000, Doom, Iron Solider, Wolfenstien etc etc all made it a worthy purchase.

However, when i look at things like the Panther or the Konix multi-system, it's through eyes that were also aware of the hype surrounding the 3DO, the Jaguar, the PS2 etc and i just have to cut through the on-paper tech specs or demos etc etc as they really are meaningless in terms of what could be done in terms of honest to god, software.

The PS2 alone was hit hard by lack of Ram, been an issue for 3rd parties on PS3 as well and given how the relationship between ATARI and publishers and developers was back then, i just cannot see it getting more than token support, let alone developers willing to find work arounds on the system, to play to it's strengths.

Nature of the industry sadly, seen it on DC, with PSone games ported over, just running in higher res, better frame rate, on Xbox with no real effort to use the HDD and now Wii u still suffering a lot of inferior ports.

Fact is anyone entering the console market back then would have had an utter mountain to climb, support wise.Nintendo had got so many developers tied to them alone, Sega mopped up the cream of the European developers, plus had it's arcade side to call apon, plus E.A were huge supporters.

Sure, Panther would probably had a lot of lush looking Amiga ports (same could be said of Konix), but things like shadow Of The Beast were ported to so many formats, Panther would really have needed a host of killer exclusives to stand out from the MD/PC Engine/SNES etc, i just could'nt see ATARI pulling it off.

Lynx was starved of the games it so deserved, Jaguar the same, too many people just coded to the 6800 and made sure games ran in 256 colours.History shown how ATARI consoles were treated by publishers and handled by ATARI.

Panther would probably have joined NUON as a brave venture, that was just never going to come off.

Offline TL

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2013, 17:54:07 PM »
Quote from: "Cryptic33"
Rouge makes some interesting points and I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of how consoles are developed. I simply play the odd game and enjoy something Atari did well, they could create atmosphere, intrigue and a sense of something potentially being bigger than it is (not to be confused with over-hype). I guess, I love an under-dog and the potential in the Jaguar was immense considering it was two years ahead of the PS1. Given that, its replacement - the Panther, was forward thinking and subject now, to huge speculation but, I will always maintain that had Atari the company, been run properly, we would now be talking about the successor to the Panther. Still, I am grateful for the contribution Laird is making in keeping the dream alive. Long live the cats!

The Panther was supposed to come out 2 years before the Jaguar, it was the predecessor and not the replacement for it - that was the unreleased Jaguar 2.

But glad you liked the article anyway  :113:

I still think they should have gone with the Panther as at that time the ST was still very popular, the Lynx was at it's height of popularity and thanks to the 68000 in it porting games across to it would have been every easy. Also, given Atari's mantra of "Power Without The Price", it probably would have been priced very competitively too.

Offline TL

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2013, 17:56:55 PM »
Quote from: "Rogue Trooper"
Managed to read text (had to fire up PS3, hope it'd connect to BT hub and then wait ages for it to load the page, lol-then copy images to HDD and read).

Good piece, not as much info as some articles i have read, but countered that with a lot more screens.

Hmmm, you think? I included info there that I have never seen in print before and I know for a fact that screenshot of the Atari Panther version of Cybermorph has never been shown before!

I Have the article from The One somewhere so I will post it up.

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2013, 18:53:04 PM »
Never before seen the Panther Cybermorph screen shot, plus was'nt aware of the Blossom connection, but rest i'd read in articles like The One's and things online.

Not knocking the article, just saying it was a good mix of text+screenshots.

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2013, 19:00:15 PM »
Quote from: "The Laird"
Quote from: "Cryptic33"
Rouge makes some interesting points and I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of how consoles are developed. I simply play the odd game and enjoy something Atari did well, they could create atmosphere, intrigue and a sense of something potentially being bigger than it is (not to be confused with over-hype). I guess, I love an under-dog and the potential in the Jaguar was immense considering it was two years ahead of the PS1. Given that, its replacement - the Panther, was forward thinking and subject now, to huge speculation but, I will always maintain that had Atari the company, been run properly, we would now be talking about the successor to the Panther. Still, I am grateful for the contribution Laird is making in keeping the dream alive. Long live the cats!

The Panther was supposed to come out 2 years before the Jaguar, it was the predecessor and not the replacement for it - that was the unreleased Jaguar 2.

But glad you liked the article anyway  :113:

I still think they should have gone with the Panther as at that time the ST was still very popular, the Lynx was at it's height of popularity and thanks to the 68000 in it porting games across to it would have been every easy. Also, given Atari's mantra of "Power Without The Price", it probably would have been priced very competitively too.

I still wish ATARI had released the ST CD drive, lol.

Not in favour of ports from ST/Amiga to Panther to be honest, unless they are part of a much wider range of games.the Panther would have needed a lot more than just ports, as MD/SNES getting enhanced Amiga ports as was, i.e MD Gods, 64 Colours, ran faster etc.

Danger with ports is that would be all publishers saw the Panther good for, so you'd end up in similar situ.as what befell the Jaguar, SNES ports in 256 colours etc and so few developers bothering to code for the potential of the platform.

Offline TL

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2013, 19:04:18 PM »
No doubt its best games would have been Atari/Tengen arcade conversions.

It could have had arcade perfect ports of stuff like Race Drivin', Road Riot, Steel Talons, Guardians Of The Hood, Pit-Fighter, STUN Runner and Xybots.

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2013, 19:24:33 PM »
Quote from: "The Laird"
No doubt its best games would have been Atari/Tengen arcade conversions.

It could have had arcade perfect ports of stuff like Race Drivin', Road Riot, Steel Talons, Guardians Of The Hood, Pit-Fighter, STUN Runner and Xybots.

Totally agree, however as we've been discussing how the technically stunning version of Stun Runner (no pun intended) fared at review in some areas of the press on Lynx, it was'nt the technical aspects that reviewers felt let down by, by fact game lacked depth.Steel Talons, again, lot of versions, Lynx version superb, Xybots-Not sure how ST/Amiga versions fared, think they went down well, so is there not a risk UK reviewers might take a stance similar to 1 we often see in Lynx reviews where older arcade games marked down (unfairly!) just because they are viewed as yesterdays news?

Offline dougtitchmarsh

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2013, 20:36:28 PM »
Great piece Laird, sounds like it might have been a contender at the time. I enjoy reading about this stuff which never made it out into the wild, it's interesting to think about what could have been.
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Offline AmigaJay

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2013, 20:55:29 PM »
Thanks for sharing your work Laird, a nice piece, loving that Cybermorph pic! love reading about unreleased hardware and think back to 'what if'.
Again Flare proved they were one step ahead of any Japanese or American company, and if they got the Panther out in 89 or 90 who knows what could have happened, things weren't as black or white back then, it only took one great launch to get back in the game....saying that though, I don't think Atari had the resources or the ambition todo either the Panther or Jaguar justice imho.
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Offline TL

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2013, 20:59:57 PM »
Quote from: "AmigaJay"
Thanks for sharing your work Laird, a nice piece, loving that Cybermorph pic! love reading about unreleased hardware and think back to 'what if'.
Again Flare proved they were one step ahead of any Japanese or American company, and if they got the Panther out in 89 or 90 who knows what could have happened, things weren't as black or white back then, it only took one great launch to get back in the game....saying that though, I don't think Atari had the resources or the ambition todo either the Panther or Jaguar justice imho.

The Panther was mostly Atari's design, it was basically trying to be a console version of the Lynx. Flare were just called in to give them a hand with the design and then they persuaded Atari to scrap it in favour of the Jaguar.

Offline AmigaJay

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2013, 21:14:47 PM »
What was the rough timeline of events?

1988 - started development of Panther
1989/90/91? Panther scrapped as Jaguar dev is further ahead?
1993 - Jaguar released
1992/3 Jag 2 dev started? By who Flare, Atari?
1995/6? - Jag 2 canned?
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Offline TL

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Re: The Atari Panther
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2013, 21:22:11 PM »
Quote from: "AmigaJay"
What was the rough timeline of events?

1988 - started development of Panther
1989/90/91? Panther scrapped as Jaguar dev is further ahead?
1993 - Jaguar released
1992/3 Jag 2 dev started? By who Flare, Atari?
1995/6? - Jag 2 canned?

Yes pretty much:

1988 - Panther / Blossom project started
1990 - Jaguar development started as the Flare 2
1991 - Panther cancelled in favour of the Jaguar
1993 - Jaguar released
1994 - Jaguar 2 development started by Flare (codenamed Midsummer)
1995 - Jaguar CD released
1996 - Jaguar 2 canned