The Atari Lynx never got a fair chance with gamers. Released only a few months after Nintendo’s original Game Boy, it simply could not compete on the same level despite being the first handheld to offer a color LCD screen. That doesn’t mean that it was a complete loss. Over its six year lifespan, close to eighty titles were released in the US and UK, some of which were great titles. Evercade is bringing the Atari Lynx back to life with two multi-game cartridges. The Collection 1 cartridge is stacked with seventeen different titles. Collection 2 offers an additional eight titles. Both are worth owning for those who loved Lynx back in the day and those who never got to try the system out. Let’s look over the games included in the Atari Lynx Collection 1 cart.
When it comes to golf games, controls can make or break a great experience. Fortunately Awesome Golf provided a mix of simulation and fun to keep the game enjoyable. Players don’t directly aim their shot but instead angle left, right or center by timed button presses with an on-screen indicator. Once it’s time to put into the hole they get a new minigame to hopefully make it in under par.
Basketbrawl is an odd sports game. While it might seem at first like a one-versus-one basketball game, that’s not the case. As the name suggests, it includes a lot of “brawling.” At any time, players can punch or kick the opponent to steal the ball. There are even weapons strewn about the blacktop which you can use to cause extra damage. It’s a bit like Road Rash on a basketball court.
Crystal Mines II is a perfect type of game for a handheld such as the Lynx. It’s like Dig Dug or Boulder Dash, where players dig around on a 2D screen to collect items and avoid/kill enemies. Due to the small Lynx screen, stages scroll vertically to give each stage room to be unique. Each stage is relatively short, making this a perfect pick up and play game. It makes perfect sense why such a tremendously fun game was given center stage on the Atari Lynx Collection 1 box art.
Cybervirus is a real oddity on the Lynx. It’s a sci-fi first-person shooter that plays surprisingly well. Players are given a mission then thrown into a free-roaming environment. Because the field of view is rather tiny, there’s a sonar on the UI showcasing any nearby enemies. An additional helper is an on-screen arrow that shows where enemies are shooting you from. It’s a simplistic, but fun, shooter.
Handheld gaming systems are a great platform for many genres, but one that usually doesn’t get much attention are point-and-click adventures. Dracula: The Undead provides exactly that in a package that works. Based closely on Bram Stoker’s original novel, players assume the role of Jonathan. He’s controlled directly in a 2D perspective. When you need to perform an action, you swap to the action wheel to select “look,” “open” and perform other actions. It’s not as efficient as playing a point and click on PC, but is still totally functional.
Gordo 106 is a ’90s platformer with an environmental message. Players assume the role of a baseball hat-wearing monkey who escapes from an animal testing lab. Along the way, he frees other animals from their sad fate. The platformer is technically simple but fun in its simplicity. It’s unique to see levels based off locations such as a cosmetic testing lab.
Puzzle games are a great fit for portable handhelds. Ishido: The Way of Stones is a game where players set tiles on a 2D grid. To place a piece, it must match the color or design written on the piece. When placing a piece between two others, there must be a color and design match. It sounds simple, but quickly becomes complex as the board starts to fill up with distinct pieces.
Some of the easiest to pick up and play tennis games are one on handhelds or retro consoles. Jimmy Connors’ Tennis is a fun and easy way to get your tennis fix on the go. As with many games of the genre, you get a top down 2D view of the field and can serve, smash, and generally have a great volley against the computer opponents.
Loopz is a unique puzzler that is both fun and challenging to complete. Players are given pipes to lay on a 2D board. The goal is to make a fully-connected pipe that twists and turns successfully throughout the entire board. The pieces can be turned in four directions and the next piece is displayed in advance for preparation.
If tennis isn’t your style, maybe volleyball is instead. Despite the name Malibu Bikini Volleyball, most of the gameplay features men in swim trunks rather than bikinis. The gameplay is presented in a 2D side perspective. Tossing the volleyball for a few rounds is easy and an enjoyable way to spend a few minutes.
The MegaPak Vol. 1 is like many other multi carts that have come to consoles over the years. It features six different programs: Blackjack, ChopperX, High Roller, Parafly, Password, Lynx Sketch, Soundtool and Pontiac. The games are all simplistic. Lynx Sketch is a drawing tool and Soundtool lets you mess around with the Lynx’s sound chip. Pontiac is just a digitized photo of a Pontiac with rapidly flashing lights, which presumably was a developer in-joke.
Power Factor is a side-scrolling action game featuring vibrant, high quality pixel art which is some of the best on the Lynx. Players must explore levels to collect bomb parts. The hero wears a jetpack which allows you to hover over ledges. Just be sure to keep an eye on your fuel! Keeping an eye on the loadout makes Power Factor a challenging game to complete.
First-person shooters are odd on the Lynx, but Remnant: Planar Wars feels more at home thanks to being a spaceship-based shooter. Players sit in the cockpit and get a view of everything coming straight at the ship. Shoot down anything that crosses your path in order to survive in this game. It’s rather simple, but fun in an arcade way.
Scrapyard Dog is weird as far as the story goes. Our protagonist is simply playing with his dog in the junkyard when the dog is unceremoniously kidnapped. Thus begins our player’s journey as he platforms through levels. It’s a goofy 2D platformer with weird enemies like animals with hats and guns. It’s also tough until you learn the warps.
As the name suggests, Super Asteroids & Missile Command is a cartridge featuring two games. They’re enhanced versions of Asteroids and Missile Command, respectively. You choose one of the two from the main menu and then get right into playing. The games retain their original gameplay, just with more visual flair than the originals.
Super Skweek is an addictive little puzzle game. Players jump into the fuzzy shoes of “Skweek” and must walk over tiles to change their color. Once all the tiles are changed to one color, the stage is complete. There are tons of enemies and traps that make it tough to accomplish this goal. It’s great fun once you get the hang of it.
Xump was first released in 2005 before the developer went ahead with porting and upgrading it for Lynx. Xump: The Final Run is a top-down puzzle game. Players must travel along a tiled path. Each tile they step on will disappear once they step off. The challenge is traveling each path in its entirety without erasing your path to the exit.