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Too Powerful For Its Own Good, Atari’s Lynx Remains A Favorite 25 Years Later


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#1 Zontar

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Posted 06 July 2014 - 10:34 PM

Hi guys, I just posted to the Blog about a great article I read on another site. It's by Jeremy Parish about the Atari Lynx, its impact in the portable wars and its legacy today. The article is very well written and touches on all things Atari after Warner Communications sold Atari to Jack Tramiel. I thought Jeremy Parish made a lot of good points and really understood what was going on at that time.

 

More on the Blog: http://www.atari.io/?p=1436

 

Zontar


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#2 Justin

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 11:43 PM

Interesting article Zontar, thanks for sharing! All these years later the Lynx is still my favorite handheld for all the right reasons.
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#3 DeLorean

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 07:31 PM

The article was a bit long but right on. Love the Lynx though.


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#4 The Professor

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 11:25 AM

The Lynx deserves a great deal more credit and more attention in the annals of history than it gets. Imagine if it would have had a larger library of games! Even the small library of games it has now are really good.

#5 Shark69

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 10:05 AM

really enjoyed this and the Lynx is still one of my go too handhelds when iam traveling !


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#6 Fire_In_The_Valley

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 09:26 PM

Me too. Love Road Blasters and The Gates of Zendocon. What are you playing on Lynx Shark69?


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#7 atarilbc

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 11:47 PM

Great blog post!

I'm just starting to refocus on the Lynx. I had one in the 90s and added it back into the collection last year. It was definitely full of potential and there are some great arcade ports: Joust, Roadblasters, XYBOTS, Pacland, Robotron and Klax come to mind. I love that it's relatively easy and inexpensive to collect for.

If you're looking for something interesting, I recommend a homebrew called Zaku from Super Fighter Team. Apparently it came out a few years ago but it's still available. It's a fantastic 16-bit shooter that easily matches any Atari era retail release. Check it out!
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#8 Fire_In_The_Valley

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Posted 13 October 2014 - 08:39 PM

Hey atarilbc, I just started playing Zaku and I agree that it's both interesting and well-made. It doesn't look like a home-brew effort and it has a better all-around feel than most games that were released on Lynx. I bought it thinking it would be a Sonic clone but it feels much more like Air Zonk mixed with a shump. I wish Zaku were more widely available.


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#9 atarilbc

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 11:28 AM

Hey atarilbc, I just started playing Zaku and I agree that it's both interesting and well-made. It doesn't look like a home-brew effort and it has a better all-around feel than most games that were released on Lynx. I bought it thinking it would be a Sonic clone but it feels much more like Air Zonk mixed with a shump. I wish Zaku were more widely available.


That's awesome! I'm glad that you like it. Zaku definitely has a tremendous amount of polish. There is an update on the publisher's website indicating that it is now sold out and that 600 copies were sold. Good Deal Games may still have copies. I hope that more Lynx owners are able to find it and give it a try.
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#10 Zontar

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 01:20 PM

I'm both happy and sad that Zaku sold out. Happy that people love it, sad that more people won't be able to get their hands on it. Here are two great videos that demonstrate what a great game Zaku is:

 

 


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#11 RetroTech

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 09:42 PM

Very good article. I've only experienced the Lynx in a limited way considering I only ever played it for a few months now since I got one recently. I picked it up for next to nothing with Warbirds, Rampage, and Viking Child. Warbirds is really good considering the hardware. I never realized how graphically powerful the Lynx was. The game has rendered polygons! I was blown way. Rampage is also pretty fun. Simplistic, but addictive and easy to pick up and play. Viking child is interesting, although I haven't played it much so I can't give an accurate opinion yet.

The lynx was not working at all when I got it, but luckily it was still fixable. A handful of capacitors, a few resistors, some wire, and some scrubbing/cleaning was all it needed! Works great now, and its all cleaned up and looks absolutely great.


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Edited by RetroTech, 27 October 2014 - 09:43 PM.

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#12 Lost Dragon

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 10:44 AM

I was 'late' getting into the Lynx, as at the time i opted for the Sega Game Gear as i was a Sega nut at the time, but once i got my 1st Lynx i was knocked for 6 and soon bought a 2nd to go with it (A Mk 2 to join the Mk1).

 

 

Things like APB, Blue Lightning, Toki, Ninja Gaiden, Crystal Mines, Rygar etc just like WOW.

 

 

Though despite being a technical achivement, i never thought Hard drivin' really 'worked' on the Lynx, small screen, plus game really designed with coin-op in mind....

 

 

 

I think 1 key mistake Atari made was to simply promise too much in terms of upcoming games...

 

 

Using (possibly fake?) screens of Cabal and Rolling Thunder (2 games that would of worked fantastically well on Lynx) did them no favours, Lynx needed a regular supply of Triple-A software, yet 3rd party support had seen the Lions share goto Nintendo, with Sega mopping up the rest.

 

 

 

I've seen the Magazine claims of Tiertex converting Strider 2, E-Motion, Italia'90, Leaderboard etc to the Lynx, Raze even claiming Lynx Strider 2 was 50% complete, but no-one i've spoken to from Tiertex can back up any of these claims and Strider 2 was hardly the game tosave the Lynx was it?.

 

 

Had things of been very different and Core Design NOT such a key Sega supporter at the time, i've always thought Lynx would of been an idea platform for them to develop on.They were one of the very few developers to use the Sega CD's custom hardware (Thunderhawk, BC Racers, SoulStar, Blast Corps etc).

 

 

 

And i'd of loved to have seen Lynx AVP finished and a Lynx/Jaguar AVP bundle put out (being as i'm such an Aliens nut).

 

 

Thing is though, having spoken to Ian Stewart at Gremlin Graphics as to why they never published anything after Switchblade II, message is very clear, Lynx games never sold in numbers needed to get the essential 3rd party support.

 

 

Also having spoken to ex-Epyx coders about UK Press claims of Lynx Cal Games 2 coming soon (utter cobblers by sounds of things) realationship between Epyx and Atari was so bad at that point, we were lucky to see what we did.

 

 

 

It always seems the way with Atari hardware (XEGS/7800/STE/Falcon/Lynx/Jaguar....) what could of been...rather than what was.

 

 

 

I am in awe of the new screen mods though..bloody'hell they are impressive.



#13 Bakerman

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Posted 22 November 2015 - 07:19 PM

While the Lynx has a bloody great list of games from beginning to end, my favorites for it are some of the "3D" games like  Warbirds, Road Riot 4WD, S.T.U.N Runner, Checkered Flag, Blue Lighting,  Steel Talons,  Battlezone 2000(especially the TRUE hidden easter-egg version) ,Battlewheels, Alien vs, Predator, Alpine Games, Hyperdrome, Hydra, and Songbird's Cybervirus, Remnant and the 2D overhead racer Championship Rally.

 

Probably because I didn't get a Lynx until after I had a Jaguar, and everyone, including me, wanted 3D at that time...in more recent years I have started enjoying a lot more of it's 2D library. But I gave my Lynx to my nephew with all my 30-40 games and the big softcase. I now have a Lynx 2 with a few games, but it's not working.

 

Everyone knows about Songbird Productions Lynx (and ahem, Jaguar) releases, right? And some of those titles were only prototypes (but finished) until B&C computervisions published their "chip on a PCB" versions.

 

Songbird productions: http://www.songbird-productions.com

B&C Computervisions: http://www.myatari.com

Good Deal Games (Alpine games and Avp, etc.): http://www.gooddealg...Atari Lynx.html

 

No other portable could dream of handling games like these until at least the Gameboy Advance, if not even later portables. Lynx was the most powerful portable system for a decade or more.


Edited by Bakerman, 22 November 2015 - 07:27 PM.

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#14 Video 61

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 11:00 PM

Everyone knows about Songbird Productions Lynx (and ahem, Jaguar) releases, right? And some of those titles were only prototypes (but finished) until B&C computervisions published their "chip on a PCB" versions.

 

we also carry lots of new releases for Lynx, including Songbird's Alpine Games, Loopz, Alien Vs. Predator demo, Daemons Gate, Centipede demo, and the Lynx Diagnostic Cart. I also support new releases for Atari 400/800/XL/XE, 2600, 7800, and Jaguar.

 

you can take a look at them on our New Releases page: http://members.tcq.n.../whatsnew.html 

 

Lynx is a powerful machine that never reached its full potential. this is a good article about the Lynx: http://www.usgamer.n...-25-years-later


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#15 Bakerman

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 11:20 PM

we also carry lots of new releases for Lynx, including Songbird's Alpine Games, Loopz, Alien Vs. Predator demo, Daemons Gate, Centipede demo, and the Lynx Diagnostic Cart. I also support new releases for Atari 400/800/XL/XE, 2600, 7800, and Jaguar.

 

you can take a look at them on our New Releases page: http://members.tcq.n.../whatsnew.html 

 

Lynx is a powerful machine that never reached its full potential. this is a good article about the Lynx: http://www.usgamer.n...-25-years-later

Yes, I knew that and forgot. Sorry I didn't remember to mention Video 61, I think I got some Lynx games from you like 15 years ago, didn't you, or don't you carry Road Riot 4WD for instance? I think that's one I got from you. Anyway, as soon as I get my Lynx fixed, I'll probably get some games from you, including Road Riot if you carry it, as I gave away on system to my nephew years ago, and sold another about 10 years ago, so I'm practically starting fresh. I think all I have at the moment is Steel Talons and Jimmy Connor's tennis and one or two other games.


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#16 Lost Dragon

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 11:43 AM

Looking through Chris Wilkins The History Of US Gold book, i read that Strider 2 performed badly on the formats it was released on (ST/Amiga/C64/console etc) so i diubt very much coding actually started on a Lynx version, after all IF you cannot sell the title on established formats with a massove instaled user base, your not going to tie-up valuable time and money developing for a system that's niche by comparison are you? Lynx version i suspect joins the SAM Coupe version as disscussed, but that was as far as it went.

 

I really do think Atari missed a trick by not getting games like Cabal on the console.Here in UK i saw respectable versions on the 8 Bit's, let alone the ST+Amiga, but an ST/Amiga port would of been lovely, if nothing else....

 

Ditto the conversion of Elite that apparently was put together, assumption is Atari did not want to pay to licensce game, but it would of been great, but they'd of had to of put a password save option in as game was a real time sink.

 

So much could of been done on the Lynx, so little actually was :(

 

Rainbow arts Teut Weidermann, then product development supremo, talking to ACE in Dec'89(whom i quoted earlier talking about the ST, where he was'nt a fan...)

 

'Provided the Atari Lynx is properly marketed, the Gameboy does'nt stand a chance.The Amercians want colour, and besides, the spec of the Lynx is absolutely incredible....The Atari machine is bigger than the Gameboy and Americans like things big'.



#17 Lost Dragon

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 11:31 AM

Been rabbiting on enough about UK Press coverage of the Jaguar, so only fair the Lynx gets a little mention.

You had likes of ACE, whom although they were Lynx fans (Robotron 2084 scored 837/1000 for example and they had early screens of Dracula, that were not used in the final game and often crop up in Lost Game posts/features, so there's at least 1 source of them)...they were not afraid to point out that it took more than technically stunning (no pun intended) conversions to impress them at review, cue

S.T.U.N Runner scoring megre 630/1000 at review.

#18 Lost Dragon

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 07:32 AM

Industry figures at the time were asked by The One Magazine how they thought the handheld war would pan out:

 
Peter Molyneux (Bullfrog) didn't think the GameBoy would be a winner, saying he only gave it a year, maybe 2, as it didn't matter how many people were developing games for it, punters could only buy so many and when developers realised they weren't selling titles, they'd pull out....
 
 
Eric Mattews (Bitmap Bros) said the Lynx was certainly no competition to the GB...
 
 
Sensible Software said the GB was like a ZX81 with buttons on and saw no future for the GB either....
 
 
 
Gary Liddon (Freelance coder) wasn't sure if the device would be a winner or bomb....
 
This was in December 1990.
 
There didn't appear to be a huge amount of faith for a handheld, even with Nintendo behind it..Andrew Braybrook (Graftgold) impressed, but no plans to develop on it himself, Special FX liked it, Ocean backing it...so it's little wonder the Lynx seemed to struggle to capture serious UK software support...


#19 Lost Dragon

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 09:46 AM

Looking at some of the comparison type vids on YT, where Lynx is put up agains't the Game Gear, i often wonder why, in the comments section, people need to goto quite such lengths to defend the Lynx hardware.

 

However you dress it up, the Lynx did have the lowest screen resolution out of Lynx, GB and Game Gear:160X102 on Lynx, 160x144 on Game Gear and 160x144 on Game Boy and that was noticable at the time, as was the limited number of colours on-screen, compared to the Game Gears, 16 on Lynx..32 on Game Gear.

 

 

So, to 'counter' the colour limitations, the fact the Lynx could do colour palette changes on each new scanline, is (rightfully) brought up, games like awesome Golf i belive have 40 colours on title screen, Roadblasters uses something like 24 colours on-screen in-game, Lemmings, Shadow Of The Beast, Alpine games, maybe more also have more than 16 colours in-game, but it never seems to be made clear Palette Swapping was a very, very common practice on all manner of hardware and not Lynx Specific.

 

 

Things like the Sonic Games and Gunstar Heroes on the Game gear use it, MS Space Harrier etc

 

 

And if you want to talk really primitive hardware in comparison to the Lynx, try the likes of the Acorn Electron and BBC 8 bit Miro's...

 

 

Electron games like:Way Of The Exploding Fist, Spy Vs Spy, Jet Set Willy, Thai Boxing use the method...

 

 

Yie ar Kung Fu on BBC another.

 

 

Details on Electron Spy Vs Spy from coder HERE:

 

 

http://acornelectron...rts/a-spyv.html

 

 

So i personally don't feel it took until the GBA until Lynx was out done, hardware wise in key areas.

 

It was already at lowest end of resolution, colours on screen, something the later GBC took even further, 56 colours on-screen from 32, 786 Palette....

 

 

 

Clever coding allowed for High Colour Mode so 2,000 colours in titles like The Fish Files, The New Adams Family Series, Alone In The Dark:New Nightmare, plus unreleased Jim Bagley/Software Creations Clay Pigeon tech demo for Nintendo.

 

 

So why not focus on the games it simply did bloody well, that shamed the ST/Amiga equivalents?

 

 

Stun Runner might of used Sprites, not polygon 3D but captured the spirt and feel of the coin-op to perfection, Lynx SOTB shames the ST version.

 

 

Amiga/ST Pac-Land very dissapointing, Lynx version..superb

 

Pitfighter on Lynx shames SNES Pitfighter even more...and ST/Amiga versions it seems simply replicate the sprite scaling in software.

 

Blue Lightning on Lynx Vs (Pal) Afterburner on ST/Amiga..no comparison.

 

 

Plus Lynx at least had versions of things like Rygar, APB etc which never arrived on Mega Drive...

 

 

But there's simply no escaping the fact other hardware ran at greater resolution and put more colours on screen, 2 issues that would of needed to of been altered for anyone wishing it had been turned into a home console, if if just via a docking station allowing for TV out.....

 

 

The other aspect:Lynx Lemmings..technically superb conversion, despite tinny sound/music but, but having game 'freeze' the action each/every time you needed to use an icon, the essential, frantic nature of the ST/Amiga/PC versions is sadly lost....

 

:(



#20 Lost Dragon

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 03:00 PM

Whilst i'm aware EGM and Atari had something of a...'history' shall we say? regarding the Lynx, things turning very sour it seems after Atari asked the for the hardware they'd lent EGM for review purposes/EGM thought was theirs to keep....

 

 

I'd not encountered that much of the Lynx hate, been more used to some ..curious UK reviews of Lynx titles like Rygar.

 

But i'm told EGM didn't exactly give it the smoothest of rides at review...i'm a big fan of more than 1 reviewer and i'd agree Rygar and many other Lynx titles (Dracula, SOTB etc) would of benifited greatly from a password scheme, as by the very nature of a handheld game, it's going to be pick up n play if your talking the true portable aspect...

 

So, ok the review had 3 reviewers, 2 scored it a 7, 1 a 5/10..that's no biggie.

 

I did find it 'odd' the Lynx game is hit for not being an original take on the coin-op, a la the NES game...Lynx was pretty much about delivering THE arcade game as close as possible, witness APB, Roadblasters, Robotron, Hard drivin, Stun Runner etc, even when hardware couldn't fully replicate the control scheme or in case of Stun Runner used sprites instead of polygons, it was done so the best use of the hardware was made to try and replicate the best it could....surely Rygar should of been judged on what it captured from the coin-op? not an approach which had been made on the NES?.

 

 

But, it's when Lynx Rygar is refered to as:

 

"Chunky and Junky...like ALL games on this Turd Handheld" in a Rygar feature, you know any credibility the magazine might of had is lost for all time.

 

Sweeping, childish statements like this, no matter if they are overly for or agains't a system, really have no place in supposed professional publications, be they European, USA or whatever based.

 

 

It simple playground talk, sadly i still see far too much of it from the UK side of things, usually over claiming on hardware or how an Atari version is like, the best when in fact it has it's own set of things it does far better than a rival system and things it falls down on and yes, the Lynx as i've made clear myself, suffered from the lowest resolution of all the handhelds at the time, but a professional magazine should explain this aspect in a professional manner.

 

 

I don't think i've read such a bizzare claim from them, since they said Pac-Land was a 'little known" Coin-Op and little known for good reason, i.e it was poor...

 

 

Over here in the UK, likes of Edge might well have mocked the Lynx in terms of it's commercial failure, but they've been open enough when covering arcade conversions to various home formats, to point out just how fantastic many of the conversions to Lynx were.

 

 

 

Case in point:Rampart which they said was: 2...So good, you should buy a Lynx just to play it."






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