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Justin

How I Got My First Comlynx Cable at Toys R Us

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This is the Comlynx Cable I bought on a trip to Toys R Us with my family late one Friday night after school in the Fall of 1993. It was my first Lynx purchase and one of the first things I ever bought as a retrogamer.

I had this tradition: Whenever I was super excited to get a new video game system, I would start my collection with something very small. Maybe an inexpensive game, or an accessory on clearance. That way, at least I’d have a little something to bring home and start my Lynx collection. It was something to pick up and look at a million times while I mowed lawns and saved up all summer to buy an Atari Lynx system and a few good games.

I was 11 or 12 years old and it was my way of planting my flag in the ground and declaring “Hey everybody, this is the next frontier of my collection and YES I’m going to do this!” It was no easy task to save up $200-$300 when you’re a kid and this was my way of getting amped up and committing to saving up for a big purchase! I was planting the seeds of my collection.

I bought this Comlynx Cable for $9 on that first night. The following Friday I returned to Toys R Us and bought a Lynx Sun Visor ($3) Lynx Pouch ($9) and Lynx Battery Pack ($14). I came home and placed everything on my shelf next to my Atari 2600 and 7800 collection - in a new “Lynx corner”.

26 Years later I still have this little Comlynx Cable, I just posted this on our Atari I/O Instagram account and I’m excited to be able to share this with you. My Comlynx Cable is like the $1 bill they have taped on the wall at every Chinese restaurant, it’s only a dollar but it’s the first dollar they ever made.

I was just beginning my journey as a retrogamer, and trips to Toys R Us were the epicenter of my classic gaming passion. It was 1993, the 16-Bit console wars were raging and I was just waking up to the realization of “wait, hold up.. whatever happened to Atari?” Atari used to be everywhere… and somehow now it was gone entirely, with the exception of a few Lynx items in Toys R Us.

I started visiting Toys R Us to see what Atari stuff I could find. After all, I hadn’t really looked for Atari stuff in a number of years, maybe I had missed something? By this time, there was nothing to be found of Atari 2600, 5200 or 7800 items. I found out later that whatever was left had all been clearanced out to make room on the shelf for Super Nintendo. The only classic Atari items I could find were off-brand “Gemeni” joysticks and paddle controllers, and an older-style TV switch box.

Toys R Us still had Atari Lynx though, and that was enough. At the time, the bright colorful graphics and sound seemed amazing compared to Game Boy. I always found myself drawn to the niche video game stuff in Toys R Us, the Lynx stuff and the TurboGrafx stuff that was sooo good, but unloved and about to go on clearance.

The Comlynx Cable was a multiplayer cable that let up to 8 Lynx units chain together for multiplayer games. Comlynx was originally developed to run over infrared links but was changed to a cable-based networking system before the final release. When players walked through the beam, the link would be interrupted. Todd's Adventures in Slime World was the first recordable 8-Player co-op game, and the only 8-Player game for the Atari Lynx.

 

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1993.  Wasn't Lynx retired in 1991?  If my memory serves me well, and Lynx was ceased in 1991, then it was luck to find anything Lynx in any store.  I found mine in Game X Change headquarters.  Traded off some stuff for a new one with a padded case and a couple of games.  Joust and APB.  I later went back and got the power supply after experiencing a battery hungry system.  It was the Lynx II.  Box said it had a free game inside but game to be found.  Game X Change manager said that was how they got them.  None of the new units had their pack-in game.  Which was fine with me since I already had Chip's Challenge on PC and found it rather boring.

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1994 is when I began to see Lynx start to leave Toys R Us in my area. That was also the time I saw Atari start to up their game with sending me cool mail order stuff for Lynx. There were still a few more Lynx games coming out around that time, and I remember Atari promoting Super Asteroids and Missile Command when it was released in 1995.

Also I remember the "relaunch" with Lynx II being promoted quite well (by Atari standards) in late 1991 through Christmas 1992. I remember seeing lots of advertisements for Lynx at it's new low price of $99 with Batman. Toys R Us had ads for it and had it on display, and I remember seeing it featured fairly prominently in catalogs/stores like the Sears Catalog / Wishbook, Montgomery Wards and Service Merchandise up through Christmas 1992. It was the later half of 1993 when Lynx began to wane and 1994 when I saw it leave most stores.

1 hour ago, kamakazi20012 said:

I already had Chip's Challenge on PC and found it rather boring.

That's a shame! Chip's Challenge is probably my favorite game for Atari Lynx aside from California Games. It's a great puzzle game. I hope you'll give it another try.

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18 minutes ago, RickR said:

I love your story.  It takes a pretty forward-thinking kid to go with your plan of buying a few small accessories first, then setting the goal of the console for later. 

Thanks Rick! It all started with getting R.C. Pro-Am for NES in 1989 before I bought an NES. My family was moving from Michigan to Florida, and I was still a kid. In preparation for the big move we had a 2-day garage sale one weekend where I sold a lot of old toys that I had outgrown. I forget how this came about, but part of the big move was that I would be able to buy an NES with some of the proceeds I had made from the garage sale. It was the NES Power Set bundle that came with the Power Pad, NES, Light Gun, and 3-in-1 Cartridge with Super Mario Bros / Duck Hunt / World Class Track Meet. I wouldn't be able to get the Nintendo until AFTER we moved into our new home though. I think it was like a little reward / consolation prize for changing schools, moving away from my friends and everything that I had known. I really wanted an NES at this time. I had been "big man on campus" with my fancy Atari 7800 all through Kindergarten and 1st grade. Then I played NES at my friends' house and it was so much fun. I really wanted R.C. Pro-Am, The Adventures of LOLO, and of course Super Mario Bros. Excitebike, Super Mario Bros. 2, The Legend of Zelda, and Hogan's Alley were all on my list.

After the garage sale, but before the move, I was super excited for the NES. I was able to take some of my garage sale money and take a little trip out to Toys R Us to buy R.C. Pro-Am. I remember bringing it home for the first time, opening up the box and being so impressed by that high-tech looking NES cartridge. It seemed so much more substantial than an Atari cartridge. It felt serious. And it had that golden Nintendo Seal Of Quality! I thought that was so cool. It would be about another month before I'd be in the new house and able to finally get my NES and hook it up to the TV. I remember when I did how exciting that was! Starting with R.C. Pro-Am I always wound up getting a game or accessory to start with first, and then saving up for the real deal.

Unfortunately we had this idea in my family that you only needed one game system (I mean why would you need two? That's like having two VCRs.) and this garage sale involved me selling my first Atari 7800 and all of its games to my cousin Jason for $20. That was something I came to regret by 1993 and ever since.

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