Let’s be honest here. The world was not ready for the Atari Lynx. A 16-bit handheld console that launched in September 1989, the Lynx offered consumers everything from advanced graphics to a backlit screen and even an ambidextrous layout.
Not only that, it also happened to be one of the very first 16-bit gaming consoles to hit the market – and the very first 16-bit handheld besides.
Yes, the original Atari Lynx was truly ahead of its time. However, despite strong initial sales, it soon ran out of gas. Unable to compete in a market that included heavy hitters like the Nintendo Game Boy and SEGA Game Gear, Atari eventually decided to pull the plug after only a six-year shelf life and 73 games.
Despite that, the Lynx has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity among retro gamers over the last few years, leading many to discover just how revolutionary it was for the time.
Sure, it may have not been able to capture consumer attention like its competition, but that in no way makes it a bad bit of kit. In fact, this unique device should be looked at as somewhat of a Wunderkind – toting technological advancement and an impressive catalog of games pulled from the biggest genres of the day. With that said, here is a look at
The 10 Best Atari Lynx Games
Featuring strong graphics and smooth character animation, this fantastic update of the classic Midway arcade game once again sees players controlling several different monsters as they look to topple cities and crush any resistance that gets in the way.
George, Lizzy, and Ralph are all present and accounted for, this time joined by a giant rat named Larry, who was created to take full advantage of the Lynx’s four-player multiplayer system.
Retaining most of the elements from its cabinet-based counterpart, this is everything you loved about the original, only better!
Originally developed by DMA Designs, the goal of this puzzle game involves safely guiding groups of dimwitted lemmings to designated exits.
Throughout the game, you’ll give them direction and help them overcome many different obstacles. While the Lynx version can be slow at times, it features a number of fun innovations over its contemporaries – such as the very handy fast-forward option.
Add to that clean graphics and some strong in-game mechanics, and you’ve got a pretty impressive Lynx port of one of the best games to come out of the early 90s!
One of the deepest games for the Atari Lynx, Rampart is an RTS title that spotlights two different phases of play. First, you place blocks on an overhead map to make a castle.
Then, during the real-time battle sequences, you’ll use strategically placed cannons to take out invading armies that are looking to destroy said castle. Yes, I know. It sounds like some weird concoction made up of Columns and Cannon Fodder.
However, thanks to an intriguing learning curve and some alluring gameplay, this version of Rampart is just as good as its console counterparts – with the added bonus of portability. Plus, it predated Age Of Empires by almost seven years!
A Namco side-scroller that hoped to give everyone’s favorite cherry-chasing dot muncher a first step into a new genre.
Pac-Land features simple controls and cutesy characters that easily make it one of the most charming titles to grace the Lynx library. A delightfully fun pick up and play sort of deal bolstering some addictive gameplay and an appropriate level of difficulty,
Pac-Land may not have been able to reach the same level of stardom as Super Mario Bros., but it’s still a great little Pac-man platformer that successfully took the undisputed king of the arcade outside his comfort zone!
Robotron: 2084 (1991)
A pocket-sized port of one of the best arcade games of the 80s, Robotron: 2084 puts you in charge of saving the human race from waves of hostile robots.
A simple premise to be sure, but this action game was so absolutely bonkers back in the day that it required two joysticks to get the job done!
While it may not offer anything new over its predecessor, the Lynx version does benefit from the addition of both user-friendly controls and the convenience of on-the-go gaming.
Ninja Gaiden (1991)
Closer to the original classic arcade game, the Atari Lynx version of Ninja Gaiden combines swift skills with challenging combat and plays more like a pseudo-beat ‘em up than a traditional platformer.
That said, this one does follows in the footsteps of its console counterpart bimmersinges players in a thrilling adventure buoyed by impressive graphics, responsive controls, and a captivating story that pulls you in straight from the start.
At the same time, the dynamic gameplay coupled with numerous well-designed levels makes this one of the most rewarding experiences to be had on the handheld.
What would you get if you threw Half Life, Metroid, and Wolfenstein into a blender and hit Frappe? Xybots, of course!
Developed by NuFX and released by Atari subsidiary Tengen, this third-person shooter sees players taking control of Major Rock Hardy as he travels through a three-dimensional maze and battles a race of alien robots who are intent on destroying mankind. While it may not have reinvented the genre,
Xybots is still a lot of fun – especially when you link up with a buddy and tag team those unsuspecting automatons! Throw a few brewskis into the mix and you’ve got a pretty rad way to spend an afternoon.
Chip’s Challenge (1989)
Developed by Epyx, this top-down puzzler sees players guiding Chip McCallahan through a series of increasingly difficult mazes so he can gain access to the exclusive Bit Busters Club.
The gameplay involves using the D-Pad to move Chip around 148 two-dimensional levels to collect enough chips to open the socket at the end of each maze and move on.
Praised for its high-quality puzzles, this 16-bit brain buster provides hours of fun and is not to be overlooked!
A three-dimensional racer that serves as the absolute pinnacle of graphical prowess on the Lynx, RoadBlasters puts players behind the wheel of an armed sports car and tasks them with completing a number of different rally races before their fuel runs out.
Along the way, you’ll encounter both enemies and track hazards looking to slow you down. Fortunately, your rooftop cannon is primed and ready to atomize anything that gets in your way! Challenging and technically remarkable,
RoadBlasters pushes hardware limitations to the max with an end result that is simply top-tier – especially for an early 90s handheld game on the Atari Lynx!
S.T.U.N. Runner (1991)
Another late 80s arcade port, S.T.U.N. Runner is a 3D racing shoot ‘em up that sees you piloting a futuristic car capable of reaching speeds of up to 900mph!
A full-throttle thrill ride that once again looked to maximize the hardware capabilities of the Lynx, it feels very much like an early take on F-Zero and features loads of fun power-ups and slick driving mechanics certain to keep the adrenaline pumping straight through to the end! I love a good racing game, especially one that looks to put a fresh spin on the genre.
And, S.T.U.N. Runner does exactly that! This is the game that takes the checkered flag and is an absolute must-own for anyone looking to build out their Lynx library!