Celebrating the Atari Lynx

Atari_Lynx_piles_of_gamesIt may have started life on a napkin back in 1986, but it wasn’t officially released to the gaming public as the world’s first 16-bit colour handheld till October 1989 (Ed: the Atari Lynx was officially released on September 1 1989, but it wasn’t available for retail till October of that year). The Epyx Handy, which would eventually become the Atari Lynx, celebrates a significant milestone – it’s another year older and it is still kicking nostalgic goals!

The Atari Lynx may have been decimated in market share by the Game Boy juggernaut, but it’s place in history is undeniable. It didn’t bask in the same glory as Nintendo’s little pocket rocket, let’s face it, no other handhelds did, but with 16-bit colour graphics, support for hardware scaling, great arcade conversions and the ability to link up with friends, the Lynx was still a force to be reckoned with. With two system variants, the Lynx provided many hours of fun – as long as you were stocked to the teeth with AA batteries.

We wrote about the Lynx’s history (Ed: you can read that here), which in typical Atari fashion was quite colourful, with lots of twists and turns. This feature celebrates everything about the mighty 16-bit colour handheld – its hardware revisions, its awesomest games and some very interesting facts.

The Lynx was truly ahead of its time. Long live the Atari Lynx!

Hardware Comparison:
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Game Cards – Curled vs Flat:

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Awesomest Atari Lynx Games:
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Interesting Atari Lynx Facts:

  • It was initially going to be the Atari Portable Entertainment System. But once it was pointed out that the acronym would be APES, the name change was swift;
  • The Lynx was christened many names before Atari settled with the name we now know and love – it went from being the Epyx Handy, APES, Nuclear Toaster to finally, the Lynx;
  • The model name was chosen due to the system’s ability to link up with multiple machines. It wasn’t in reference to the big cat of the same name;
  • It was the first home system to support hardware scaling, just like After Burner and Pit Fighter in the arcades;
  • Mikey was the first sound chip in any console to provide specialist sampled sound support on all four channels;
  • Game cards could store up to a maximum of two megabytes;
  • The 8-bit CPU was paired with a 16-bit math co-processor – this took a lot of the cycle load off the CPU and allowed the Lynx to provide super fast game play;
  • It was the first colour LCD with a 16-bit graphics chip (Suzy) – providing 4,096 colours to choose from with a maximum of 16 per scanline.