Atari Lynx: The Games That Never Were

The Atari Lynx was and still is a great handheld. Imagine if Atari had McWill’s LCD mod back then, they may have given the Sega Game Gear and possibly the Game Boy a run for their money (Ed: OK, perhaps not the Game Boy)!

If you were into arcade style games, then the Atari Lynx was your platform of choice. With games like Double Dragon, Klax, A.P.B., Battlezone 2000, Rygar, Hard Drivin’, Joust, Xybots, Paperboy and the awesome Rampage, Robotron and S.T.U.N. Runner, the Lynx was not short on quality action titles. Actually, we could have added a laundry list of other games, but we thought you’d get the picture with a subset of titles.

During the commercial lifespan of the Atari Lynx, there were a roster of big name titles that never saw the light of day. We could only imagine the impact these games may have had on the commercial viability of the Lynx! Just in case you were wondering, here are a few of the cancelled games from 1992 that we reckon could have catapulted the Lynx on the path to success:

Rolling Thunder

Vindicators

Geoduel

720°

Cabal

There were quite a few other cancelled games, but we thought we’d limit the list to ensure that we didn’t enrage you all. Actually, quite a few cancelled games did make it out when Hasbro, the owners of the Atari properties at the time, released the rights to develop for the system to the public domain, but that was well after the Lynx was considered dead (Ed: we did appreciate Alien vs Predator and Raiden)!

Ah, the beautiful Lynx, if only you were given a proper and fair chance by your creator!

 

Operation: Atari Lynx LCD Mod

Should we allow our retro gaming gear to age gracefully, or do we do what everyone does in Hollywood, go under the surgeon’s scalpel in the hope of looking better? In this instance, having an Atari Lynx II upgraded with McWill’s LCD modification (with VGA out) was an easy choice. This surgical transplant was well worth sacrificing one Atari Lynx II out of the many sitting there to be used at ComLynx parties. The only difference being, I would have the best looking screen at the next meet *wink*

In its original form, the Lynx II’s screen isn’t the best, you are constantly angle it or mucking around with the contrast to get that perfect view. With the new LCD, that is all gone! No more mucking around with the contrast knob, and you certainly do not have to angle the Lynx II to get a better vantage point. The new screen is super sharp, able to be viewed clearly at 180 degrees! Not only that, you can also play your Lynx II on the big screen via the VGA out interface! Cor blimey!

Just like any delicate surgical procedure, I left this modification to the expertise of Dr Curlytek. With precision, Dr Curlytek was able to salvage the old screen (to be used as a spare part if need be!) and install the new one without a hitch. The mod isn’t as straight forward as the instructions lead you to believe, so it is best left for those that have steady hands and exquisite soldering skills. So was it all worth it? A photo comparison can’t do the new screen any justice – you have to see it in real life to get an appreciation of its sharpness and vividness! Imagine if Atari had installed these screens originally? Perhaps they would have sold more Lynxes!

A huge thank you to Serblander for sourcing the LCD kit and to the surgeon himself, Stacey “Dr Curlytek” Borg for his exceptional skill in transplanting the new screen into the Atari Lynx II.

The surgeon prepares!
LCD_1_DrC_transplant

Open that sucker!
LCD_4_prep

The Lynx II opened up
LCD_3a_opening_her_up

Out with the old (screen)!
LCD_5a_remove_of_the_old

The new screen awaits its new host
LCD_2_newLCD

The Lynx II patiently waits for its new internal organ
LCD_7_Lynx_waiting_for_new_screen

Read the instructions twice and perform surgery once – great plan!
LCD_8_the_hard_part

The delicate work continues
LCD_6_delicate_op

Additional body part for the Lynx II
LCD_8a_VGA_wiring

The Atari Lynx II in post-operation recovery
LCD_9_done_in_recovery_room

The screen test begins! Wow, looking super sharp!
LCD_11_crystal_clear

Testing the VGA output! Looking good.
LCD_10_VGA_test

Let the Lynx II screen battle begin!
Lynx_war

And the winner is……. Ah, it’s an easy choice
Lynx_head_to_head

Atari Lynx Heaven at Retro Tuesday

Lynx_0_TitleOn a cold and miserable night in Melbourne earlier this week, eight hardened retro gamers converged on Wadham House for the monthly Retro Tuesday meet.

Serblander, of Weird and Retro fame, convinced the organisers to make the meet all about Atari‘s little feline, the Lynx. With all members contributing their Lynx wares, there was ComLynx action aplenty. Checkered Flag provided some friendly rivalry (Ed: and some very colourful language!), while Dr C. stamped his dominance, yet again, on the 8-Player Slime World.

The night wasn’t just for great gaming fun (which it was!), the display that Weird and Retro had put together for the Lynx was a great homage to the Atari handheld! Check out the pics and drool over that store stand and all those different Lynx boxes!

As usual, it was difficult to leave my Lynx friends, but good things must always come to an end. After leaving the Retro Tuesday meet, I was informed that a new California Games BMX bandit was crowned – well done & congrats to Serby!

Thank you to: Aleks, Stacey, Jerry, Pedro, Callum, Paul and Mal for an awesome night of Lynx action! Can’t wait to do it again!

The Great Wall Of Lynx
Lynx_12_boxes

The one and only, Atari Lynx
Lynx_13_stand

Badges of honour
Lynx_11_badges

The Games!
Lynx_4_Games

The Lynxes!
Lynx_1_stash

Travel in style, keep your Lynx in a pouch
Lynx_14_Pouches

Fan magz – Lynx User!
Lynx_3_Magz

Serby preparing the awesome Lynx stand!
Lynx_9_Serby_Prep

Jerry is the BMX bandit on the big screen!
Lynx_20_Jerry

Dr. C cautiously approaches the ledge! Double backflip coming up! 
Lynx_2_DrC

ComLynx gaming = heaps of fun!
Lynx_6_ComLynx_Games

Yours truly giving the thumbs up! Too bad my car was off the road!
Lynx_10_ThumbsUp

More Checkered Flag action coming up!
Lynx_5_ComLynxed

8P Slime World! Let the smack talk begin!
Lynx_7_SW_closeup

LCD comparison: Original vs McWill’s LCD modded (with VGA) Lynx II
Lynx_8_LCD_Compare

Atari Lynx: Case Closed

What does one do with an unused Atari 2600 4-switch plastic case? Well, to keep it in the Atari family, the plastic case gets transformed into secure storage for the Atari Lynx II and all of its peripherals and games! If you have this case and would like to do some DIY, read on…

What you need:
* Atari 2600 4-Switch plastic case
* Packing foam (from Clark Rubber)
* Chalk
* Bread knife

Here we go:

Clean that case! Use a wet sponge on this baby
AtariCase1

Open her up and measure the bottom of the case
AtariCase2

Slot the packing foam into the bottom of the case
AtariCase3

Lay the Lynx wares how you like
AtariCase5

This is the layout I like!
AtariCase6

Carefully trace around the items with chalk. Remove items and get carving with the bread knife!
AtariCase7

Ta da, finished! Yep, it was that easy
AtariCase8

Case (about to be) closed!
AtariCase_closed

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:
Comparison_1

Comparison_2_cart_slot

Comparison_3_top_view

Comparison_4_rear_lynx
Game Cards – Curled vs Flat:

AtariLynx_curl_v_flat

Awesomest Atari Lynx Games:
Atari_Lynx_best_games

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.

 

BNIB: Brand New In Box

BNIB

As a retro gamer, or more precisely, as a collector, do you struggle to open those vintage items you have hunted down that are brand new and shrink-wrapped as if they had left the factory yesterday and not years or decades ago?

I have that dilemma right now. Being a gamer first and foremost, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of playing a classic game, even if it means I have to rip it out of its brand-new-never-seen-the-light-of-day box.

You may be asking, did it hurt to bust open the packaging? On the contrary, it was refreshing to know that I was the first to open these packages that had been considered new since the 1990s. Actually, S.T.U.N. Runner was released in 1991, so I guess that makes it a 22 year old brand new game! Who keeps these items  for that long and never open them? Obviously I would make a mediocre collector. Game on and enjoy!

New_cutNew_StunNew_MC

 

Best-Selling Portable Video Game Systems Of All Time

GB    Lynx    Game Gear_1

In last week’s Best-Selling Video Game Consoles: 1972 to 2002 post, it was clear that Sony had taken the stranglehold in the consoles market in the mid 90’s. The portable games market is a different beast. From the early days of crude portability with the tabletops, to Gunpei Yokoi’s wondrous Game & Watch series, the pedigree of portable gaming had been set quite early. Once the Game Boy burst onto the scene (another Gunpei Yokoi creation), Nintendo knew they had a winner. Which portable systems gave the Game Boy a run for its money ? Look below, there should not be too many surprises.  [Read more…]