Console/System of the Month (June 2017) – 8/16 Bit Handhelds – Atari Lynx

My second system of the month for June is the Atari Lynx. Released in 1989 as direct competition to Nintendo’s Gameboy, the Atari Lynx was originally developed by Epyx but due to financial hardships, Epyx needed a little more muscle and money to get their handheld off the ground and onto store shelves. Eventually, they agreed to partner with Atari, who by the late 80’s was struggling to stay relevant in the post crash video gaming environment. Epyx ultimately went bankrupt before the Lynx saw the light of day and Atari then owned the system outright. The Lynx had one leg up on the competition by offering full color graphics but the downsides were the size of the handheld, short battery life and lack of desirable 1st and 3rd party games.

I bought my Lynx sometime in the mid 2000’s as I wanted to own as many of the original handheld systems as I could. I currently own the slightly smaller model 2 Lynx which is still an enormous handheld. I’ve never seen a model 1 in person so I can only imagine how big that beast is. I also picked up 9 games with the system, several of them unopened and still in their original packaging. I left them sealed for almost 15 years before I finally opened them up this month for this review. The sealed games had not appreciated at all from a collector’s perspective and to this day I still see sealed Lynx games for sale on eBay. My guess is there is a surplus of NOS out there keeping preventing sealed games from being valuable to collectors. The overall lack of collectability for the Lynx has not helped in driving up the prices so for me it was worth opening them so I could finally play them.

The graphics on the Lynx are clear and offering color really makes the Gameboy look underpowered. In spite of the superior look of the system and games, I do understand why it ultimately failed. Like any console or system’s success, it’s all about the games. The Gameboy had Castlevania, Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Tetris. The Lynx had….California Games, Gates of Zendocon, and Blue Lightning. A clear choice for a new generation of gamers that had no affinity for the Atari of years past. From the cartridge perspective, I really do like the thin credit card style with the curved molded tops that assist in the inserting and removing of carts from the system. The model 2 system itself is ergonomically pleasing and easy to hold when playing. The button layout is unique as there are two separate on and off buttons on the face of the system instead of just a switch somewhere on the side. You can also flip the system upside down and it offers A and B buttons in either configuration if you’re a righty or a lefty. I am not overly familiar with the games that “defined” the Lynx so the only titles I currently own are the games that I’ve had since I bought the system. The intent of including the Lynx as one of my handheld systems of the month was to finally play the damn thing which I can honestly say I’ve done very little of in all the years I’ve owned it.

Currently in my collection:

  • Atari Lynx model 2 system w/ AC adapter in box

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