The 5 best Atari Lynx games – too ahead of its time

The Atari Linx handheld console

A lot of retro games are created for specific consoles and are never released for other gaming systems. This is precisely why you need to keep an open mind, when considering buying old consoles. Sure, not all of them are created equal. Some might lack popularity others might not look good.

Still, you need to take into account the fact that the games these machines support have enormous potential. You would be amazed at how many terrific games have been forgotten simply because the console did not take off.

A couple of months ago, I showed you the 5 most underrated video game consoles, with the Atari Lynx coming in third place. Released in 1989, it was the first handheld 16-bit console that had remarkable graphics for the time. The design is kind of clunky, but it does not favor right or left-handed people, as it can be used effortlessly by both.

Some of the games can even be played vertically, which was never before seen. Now it is time to take a look at what this system had to offer.

Below are the 5 best Atari Lynx games:

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5. APB – All Points Bulletin – (developed by Quicksilver Software, published by Atari Corporation 1991)

APB - All Points Bulletin - on the Atari Lynx

The 2010 game released for windows and later for Xbox One and Playstation 4 is not a remake, just a namesake.

APB was originally an arcade game, released in 1987 by Atari Games. An Atari Lynx version was published in 1991.

Officer Bob is a police officer that drives around and issues tickets, pulls people over and even arrests criminals. The objective of the game is to meet the quota of tickets and arrests for a given day. If the quota is exceeded, then the players receive “perfect day” bonuses.

At times the player is tasked with arresting a felon. When caught, you need to shake him/her to force a confession out of them. Be careful not to crash, shoot innocent people’s cars or run them over, because you will get fired and thrown into a garbage can!

The game features fun cartoon-like graphics and sounds that make playing it an entertaining experience.

4. Shanghai (developed and published by Atari Corporation 1990)

Shangai on the Atari Lynx

Believe me, this game is addictive…

This is the computerized version of the classic Mahjong solitaire – a tile-matching game. It was released for a few different platforms, including the Lynx.

There are a total of 144 tiles arranged in a particular layered pattern. The objective is to match the identical tile pairs and remove them from the board. The game ends when all tiles have been removed.

Shanghai sold over half a million copies by 1991. The Lynx version received sparkling reviews by Dragon Magazine, IGN and CVG Magazine.

3. Blue Lightning (developed by Epyx, published by Atari Corporation 1989)

Blue Lightning on the Atari Lynx

Graphically, it is hard to believe it was released in 1989…

This combat flight simulator was one of the launch titles, released along with the Atari handheld.

The player controls a fighter plane, attempting to enter enemy territories and aid the US’s allies and ultimately win the war. There are a total of nine missions, all occurring in different locations that get harder and harder. In the beginning, the player has a fleet of six aircraft, with limited missiles. When all six are destroyed, the game ends.

Blue Lightning was very well-received, with reviewers claiming the graphics were incredibly realistic. The gameplay is as good as the graphics, which makes for a must- have game.

2. Scrapyard Dog (developed by Creative Software Designs, published by Atari Corporation 1991)

Scrapyard Dog on the Atari Lynx

This pretty unknown platformer is going to surprise you…

Scrapyard Dog is a single-player platform game, released for the AL in 1991.

This is one of the more challenging Lynx games. Louie’s dog, Scraps, is kidnapped by Mr. Big. The objective of the game is to find and rescue Scraps in 33 stages. To make the player’s life harder, Mr. Big sends his own disguised and armed dogs. You need to do whatever it takes to become reunited with your beloved Scraps.

Scrapyard Dog has some amazingly detailed graphics and incredibly diverse backgrounds – from forests to cities. The controls are good and the soundtracks are astonishingly catchy and beautifully match the game’s mood.

Honorable mention:

Chip’s Challenge (developed by Epyx, published by Atari Corporation 1989)

Chip's Challenge on the Atari Lynx

CsC is also available on Steam

Chip McCallahan is a high school nerd that meets Melinda in the science lab and attempts to solve a series of increasingly difficult puzzles, to prove he is worthy of a membership to the exclusive Bit Busters Club.

There are 148 levels of the game, in which Chip has to run around and collect special chips, that he needs to open the chip socket at the end and move on to the next level.

Chip’s Challenge is a very fun, addicting and intellectually challenging game.

Time to unveil the number one on this list, now: ready? Let’s do this!

1. Rampart (developed and published by Atari Corporation 1992)

Rampart on the Atari Lynx

Never judge a game by its genre… I never thought a strategy war game could be so fun.

Rampart – a strategy game, was first released in 1990 by Atari Games. Initially, it was an arcade game but was later made available on other different platforms. It is considered to be the precursor to the legendary and immensely popular tower defense genre.

The player is in control of a few castles. It is their responsibility to protect them from incoming enemy ships and perform regular maintenance, to repair the damage they have caused. The only way to get rid of the attacking ships is to attack back using your cannons, which you need to build too. There are three different types of ships, all of which have unique characteristics and take a different number of hits to be sunk.

The objective of Rampart is to defend and repair the castles you have, defeat your enemy and take over and build even more castles to expand your territories.

This brilliant title has left its mark in the tower defense games of the following decades. It is the perfect game for strategy lovers – simple, elegant and unique. The fact that it basically started an entire genre of games says a lot about how great this title is.

The Atari Lynx is a massively underrated console that does not have a huge diversity of games. Nevertheless, there are a few hidden gems among the 74 titles released for it. What do you think of these recommendations, retro folks? Is there anything you would add? Please let me know what your thoughts are down in the comments.
Till next list!


About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our gaming memories alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

2 thoughts on “The 5 best Atari Lynx games – too ahead of its time

  1. Jones

    An article I read on Atari Lynx showed that It was the world’s first handheld electronic game with a color LCD and this made it very competitive with other games of its time. I really enjoyed playing it then and my favorite was Scrapyard dog. Bringing back into limelight something as precious as Atari Lynx is a good idea and I think they did a great job by developing their games. Your recommendations are great, good games there, I love it.

    1. Andrew A. Post author

      That is correct Jones, The Atari Lynx basically kicked off the handheld revolution, but the majority of people credit the Gameboy.
      Nothing against the latter of course, but we just cannot let such a groundbreaking be forgotten.
      Thank you very much for your nice comment, I hope you become a regular on my retro gaming blog!


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