It’s unlucky for some as we reach cartridge 13 in the Evercade library! Atari’s Lynx seemed to have everything going for it on paper. Even in action next to its […]
It’s unlucky for some as we reach cartridge 13 in the Evercade library!
Atari’s Lynx seemed to have everything going for it on paper. Even in action next to its competitor, Nintendo’s monochrome Game Boy, it’d seem to be a no-brainer in terms of what handheld to go for.
Yet despite its technical prowess, Atari’s Lynx wasn’t a bit success. Why is that?
Well, for starters, its that very technical capability that led to it being an absolute beast in terms of power requirements, eating through batteries in just a few hours at a time – making it highly unsuitable for long trips outside of the home. Another was an extremely high price – it just couldn’t compete commercially, next to the far cheaper Game Boy it was often placed next to in shops. Its library was no match for the Game Boy’s either; initially being bundled with California Games – a lovely version of the Epyx classic -even here it couldn’t compare to the behemoth that was the Game Boy’s pack in game, Tetris.
It’s a shame though, because the Atari Lynx wasn’t just a technical marvel – it really was home to some excellent games, many of which didn’t see a release beyond the handheld. Due to Atari being a shell of what it once was – after being purchased by a succession of what have always felt like asset strippers – Lynx games have generally not been preserved or made available in any other way but the original hardware, which has seen them fall into obscurity.
This collection, then, is a brilliant one for game preservationists, collectors and even players who may have been curious about the Lynx’s library back in the early 90s, but never got to experience it for themselves. It proves once again what a powerful platform the Evercade is, beyond simple nostalgia.
Of course, like many Evercade collections before it, the quality of the games it contains varies wildly. There’s some real oddities here that were released long after the Lynx’s sadly inevitable demise, as well as games whose names will likely be familiar to old school gamers, even if the games themselves aren’t ones they’ve played before.
It’s also a superb mixture of genres and experiences in general.
Sports games are well represented and, though I wasn’t a fan of Basketbrawl in any of its previous incarnations (nor am I a fan of the Lynx version), it’s clearly a game that found lots of popularity – so it’ll hold value for many gamers out there. Of the titles in the genre that are on the cartridge, the only one I was really a fan of was Awesome Golf – like Basketbrawl (which at least does have the violent twist that the other sports games lack), I found Jimmy Connors Tennis and Malibu Beach Bikini Volleyball pretty underwhelming.
Puzzle games are also numerous on the Atari Lynx Collection 1. Ishido: The Way of the Stones is a neat, Shanghai-esque tile matcher. Loopz is an interesting, pseudo-Pipe Mania style game that I found a bit frustrating. Xump and Super Skweek are perhaps my favourite puzzlers in the collection; the latter, with its top down shoot ’em up mechanics, is a particularly good game.
There’s also a few platformers, though they vary in quality. Gordo 106 suffers from some terrible level design, which is a shame because the core concept and some of the ideas are excellent. Power Factor is a neat run-and-gunner and Scrapyard Dog feels like a 90s cartoon in its aesthetic – it’s also a really straightforward and fun game to play.
First person, cockpit-based space shooter Remnant: Planar Wars is good, old-fashioned fun, Super Asteroids and Super Missile Command have unappealing visual upgrades but play well and tactical FPS CyberVirus is one of the best games in the collection.
Point and click style adventure Dracula: The Undead suffers from a laborious pace and a lack of clarity in its environments, but is actually a pretty decent game if you give it a chance. MegaPak Vol 1 is a collection (yep, a collection within a collection – collectionception!) of odd mini-games and tools including an Etch-a-Sketch clone and, lastly, Crystal Mines II: Buried Treasure is a brilliant Boulderdash-style game with an aggressive robot protagonist in place of a passive human.
Though there’s a good few duds here, the sheer volume and variety of what’s included means that there’s definitely plenty of games on the cartridge that are likely to appeal to you. It’s also unlikely in quite a few cases – unless you’re already an Atari Lynx collector already of course – that you’ll have played that many of the games on here.
The Evercade is at its best when showcasing forgotten or extremely rare games – and just by their nature of being Atari Lynx titles, many of the included experiences do fit the description of being both forgotten and rare. It’s amazing to discover some of these titles thirty or more years after they were originally released and, even better, to actually be able to play the hidden gems here is incredibly satisfying. I’d highly recommend this cartridge; there’s a second collection of Lynx titles that follows this one – and you’ll be able to see my thoughts on the games included on that cartridge very soon.
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