I delved into the circumstances around the relative failure of the Lynx back in my review of the Atari Lynx Collection 1 Evercade cartridge – but what’s clear from these two collections is that the issue certainly wasn’t anything to do with the games themselves.

Though the first collection feels more like quantity over quality – featuring some excellent titles, but also a lot of stuff that feels inessential – this second collection is the opposite.

Too often, I’ll look at the number of games featured on an Evercade cartridge and feel like I’ve not actually got my money’s worth if it’s a smaller number of games that are included. It certainly felt that way with Xeno Crisis and Tanglewood – especially as Tanglewood didn’t really float my boat and Xeno Crisis, as good as it is, was already well represented on pretty much any other modern console (as well as some retro formats) you can think of.

That’s not the case here in a number of ways. Despite ‘only’ featuring 8 games (in comparison to the 17 featured on Atari Lynx Collection 1), pretty much every title in Atari Lynx Collection 2 is worth playing. What’s more, there’s a number of titles here that really excelled on the Lynx, as well as a few that have remained console exclusives to the Atari handheld – so they’ve been extremely difficult to actually play since the demise of the once technically-impressive machine.

California Games

The title that was bundled with the Atari Lynx at launch, California Games, gets an excellent port here. It’s a game I was hugely familiar – and enamoured with – on the older, less capable Sega Master System, but the Lynx version really is great. Despite my familiarity with the title, I did find it has quite a steep learning curve when revisiting it after decades away – but the variety in events and lovely, blue sky setting makes it a genuinely appealing experience, especially when heading into colder, Autumnal weather in the UK.

Checkered Flag is an excellent example of an old school F1 racing game, making great use of the Lynx’s sprite scaling capabilities. I was very amused to see the Atari ST advertising billboards still present and correct as I hurtled around the various racetracks; this one’s good fun and has quite a few neat touches that were unusual for games of its era – such as rear view mirrors that work really well.

Gates of Zendocon is a space shooter that’s viewed from the side of your ship; yet you can move in pretty much any direction you choose, giving it a somewhat unique exploratory feel – especially as levels are expansive in size and come with some very varied objectives and enemies. Though challenging and fairly slow paced, there’s an awful lot to discover in Gates of Zendocon and it’s well worth your time.

Todd’s Aventures in Slime World

Todd’s Adventures in Slime World is a side-scrolling run-and-gun with Metroidvania elements and a uniquely icky world, as the name would suggest. It’s tough – many games of the era were, after all – but it’s worth persevering with. Main character Todd is surprisingly well equipped, especially considering that the Lynx had so few buttons. Todd’s Adventures in Slime World has an unusual aesthetic, nice animation and some interesting mechanics – it’s worth persevering with despite its difficulty. The Evercade does give us the luxury of save states, after all!

Zarlor Mercenary – a top down, vertically scrolling shooter – is probably my least favourite game in the collection, but it still finds space to have some inventive ideas, such as the variety offered by the selection of playable characters. The mercenaries in question are all racking up cash instead of a high score; from an audiovisual perspective this is a nicely designed game too. It just didn’t really do it for me like other games on the cartridge did – your mileage may indeed vary.

Blue Lightning is an impressive and vertiginous After Burner-esque sprite scaler, with a neat sense of openness to its stages. Missions can be varied in terms of their objectives too, making it feel a bit less linear (but not much less repetitive) than games such as the aforementioned After Burner. In its day, this was a real technical showcase for the Lynx and despite not being particularly impressive from a graphical point of view these days, the gameplay holds up well.

Electrocop

Electrocop is a bit of an obtuse game at first, but it’s a really unusual use of the Lynx’s touted sprite scaling tech – in that it’s a pseudo-3D run and gun game with a nice use of depth and some really chunky sprites. That obtuseness can be a pain though; it’s a little difficult to work out what’s going on and how to progress at first, but this is a unique game that is definitely worth checking out.

Lastly, the least showy game from a technical point of view is top-down puzzler Chip’s Challenge. What it lacks in audiovisual bells and whistles is more than made up for with its superbly designed levels and increasingly varied objects and puzzles. It’s one of the Lynx’s most fondly remembered and most popular titles for good reason – it’s pretty unmissable, despite the fact that it won’t be winning any beauty contests.

So there you have it; despite containing under half of the number of games that the Atari Lynx Collection 1 had, I’d say that the Atari Lynx Collection 2 is undoubtedly the stronger of the two cartridges and definitely one of the better Evercade compilations overall.

Chip’s Challenge

The Evercade is – in my opinion – as its best when shining the spotlight on lesser known titles, even if that means going without the nostalgia-inducing hit of revisiting familiar games. This cartridge is a great example of that; though the names of many of these games are familiar to me from the magazines, catalogues and shop displays of their time, I’d played far too few of them and it’s great to catch up on what I missed out on.

With Lynx games not being especially accessible these days, it’s also a triumph for preservation in general. Hopefully, this isn’t the last set of Lynx games we see on the Evercade – though licensing issues are likely to mean that there will be some noticeable gaps (sadly, no Batman Returns, for example), there’s still plenty of original and unique Lynx titles that I’d love to see on Blaze’s brilliant Evercade.

You can purchase The Atari Lynx Collection 2 cartridge from Amazon here.

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