Atari Lynx

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NOTE: This console is actually good. This only focuses on what caused it to flop.

Atari Lynx
Yet another bad example of what happens if you make a console ahead of its time.
Developer: Epyx (originally as the "Handy")
Release Date: September 1st, 1989
Competitors: Game Boy
Game Gear
NEC TurboExpress
Generation: Fourth Generation

The Lynx was a handheld console released by Atari Corporation in 1989 in North America and 1990 in Europe and Japan, around the same time as Nintendo's Game Boy. The Lynx has the distinction of being the world's first handheld game system to have a color LCD screen, preceding the Game Gear. It competed against the Nintendo Game Boy and the Sega Game Gear and was discontinued in 1995 after Atari was bought by JTS Storage.

Why It Flopped

  1. The biggest criticism of the Atari Lynx was that it had an unbelievably bulky size with a length of 10.75", height of 4.25" and width of 1.5" for the first model[1]. In comparison, the Game Gear was also bigger than the Game Boy, but was much smaller than the Lynx as it mesured 210 mm in length, 113 mm in height and 38 mm in width. The Atari Lynx II is however smaller than the first model, with more details on the article on AGW.
  2. Due to the technology at the time, the backlit color screen and 16-bit processing unit, while an awesome feature especially for a handheld released before the Game Gear, caused the system to require six AA-sizes batteries and to have a short battery life, much like the Game Gear. Again, the Atari Lynx II improved the battery life of the console from the Lynx I, making it last for about one more hour.
  3. Similar to the Game Gear, because the handheld had to be the cheapest possible due to using powerful hardware, it had to use a cheaply made screen that is really blurry, especially making fast-paced games have a lot of ghosting effects occuring which makes them even harder to look at.
  4. Only small number of games were released for it, and it also severely lacked third-party support, as it was overshadowed by the Game Boy and the Game Gear which were much better deals with lower prices. The number of games officially licensed for release on the Lynx was 76 in America and Europe, and only 17 in Japan.
  5. The first model isn't the best-looking handheld, especially with its questionable dimensions.
  6. It had a higher retail price than the Game Boy and Game Gear costing about US$180 at launch, mostly due to being much more powerful than both of these handhelds. In comparison, the Game Boy only used a cheap green screen that could only display four shades of B&W, making it almost two times cheaper than the Lynx at about US$99 at launch.
  7. It didn't feature exclusive games that could compete with what Nintendo was bringing to the Game Boy. While the Lynx had a great arcade port of KLAX, Game Boy had Tetris...and the rest of the popular Nintendo library behind it. The Lynx was also criticized by fans for not having any RPG for it, although this has been fixed recently thanks to homebrew developments.
  8. Atari's reputation from the video game crash added more salt to the wounds, as some still had trust issues with the company at the time.

Redeeming Qualities

Having done things that the majority of consoles at the time of its release couldn't do, the Lynx also has an article on the Awesome Games Wiki.


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