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 Sega 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
- 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. 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 below.
- Due to the technology at the time, the 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The first model isn't the best-looking handheld, especially with its questionable dimensions.
- 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.
- While the console was expensive due to its hardware again, that being said, the graphics were very outstanding for its time, being capable of displaying even more colors than the Game Gear (which was released after the Lynx) and even more detailed graphics.
- The Atari Lynx II was smaller, lighter, and better looking than the original model, having a slightly longer battery life and dimensions of 9.25" 4.5" x 2" (thicker than the Lynx I), similar to the Game Gear's size.
- Switchable right-handed/left-handed configurations.
- It had some decent games, and even some of the best arcade conversions for handheld systems.
- The ComLynx cable makes for console-to-console networking, allowing for up to 18 players to connect and play multiplayer games on certain titles.
- However, most games that support the cable would network eight or fewer players. In addition, the maximum stable connection allowed was eight players.
The system received positive reviews at launch and was initially a success, but sales quickly dwindled due to infrequent game releases, a lack of marketing, and the release of the Game Boy. In an article in issue #129 of Retro Gamer magazine, ex-Atari staff confirmed the system's sales were in the region of about 3 million. However, this console had some of the best Arcade conversions ever made for handheld systems, so this is why game collectors like to collect games for Lynx.
- Some of them tend to die due to the bad capacitors. Fortunately, it can be repaired.
- Originally, the ComLynx was originally going to be a wireless infrared (IR) system, under the codename of "RedEye", but the IR links would be interrupted when players walk through the beams.
- There were plans that the Lynx could be used on the Jaguar as a high-end interactive controller, to act as a motion tracker in Aliens VS Predator or a tricorder in a Star Trek game. This never came to be.