The Lynx Lowdown
Name: Atari Lynx
Processor: 16 bit
Console Type: Handheld
Release Date: October 1989 (NA) 1990 (EUR & JAP)
Gaming Generation: 4th Generation
Rivals: Nintendo Gameboy, SEGA Game Gear, NEC Turbo Express Colour
Palette: 4096 Colours
Notable Features: Ambidextrous Layout, Backlit Colour Display, Network Of Up TO 17 Lynx is possible via "Comlynx" cabling
Designed By: Dave Needle & R.J. Mical
Atari vs Nintendo
When I was growing up not many people owned the Atari Lynx but a lot of people did admire it from afar (including me).
My impressions of the Lynx at the time were that it felt a bit cumbersome vs. the pocket warrior of the day, the Nintendo Gameboy. It was also pretty expensive compared to the wallet friendly Game Boy. The thing is though, you were paying for power and advanced graphics in a handheld format. It was a 16 bit processor in the body of an over-sized handheld. It was showboating machine compared to the miniature work horse that was the Nintendo Game Boy.
As always with latter Atari forays into consoles it was the lack of games that was to be its demise but it did have some awesome games on it, it's just that there wasn't that many.
Games like California Games, Klax and Todd's Adventures In Slime World were a blast, it's just that it needed more of the same to really compete with the Game Boy's outstanding game library.
"The leading-edge display was the most expensive component, so the colour choice was one of economy. If the low-cost glass and drivers would have supported a million colours, I would have done it." Dave Needle, Lynx co designer (Wikipedia)
Did You Know?
"The Lynx was the world's first handheld console / electronic game with a Colour LCD display"
Did You Know?
"The Lynx was the second handheld game system to be released with the Atari name. The first was Atari Inc.'s handheld electronic game 'Touch Me'."
Did You Know?
"The Lynx system was originally developed by Epyx as the Handy Game and was presented at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 1989. Epyx sought out partners in the shape of Atari and Epyx agreed that Atari would handle production and marketing of the Atari Lynx, while Epyx would handle software development."
Look At The Lovely Lynx
Atari then showed the Lynx to the press at the Summer 1989 CES but it was actually called the "Portable Color Entertainment System" at the time, which was later changed to "Atari Lynx" when the consoles started to be distributed.
The Lynx launch was a reasonable success as Atari reported that they had sold 90% of the 50,000 units it shipped in its launch month in America.
America sales in 1990 were approximately 500,000
In late 1991, it was reported that Atari sales estimates were around 800,000
Lifetime sales by 1995 came in at around 7 million (Game Boy sold 16 million units by 1995)
Later on it was actually reported that sales figures were confirmed as being in the region of 3 million and not 7, I wonder if we'll ever know the truth?
There were 3 styles of cartridges on the Lynx.
Flat Carts: These were seen as tough to remove from the Lynx but convenient to stack n store
Ridged Carts: To combat the toughness of removal the ridged carts were introduced but proved tough to store on top of each other
Curved Carts: These were brought about to enable all future produced carts to be easily removed and stored.
Lynx II The Return
In July 1991, Atari released Lynx II and kicked off a new marketing campaign to aid low sales.
The new Lynx II came with a re design which had rubber hand grips and an improved colour screen. It also had a power save option which improved battery life. Throw in stereo sound and the Lynx II was available at a cheaper price without any accessories, dropping the price to below £100. Sales did improve somewhat but inevitably Nintendo still dominated the handheld market with the fantastic Game Boy.
In 1995, Atari moved focus away from the Lynx and concentrated on Jaguar.
The Lynx was actually a much loved handheld but like all handhelds of the time it was being dominated by the Nintendo Game Boy until eventually it faded away.
It's still loved by the retrogaming community and rightly so.
Did You Love The Lynx?
Let Me Know In the Comments Box Below....