10 Best Atari Lynx Games of All Time

The kind of Lynx you might not mind getting this Christmas.

The Best Atari Lynx Games
The Best Atari Lynx Games

The Atari Lynx debuted mere months after another little known handheld that you may well have heard of called the Nintendo Game Boy. The Lynx was the technically more able out of the two handhelds, featuring a colour screen and a backlight.

However, despite its advantages over the big N’s entry to the gaming world, it would fail to make an impact and is now generally a forgotten relic of gaming culture alongside a lot of Atari’s other systems. But there’s plenty to enjoy in the Lynx’s back catalogue, so without further ado, here are the best Atari Lynx games that are worth playing.

 

The Best Atari Lynx Games

10. Desert Strike

Desert Strike Lynx
Desert Strike Lynx

The ‘Strike’ series was one of the best franchises of the 90s. Desert Strike was the first game in the series, and saw the most ports of any title in the franchise, notably landing on the Mega Drive/Genesis, SNES, Amiga and, of course, the Atari Lynx, amongst others. While the Lynx port may not be as polished as its bigger brothers when it comes to graphics and sound, it manages to recreate the classic isometric, chopper-based action.

Desert Strike tasks the player with flying around the Middle East, taking care of business in a plot which is definitely a thinly veiled recreation of the gulf war. Desert Strike was a unique and exciting action game series which was a massive sales success on release, and its Lynx port is a great addition to the console’s library.

 

9. Klax

Klax Lynx
Klax Lynx

Klax is one of the best puzzle games ever made, though you’d be forgiven for not having heard of it. Even though Klax should be up there with the likes of Tetris or Bubble Bobble, it seems to have been totally forgotten by modern gamers.

Klax features domino-like blocks moving down a conveyor belt, when they reach the end, they can be caught by the player who can drop them below, the player then has to arrange these blocks so they make up rows of three, horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The gameplay is simple, but also becomes challenging the longer you play, most of all it is very addictive. Klax was ported to a lot of systems, releasing on everything from the Spectrum to the Mega Drive, and on many of these systems, it was hands down one of the best games available, and the Atari Lynx port was no exception.

 

8. Blue Lightning

Blue Lightning Lynx
Blue Lightning Lynx

After Burner? We have After Burner at home! Okay, that is a little unfair, but the similarities between Blue Lightning and Sega’s super scaler jet fighting extravaganza can’t be ignored. However, they do say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and while it may not compare to Sega’s arcade classic, Blue Lightning is a solid alternative. While it’s very easy to compare After Burner and Blue Lightning, they are both different games.

Blue Lightning is a much slower experience and desires to be more of a ‘jet fighter action-sim’ game, as opposed to a fast, arcade based experience. It’s a unique example of a genre that isn’t found on many consoles, let alone handhelds, which makes Blue Lightning a must have for the Lynx.

 

7. Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom

Ninja Gaiden 3 Lynx
Ninja Gaiden 3 Lynx

At a glance, you might wonder what Ninja Gaiden III is doing on this list. Graphically speaking, it’s not great, with muddy graphics mixed with tiny sprites, made all the smaller by the Lynx’s 3.5″ screen. But looks can be incredibly deceiving and in this case, they most definitely are, as Ninja Gaiden III plays exceptionally well on the Lynx.

Sacrificing graphics and large sprites for gameplay means this game plays great, with Ryu Hayabusa zipping around levels at a fair pace. The small sprites allow levels to appear larger, with more enemies on screen, and is a worthy entry into the Ninja Gaiden series. Anyone looking for a tough hack and slash platformer on the Lynx should look no further than Ninja Gaiden III.

 

6. Rygar

Rygar Lynx
Rygar Lynx

Rygar is a family title to fans of 80s arcade games. A side scrolling hack and slash game by Temco, like many of its peers was ported to multiple platforms, and even received a ‘Metroid-inspired reimagining for the NES. While the NES version was acclaimed, the Lynx received a more ‘arcade faithful’ port of the game, so for those who wanted a more traditional port, this is a great choice.

Featuring chunky and well-designed sprites, with colourful level backgrounds. While the NES version was a great adaptation of the game, the Lynx offers a port much closer to the arcade original, which I am sure many arcade purists would prefer.

 

5. California Games

California Games Lynx
California Games Lynx

During the late 80s, California Games were seemingly everywhere and had ports to most gaming platforms, and was highly rated across the board. Bundled as a pack-in game for the console, there were few better games to come free with the console on release.

California Games is essentially a mini game collection which featured Half-Pipe, Footbag, Surfing, Roller Skating, BMX and Flying Disc. What makes California Games so good is that it can be picked up and played for as little or as long as you want — in many ways, it’s the perfect handheld game. The Atari Lynx conversion is one of the best ways to play California Games, and with its slick gameplay and colourful graphics, it easily makes it into the top 10 Atari Lynx games.

 

4. Rampage

Rampage Lynx
Rampage Lynx

The Lynx was home to a number of arcade ports, which for a handheld console would’ve made the console a fantastic choice for arcade fans. Rampage is a port of the arcade classic, with all its building smashing glory.

After choosing from four different monsters, you are tasked with stomping around city based levels, smashing buildings, destroying the military and ensuring that the city is levelled. Window can be smashed, revealing various items to help you on your rampage. The military can also take you out, and if you take too much damage you’ll revert to your human form and have to escape naked. While the sound is a little ‘pre-8 bit’, the graphics are chunky and colourful, and suit the aesthetic of the arcade original.

 

3. Chip’s Challenge

Chip's Challenge Lynx
Chip’s Challenge Lynx

Chip’s Challenge was originally an exclusive for the Atari Lynx. The game looks nothing like anything else on the Lynx, or any other console. Its graphics are incredibly reminiscent of early Windows games, using what looks like a 16 or 20 colour palette. Essentially a puzzle game, Chip’s Challenge tasks you with navigating through tile based levels, collecting keys, opening doors, acquiring computer chips, pushing buttons and so on.

Chip’s Challenge may well be the most basic looking game on this list, but what it lacks in graphical fidelity, it makes up for in sheer brilliance in its game design. It’s a great puzzle game and easily one of the best and most unique games on the Atari Lynx. It was later ported to other systems and is now even available on Steam.

 

2. Pac-Land

Pac-Land Lynx
Pac-Land Lynx

With the success of Pac-Man in the 80s, Namco were looking for other avenues they could take their pizza shaped mascot through the decade. This included following the example of Nintendo and Mario, with Pac-Man getting his very own side scrolling platformer.

Pac-Land chopped its way into arcades in 1984, and saw Pac-Man dodge enemies and obstacles all while trying to make it to the end of the level. Atari developed and published the Lynx version, and while it doesn’t have the graphical fidelity of its arcade counterpart, it is still a bright, colourful conversion and runs as smooth as its arcade cousin. It’s a great game, and a great port, making it easily one of the best titles for the Lynx.

 

1. S.T.U.N Runner

Stun Runner Lynx
Stun Runner Lynx

S.T.U.N Runner was originally an arcade game released in 1989. Boasting cutting edge 3D graphics and super fast gameplay, it was truly ahead of its time when it was released. A futuristic racing game which preempted the likes of F-Zero and Wipeout, it tasks players with hitting speed panels to move through each race at lightning speed. It might seem an odd decision to port a face paced, graphically intensive arcade game to a late 80s handheld.

While there is an understandable graphical downgrade from the arcade, for a handheld console it looks amazing, looking nothing like anything that could be found on the likes of the Game Boy or Game Gear. It has also managed to keep the speed of the gameplay fast, making this unlike any other game on the Lynx, and certainly maintaining it as one of the best.

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