The Atari Lynx was a handheld game console released by Atari in 1989. It had the privilege of being the world's first handheld electronic game with a color LCD display. The system is also notable for its forward-looking features, advanced graphics, and ambidextrous layout. The Lynx was released in 1989, the same year as Nintendo's (monochromatic) Game Boy. However, the Atari Lynx failed to achieve the critical mass required to attract quality third party developers, and was eventually abandoned.
The console had several innovative features including it being the first color handheld, with a backlit display, a switchable right-handed/left-handed (upside down) configuration, and the ability to network with up to 17 other units via its "ComLynx" system (though most games would network eight or fewer players).
This game system was originally developed by Epyx as the Handy. Atari changed the internal speaker and removed the thumb-stick on the control pad before releasing it as the Lynx two years later, initially retailing in the US at $189.95. Atari then showed the Lynx to the press at the Summer 1989 CES as the "Portable Color Entertainment System", which was changed to Lynx when actual consoles were distributed to resellers.
However, Nintendo's new Game Boy was also introduced at the 1989 CES. At $109, it was 58% the price of the Lynx, without the color or custom chips. Nintendo had no problems supplying retailers with the Game Boy for the Christmas season while Atari only managed limited distribution of their Atari Lynx by year's end.
During 1990, the Lynx had moderate sales but Nintendo's Game Boy continued to gain market share. In 1991, Atari relaunched their handheld console with a new marketing campaign, new packaging, slightly improved hardware, and a new sleek look. The new system (referred to within Atari as the "Lynx II") featured rubber hand grips and a clearer backlit color screen with a power save option (which turned off the LCD panel's backlighting). It also replaced the monaural headphone jack of the original Lynx with one wired for stereo. The new packaging made available the Lynx without accessories, dropping the price to $99. Although sales improved, Nintendo still dominated the handheld market.
In May 1991, Sega launched its portable gaming handheld. Also a color handheld, in comparison to the Lynx it had a higher cost, smaller bulk, and lower battery life. However, the Game Gear was backed up by significantly more popular titles and consequently the market became dominated by Nintendo followed by Sega in a distant second and the Lynx in third.
In 1994, Atari shifted its focus away from the Lynx. As Nintendo's Super Nintendo and Sega's Genesis filled retailers' shelves, Atari refocused its efforts on its Atari Jaguar console. A handful of games were released during this time, including Battlezone 2000. In 1996, Atari shut down its internal game development.
|Title||Genre||Year first released|
|Battlezone 2000||Combat simulation||1995|
|Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure||Adventure||1991|
|Blue Lightning||Combat flight simulator||1989|
|Crystal Mines II||Puzzle||1992|
|Desert Strike||Shoot 'em up||1993|
|Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop||Beat 'em up||1992|
|Double Dragon||Beat 'em up||1993|
|Dracula the Undead||Adventure||1992|
|European Soccer Challenge||Sports||1993|
|The Fidelity Ultimate Chess Challenge||Chess||1991|
|Gates of Zendocon||Shoot 'em up||1989|
|Gauntlet: The Third Encounter||Dungeon crawl||1990|
|Ishido: The Way of Stones||Puzzle||1991|
|Jimmy Connors Tennis||Sports||1993|
|Krazy Ace Miniature Golf||Sports||1993|
|Kung Food||Beat 'em up||1992|
|Malibu Bikini Volleyball||Sports||1993|
|Ninja Gaiden||Beat 'em up||1991|
|Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom||Action||1993|
|Raiden||Shoot 'em up||1997|
|Robotron: 2084||Shoot 'em up||1991|
|S.T.U.N. Runner||Vehicular combat||1991|
|Shadow of the Beast||Platform||1992|
|Super Asteroids & Missile Command||Shoot 'em up||1995|
|Super Off Road||Racing||1993|
|Todd's Adventures in Slime World||Action-adventure||1990|
|Toki||Run and gun||1992|
|Turbo Sub||First-person shooter||1991|
|Viking Child||Action role-playing||1991|
|Warbirds||Combat flight simulator||1991|
|World Class Fussball/Soccer||Sports||1992|
|Xenophobe||Run and gun||1990|
|Zarlor Mercenary||Shoot 'em up||1990|