Writing a Lynx top twenty is truly a challenging task, given the quality of the games released for the system. You are never going to please everyone with your choices, and the enjoyment taken from each game can be very subjective. Hey, we all have our favourites! The views found in this list are my own, and I'm well aware that opinions will be different around the world. So, big respect to your views too!
That said, here I've attempted to compile what I feel are the TOP 20 GAMES on the Atari Lynx. I like all genres, so in hopefully some added fairness, I've tried to consider games from ALL different genres, including the following:
I've also placed in here two special inclusions: one homebrew title I love ('Alpine Games') and one "guilty pleasure" - a personal favourite that may have some deficiencies, but which I endlessly keep coming back to ('Todd's Adventures in Slime World')!
So let's go! The Top 20 Atari Lynx games!20 - TODD'S ADVENTURES IN SLIME WORLD
Does your planet drip with slime and teem with revolting monsters? You need to call Todd! Truly the 'Metroid' of the Lynx, 'Todd's Adventures in Slime World' will keep you on your toes over the duration of multiple, massive episodes. Weird music, inhuman sound effects and disgusting aliens await as soon as you descend into Slime World's putrid depths; and things don't get a lot prettier the deeper you go! Armed with a water gun, you will need your wits about you as your character seeks out precious slime gems, weapon mods, mega bombs and other ingenious contraptions. Loaded with secrets and full of multiple routes, 'Todd's Adventures in Slime World' allows you the freedom of choosing whichever episode you want to play from the start, plus saves your progress through passwords. Great for platform-adventure fans! Ugh!19 - CRYSTAL MINES II
If you're a fan of 'Chip's Challenge', this game is an easy buy. In fact, it is so popular that it spawned both a homebrew sequel and a conversion onto a recent portable Nintendo system! Part maze game, part puzzler, part shooter, part 'Bomberman', part hide 'n seek, 'Crystal Mines II' is chock-a-block full of variety, precious cave crystals and deadly cave beasts. The game is brilliantly taxing. Some monsters are worse than others... walls can be destroyed to reveal secret areas... and like 'Chip's Challenge', there are over 100 levels of tricky action. That's not counting a massive amount of secret levels! The game is truly huge, which makes it excellent value, and it's unlikely you'll finish it for a very, very, very long time; so, it's a brilliant long-laster. My advice is therefore this: grab the controls of your Lynx robot and fire away!18 - BATMAN RETURNS
Few Lynx games will meet you with the challenge of 'Batman Returns'. A platformer / scrolling beat 'em up, 'Batman Returns' is the official film tie-in that became a pack-in game for the Lynx 2 system, and it's very easy to see why. The graphics are incredible. The sound is brilliant. The controls are easy to negotiate. And the challenge? Well, just play it to find out. Yes... before 'Super Meat Boy' gave platforming players nightmares, it was 'Batman Returns' that was dishing out the punishment. But players try again, and again, and again, until a further point is reached on each occasion; and more of the game is revealed. Completing this game is truly the territory of platforming masters, but anything can be done with practice. And when a game looks this good, 'Batman Returns' is an easy choice for those who like a challenge. Bring EVERYTHING!
When it came to official Lynx releases, some of the best games were the last to emerge; and 'Battlewheels' is one such example. It's a late addition to the 'How did they DO that?!' collection of Lynx games; remarkable scaling, fierce battles, great audio effects and an apocalyptic feel. The goal is to basically survive, driving your vehicle around a deadly arena and blasting other cars. 'Battlewheels' has a feel that is not unlike "Mad Max", and requires quick reactions to keep your kitted-out vehicle from quickly becoming a loathsome wreck. Not only can you fang these cars around, but you can also even battle on-foot! It's here that 'Battlewheels' not only provides a fun gaming experience, but... it also shocks you into realising how more 3D first person shooters could have EASILY been a real possibility on the Lynx! A head-turning game.16 - NINJA GAIDEN
In the days of the portable console wars, the Sega Game Gear had the great 'Streets of Rage' (1 & 2). The corresponding title to this game, on the Lynx, was 'Ninja Gaiden', an arcade beat 'em up conversion that particularly shone on this system. Colourful sprites, foes, special moves, weaponry, big bosses, stunning backdrops... yes, 'Ninja Gaiden' gave scrolling beat 'em up fans what they wanted, and it had plenty of tricks up its sleeve. You could hang off poles, do flips, smash the scenery up, grab powerups and generally enjoy the sights and sounds of each diverse stage. Not only that, but you could adjust the difficulty of the game if you found it too hard or too easy. With both visually excellent cutscenes and some rocking tunes, 'Ninja Gaiden' keeps you pressing on to the final confrontation. Swords at the ready... time to flip out!15 - DRACULA - THE UNDEAD
The horror Lynx game to end all horror Lynx games. There's no other Lynx game like it (so far) and it's ponderable whether anyone could make a Lynx adventure title that looks so incredible. Dark sepia backgrounds, vivid detailing and expert storytelling abound in this scary game, where death for your character is almost certainly around the corner if you aren't prepared. Can you escape Dracula's castle using only your wits and some key items, which aren't all easy to find? Fans of the LucasArts PC adventure games will feel instantly at home here. Not only is the game a challenge from start to finish, it has some seriously frightening sound effects - screams, cocks crowing, door creaks... just don't play it with the sound up in the dark! Not for the faint hearted, 'Dracula - The Undead' is an understated masterpiece of an adventure.
One of the first professional releases of the Lynx homebrew scene, 'Alpine Games' is a unique and fantastic introduction to winter sports. There are a massive amount of events to choose from, and you'll soon begin to find your favourites. Figure Skating, Snowboarding and Skiiing could have been really tricky to portray on the Lynx, but these events are among some of the nicest looking mini-games on the system; and are great fun to boot. 'Alpine Games' is among the best "pick up and play" games on Atari's portable system, and even has the edge over 'California Games' in one important aspect: the game saves your high scores! Finally, Lynxers can enjoy battling their best scores again and again with this cracking new title, which should be added to the echelon of "new classic Lynx games". Highly recommended.13 - CALIFORNIA GAMES
There are few games as a well known in the retro world as the 'California Games' franchise, and the Atari Lynx version of the game is truly a long-laster when it comes to replay value. In fact, it's arguably the Lynx game with the most replay value of all. Those who own this game will tell you that it works fantastically in short bursts, where you can try to perfect your skills across all the four events: BMX, Surfing, Half-Pipe and Footbag. And players are still discovering new tricks today; anyone ever gone down the mountain using a FORWARD somersault? I did (accidentally)! Seriously, having owned this game for more than 20 years, I still go back to it. High scores posted online in Lynx forums are fun to compete with, and there are always new combinations of Footbag to teach yourself, trickier Surfing jumps, longer Half-Pipe sessions and more frantic BMX treks. A multi-event game worth investing in. Gnarly!12 - JIMMY CONNOR'S TENNIS
We've seen different tennis games across a variety of consoles ('Smash Tennis' for Super Nintendo being one of my favourites). However, the Atari Lynx game 'Jimmy Connor's Tennis' is easily one of the best games on the system. Gamers are spoiled with a choice of singles, doubles, court surfaces, player gender, match settings and much more. Add to that a steep challenge curve and a variety of tennis strokes, and you have a tennis game that feels like the real thing. Controls, especially, are easy to get used to, even for those who aren't familiar with the sport. And as for the sound, you get some of the clearest speech on the Atari Lynx system, with the score called out every point and Jimmy Connor's own pep talks after each win. A brilliant, masterful tennis game which will be especially appreciated by fans of the sport itself.
Woof! The Lynx has no shortage of top quality platform titles, but in my view 'Scrapyard Dog' beats them all. Which other Lynx platformer features ALL of the following? Multi-level scrolling, shops for purchasing items, boss fights (with a boss-specific weapon to use), controllable vehicles, level warps, the ability to shrink, invincibility items, shields, hidden bonus point stages, level-specific foes...am I convincing you yet? :) 'Scrapyard Dog' is a Mario-esque game with its own individual charm and feel. Cutesy to look at and tough to complete, it's purpose built for those who like their leapers to go far in the gameplay stakes. There are loads of secrets to find too, and where you least expect them! 'Scrapyard Dog' rewards repeated plays and simply shines with bright colours, fun scenery and straightforward gameplay.10 - BLUE LIGHTNING
The chorus of stunned 'oohs' and 'ahhs' for this game haven't even died down this year, let alone from 1989. "Are those really Lynx graphics? Can it REALLY do that? That's ridiculous." Yeah buddy it is, and 'Blue Lightning' still looks gob-smackingly great today. How they managed to make smooth scaling, radiant colours, diverse missions and smooth aircraft animation look this good, I'll never know. If you've ever been a fan of 'Star Fox' across Nintendo systems, take a look at what the Lynx could do way back when. Flight enthusiasts will have a ball flying across disparate terrains, navigating hazards, battling with enemy crafts and getting lost in the clouds. As much a showcase of the Lynx technical abilities as a brilliant game, 'Blue Lightning' is a dogfighting game experience that few portable flying carts can hold a candle to.9 - CHECKERED FLAG
Very few games can claim to be authentic to the real life experience of a Grand Prix racer. But 'Checkered Flag' is a high quality Lynx title that screams speed, fast opponents and diverse tracks to drive on. Want options? How about the choice of practice or tournament, the number of opponents, the number of laps, the course, the driver gender, the car colour, the transmission! No wonder that the game received a counterpart game on the Atari Jaguar. 'Checkered Flag' puts you behind a car that handles beautifully and the game truly rewards repeat plays. Tracks scale wonderfully, opponents make your run tricky, and trees (plus other obstacles) whip by you as you race toward the end of each track. Like 'S.T.U.N. Runner', 'Checkered Flag' captures the feeling of true speed. Racing fans won't be disappointed!
The competition of "best sports game on Lynx" has some really strong players in it, but even with titles like 'Jimmy Connors Tennis', many would award 'Awesome Golf' as the best of the Lynx sporting games. It's probably the greatest golfing sim for a portable device of its era. Just listing the positive factors to this game is exhausting. Multiple courses to play across different countries. You can select your clubs. The graphics are outstanding and show off the Lynx scaling effects to a tee (pun somewhat intended). Full audio speech and great sound throughout the game. And, there is a great reliance on timing and finesse, so you will get better and better at the courses you play as you practice golfing strategies. Add sand traps and water hazards and you have a realistic, colourful and highly challenging Lynx game well worth your playing time. Fore!7 - CHIP'S CHALLENGE
The Atari Lynx is arguably synonymous with Chip's Challenge and vice versa. Many new Lynx owners will tell you that they have heard about this game even before owning it. 'Chip's Challenge' deserves that kind of positive notoriety, because this game is so good it was later ported to Microsoft PCs; it has a broad fanbase and the love for it continues today. Tricky puzzles. Cute sprites. Over 120 levels. A password system. Hidden Mandelbrot generator. Special abilities. Humour! There is so much packed into this game to discover, and it rightfully is considered one of the best puzzlers on the Lynx (from a diverse crowd of brilliant puzzlers). If you fan of tricky games, I recommend you pick up 'Chip's Challenge' and give it a go. Plus, don't forget that the original game designer just released the sequel on Steam! (Lynx port please!)6 - ZARLOR MERCENARY
The Lynx was calling out for a vertically scrolling schmup and 'Zarlor Mercenary' answered the call. With a choice of ship pilots, an array of weapons, the ability to use screen clearing bombs, and a multitude of challenging landscapes to explore, 'Zarlor Mercenary' provides shooting fans with hours of fun and skill-building. Think you're pretty good at shoot 'em ups? This game will challenge you and then some, even with in-game shops to enhance your spacecraft. The graphics and sound in this game are truly brilliant, and it's nice to have a soundtrack pounding away as you carve a path through the robotic foes who venture across your path. Strategy, also, gets tested, because your choice of pilot makes a key difference to your in-game strengths against enemies. If you're after lots of action in a blast 'em up, grab this cart immediately!
Add a number of brave, intrepid space heroes. A shake of hideous, deadly aliens. A pinch of interplanetary space stations with massive issues. What do you get? 'Xenophobe'! A sci-fi fan's dream, 'Xenophobe' seems to reference a number of alien movies and infects it with a bunch of humour, action and baddies galore. There's so much to do when you are carefully combing foreign alien corridors, and the big appeal of 'Xenophobe' is realising there's absolutely no way of knowing who (or WHAT) is going to lurk around the corner. Loads of weapons can be found, computers can be interacted with, hazards must be leaped... it's a frantic game of skill, depth and weird creatures. A favourite of many Lynxers, 'Xenophobe' grabs you like an alien and refuses to let you go (unless you manage to prise the Lynx away from your eyes!).4 - S.T.U.N. RUNNER
For sheer replay value, very few games come close to S.T.U.N. Runner. Before there was 'Mario Kart' on Nintendo systems, there was THIS superb arcade to Lynx conversion. It's a racer and shooter with attitude, giving you a blindingly fast vehicle to negotiate through obstacles, jumps, enemy vehicles and even unfinished roads. Different weapons? Indeed. Speed boosters? Mm-hmm. 25 tracks and 360 degree racing tubes where you can race upside down? No kidding! Level warps, full speech, great music...do I need to go on? Just wait til you get to the see-through track based in outer space. There are plenty of shocks and surprises around every chicane and beyond every ramp, so you will need to learn each track like the back of your hand: just like real racing drivers! S.T.U.N. Runner is a racing shooter's dream, even for non-vehicle gamers.3 - DESERT STRIKE
Gamers will often refer to 'Desert Strike' as a shoot 'em up, but it's far more than that. That's why I've decided to think about it as a combined genre game. Why? In this helicopter-driven game, you must carry out rescue missions on allied soldiers, collect fuel and ammo, bomb specific buildings, uncover hidden special items, and much more. 'Desert Strike' rewards the careful and considered player. There's no "blast first ask questions later" in this title. Conserving your special ammunition is a high priority, and with four huge missions to finish, you'll be thankful for the password integration and stunning graphics within. I feel like the Lynx is spoiled with great military games (like 'Warbirds' and 'Blue Lightning') but I like this one the best. A fantastic conversion of a classic game, 'Desert Strike' is a winner, having both grit and realism. Get it!
"Ready! Aim! FIRE!" With that shout from the warring captain, you are launched into what is by far the best strategy game on the Lynx. Build castles, install cannons, blow up ships, repair broken forts, conquer new territories...the list goes on. 'Rampart' was the territory-taking sim that so many other strategy games took their lead from, and it's easy to see why. Added into the mix of this brilliant game is the inclusion of crystal clear speech, visually astonishing cutscenes and memorable music. There's an almost unanimous view across the Lynx community that 'Rampart' is a high quality title. It features a huge amount of replay value, a strong (adjustable) challenge and an appreciation for gaming variety. The building phase of the game will even get 'Tetris' buffs excited! 'Rampart' is the game of choice for Lynx strategists. "Cease FIRE!"1 - LEMMINGS
Cute main characters? Check. Loads of special abilities? Check. Over 110 levels of puzzling action with a brilliant password system? You bet. Lemmings is a certified classic game on so many systems, and it's incredible they managed to fit the entire game on the Lynx. Not only that, but they also made sure it was visually appealing, great sounding and polished in overall presentation. Multiple methods to finish stages, humorous trips and traps, plus gorgeous animated backgrounds, and you have a brilliant conversion of a classic brain-bending game - in portable form. It's rare to find this game for a cheap price anywhere these days, but it's definitely worth the money to pick up a copy of 'Lemmings'. Not only did it start the 'puzzle-platformer' genre, it still OWNS the genre. if you are a Lynx puzzle game fan, don't miss it!ATARI LYNX TOP 20 (SUMMARY LIST)
This article was written by Jon Mc from JMac Productions