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So, why isn't the Lynx more popular?


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#1 Lord Thag OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 6, 2018 9:17 PM

I've noticed, over the years, that the Lynx tends to get the least attention than any other Atari system. Despite the fact that it sold better than the Jaguar (if Atari's sales numbers are to be believed), it's last place in terms of popularity compared to all the other Atari consoles. Just look at the forum post count for each Atari sub forum. The Lynx has the least.

Which I have always found odd. I get the 2600/Atari 8-bit lines being the most popular, they had the most market penetration and popularity (and therefore, nostalgia). Yet, the Lynx never gets the attention even the 5200 or the Jaguar get.

I've always found this strange. They Lynx library is excellent, and it has *vastly* more good titles than the Jaguar library has, and the 5200, due to basically being a dressed up Atari 400 with wonky 1st gen analogue controls, plays poorly even if it has some great 8-bit games.

I mean, the Lynx is *really* fun. It's got the best home ports of all of Atari's late 80s Arcade titles (Xenophobe, Rygar, Klax, Xybots, Roadblasters, Paperboy...) and a bunch of really good original games. It beats the pants of the 7800's original library too (not counting the amazing homebrew selection, and I'm saying this as a huge 7800 fan). It gets a lot of positive press from retro articles on major game websites as well.

So... why isn't it more popular among Atari fans?



#2 swlovinist OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 6, 2018 10:07 PM

I've noticed, over the years, that the Lynx tends to get the least attention than any other Atari system. Despite the fact that it sold better than the Jaguar (if Atari's sales numbers are to be believed), it's last place in terms of popularity compared to all the other Atari consoles. Just look at the forum post count for each Atari sub forum. The Lynx has the least.

Which I have always found odd. I get the 2600/Atari 8-bit lines being the most popular, they had the most market penetration and popularity (and therefore, nostalgia). Yet, the Lynx never gets the attention even the 5200 or the Jaguar get.

I've always found this strange. They Lynx library is excellent, and it has *vastly* more good titles than the Jaguar library has, and the 5200, due to basically being a dressed up Atari 400 with wonky 1st gen analogue controls, plays poorly even if it has some great 8-bit games.

I mean, the Lynx is *really* fun. It's got the best home ports of all of Atari's late 80s Arcade titles (Xenophobe, Rygar, Klax, Xybots, Roadblasters, Paperboy...) and a bunch of really good original games. It beats the pants of the 7800's original library too (not counting the amazing homebrew selection, and I'm saying this as a huge 7800 fan). It gets a lot of positive press from retro articles on major game websites as well.

So... why isn't it more popular among Atari fans?

 

I often find that it being a portable meant that it was not taken as seriously as a console.  It kind of is the anomaly for Atari systems.  It is not a home console or computer, meaning it was avoided by two major pockets of Atari fans as being an afterthought.  The screen mod upgrade has rekindled some to pursue it more, but is expensive.  It offers some amazing capabilities limited by screen resolution limitations.   I love it for what it is...a very misunderstood chapter for Atari, and a portable that was very powerful for the time.  



#3 Lord Thag OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 6, 2018 10:20 PM

 

I often find that it being a portable meant that it was not taken as seriously as a console.  It kind of is the anomaly for Atari systems.  It is not a home console or computer, meaning it was avoided by two major pockets of Atari fans as being an afterthought.  The screen mod upgrade has rekindled some to pursue it more, but is expensive.  It offers some amazing capabilities limited by screen resolution limitations.   I love it for what it is...a very misunderstood chapter for Atari, and a portable that was very powerful for the time.  

It's definitely true that portables in general don't get the respect the dedicated consoles do. And I get that, I just find it odd that some of the other Atari oddities are more popular, even when this system has a great library of games. I just find it odd that collectors don't like it more than they do.

I don't think the resolution is the reason: The Gameboy, Neo, TG Express, Nomad, Geo Pocket etc. have strong followings, and most of them suffer from poor resolution,  backlighting etc.. Personally, I think it's a combination of your portable comment and the system's weird market penetration. You only saw it at very specific outlets back in the day (Toys R Us) for example, and nowhere else. Because of that, people nowadays generally didn't experience it back in the day, and because of that, don't realize how good the library is.  



#4 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 7, 2018 5:04 AM

It's plenty popular here, there are some people who WORSHIP this nearly 30yo system.

It has a small but good library, and some technical tricks that resemble SNES or Genesis games. I like it.

#5 pacman000 ONLINE  

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Posted Mon May 7, 2018 7:01 AM

The Jaguar, 7800, & 5200 get some alternate reality wishful thinking. "What might've happened if things worked out differently?"

 

The Lynx could (and should) get that too, but, as others have mentioned, handhelds are often treated as less worthy than consoles.



#6 moff000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 7, 2018 1:02 PM

I love the lynx! My brother got a lynx 2 back in 1991. I wanted one but also liked going to the pub so i didn't end up getting one until recently.

I only ever remember playing chips challenge and so i'm pretty amazed at how good it is with other games available for it.



#7 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 7, 2018 2:43 PM

The screen is terrible, for one thing. I keep meaning to McWill mod mine but I bought it new and it's still in new condition and I'm afraid of scratching it up. So I'm sort of in the market for a used one to do it to, but just haven't pulled the trigger. It's gonna end up being like $180 to have a Lynx with a decent screen.

 

That said, I do keep meaning to revisit mine even with the terrible screen; I just didn't get very far in any of the games I have because of that. I don't remember them seeming all that fun, and I have mostly the staple games that everybody seems to like.

 

And I don't think it's *because* it's a handheld that it gets shorter shrift, but I think some of its shortcomings definitely stem from it being a handheld in that era. The bad screen that's also tiny by modern standards, the big bulky system that doesn't have very good battery life... I mean I personally don't like *any* handhelds from that period of time. But not because they're handhelds. The first handheld I really was impressed with in terms of design and usability was the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and the first one that I really built up a decent library for was the GBA. The PSP was the one that really made handhelds respectable compared to current systems (and I can't believe I didn't own one at the time), and that's continued with the PS Vita and Switch.

 

But back in the Lynx's day, handhelds were always at least a generation behind and I didn't find them all that pleasant to use. The Lynx was more powerful than the Game Boy, for sure, but I still found most of its games pretty ugly at the time. But I may feel differently if I try it again now.



#8 7800fan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 8, 2018 6:58 PM

I think it's more that Gameboy was cheap.  Portable game systems back in the day were more likely to be played by kids and average kids would prefer cheaper Gameboy over pricier Lynx and Game Gear (and very pricey Turboexpress).  Battery life were measured in several hours up to around 30 for Gameboy vs about 4-6 for color systems.



#9 Turbo Laser Lynx OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 9, 2018 12:53 AM

Interesting question, and interesting points and opinions here. I was thinking about this for three days and I had a hard time coming up with anything other than the (non technical) obvious reasons (because the Lynx is so great, haha). Also I feel the obvious reasons are more true for back in the day, nowadays the Lynx could and should be more popular. Has someone else sensed an increase in popularity of the Lynx lately with the retrogaming boom, collecting boom and all? At least prices have gone up on ebay for most 'retro' consoles and computers including the Lynx.

 

Obvious reasons (back in the day):

- It seems Atari didn't have enough marketing money to compete with nintendo and sega, there was a literal shitstorm of advertising for the GB and the GG, the adds were everywhere, on MTV, in comics, and they got much more coverage in gaming magazines.

- You could buy gameboys everywhere. At least here in finland you could only buy lynxes in the biggest cities.

- Seeing the game libraries grow explosively for the GB and GG back in the day compared to the Lynx was pretty disappointing. Nowadays I think it's pretty exciting that the Lynx game library is limited, it's makes things a bit easier for us homebrewers since there's some gaps. It doesn't feel as exciting to make games on some other really popular systems that already have EVERYTHING + a bit more.

- The Lynx had too little cartoony/colorful games (and no mascot). One big reason I bought mine was screenshots of apb and pacland that looked cartoony and fun, and screenshots of california games that looked really colorful and awesome. GB and GG getting a shitload of licenced games of popular movies and cartoons would feel a bit unfair at the time.

 

I haven't really heard a lot of people thinking less of handheld systems as someone mentioned here, other than than perhaps that they don't like handhelds in the first place. I think especially the Lynx got a lot of praise in the magazines for being hi-tech.


Edited by Turbo Laser Lynx, Wed May 9, 2018 1:10 AM.


#10 UHATEIT OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 9, 2018 10:10 AM

I recently got into the Sega Game gear actually since they are super cheap to buy. I love Atari and would like to get a Lynx but they are very pricey considering the screen is pretty bad on it. Someone posted that they'd be looking up there in price to get a used Lynx and then have the McWill screen mod done. While the Game Gear had a bad screen, bad caps, and bad battery life, getting one fully restored with new caps and the LED backlight mod with a freshly upgraded battery back attachment with 2900MAH batteries is fairly cheap even with a case and some games. Also the Game Gear has a pretty hefty library compared to the Lynx.

 

Alas I wouldn't mind a Lynx but they are getting pricey.



#11 Lord Thag OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 9, 2018 11:08 AM

Interesting question, and interesting points and opinions here. I was thinking about this for three days and I had a hard time coming up with anything other than the (non technical) obvious reasons (because the Lynx is so great, haha). Also I feel the obvious reasons are more true for back in the day, nowadays the Lynx could and should be more popular. Has someone else sensed an increase in popularity of the Lynx lately with the retrogaming boom, collecting boom and all? At least prices have gone up on ebay for most 'retro' consoles and computers including the Lynx.

 

Obvious reasons (back in the day):

- It seems Atari didn't have enough marketing money to compete with nintendo and sega, there was a literal shitstorm of advertising for the GB and the GG, the adds were everywhere, on MTV, in comics, and they got much more coverage in gaming magazines.

- You could buy gameboys everywhere. At least here in finland you could only buy lynxes in the biggest cities.

- Seeing the game libraries grow explosively for the GB and GG back in the day compared to the Lynx was pretty disappointing. Nowadays I think it's pretty exciting that the Lynx game library is limited, it's makes things a bit easier for us homebrewers since there's some gaps. It doesn't feel as exciting to make games on some other really popular systems that already have EVERYTHING + a bit more.

- The Lynx had too little cartoony/colorful games (and no mascot). One big reason I bought mine was screenshots of apb and pacland that looked cartoony and fun, and screenshots of california games that looked really colorful and awesome. GB and GG getting a shitload of licenced games of popular movies and cartoons would feel a bit unfair at the time.

 

I haven't really heard a lot of people thinking less of handheld systems as someone mentioned here, other than than perhaps that they don't like handhelds in the first place. I think especially the Lynx got a lot of praise in the magazines for being hi-tech.

Your last point, about lacking cutesy platformers/mascots etc. is a good one. It shows how out of touch Atari was back then, but conversely, it's why I like the Lynx so much now. The Lynx was all about these great late eighties arcade ports and/or a few original titles (which tended to be more like Amiga games than NES games).

The lack of those modern day recognizable franchises is probably why a lot of people don't gravitate to the Lynx. Looking at a list of the games... probably isn't that appealing unless you are an arcade far. Playing them, on the other hand, will make a fan of most anyone. So it's probably a combination of the above points, and the fact that it's hard to find a way to play the games these days, outside of emulation. 



#12 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 9, 2018 12:39 PM

Gameboy
Over 1000 games
Fits in your (big) pocket
Works in bright sunlight
Runs for days on 4 AA batteries
Wide variety of games, including arcade ports, many licenses
Battery backups for long-form games like RPGs
"good enough"
 
Atari Lynx
73 games
Too big for pockets
Can't see screen well outdoors
Runs for a few hours on 6 AA batteries
Lots of arcade-type games. Few "known characters" outside arcade ports
Mostly quick-play type games
"better, but not the ways that mattered"

#13 Lost Dragon ONLINE  

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Posted Wed May 9, 2018 12:59 PM

I can't add much to the superb points raised already,other than MegaDrive Roadblasters just pips the Lynx version but that's personal taste.

I think an issue might lie with the Lynx's libary to a degree,in that a lot of it's best games are either avaiable on other systems and more complete in cases like APB..missing Prisoner confession sequence or SOTB..flying level.

Or loose something in translation...Lemmings really benifits from mouse control and because Lynx version has icons on pause screen, you loose the frantic nature of the gameplay...

Desert Strike lacks ground detail of the 8bit Game Gear version.

Or simply aren't suited to handheld play as lack even a password feature..Dracula and SOTB.

It's an amazing system for Toki, Stun Runner, Warbirds, Xenophobe,Ramparts,Ninja Gaiden,Slime World,Pac Land etc, but with the coin op conversions why would people seek out the Lynx vetsion in this day and age when you can put all manner of emulators on all manner of handheld devices and play the MD,PC Engine etc versions instead?

#14 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 10, 2018 1:04 PM

Price, batteries, library (and lack of a killer app) in that order I'd say. In the 90's I didn't spend for a new Lynx myself (even though I earned my own money) until I got a deal on a used system (sold by the mother of the original buyer as he had stolen the money from her purse). She was rather astonished that a grown-up would buy such a thing for himself. 

 

I have no GB experience at all apart from a game of Tetris so I can't really judge if the GB games were more playable. 

 

My nephews had color gameboys a couple of years later and played a lot of Pokemon but that must have been around 98 and the Lynx as a product dead by then.



#15 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 11, 2018 12:44 AM

I haven't really heard a lot of people thinking less of handheld systems as someone mentioned here, other than than perhaps that they don't like handhelds in the first place. I think especially the Lynx got a lot of praise in the magazines for being hi-tech.

 

High tech... for a handheld.

 

At the time, it was just assumed that you had to make compromises to fit any amount of computing power in a thing you could hold in your hand. People weren't walking around with these immensely powerful palmtop computers (aka cell phones) that we all have now; any kind of handheld computing was considered amazing just for existing. But that doesn't mean most people thought it was good in absolute terms.

 

So it just went unspoken that handhelds were considered lesser and secondary to home consoles. You wouldn't have read about it much because it was just common knowledge; the sky is blue, and handhelds suck. Not many people really took them seriously; they were something you whipped out to play a quick game of Tetris on the train. That's all most people ever used them for at first.

 

It also wasn't considered necessary for them to be any more advanced considering how well the Game Boy was selling, which was practically anachronistic the day it was released. But, yeah, it had Tetris and Mario, plus a lot of other crappier games with famous names, so people bought it as a time waster.

 

The Game Gear and Lynx both tried to push the technology forward, but they both had to make just as many compromises as the Game Boy did; they just made different ones. They sacrificed size, battery life and screen quality in order to get a bit more horsepower and color. But it wasn't even *that* much more computing horsepower; if you were to show people most Game Boy games vs. most Lynx games and just turned the color off, I'll bet most people wouldn't know they were from different systems. And for me and I think a lot of other people, the quality of the screen itself made it hard to enjoy the color from the Lynx, which negated a lot of that advantage. At least the Game Boy had a really sharp screen, even if it was pea green, slow, and not lit.

 

It would still be a long time before the compromises in handhelds became harder to notice and/or easier to ignore. But at the time, they were just glaring. And I don't think the compromises Atari made were the right ones.

 

*Now*, most of that doesn't matter, because it's not like the Lynx is trying to compete against the Switch. Once time has passed, we're all able to look at these things devoid of the context they once had. But the Lynx does still suffer from compromises that I feel like make it hard to enjoy even in a vacuum. I did mention the screen mod that at least takes care of that problem, and that's probably the only real dealbreaker for me at this point. I just need to finally pay the money and do it one of these days...



#16 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 8:45 AM

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#17 Serguei2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 9:17 AM

Back in 1990s, only few stores in Canada where I live sells Atari Lynx. The only store I know is Compucentre.

 

And I don't remember which stores sell Jaguar.

 

The problem with Lynx is there are minimal 3rd party for the system.

 

Game gear was more popular. It was selling in Sears Canada, Canadian Tire, Walmart, Toys-R-Us, ...



#18 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 9:22 AM

The problem with Lynx is there are minimal 3rd party for the system.

Specifically, not a single Japanese developer, it seems to me



#19 Intymike OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 9:47 AM

I bought my Lynx in 1990 at Toys'R'Us over here in Germany. But can't remember where else it was on sale (except for mail order).



#20 djugel OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 12:51 PM

Specifically, not a single Japanese developer, it seems to me

 

you forgot TECMO



#21 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 1:55 PM

I blame the kids



#22 Serguei2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 3:24 PM

 

you forgot TECMO

 

It means japanese developers, not japanese games licensed to Atari.

 

Specifically, not a single Japanese developer, it seems to me

 

Was this a norm in 1990s consoles won't sell without japanese developers?


Edited by Serguei2, Mon May 14, 2018 3:24 PM.


#23 keepdreamin OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 4:10 PM

Gameboy

Runs for days on 2 AA batteries

 

 

4 AAs.   :P


Edited by keepdreamin, Mon May 14, 2018 4:12 PM.


#24 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 4:13 PM

Yeah that too

#25 sirlynxalot OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 5:37 PM

As a kid in the early 90s, a main selling point for the lynx and game gear for me was that you could game in the dark with them, like, in your bed after your parents thought you were asleep. 

However, that's moot anyway because my parents were too frugal to buy me any handheld game system when I was a kid despite my asking and wishing :)


Edited by sirlynxalot, Mon May 14, 2018 5:37 PM.





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