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bluejay

How come nobody knows about the Lynx?

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Just wondering, how the hell did the Gameboy defeat the Lynx and the Game Gear by so much? I can understand how the Gameboy was about half the price of the Lynx and the Game Gear, but obviously, the Lynx and the Game Gear is way more capable, with backlit color screens. It's like a $1000 gaming PC being destroyed by a Nintendo Switch. I don't think it makes sense that almost nobody even remembers the Lynx and the Game Gear, while everybody knows what a Gameboy is.

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Bad battery life, bad screen, way too big, no Tetris.

 

I'm not a fan of the original Game Boy and didn't really like handhelds in general until the NGPC. But it's pretty easy for me to see why the GB beat the Lynx and even the Game Gear (even though the GG had Sonic and other popular icons of the day).

 

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I am Lynx owner since the 2000s. The Lynx has some nice games, but I being a realist here.

 

I can speak about the Lynx compare to Game Boy.  I was a grade school student in the United States when the Lynx and Game Boy came out in 1989.  If you were in 5th grade like I was at the time, there was a size difference between the two systems along with battery life besides being more expensive. I knew students who owned Game boy when it first came out.  

 

I did not own  Game Boy at all, and it took me GBC to own a handheld. I did not like Game Boy's Screen at all just like I didn't like Game Gear's Screen. The Lynx was too expensive at the time for anyone who was a grade school student in 1989 and trust me, my parents did not want to spend the $180.00 for a handheld in 1989. 

 

Back in 1989, Nintendo was looked at more kindly by people than Atari was. Atari was not considered cool in 1989 and I am saying that as an Atari 2600 Jr. owner back when when Game boy and the Lynx was released. Atari was not considered in at the school I attended compare to the Nes.

 

The first thing is the Lynx had a small game library and not a lot of 3rd party titles. Game Gear even had more than 3rd party titles than the Lynx. 

 

What I do know is the Lynx was released in Japan, but there was big problem. Atari Inc. did not release the 5200 in Japan, and Atari Corp. did not release the 7800 in Japan. That means Japanese Consumers really did not know the Atari product at a time Nintendo built a huge following in Japan.

 

What I can tell you is Tetris was the game that sold the Gameboy to people. The Lynx had great games like Blue Lightning, but they did not sell the system. 

 

The Lynx had arcade games, but there are multiple issues in this case. Ms. Pac-Man, Qix, Robotron 2084, and Joust were extremely long in the tooth despite being well known arcade games. Pac-Land was old when the game released for the lynx, and to top it off, Pac-Land in the arcades was not exactly as popular as Ms. Pac-man and Pac-man. The Lynx had a lot of ports from Atari Games Corporation, but how many of those games were popular as arcade games. The Lynx got Double Dragon way too late in its lifetime. 

 

The Lynx got Ninja Gaiden and Rygar, but they were based on the Arcade versions, not the NES version. The fact is Ninja Gaiden and Rygar were not well known arcade games compare to the Nes games with the same names despite the Nes versions being very different. 

 

Where I grew up in the United States, it was not easy to find stores with an Atari Lynx. Atari was bad with marketing for the Lynx. I did find the Lynx at stores early as 1989/1990 though, but was not interested at the time for the reasons I already mentioned.

Edited by 8th lutz
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I love the Lynx (which reminds me, I need to send it off for the BV LCD mod) but while it had a lot of great games, there simply was not any single killer exclusive game that made the hardware an absolute must have. Some may say Blue Lightning but I don't believe that's the case and from what I heard, Dracula could have been amazing but was hindered from within Atari. The Alien vs. Predator demo found some years later proved to be rather cool but was quite a far cry from what the Jag offered in terms of depth. It would have been amazing had they ported Tempest 2000 to the Lynx but even with all of those, it would have probably only helped push out whatever inventory they already had at the time at best.

 

That's only part of it. I do believe distribution must have been another issue or at least until it was too late and the Jaguar had already hit the scene. As a kid, I simply don't remember seeing the Lynx until around 94 and by then it seemed to be a discounted handheld. Huge orange stickers claiming $269 value for only $99 (Lynx II with 4 games, etc.) then it wasn't much longer and Sega would release the Nomad in 1995. I remember how cool I thought the Nomad was and the rich kid down the street that got everything of course had one. Played with it one time but it was quite a brick, no worse than the Lynx however.

 

I don't remember the screen being as bad as it certainly is now but then again, the old LCDs simply do not age well it seems. Thankfully the new LCDs and SD carts are breathing new life into them again, not to mention all the cool compos. Despite all of that, where's the killer app? It could have been the Switch of the 90s had it been capable of being a portable AND connecting to the TV, though I still doubt that would have made a difference as cool as it would have been. It still needed some major 3rd party games on a grand scale that just never was to be. Dracula was probably the closest to a really big title the Lynx could have ever received and sadly it just didn't happen and for that, you can thank Atari.

 

So to answer your question: Nobody knows of the Lynx because Atari was cheap and just didn't manage to get enough 3rd party games that mattered. Everyone would rather make monochrome games for Gameboy with a user installed base that far exceeded anything the Lynx could ever dream of touching, despite its technical greatness. The Game Gear had about 400 games for it and sold 10 million units, the Gameboy selling over 118 million units with a game library of just over 1,000 and the Lynx a measly 75 games. So you have to look back in perspective and admire that they managed to sell 3 million units really when both Gameboy and Game Gear simply dominated in terms of what they could offer.

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No advertising. I don’t recall one single TV or print ad for the Lynx in Canada during its commercial run, and it had zero footprint in stores. I had to buy all my games at local Atari dealers. And it’s now obvious that no one wanted to play Arcade games that much in 1990, something of which Epyx was aware but Atari...not.

 

I don’t buy the physical complaints about the system that are now commonplace. The screen is mediocre...in comparison with a McWilled mod, but the Game Gear’s was awful, and the Game Boy...ugh. And I doubt poor battery life was a deciding factor for the target audience. I certainly didn’t do a side-by-side comparison of systems when I bought my first one at 18 and think “battery life is key!”

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17 minutes ago, Clint Thompson said:

I love the Lynx (which reminds me, I need to send it off for the BV LCD mod) but while it had a lot of great games, there simply was not any single killer exclusive game that made the hardware an absolute must have. Some may say Blue Lightning but I don't believe that's the case and from what I heard, Dracula could have been amazing but was hindered from within Atari. The Alien vs. Predator demo found some years later proved to be rather cool but was quite a far cry from what the Jag offered in terms of depth. It would have been amazing had they ported Tempest 2000 to the Lynx but even with all of those, it would have probably only helped push out whatever inventory they already had at the time at best.

 

That's only part of it. I do believe distribution must have been another issue or at least until it was too late and the Jaguar had already hit the scene. As a kid, I simply don't remember seeing the Lynx until around 94 and by then it seemed to be a discounted handheld. Huge orange stickers claiming $269 value for only $99 (Lynx II with 4 games, etc.) then it wasn't much longer and Sega would release the Nomad in 1995. I remember how cool I thought the Nomad was and the rich kid down the street that got everything of course had one. Played with it one time but it was quite a brick, no worse than the Lynx however.

 

I don't remember the screen being as bad as it certainly is now but then again, the old LCDs simply do not age well it seems. Thankfully the new LCDs and SD carts are breathing new life into them again, not to mention all the cool compos. Despite all of that, where's the killer app? It could have been the Switch of the 90s had it been capable of being a portable AND connecting to the TV, though I still doubt that would have made a difference as cool as it would have been. It still needed some major 3rd party games on a grand scale that just never was to be. Dracula was probably the closest to a really big title the Lynx could have ever received and sadly it just didn't happen and for that, you can thank Atari.

 

So to answer your question: Nobody knows of the Lynx because Atari was cheap and just didn't manage to get enough 3rd party games that mattered. Everyone would rather make monochrome games for Gameboy with a user installed base that far exceeded anything the Lynx could ever dream of touching, despite its technical greatness. The Game Gear had about 400 games for it and sold 10 million units, the Gameboy selling over 118 million units with a game library of just over 1,000 and the Lynx a measly 75 games. So you have to look back in perspective and admire that they managed to sell 3 million units really when both Gameboy and Game Gear simply dominated in terms of what they could offer.

We may disagree, but Klax is the Lynx’s killer app. And it had that market for about a year, which shows you that Atari couldn’t market its system or that the appetite just wasn’t there. Or both. In fact, all of the launch titles (Gates of Zendocon excepted) were, aside from CG, amazing exclusives that would have sold very well if anyone had known about them. We’re all pretty nonchalant about it now, but I was just blown away by Electrocop the first time I played it. It was simply amazing for 1989/1990.

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18 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

We may disagree, but Klax is the Lynx’s killer app. And it had that market for about a year, which shows you that Atari couldn’t market its system or that the appetite just wasn’t there. Or both. In fact, all of the launch titles (Gates of Zendocon excepted) were, aside from CG, amazing exclusives that would have sold very well if anyone had known about them. We’re all pretty nonchalant about it now, but I was just blown away by Electrocop the first time I played it. It was simply amazing for 1989/1990.

Yeah, I don't even think I received my NES until 89 to put things in perspective personally. Klax was ok but if that really was the killer app then it would explain why it didn't take off. Even today I would rather play B&W Tetris over Klax. Tetris had all the elements of addictive gameplay and great music. I had the same feeling towards Pipe Dream as well, loved it as a puzzle game and the music was incredible. I feel like we were robbed not having either of those games in glorious color with amazing music to boot for our Lynx.

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The biggest factor in my opinion: JAPAN. 

 

A huge proportion of GameBoy software came out of Japan, innovative stuff that stretched the concept of a game, especially with the deeper, battery-backed games that could save your progress. 
 

it didn't hurt that the GameBoy looked like it could have been made by Sony. It was to games what the Walkman was for music, and Sony didn't have anything in the same category until the PSP in 2005. 
 

[yikes -- we are almost as far from the PSP in time as the PSP was from the GameBoy]
 

i liked the Lynx a lot, probably more than the Genesis for a while, and certainly more than Game Gear. My killer apps were 2 arcade ports that didn't show up anywhere else: APB and STUN Runner. Fun but not exactly deep, and GTA and Wipeout rendered them obsolete. 
 

Typing this on my phone, I can't quite muster much enthusiasm for the bricklike Lynx anymore. The PocketGo emulates it pretty well, and it looks nice on the IPS screen. 

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1 hour ago, Flojomojo said:

The biggest factor in my opinion: JAPAN.

I think it was especially true for Europe - or at least a part of it, where Atari was mostly known for the Atari ST at the time. It is quite ironic that Atari is a French company now since most French retrogamers don't care about the Atari 2600... -_- Every system before the NES, Master System, Atari ST, Amiga, and Amstrad CPC has been (almost) forgotten anyway.

 

And games from Atari Games and Epyx were cult classics in the USA but a lot less popular in Europe (at least in France). I think one of the most exciting games on the Lynx for me (and the press at the time) was Rygar - a Japanese game. Since I was curious, I had to rent (for maybe $15-20) a Lynx from the sole owner of the handheld in my class (a complete douchebag by the way) and I liked it, but I was fond of SEGA at the time and also had a Game Boy which had Double Dragon, (Sunsoft's) Batman, TMNT, etc. The battery was not a huge problem for me since I mostly played at home anyway - I played the Game Gear plugged to the wall! - but yeah, the real issue for me was the lack of 'exciting' games - in the eye of a young teenager of course.

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14 hours ago, spacecadet said:

Bad battery life, bad screen, way too big, no Tetris.

 

Bad screen? Did you every see the original GB screen?

 

Battery life, to big, no Tetris, I agree.

The price was double of GB and much more Games available for the GB.

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16 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

it had zero footprint in stores. I had to buy all my games at local Atari dealers. And it’s now obvious that no one wanted to play Arcade games that much in 1990, something of which Epyx was aware but Atari...not. 

 

I agree that most of the best known game titles on the Lynx were old news 1990-91. Also I think back then as a kid you expected a little bit more of the games (although I usually like small arcade games the best nowadays). Reading about a "handheld Amiga" and it being marketed as 16-bit and such (although the cpu is 8-bit) really set the expectations high, this could actually be a winning point too for the Gameboy. You didn't expect too much of it, but then playing Super Mario Land or Duck Tales it was great.

I recently bought the 1989 (or was it 1990) copy of the Finnish magazine MikroBitti to read their review of the Lynx. They gave quite a lot of praise to the system and saying that it was almost like a handheld ST at its best, like in Gates of Zendocon, but about California games they said that it looks nice, but "who would get excited about that game anymore" :lol: I wouldn't have agreed with them specifically on that one though.

Same thing here about finding it in stores. Gameboys where in every store in every town. To get a Lynx you needed to order one from one or two of the biggest cities. I think many kids my age probably didn't have the patience to wait for a more expensive Lynx or GG when they could whine for a Gameboy readily available everywhere.

It seemed to me the Lynx did excite people for a little while, but then Atari failed to keep up the initial momentum. Wasn't Tramiel Atari quite a "small" company though, compared to Nintendo and Sega? So perhaps they didn't have the needed marketing, distribution and game development budget (in addition to little 3rd party support)? For me, after the promising start, the situation started to become clear quite fast when following computer magazines. GB and GG where getting all these striking and popular mascot and 'toon games etc. The "five new" Lynx games coming out where always "coming soon" forever. There were very few licenced games and well known games such as Lemmings and Shadow of the Beast came out way too late.

Anyhow, the holes in the Lynx library are kind of exciting now, it's so much fun when there's some new games being made for it. Some of the super popular retro computers and consoles have pretty much ten versions of every game you could think of from before, so comparably new software for those perhaps drown in the numbers a little bit.
 

 

Edited by Turbo Laser Lynx
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2 hours ago, GoldLeader said:

What's a Lynx?

If this isn't supposed to be a joke, it's a portable console made by Atari(technically, it was made by Epyx, but Atari manufactured it under its name) in 1989.

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I owned all three (GameBoy first, then GameGear, later Lynx when it was heavily discounted).

 

First, very few people buy a system based on its specs and the GameBoy was already a huge improvement over what came before (Game&Watch, Microvision). Nintendo already had a huge advantage because their previous system was the NES. They had the trust of both consumers and developers, plus the marketing to make the GB a success. Internally, multiple teams were developing games and they had connections to almost every third-party developer. Atari only had Epyx as a third-party developer in the launch window. The GB's library quickly grew and you had franchises that were popular on the NES (Castlevania, Super Mario etc.). They didn't look as good, but playing such games mobile was a huge deal.

 

The Lynx's other competitor, the GameGear, didn't enjoy the third-party support the GB did, but basing the hardware on the Master System was a genius move. With very little effort, Sega and other developers could port their Master System games over to the Game Gear. These ports not only included arcade games that were popular in the mid-80's either, Sega released Sonic games and their jump'n'runs based on Disney characters.

 

So Atari had two rivals that specialized in game consoles and were very capable at developing games. Both had successful franchises and consoles that were still current by the time their handheld systems launched. They had business relations with big third-party developers and could concentrate their marketing dollars and yens on their consoles. Atari had none of those. They still had their computer business that released three systems in 1989 (Stacy, STE, Portfolio) and Atari still suffered financially from their purchase of the Federated stores. The regional branches of Atari had some freedom on advertizing too, thus the Lynx saw little support from Atari Germany. Atari Germany's ads for the Lynx II were awful, still concentrating on the color screen instead of the games.

 

Considering all these circumstances, the Lynx still did pretty well...

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6 hours ago, bluejay said:

If this isn't supposed to be a joke, it's a portable console made by Atari(technically, it was made by Epyx, but Atari manufactured it under its name) in 1989.

 

Yeah, it was a joke.  Kind of  like I'm proving your point that nobody knows about the Lynx...(heh)...Speaking for myself,  my friend had a Lynx and I thought it was neat enough, but I was headed to the University and had no extra spending money...I took my NES and a handful of games with me,  then the parents bought me a couple of NES games for Christmas, and I think spending scholarship/grant money I bought only one NES game that school year (Tetris)...

 

Anyway,  bad timing/lack of funds prevented me from buying one.

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Nobody knows about it because of the power of Atari's marketing (or lack thereof).

 

After Tramiel bought Atari in 1984, he moved the company more towards computers with an eye on business markets rather than gaming.   But they were still happy to dump their existing videogame stock on the market with minimal marketing and R&D effort because it kept the lights on.    Eventually they noticed PC clones were locking up the computer market, and they started to take games more seriously.   But by that time their videogame marketing muscle had long eroded.   The Lynx was the first truly new videogame system Atari had released that wasn't based on pre-Tramiel tech.   They bought the design from Epyx, so it wasn't even an in-house effort.

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The Lynx was more popular in UK than US. Most video game shops in my area (Software Cavern, Computer Care South, Ultima Computer Shop) had Lynx games, Lynx was well featured in UKs gaming magazines, for example C&VG, Mean Machines, etc. Of course, me and Colin always wrote about Atari Lynx in our fanzine 8/16, and also Edwin and I did Lynx User/Atari Entertainment.

Telegames always advertised in most UK gaming magazines for the Lynx. In London was Silica Shop and CEX. I think all this helped a bit.

 

Mind you, in UK most of the girls wanted Game Boys

Edited by high voltage
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I prefer the Switch to a gaming PC... In other words: most consumers prefer a cheaper, more casual, easier to access gaming experience than having the best specs at a significantly higher cost. It was true back then and it’s likely still true today.

 

I just picked up a Lynx a few months ago at a game store while I was in Vegas for a conference and I enjoy it quite a bit. I don’t know how they compared back in the day, but I think my Lynx’s original screen is FAR superior to my Game Gear’s that even had new capacitors.

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Fact is J T plus the loss of tetris =  hurt the Lynx... his idea of making it bigger so people  would think it was worth more money sucked as well, it is way more convenient to be able to lug your hand held gaming gear in a large pocket... end of story. The Lynx was the best hand held at the time ruined by marketing and JT plus poor lawyers... as usual...

the screen could have easily stayed the same size with the rest of the hand held reorganized to fit in a large pocket. What can you say...

Edited by _The Doctor__

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On 10/13/2019 at 5:16 AM, bluejay said:

Just wondering, how the hell did the Gameboy defeat the Lynx

Maybe you were not born at that time but Atari was already in bad condition when releasing the Lynx.

The Lynx had some weaknesses (battery autonomy, size) compared to the the GB the main problem was the games.

Atari was at that time far weaker than Nintendo and could never attract the most famous developers.

Most of the Lynx games are were from the beginning from Epyx and Atari (Ten Gen, Atari games) while Nintendo could count on numerous well known companies.

Despite the Epyx first games were amazing (Electrocop, Blue Lightning...) the Lynx had few games and even few hits to help selling a lot of Lynx.

By the time Psygnosis or Electronic Arts released for the Lynx, it was already too late: the Lynx were over flood by the GB in sales.

Marketing and advertisement were far in the advantage of the Nintendo because of the lack of resources of Atari.

I would summarize the Lynx failure by the fact that the Tramiel receipt: don't spend in ad, it will sold by itself was totally old fashioned in 1990.

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On 10/14/2019 at 5:53 PM, high voltage said:

The Lynx was more popular in UK than US.

In France the GB was sold in every hypermarket while to find a Lynx you had to go in secialized shops in electronics such as la Fnac for example.

I was living in the Parisian suburbs and I used to go in Paris to buy Lynx games at la Fnac otherwise almost nowhere they were to be found except in Auchan hypermarkets at Christmas time...

One single time, there were Atari advertisement for the Lynx in the subway...

Edited by Felyx
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On 10/14/2019 at 5:00 PM, zzip said:

Nobody knows about it because of the power of Atari's marketing (or lack thereof).

I fully agree + the lack of developers for releasing more games and more hits. the Lynx was too dependent of the Atari sphere and did not attract the best companies. Very few "non Atari" hits were ported on the Lynx: Shadow of the beast, Desert Strike and basta...

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On 10/13/2019 at 5:40 AM, Clint Thompson said:

I love the Lynx (which reminds me, I need to send it off for the BV LCD mod) but while it had a lot of great games, there simply was not any single killer exclusive game that made the hardware an absolute must have. Some may say Blue Lightning but I don't believe that's the case and from what I heard, Dracula could have been amazing but was hindered from within Atari. The Alien vs. Predator demo found some years later proved to be rather cool but was quite a far cry from what the Jag offered in terms of depth. It would have been amazing had they ported Tempest 2000 to the Lynx but even with all of those, it would have probably only helped push out whatever inventory they already had at the time at best.

 

That's only part of it. I do believe distribution must have been another issue or at least until it was too late and the Jaguar had already hit the scene. As a kid, I simply don't remember seeing the Lynx until around 94 and by then it seemed to be a discounted handheld. Huge orange stickers claiming $269 value for only $99 (Lynx II with 4 games, etc.) then it wasn't much longer and Sega would release the Nomad in 1995. I remember how cool I thought the Nomad was and the rich kid down the street that got everything of course had one. Played with it one time but it was quite a brick, no worse than the Lynx however.

 

I don't remember the screen being as bad as it certainly is now but then again, the old LCDs simply do not age well it seems. Thankfully the new LCDs and SD carts are breathing new life into them again, not to mention all the cool compos. Despite all of that, where's the killer app? It could have been the Switch of the 90s had it been capable of being a portable AND connecting to the TV, though I still doubt that would have made a difference as cool as it would have been. It still needed some major 3rd party games on a grand scale that just never was to be. Dracula was probably the closest to a really big title the Lynx could have ever received and sadly it just didn't happen and for that, you can thank Atari.

 

So to answer your question: Nobody knows of the Lynx because Atari was cheap and just didn't manage to get enough 3rd party games that mattered. Everyone would rather make monochrome games for Gameboy with a user installed base that far exceeded anything the Lynx could ever dream of touching, despite its technical greatness. The Game Gear had about 400 games for it and sold 10 million units, the Gameboy selling over 118 million units with a game library of just over 1,000 and the Lynx a measly 75 games. So you have to look back in perspective and admire that they managed to sell 3 million units really when both Gameboy and Game Gear simply dominated in terms of what they could offer.

Blue Lighting was a superb showcase for the Lynx hardware, especially given the botch job Jez San and team had done with ST and Amiga Afterburner, but for a system selling game, it was no Sonic or Tetris.

 

 

Dracula could of been a much bigger game if it had the full content, but an adventure game with no battery back up...that's ill suited to the handheld format.

 

 

 

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