Released in 1989, the Atari Lynx, with its colorful backlit screen and many arcade titles, dared to challenge the Game Boy’s reign in the world of handheld gaming with its sheer horsepower. Whilst it did not quite dethrone Nintendo’s monochrome king, it left behind a treasure trove of innovative and impressive arcade conversions.
We count down the best Atari Lynx games, from high-octane racers to mind-bending puzzlers, which showcase the system’s power and enduring appeal. It’s time to grab some AA batteries (plenty of them!), and indulge in the full colour handheld gaming that the Atari Lynx delivered.
Released in 1990 for the Atari Lynx, Rampage is a humor-filled ode to old-school monster movies, where you transform into monstrous beasts hell-bent on wreaking havoc.
Choose between George, the colossal ape, Lizzie, the fearsome lizard, Larry, a scraggy looking rat, or Ralph, the city-smashing werewolf, and embark on a mission to demolish cities and snack on anything that stands in your way!
Rampage boasts smooth visuals, from scurrying soldiers to detailed buildings. With over 120 levels of stomping and climbing action, your monster can scale buildings, punch windows, and munch on humans.
The cartoony, yet detailed visuals look great on the Lynx and even surpass some console ports, demonstrating the power of the Atari Lynx.
Get ready for a nostalgia trip down the pixelated labyrinth of the Atari Lynx with Chip’s Challenge, a brain-tickling puzzler that made its way onto the handheld console in 1989.
Following the tale of our nerdy hero, Chip McCallahan, this game is a testament to the lengths one will go to for love, as Chip tries to impress the girl of his dreams, Melinda the Mental Marvel.
Your mission? Guide bespectacled Chip over 140 levels of mind-bending mazes filled with perplexing puzzles, dastardly traps, and clever contraptions. The aim is to collect computer chips scattered throughout each level, reaching the exit before the timer runs out.
Chip’s Challenge is the perfect game for a handheld console, with simple chunky graphics, and addictive gameplay that keeps you coming back for more. Just make sure you have plenty of batteries for your Lynx if you’re playing on the move!
Released in 1991. S.T.U.N. Runner, which stands for Spread Tunnel Underground Network (obviously!), is a port of the excellent arcade game.
In this adrenaline-pumping gem, you pilot a futuristic speed machine through a 3D maze of tubular tunnels, with one goal in mind: just go as fast and far as possible before the time runs out! This game is all about pedal-to-the-metal, white-knuckle action!
S.T.U.N. Runner is a glorious blur of twists, turns, and death-defying leaps as you navigate the high-speed tunnels, collecting power-ups and blasting away pesky obstacles. S.T.U.N. Runner isn’t for the faint of heart. It’ll test your reflexes, courage, and ability to suppress motion sickness!
Another classic arcade conversion for the Atari Lynx, Pac-Land found its way to the Atari Lynx in 1991, which was a completely new kind of Pac-Man game, a side-scrolling platformer!
In Pac-Land, our beloved, yellow, dot-munching hero embarks on a mission to guide a lost fairy home. But don’t be fooled by the cute premise, Pac-Man’s journey is filled with peril, as ghosts, obstacles, and other hazards lie in wait.
Pac-Land offers a mix of classic Pac-Man mechanics and platforming action. You’ll navigate levels filled with pitfalls, leap over bottomless chasms, and dodge (or chomp) those pesky ghosts with the help of power pellets. And, in true Pac-Man fashion, you’ll collect cherries and other bonus items along the way, because a hero’s got to eat, right?
Pac-Land is a nostalgia-packed adventure that’s perfect for those who love the simplicity of classic arcade gaming.
RoadBlasters exploded onto the Atari Lynx in 1990, delivering the full arcade experience. This futuristic racing shooter is the perfect mash-up of high-speed thrills and explosive action.
Your goal is to race through 50 post-apocalyptic tracks, blasting away rival vehicles and collecting fuel globes to avoid running on fumes.
As you weave through traffic, dodge land mines, and give enemy cars a taste of their own medicine, you’ll also grab power-ups to soup up your vehicle. We’re talking lasers, missiles, and even a temporary invincibility shield that’d make James Bond jealous.
Roadblasters is a superb port of the high-octane arcade game, where every turn is a balance of survival and fuel efficiency!
An already well-established arcade classic, Paperboy was released in 1990. This meant you could now hurl rolled-up newspapers at unsuspecting porches all whilst on the move on your Atari Lynx.
You take on the role of an ambitious young paperboy, who’s determined to keep the neighborhood informed and retain subscribers while avoiding obstacles and hazards.
The aim of the game is to deliver papers to subscribers and rack up points by hitting targets like mailboxes and front doors. But beware, this seemingly innocent task is anything but! You’ll navigate a suburban gauntlet filled with skateboarders, runaway lawnmowers, and even the occasional disgruntled neighbor.
Paperboy combines the simple joys of tossing newspapers with avoiding many peculiar obstacles, then finishing off your day on a BMX track!
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf arrived on the Atari Lynx in 1993, this action-packed, shooter brings the controls of an Apache helicopter to your fingertips!
You play to complete a series of missions and strategic objectives, such as rescuing hostages, taking out enemy installations, and capturing key personnel. But beware, the desert isn’t just hot; it’s crawling with enemy tanks, infantry, and surface-to-air missiles looking to take you out.
Desert Strike combines fast-paced action with tactical decision-making, requiring you to carefully manage fuel and ammunition resources while navigating the desert landscape.
The game’s isometric perspective provides you with a clear view of the battlefield and enables you to plan your approach to each mission and avoid enemy fire.
Desert Strike is a great conversion for the Lynx which loses none of the gameplay in its conversion to a handheld console.
Any 1990s gamer will know Lemmings, the puzzle game that appeared on virtually every system at the time and spawned the long-running franchise. The Atari Lynx benefitted from such a port in 1993.
In Lemmings, you’re tasked with guiding these oblivious, pint-sized creatures through a perilous series of levels, ensuring they reach their destination without walking off cliffs, drowning, or getting fried by traps. Easier said than done, given their uncanny knack for stumbling into disaster!
The aim of the game is to assign various skills to your lemmings, such as digging, building, and climbing, to help them navigate the treacherous terrain and traps.
Lemmings is an entertaining blend of problem-solving, multitasking, and hair-pulling frustration, all wrapped up in a delightful package of pixelated charm with great, catchy tunes.
Porting an already tiny, visually speaking, game to a handheld was always going to be tough, but Lemmings on the Lynx is just as much fun as it is on the big screen.
It’s 1989, grab your sunglasses and sunscreen because we’re hitting the Atari Lynx’s pixelated beaches with California Games.
California Games is a multi-event sports game that captures the essence of California’s vibrant beach culture. The game offers a collection of six distinct sports events, each inspired by popular outdoor activities associated with the Golden State.
California Games is a whirlwind tour of iconic California pastimes, from shredding waves in surfing to carving pavement in skateboarding. You’ll also conquer BMX biking, footbag (aka Hacky Sack), roller skating, and even frisbee tossing!
California Games offers a fun experience for fans of retro sports games. Its diverse set of events and intuitive controls make it an enjoyable and challenging title for the Atari Lynx.
The Lynx had another arcade conversion arrive in 1991 in the form of A.P.B.
This wacky, top-down arcade-style police pursuit game will have you chasing pixelated perps and doling out donut-fueled justice!
In A.P.B. you assume the role of Officer Bob, a rookie cop tasked with maintaining law and order within his jurisdiction. The primary goal of the game is to complete daily objectives, such as issuing a specific number of tickets and apprehending suspects.
You navigate city streets and pursue lawbreakers in a fast-paced, action-oriented environment. You must manage a quota system, ensuring you meet your objectives each day to progress through the game.
A.P.B. is a blend of high-speed pursuits, comedic misadventures, and good old-fashioned police work. You’ll manage a quota system, upgrade your trusty patrol car, and balance the fine line between maintaining law and order and causing absolute chaos.
Ultimately, the Atari Lynx was a little ahead of its time as well as not being able to keep up with the sheer amount of games and momentum of the Game Boy
A technically superior system to the Game Boy, as well as the Sega Game Gear which arrived after the Lynx, Atari’s powerful handheld delivered some fantastic games and experiences.
My personal favourites from this list are Chip’s Challenge, RoadBlasters, and S.T.U.N. Runner. Chip’s Challenge was the perfect companion away from the home, and RoadBlasters & S.T.U.N Runner just wowed with their visuals and speed, which was breathtaking from a handheld console at the time.
The Atari Lynx wasn’t the only colour handheld around in the early 90s, check out our article on the best Sega Game Gear games, to see how these two battery-munching handhelds fare up against each other!
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).