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Sell a Nintendo handheld fan on a Lynx II


Skippy B. Coyote
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It's time to confess my sins. My whole life I've been a fan of Nintendo handhelds, all the way back to when I was 5 years old and got an original Game Boy for Christmas in 1990. Up to that point I had played a lot of Atari and ColecoVision on my older brother's home consoles but the Game Boy was the first video game system of any kind that I could call my own, and I've kinda stuck with Nintendo for handhelds since then.

 

Fast forward 26 years later and my main system for playing games on the go has become an AGS-101 model backlit Game Boy Advance SP, since the games that I find myself enjoying the most these days are arcade ports and other games from my younger days like Doom, Doom II, Wolfenstein 3D, Sonic the Hedgehog games (I did get a Genesis as my second system growing up), Mortal Kombat, and so on. The GBA plays most of stuff I like best, with perfectly accurate ports in the case of the majority of arcade games that I like, and yet I still feel inexplicably compelled to buy a Lynx II.

 

I know I don't need a Lynx, since I can already play Robotron, Ms. Pac-Man, Klax, Shanghai, Eye of the Beholder and the like on my GBA; and yet there's just something about the Lynx II that makes me want to give it a try. Maybe it's that I have fond memories of playing Chip's Challenge on my grandpa's computer growing up, or maybe it's the prospect of being able to play Raiden in all it's vertical screen glory on the go (but is it even comfortable to hold the Lynx II in that vertical position?), or maybe it's just an enthusiasm for all things Atari. In any case, I feel like there's no practical reason for me to go spending a couple hundred dollars on a Lynx and games for it when I already have a GBA to play most of the same games on, but I still kinda want one anyway.

 

So, what I'm wondering is what the Lynx fans here think the compelling selling points of the Lynx are? For someone who never owned one back in the day and has no nostalgia for it, what are some good reasons to buy and play a Lynx today if you already have a well stocked GBA library? Aside from the obvious reason that it's made by Atari and therefore inherently awesome that is.

 

I'd sure like to get one, but I feel like I need to find a little more practical justification for the purchase first. I know that comparing the Lynx to the GBA is kind of like comparing apples to oranges, since the Lynx came out at a time when Nintendo's flagship handheld was a green and black monochrome screened brick and the GBA wouldn't come on the scene until the 2000's (when there was still time for Klax if you ask me), but the GBA is what I use to play most of the same games that I'd want to play on the Lynx; so it's definitely a big factor standing in the way of making the Lynx a justifiable purchase for me.

 

Now if some talented programmer ever came along and finally finished Alien vs Predator I wouldn't need any other justification to get a Lynx, but since that hasn't happened yet I could still use some outside input from those who know the Lynx and it's strengths better than I. Any thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated. :)

Edited by Jin
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If you were a fan of Atari's arcade games during the 'mid '80s, there's almost no better platform to play them, console or handheld. RoadBlasters, KLAX, Hard Drivin', Steel Talons, Paperboy, A.P.B., Cyberball and STUN Runner all saw Lynx releases. A couple of those didn't see releases for any other home system, and just about all of them were done very well on the Lynx. The only one I think could have used some improvement is Paperboy.

 

Also, if you were a fan of Epyx's computer games in the '80s, a number of Epyx-produced games were made for the Lynx, and a couple of those are even Lynx exclusives. This is understandable when you learn Epyx originally created the Lynx before Atari bought the design. Chip's Challenge, Electrocop, Blue Lightning and of course California Games are all good and show off that Epyx sense of humor. And then there's the game that's both an Atari arcade follow-up and a quirky Epyx game, Gauntlet: The Third Encounter.

 

Finally, the Lynx can do something almost no other handheld can boast: flip over for those who would rather use the D-pad with their right hand.

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There are some fun exclusives on the system that are worth checking out, probably reason right there enough to pick one up. As mentioned the arcade games are great on the format too. For the most part the games are readily available for cheap, still NOS in many cases. Of course if you're expecting GBA levels of graphics you'll be disappointed, but if you go in looking for a fun portable retro experience there's plenty of good times to be had. Be sure to pick up Rygar.

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Concerning your point that you can play some of the same games on the GBA, I play ports of the same games on multiple consoles because they have differences that make them almost feel like different games within a genre. I don't just have one version of a game. For an example, I have Space Invaders on multiple consoles and consider them all like the "Space Invaders genre". In other words, a console having games that I know I already like because I already have them on another console is never a reason for me not to get the other console but instead is a reason why I would get the other console. The same thing with hardware. With the Game Boy I already knew that I liked the "handheld genre" which made me interested in the Lynx, Game Gear, Nintendo DS, etc.

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The Lynx is unique, both the games library and designwise. There's quite a few hidden gems amongst the unknown games, I want to mention Slime World here. Also most / the well made games on the Lynx play as fluid as on a GBA, even with parallax scrolling and stuff, this is something that can't be said of any of the first generation handhelds, or 8-bit consoles or home computers in general.

 

I really like Nintendo's handhelds too (especially original GB, DS and 3DS), but there was always something amiss with the GBA, but I couldn't point out what it was. The GBA should've been (and in many ways was) -the- handheld 16-bit-style console (I guess it's 32-bit?), but only a few days ago me and a friend realized the problem, about 95+% games on the GBA have a palette with really light colours because the first not-backlit GBA sold in the tens of millions, so GBA games usually don't look as good as other 16-bit games say, megadrive, snes or amiga games, because black and dark colours create contrast and drama in a whole other way than light colours.

 

Sooo -> on the Lynx you can obviously play games with awesome colours, (of course a lot is up to the pixel artist). I would also again recommend to get one with the McWill screen mod, it's like night and day and the games become truly enjoyable.

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Thank you very much to everyone for all the great replies! A lot of good points were made by, well, everyone! This one in particular really hit home...

 

Concerning your point that you can play some of the same games on the GBA, I play ports of the same games on multiple consoles because they have differences that make them almost feel like different games within a genre. I don't just have one version of a game. For an example, I have Space Invaders on multiple consoles and consider them all like the "Space Invaders genre". In other words, a console having games that I know I already like because I already have them on another console is never a reason for me not to get the other console but instead is a reason why I would get the other console. The same thing with hardware. With the Game Boy I already knew that I liked the "handheld genre" which made me interested in the Lynx, Game Gear, Nintendo DS, etc.

 

Now that I sit back and think about it, I own a grand total of 8 different versions of Ms. Pac-Man and almost as many of Centipede. I have Ms. Pac-Man on just about every system I've ever owned, and even though a couple of them are perfectly arcade accurate ports (the ones on the Namco Museum collections for the PlayStation and Game Boy Advance) that has never diminished my enjoyment of the other versions one bit. In fact, my favorite to date is Ms. Pac-Man: Special Color Edition for the Game Boy Color. Arcade accuracy isn't everything, and I do love playing and collecting all kinds of different versions of the games I like. So you're right, just because I can already play other and sometimes more arcade accurate versions of a game on one system doesn't mean I won't enjoy playing itpossibly even more soon another system. For instance, Eye of the Beholder (a game that I am especially fond of) looks way better on the Lynx than it was on the Game Boy Advance. The GBA version used this weird convoluted battle system that wasn't even remotely similar to the PC original, but it looks like the Lynx version stuck more to it's PC roots.

 

The Lynx II definitely has a unique style about it that I really like, and the 5 or 6 hour battery life doesn't bother me one bit since I already have over a dozen high capacity rechargeable AA batteries stockpiled for use with handhelds and I do most of my handheld gaming on short cigarette breaks or half hour to 45 minute bus rides. So no worries at all on the battery life. It also looks like there are plenty of quality games on the system that I'd want to play; around 40 or so based on all the Lynx game reviews I've been reading over the last few days. I am one of those collectors who buys games to play rather than sit on the shelf, and it looks like the Lynx certainly has enough good ones to build a wide and varied library of quality games in all sorts of genres to enjoy. It's a shame that it never got a completed first person shooter like Wolfenstein 3D or Alien vs Predator (I'll admit that 90's first-person shooters are my #1 favorite game genre), but hey, maybe a homebrew FPS will come along for the Lynx some day. :)

 

In the meantime, I'm just running the budget and trying to figure out how much it'll cost me to get started with the Lynx. I can get a minty fresh reconditioned Lynx II from Best Electronics for $99, along with a padded carrying pouch for $9 and a power supply for $15, plus figure $15 for shipping, so around $140 for the basic essentials to get started before the cost of games. Unless of course anyone here knows a more affordable place to buy a nice shiny like-new condition Lynx II from, in which case I'm all ears. I know I could probably find a used Lynx II on eBay for much cheaper, but I've always been obsessively picky about the condition of my handhelds and only buy them either brand new or in like-new condition; and store them all in padded cases whenever they're not in use to make sure they stay scratch free.

 

Anyway, I've seen a lot of people recommending McWill's LCD screen replacements as well but I can't seem to find any info the pricing for them (maybe I just haven't searched enough). How much does McWill charge to do the screen replacement on a Lynx II if I was to mail him the system to have it installed?

Edited by Jin
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You may also want to look at the used Lynx II in box w/the "packout" games bundle at Best. You'll get your choice of 4 games that come w/manuals. About a $50-$60 value depending on what games you choose and it's only $27 more than the boxed Lynx II including a comlynx cable and power supply. I'd definitely do Rampart, Stun Runner and Checkered Flag. It might be a toss up between Hydra, Batman Returns and Steel Talons after that.

 

I also noticed how much the NIB Lynx Is have gone up. I bought one years ago and then sold it off when I was selling off various collectibles that I never use.

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It's true that the Lynx was the first to make this a programmable feature, but really there's nothing stopping most any console or handheld from using the "long" or "portrait" aspect ratio. For consoles and computers it is a bit impractical, especially in the days before LCD monitors that were built to swivel, but that hasn't stopped some developers from using portrait mode, even in commercial games. The first round of "NamcoMuseum" releases for the PlayStation offer a portrait mode for games that were originally designed that way (Pac-Man and Dig-Dug for example). There is a homebrew Pac-Man for the C-64 that offers portrait mode. I forget if it's Raiden III for the PS2 or Raiden IV for the XBox 360, but one of them (maybe both) can be switched to portrait mode as well.

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I think it's 25 years too late to fall in love with Lynx for the first time, especially considering how easy it is to emulate, that low res screen, and the battery sucking that it does.

 

I'm with Fujiskunk though, there are a few Atari Games arcade ports that weren't anywhere else at the time. APB and STUN Runner were particularly amazing back then. They're outclassed by Chinatown Wars and Wipeout, so weigh your nostalgic urges against the realities of time.

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It's probably worth the purchase just for Klax. It's just that good a port.

 

If you're going to invest in a unit, though, you'll want to play it. There's really no better option than a 'McWilled' unit + multicart. Yes, yes -- this a much more expensive option, but better to get it now than to spend hundreds upgrading later. I won't play my unmodded units now that I have the upgrade.

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I think it's easier to fall in love with old consoles than a lot of the new crap (for example I recently looked into sms/gg properly, and it's pretty awesome). Mobile hit games now a days are often even simpler than Lynx games and you have to play them on an awful touch screen, or if they're well made you have to pay for every minute you play. There are nice PSP vita and 3DS games, but they are many times way more complicated than necessary for handheld games.

 

In comparision with smartphone games the constraints of the old machines seemed to bring out the best of the devs, musicians and game artists.

 

Also I forgot to mention earlier that there's some nice, creative homebrew stuff going on and coming out for the Lynx now and then, even some releases on real physical cartridge.

Edited by Turbo Laser Lynx
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To me, if you are really into 8 and 16-bit gaming, the Lynx is a no-brainer. It's like this weird hybrid of the two and it makes for a unique experience. A lot of games have this chunky 8-bit look, but then make good use of color and scaling like the 16-bit stuff. Fun times.

Some DS games do tis also.


Same with the Wonderswan.

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Great piece of hardware for the time and some really decent games, but the blurry screen (especially when the action heats up) that lacks proper contrast really kill it for me. Besides being a portable game system that sucks batteries that is. ;)

 

If I were to be getting back into the Lynx today, would definitely find or mod one with the nicer screen as a prerequisite. Maybe VGA out too and would be using an AC adapter for sure. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of a "portable" game system, now doesn't it? :lol:

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If I were to be getting back into the Lynx today, would definitely find or mod one with the nicer screen as a prerequisite. Maybe VGA out too and would be using an AC adapter for sure. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of a "portable" game system, now doesn't it? :lol:

 

Not entirely. With a decent car adapter and a carrying case, any old-school portable is still good for taking on trips no matter how battery-hungry they are.

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Not entirely. With a decent car adapter and a carrying case, any old-school portable is still good for taking on trips no matter how battery-hungry they are.

 

Ah, yes - of course! How could I forget the good ol' cigarette lighter adapter? Or could turbo-nerd the AC brick and hook a power inverter to it. :lol:

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