Undeniably, the best game the Atari Lynx ever got was Rampage. And that's a hill I'm willing to die on.
I never had an Atari Lynx as a child. I did however have the NES version of Rampage, and boy was it a lot of fun. I'd spent hours upon hours on it smashing down the buildings. And on the days when my cousin was over, we'd compete to see who could bring down the most buildings in the shortest amount of time. Such simpler times.
Sadly, I don't have an NES anymore. I do however have an Atari Lynx emulator installed, so I played it that way. And boy, is it still the barrel of fun that it was 20-odd years ago. Honestly, it just goes to show that a good retro game never goes out of style. Rampage was one of the best 90s games, and it still is a barrel of fun today, some 30 years later.
The face of arcade racing games would never be the same after S.T.U.N. Runner. The game simply set the futuristic racing game bar too high.
In my opinion, S.T.U.N. Runner the arcade game is probably one of the best arcade games of all time. It certainly is one of the coolest-looking cabinets at least. The Lynx version of the game is practically that but on a portable console. It's not as pretty looking as the arcade game, but alas, that's the fate of all arcade games turned console ports. The downgrade is unavoidable.
That being said. The Atari Lynx port is anything but a downgrade. If anything, it's one of the best Atari Lynx games. The things that impressed me the most with the port were the music quality and sound design. At the time it was probably one of the best video game music tracks around. At least as far as 16-bit tracks were concerned.
I have a sickness for arcade flight games, and Blue Lightning is just what the doctor prescribed.
There's nothing quite like flying a comically blue F-18 in a 16-bit environment. There's something about arcade flight games that just appeals to the male fantasy. I can imagine being a kid in the 90s. You've just watched Top Gun on Blu-ray. Tomorrow, your dad is taking you to your local game store. Once there, you see Blue Lightning on the shelf. It's settled then and there.
If I was a kid in the 90s who had an Atari Lynx and Blue Lighting, it would have been inseparable from it. Seriously! They would have needed King Arthur just to pull me away from it. Imagine the dopamine rush of flying in one of the world's best fighter aircraft at the time, taking out swarms of enemy tanks and aircraft, all while listening to some sick 16-bit tunes. Pure bliss!
Chip's Challenge is a bit more on the chill side, at least as far as Atari Lynx games are concerned. Still, it's undeniably one of the best Atari Lynx games of its day.
The thing that makes this game so notable is how revolutionary its puzzles were compared to other games. I'd go so far as to say that it's one of the pioneering puzzle games. This was the 80s after all. Games were rudimentary at best. It would be years before depth became the standard in gaming. And Chip's Challenge, although simple enough, had more than ample depth.
The game featured a slew of puzzles that you had to complete to advance. Games back then were very short. So developers made them purposefully hard by including some of the hardest video game levels into their game, which artificially increased the game's length. Chip's Challenge differed in that it didn't do this. Its puzzles were challenging, but not impossible. All you had to do was activate your mind.
There's this one meme caption that I find hilarious that I think perfectly summarizes this game: "In my family, alcoholics don't run. They drive."
Seriously. This game breaks every traffic law there is. Thankfully, when it's in a video game it's fun, rather than being a serious concern for public health. RoadBlasters was undeniably one of the best Atari Lynx games of the time. Handheld consoles are perfect for racing games, so it was only natural that RoadBlasters would become so prominent.
Funnily enough, I'd go so far as to say that this was one of the earliest Roguelike games out there. The game was divided into a few rallies. At each rally, you'd be rewarded some fuel based on the score you achieved in the race. If you underperformed, well, then it was game over. A cool concept that is still with us to this day.
Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom
The Ninja Gaiden series made its debut in 80s Japan and quickly took the gaming world by storm. So, naturally, ports started coming out soon after.
Ninja Gaiden I was also on the Atari Lynx and it did fine. However, Ninja Gaiden III is where the series really hit its peak on the Lynx. There was also a Game Boy version released by Tecmo, but the Atari Lynx version was by far the superior of the two. It was better looking, had better controls, and the music was far superior.
If you still have a working Atari Lynx, I highly encourage you to go back and play Ninja Gaiden III. It's one of the best ninja games of all time. It's a bit challenging, but extremely rewarding once you finally beat the levels.
You know how every mobile game has a screaming man as their cover art? Well, this is the game that inspired all those other games. I just made that up, still, the similarities are uncanny if you ask me.
I've seen quite a few games in my time, but few have managed to successfully wow me. Rampart is one of those games. Compared to today's standards, it's not much of a looker. But compared to 1990 standards, it's a work of art. I mean, just look at the details on the sprite loading screens before each level.
The game puts you in control of a battery of cannons on a late-Medieval to early-Rennaisance fortress. Your task is to fend off the enemy ships coming to bombard you. It's intense, it's fun, and it's remarkably beautiful looking. This game definitely needs a modern remake.
Let's jump from medieval times to medieval fantasy.
If you were a DnD fan in the 80s, then you would have absolutely loved Rygar. In my opinion, it was one of the best adventure games of the 80s. It had the perfect formula. A cool-looking hero. Check. A unique fantasy setting. Check. And a quest that took you through multiple levels and had you fighting ugly monsters. Check.
The only downside of this game is the obnoxious music and soundbites. Describing it as repetitive and jarring would be an understatement. If the developers had spent a bit more time on that aspect, then the game would have easily topped this list as the best Atari Lynx game of all time. I guess Tecmo was saving all their creative juices for their latter Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive series.
In Japanese mythology, Raiden (more commonly known as Raijin), is considered to be the god of thunder and lightning. With that in mind, it's physically impossible to have a cooler name for a game.
Personally, when I tried Raiden, I really liked it. It's hard to go wrong with a bullet hell game. It's designed to give you a mbuttive dopamine rush, and then taper you down, only to give you another even more mbuttive dopamine rush.
It's sad then that the game is so repetitive. There's only one plane, the enemies are largely the same, and every map predominantly has the same feeling. The only sense of progression you get are the powerups that you collect, but that's about it. A shame, but what can you do?
What's better than one game? Six games of course.
California Games featured not one, not two, but six different games. To be exact, that's Half-pipe, Footbag, Surfing, Roller Skating, BMX & Flying Disc. All staples of Californian life back in the 80s. You can still get this game on Steam and it's still pretty fun. However, nothing can beat the feeling it must have given back in the 80s.
Games were a novelty. Some kids only got games on the holidays. So to have 6 games in one must have felt amazing as a kid. Personally, I enjoyed the surfing and BMX games the most, but hey, to each his own. The game sold 300k copies in the first 9 months, which is an amazing feat for the time.