Malibu Bikini Volleyball
Publisher: Atari (1993)
Good game! Similar to Kings of the Beach
(NES), Malibu Bikini provides some exciting beach volleyball action. The large, easy-to-see characters are a mix of dudes and bikini-clad ladies. The bright sand court has a beautiful ocean backdrop, complete with speedboats, swimmers, water skiers, and even sharks. During one game I was actually distracted when I noticed a swimmer and a shark swimming towards each other (nobody was hurt, unfortunately). The game itself is quite challenging, but could have benefited from being more forgiving. To hit the ball, you need to position your player almost perfectly, and timing spikes takes a lot of practice. I do love how your players will automatically dive to "dig" out low shots. You play alongside a computer partner who's competent for the most part, but occasionally just stands around clueless. A wealth of options allows you to adjust wind conditions, point/time limits, game speed, and even change the look of your player. Up to four players can "lynx up" for some multi-player action. There are three skill levels of "friendly" games, but the tournament mode is where the real challenge is. Upbeat musical tunes play throughout the contest, and some are pretty amazing. Malibu Bikini Volleyball is no joke. I could easily picture myself sitting on the beach playing this. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1990)
This arcade favorite is a perfect fit for the Lynx system. It's fun, easy to play, and well within the limits of the Lynx's graphic capabilities. Controlling a delivery boy riding a bike up a diagonally-scrolling screen, you must to toss newspapers into specially marked boxes while avoiding a host of obstacles including pets, kids on big-wheels, runaway tires, cars backing into driveways, and men engaged in fistfights. Obviously the animations aren't as detailed or comical as those in the original game, there's a still nice variety of dangers to keep you on your toes. At the end of each street lies a bonus dirt course with targets and ramps. Paperboy's graphics are bright and attractive, but the developer's choice of colors could have been better. The newspapers are almost the exact
same shade of white as the sidewalk, making them hard to distinguish. Otherwise there's not much to fault with the game. The looping background music is okay but starts getting on your nerves after a while. The crisp controls allow you to adjust the speed of your bike and toss papers in a rapid-fire fashion. If you're looking for some simple arcade fun, Paperboy delivers. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1989)
It's an ambitious game, but Pinball Jam fails to convey the frenetic action and pinpoint control real pinball is known for. Two tables are included: Elvira "Queen of Darkness" and Police Force. Designed like genuine, full-sized pinball tables, both feature full sets of bumpers, lanes, spinners, ramps, and two flippers on the bottom. The tables scroll up and down smoothly to follow the action, but the ball itself tends to move in a "floaty" manner. Pinball Jam's flipper controls are responsive enough, and you can even shake the table using the option button. What's a shame is how the Lynx's low resolution severely restricts the amount artwork shown on each table. The tables look messy, with hard-to-distinguish targets blending in with pixilated decorations. Audio is one aspect where Pinball Jam does excel. The Elvira table features a freaky, Halloween-inspired tune as well as numerous voice samples ("unpleasant dreams!"). I think Pinball Jam was just too ambitious for its own good. Simpler table designs would have served the Lynx better. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Tengen (1992)
This game wasn't even that good on the 16-bit systems, so I didn't hold much hope for this portable version. Pit Fighter is a one-on-one slugfest between two fighters in a sleazy underground club. The digitized graphics are actually quite impressive, and the fighters scale nicely as they walk around the arena. There are three playable characters: Buzz, Kato, and Ty (whose mug looks just like Kobe Bryant). The animation is sloppy and the control is far from responsive. You can punch, kick, jump-kick, duck, perform "super attacks", and I especially like how you can kick a guy while he's down. Unfortunately, Pit Fighter makes use of the two "option" buttons, which are NOT well suited to fast button tapping. You'll face interesting opponents like a masked "Executioner" (looking like the Gimp from Pulp Fiction), a hot chick in a black leather skirt, and a huge seven-foot dude. There are scattered weapons like knives and barrels that you can pick up, but that's easier said than done. The game is fairly easy, but getting stuck against the side of the screen exposes you to a barrage of cheap hits. Once you win a match, the screen flashes an odd congratulatory message like "Awesomely done" or "Totally studly". The prize money that accumulates around your feet looks more like a green puddle. Pit Fighter is no prize, but all things considered, this is a respectable version of a mediocre fighter. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Hand Made Software (1992)
Boy, you have to hand it to those marketing wizards at Atari - they could conjure up some imaginative names! Power Factor is one of those titles you forget the instant you stop playing the dang thing. The box portrays what appears to be some kind of Metroid-style shooter, but that's just to get your hopes up. Set in the future on a distant planet, you control a soldier wearing a jet pack who has infiltrated some hazardous power facility. As you fly around corridors while dodging fireballs and blasting obstacles, you attempt to collect parts and construct a bomb. The graphics wouldn't be half bad if they weren't so boring
. The metallic platforms all look the same after a while, although a large boss occasionally breaks up the monotony. You adversaries mainly take the form of floating disks and generic robots, but it's hard to determine what you can or can't shoot. Large character graphics are usually a good thing, but here they are a major liability, as avoiding oncoming obstacles is an exercise in futility. I love how the game manual states that the "Game controls are easy to use." I'll
be the judge of that, thank you! In fact, the control scheme is a mess. The directional pad is used to both fly around and
select your weapons, and I could never quite get a handle on it. Like many Atari games, Power Factor lacks polish and could have benefited from some quality control. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Telegames (1990)
I am not
one to be trifled with when it comes to Qix. I played this oldie in the arcades, on my first home computer, and on several consoles over the years. I appreciate the beauty of its simplicity and understand various strategies used to beat it. There's never been another game like Qix. Playing it involves guiding a little diamond around an empty screen, sectioning off areas while avoiding a roaming, twisting set of colored lines called the "helix". This miniature edition captures the same risk-taking gameplay as the original, but it's less exciting. The helix is more predictable and appears to be moving in slow motion. Like the arcade, you can employ a fast or slow "draw" to section areas, slow being riskier but worth more points. Unlike the arcade game however, areas cordoned off with slow draw look the same as those made with the fast draw (they should be a different color). Qix's audio is above average. The sound of the helix brings to mind a swinging light saber, and melodic tunes play between stages. Good, but not quite up to arcade standards, Qix is an average title for the Lynx. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Telegames (1990)
It's hard to imagine a better shooter for the Lynx than Raiden. This intense, vertically-scrolling arcade adaptation features massive firepower and well-defined graphics. You'll need to turn your Lynx on its side to play Raiden, but once you start playing, you'll agree that this makes a lot of sense. You ship can move around freely, and the screen scrolls slightly from side to side. You can shoot missiles and drop bombs, but unlike other versions of Raiden, there's no differentiation between ground and air targets. Enemy missiles are easy to see, and the frame rate keeps up with the action very well. You'll encounter helicopters, tanks, and some huge airships. Ample power-ups allow you to spray the screen with missiles, but the game is still quite challenging. Attractive background scenery features nicely shadowed but generic-looking buildings. Raiden provides unlimited continues. This is one fantastic shooter for the Lynx that collector's should take notice of. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Tengen (1991)
It took me a while to get the hang of Rampart, and at one point I was tempted to just say the hell with it. It's not the "pick up and play" experience you normally look for on a portable system, and I was not keen on cracking open that thick-ass instruction manual! Repeated plays are required to get a feel for the rules and strategy, but if you stick with it, Rampart turns out to be a fun little game with surprising depth. Played from an overhead view, you construct castle on the edge of a harbor, blasting wave after wave of attacking ships. The game is played in short phases, beginning with a brief construction phase. The battles are an exercise in target shooting, as you move a cursor over ships and unleash a bombardment of cannonballs. Once your ammo runs out, the action pauses so you can "rebuild" your damaged fortress. Using simple Tetris-style shapes, you try to fill in the gaps, and it's even possible to expand its original boundaries. This rebuilding phase requires quick thinking, and it's definitely the best part of the game. Rampart offers two difficulty levels (beginner or veteran), and there's a high score screen to track your progress. If you're a Lynx fan looking for a thoughtful gaming experience, Rampart is a rock solid choice. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1990)
While original in concept and nicely programmed, Robo Squash comes up well short on the VGC fun-o-meter. The game is played like Pong from a first-person point of view. You move a see-through rectangle around the screen, deflecting a red ball towards a CPU-controlled "paddle" (for lack of a better term) in the distance. The ball moves very smoothly and your paddle is responsive, but the digital control is far from precise. The center of the playing field has a layer of breakable blocks and power-ups. Power-ups might expand your paddle or allow you to aim, but don't get too excited about the "fireball", which is only used to create explosions to obstruct your opponent's view. Speaking of obstructions, the splotches of missed balls on your end really make the action hard to see. Robo Squash could be mildly entertaining if two players hook up their Lynx systems, but playing the CPU is a dull and lengthy ordeal. A full game can last up to sixteen rounds, with each taking the better part of ten minutes! I'm sorry, but portable games really need to be short
. The ball is supposed to pick up speed as each round progresses, but it's barely noticeable. The title screen plays a catchy tune, but during the game there's not much audio. Robo Squash might have been fun had it been faster and shorter, but we'll never know for sure. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Tecmo (1990)
If you own a Lynx system, you really owe it to yourself to play Rygar. This portable platformer is first class all the way. The main character is a beefy medieval warrior armed with a huge spiked yo-yo. He needs it because every thing in the world
wants him dead including bats, rhinos, ants, dragons, mysterious men in hoods, and the cable company. You can throw your weapon high or low, and it's highly effective. Most creatures die after one hit, and that's good because there's usually not much time to react when they appear on the screen. The sprites really push the limits of the system and the lush scenery is very easy on the eyes. The majestic waterfalls reminded me of those in Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis, 1991). Rygar's gameplay is simple, and that's part of its charm. You can pounce on enemies to stun them, but sometimes you bounce high off the screen and wonder where the hell he went. The soundtrack offers a lively little tune with a catchy bass line, but some of the high-pitched sound effects are a little abrasive. At the end of each stage you'll enter a tomb where bonus points are tabulated. Attractive, easy-to-play, and fun, Rygar may be the most enjoyable title I've played on my Lynx. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 77,750
Slime World, Todd's Adventures in
Publisher: Atari (1990)
I rarely get to use the word "reprehensible" in my reviews, but I think Todd's Adventures in Slime World qualifies. This torturous side-scroller has the most uninteresting premise ever
for a video game. You play a guy in a purple suit exploring endless generic caves all dripping with annoying green slime. The pace is plodding as you walk, climb, fall, and occasionally stop to shoot plant-like creatures. Your weapon spurts some kind of white substance and you can angle your shots. There are plenty of items to pick up, but just about all of them are useless. Half the time when you lean over to pick something up the game informs you "you already have one". The so-called "slime shield" looks like a huge brown bug eating your head. The stages are a confusing mess and it's hard to tell if you're even making progress. It's not obvious when you're taking damage, and you often drop dead for no apparent reason. Heck, the game struggles just to keep your character centered on the screen! Pressing the option button should give you access to a map, but half the time it refuses to appear. Slime World's soundtrack is composed of random beeps which further fueled my unbridled disgust. Slime World was apparently designed for multiple players, but I can't imagine how six miserable bastards are better than one. Only play this if you're looking for a reason to quit playing video games altogether. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 1,829,100
1 to 6 players
Super Asteroids Missile Command
Publisher: Atari (1995)
This killer two-in-one package offers some of the best shooting action the Lynx has to offer. Super Asteroids is an ideal hand-held adaptation with rapid-fire controls and oversized rocks. Heck, the smallest
asteroids in this version dwarf the larger
ones in others! At the start of each wave your ship is centered on the screen with a fully recharged shield. This shield automatically activates on contact, often bouncing you around in the process. It's different from other versions of Asteroids, but different in a good
way. Super Missile Command is even more innovative. It puts those 3D Playstation versions to shame, and may rank as the best home version of all time!
This aptly-named "super" edition takes the classic protect-the-cities gameplay and augments it with varying scenery and a surprisingly deep power-up system. There's only one fire button, but the closest of your three missile silo fires automatically, which works like a charm. After every four waves you're presented with a list of 13 power-ups for purchase, ranging from "fast missiles", to "double explosions", to "Armageddon", which literally wipes the screen clean! These add a nice strategic element, although the interface for buying and using these items is confusing. The explosion effects are spectacular, but the sound effects are minimal, and I miss the alarms between waves. In both games the action begins slowly, but once things heat up you're in for a treat. Spicing up classic gameplay with well-conceived new features, this cartridge will make you happy to own a Lynx. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Gremlin Graphics (1992)
This is a respectable side-scroller along the lines of Ninja Gaiden (NES, 1989). You control a futuristic warrior who leaps between platforms while shooting robots and slashing them at close range. Your switchblade is very effective, and special weapons like lasers and missiles can be purchased at storefronts. Keep in mind that just because you have a weapon doesn't mean you can use it - you'll need to find or purchase ammo first. Switchblade II is pretty easy thanks to slow-moving enemies, ample health, rapid-fire shooting, and your ability to leap higher than Blake Griffin. The title screen features some nice Asian-inspired music, but the game itself is played in relative silence, with only the sound of your pattering footsteps. The concrete platforms of the first stage are hopelessly generic, but later stages offer more variety as you trek through underground passages (with cheap traps) and scale a mountain with doorways leading to not-so-secret rooms. There are even a few bosses to spice things up. I love how our hero replenishes his energy by chowing down on plump hot dogs and juicy hamburgers. I've seen the future, and it looks delicious
. Switchblade II isn't a particularly memorable romp, but it packs enough entertainment value to hold your attention. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: CJS 23,640
Publisher: Atari (1992)
If you're looking for a quality platformer for the Lynx, this is the game for you! Toki is an adorable monkey with the ability to spit pellets in a rapid-fire fashion. Any monkey with that kind of talent will always
be in high demand in the video game industry. Toki can also duck, jump, and climb vines. The only catch is that he moves a little slowly. Toki's rapid-spitting ability is effective, especially since you can aim in any direction (including diagonally). You'll need every bit of firepower you can muster because enemies absorb several hits before they go down. You'll face a random assortment of creatures including trolls, birds, spiders, and ghosts. When defeated most drop coins that are worth big points. The graphics are first-rate. You'll see a lot of bright tropical scenery and dense jungle with thick vegetation growing over stone ruins. Unfortunately the small projectiles fired by enemies tend to blend into the rich backgrounds, so you need to keep an eye out. The difficulty is fair (read: easy) and several continues are available. The high score is displayed at the top of the screen so you'll always have something to shoot for. I even like the zany soundtrack! Toki for the Lynx is an excellent game that's a heck of a lot more fun than its Genesis counterpart. Go monkey! It's your birthday! Go monkey... © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 51,000
Publisher: Atari (1991)
This rare game appears on the box of the Lynx II system, and it certainly is a "showcase" title. Warbirds offers an impressive first-person cockpit view as you engage in World War I-era dogfights against German planes. Your instrument panel houses a number of gauges, and your plane even handles realistically. Clouds and red enemy planes scale smoothly in your view, and I was surprised by how detailed the planes look up close. On the ground below you'll spot some green pyramids and a small building or two. There's a list of selectable missions, and some even require you to land (which is not easy, by the way). A menu of options let you adjust your damage, lives, difficulty, ammo, and collisions. Since enemy planes make no effort to avoid hitting you, turning the collisions off
makes the game a hell
of a lot easier. One button is used to fire your machine guns, and the other lets you look around your plane, which is handy since there's no radar display. Warbirds makes for a great demo, but as a game it's a real snooze-fest. The controls are sluggish, and turning is slow. Since you're typically only facing one enemy at a time, you constantly have to double back in order to get your foe lined up again. Since there are no crosshairs, it's hard to tell if an enemy is in your line of fire. It's also not clear when an enemy plane is taking damage, although eventually it begins to smoke. Simulation fans might appreciate Warbirds on technical merit, but arcade-minded gamers should keep their distance. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1991)
It would be easy to write off Xybots as an outdated corridor shooter, but I think it's kind of cool. You view the action from behind a space soldier as he treks through the colorful but non-descript hallways of various space stations. The illusion of movement is relatively smooth as you walk forward, but turning is disorienting as the screen abruptly shifts 90 degrees. It's fun to strafe and fire rapidly at enemy robots, and the ensuing explosions are satisfying. These metallic monstrosities look properly menacing, and each type exhibits unique attack patterns and vulnerabilities. A separate map screen is available, but it's rarely needed because the stages are relatively small. Xybot's graphics are better than average, with large, colorful sprites and imaginative animations. You can tell the programmers took pride in their work. Likewise, the jaunty musical score exhibits a surprising range of styles. One notable flaw is the fact that your energy is not
displayed on the main screen, and all too often you'll keel over without even realizing it was running low. Xybots won't bowl you over with its generic gameplay, but Lynx fans looking for some simple shooting action will find plenty to like. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age