Lynx Reviews E-L

Gates of Zendocon
Grade: D-
Publisher: Epyx (1989)
Reviewed: 2003/11/14

screenshot*Yawn* This side-scrolling space shooter looks like a winner at first glance, but gradually sinks into the realm of mediocrity (actually a bit lower than that). I love shooters with massive firepower, and at the very least, Gates does deliver that. Your piercing laser weapon is a continuous beam of energy that wipes out everything in its path, and the explosions are huge. Other weapons are available, but you'll only need to use them when your laser breaks down.

Initially you battle some generic UFOs and bouncing balls, but later face eyeballs, insects, and large slimy creatures. The screen scrolls up and down, but there's little incentive to take risks. As a result, you tend to remain in your own little area and be defensive. The dull, unsatisfying stages are endless parades of enemies moving in predictable patterns. I especially hate when they line up single-file, preventing you from getting a shot at them.

It's hard to believe that Gates of Zendocon was play-tested at all; it seems like very little thought was put into the stage designs. And what's up with the music? Is that an accordion I hear?? Please make it stop! When Gates of Zendocon is finally over, you're awarded with a huge, seven-digit score, but it doesn't mean much. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: hard
Our high score: 1,538,900
1 player 

Gauntlet: The Third Encounter
Grade: F
Publisher: Atari (1990)
Reviewed: 2005/1/17

screenshotWith apologies to all the Lynx Gauntlet fans, I can't play this thing. Third Encounter may boast some nice technical features, but I found its repetitive gameplay to be agonizing. The game is played with the Lynx system held vertically, creating a "long" screen configuration (that's why the screen shot looks distorted). Holding it like this tires your arm during extended play, but it does make sense in terms of screen layout.

The top area conveys an overhead view of your fighter, the maze, and the well-designed creatures. A box on the lower right lists your vital stats, and the lower left displays impressive scaling images of monsters and treasure as you approach them on the main screen. Going beyond the standard D&D character classes, you can also assume the unconventional roles of a pirate, nerd, cowboy, or punk rocker. To be honest, it doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference what you are.

Like previous versions of Gauntlet, gameplay involves exploring dungeon mazes while shooting monsters and collecting keys and treasure. The problem with this game is your projectiles move too slow, and you're constantly being overwhelmed by hordes of creatures. Okay, you could probably say that about any Gauntlet, but here your firepower is simply no match. Fortunately, there are no "portals" to generate new monsters (unlike previous Gauntlets).

Blasting a monster causes it to shrink and disappear, and while it's a neat visual effect, it's not nearly as satisfying as blasting the thing to bits. Lacking the frantic shooting action the series is known for, this Gauntlet falls flat. Third Encounter does allow multiple Lynx systems to "link up" for cooperative action, but I suspect this is a rare occurrence. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Gordo 106
Grade: C
Publisher: Tenth Planet (1992)
Reviewed: 2018/3/2

screenshotJudging by the name alone I would have pegged Gordo 106 as a futuristic fighting game starring a fat cyborg. The title screen however reveals the full name to be "Gordo #106: The Mutated Lab Monkey." Say what? According to the intro you play a "brutally exploited lab monkey who lives in lonely misery in cage #106". Gee, what an uplifting theme for a kid's game! It stands in stark contrast to the game's wacky hijinks and funky music.

Gordo is a sharp platformer with impressively large characters. Some of these people are screen-sized. Gordo is well animated, and I especially like how he unlocks cages to release bunnies. He looks hilarious when running with his arms over his head or celebrating at the end of a stage. Gordo hurls apples at lab doctors who look like Larry David. The stages feature all the normal elements - conveyor belts, lights to swing on, and timed flame traps.

The problem is, our poor little monkey is constantly bumping his head, triggering a brief but annoying "dizzy" animation. This makes sense when positioned in a tight space, but more often than not he bumps his head on the top of the screen! If there's a ceiling up there, they really should show it! Many areas call for a long jump, but the platforms are too narrow for a running start. Even when you do have some room the running controls are erratic.

And then there are the obligatory "leaps of faith". When you fall, you'll find yourself in an underground level, where you think you have a new lease on life. Then you are suddenly incinerated. Occasionally you'll fall into a bonus room with all sorts of items to collect and cages to unlock. I never said Gordo 106 made a lot of sense. After losing all your lives you get a game over screen, but you have to turn the system off and on to play again. Gordo is an average platformer, but if it brings people's attention to the inhumane treatment of animals I guess it served its purpose. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 8,300
1 player 

Hydra
Grade: C-
Publisher: Tengen (1992)
Reviewed: 2003/11/14


screenshotTo anyone who doesn't believe the Lynx was far ahead of its time, I'd challenge you to compare Hydra to Spy Hunter (Game Boy Advance, 2001). Both games look and play nearly the same, despite the fact that Hydra was released about 10 years earlier! Hydra is a high-speed boat combat game where you whiz down canals while blasting targets and collecting crystals. Both the scaling and illusion of speed is quite convincing. You can change weapons on the fly, which include uzis, flamethrowers, heat-seekers, and six-way shots.

But what's most impressive is your ability to "boost" into the air at breathtaking heights for short periods of time. While you're up there, you can shoot blimps and helicopters while collecting floating items. From the water, targets and obstacles tend to be chunky and hard to make out, but there's a nice amount of variation in the scenery, making it fun to see what the next level looks like.

Though technically impressive, Hydra does stumble in the gameplay department. First, you need to hold the control pad down to accelerate, which is more than a little awkward. And then there's a problem with the difficulty. I could play the easy skill level all day, but the medium difficulty is terribly frustrating, with hard-to-avoid missiles and a fuel tank that always seems to be on empty. When all is said and done, it's pretty much a wash. I did find it amusing that the hero's close-up image looks exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a mullet haircut. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: med
Our high score: 41300
1 player 

Jimmy Connors' Tennis
Grade: C
Publisher: Atari (1993)
Reviewed: 2017/9/19


screenshotboxJimmy Connors' Tennis does a lot of things right, beginning with an introduction by Jimmy's huge animated face! Whoa! On the court your view is optimal, with just the right angle and zoom. The players look realistic enough, right down to those tight white shorts players used to wear. It's a little hard to get the serve timing down because Jimmy tosses the ball so high! During volleys the ball bounces realistically and there seems to be a random element to how the ball comes off the racket.

The game helps you follow the ball by placing a box where you need to position yourself. You then need to press A or B to execute a forehand or backhand. Between getting into position, choosing the correct hand, and timing your shot the game is surprisingly tough. An attractive female referee announces the score between points.

While playable, Jimmy Connors Tennis lacks razzle-dazzle. It would be nice to have a cut-scene or special animation to accentuate an exceptional play. I also would have preferred the option to play a single set instead of the best of three. I don't have all day Jimmy! As it is, Jimmy Connors' Tennis is challenging enough but could use a dash of excitement. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Kung Food
Grade: F
Publisher: Atari (1992)
Reviewed: 2003/11/14

screenshotWhat in God's name were those guys at Atari smoking when they came up with this one? Atari boss: "We need a concept for a new Lynx game. Any ideas?" Programmer: "Hey, we don't have any games that let you beat the crap out of a carrot!" Boss: "Jennings, I think you're onto something there - let's get to work on this immediately."

Kung Food is a wacky side-scrolling beat-em-up that puts you in control of a diminutive naked green muscleman. Would it have been too much trouble to put some pants on this poor guy? Moving through various locations in a kitchen you punch and kick your way through an endless army of vegetables, bugs, ice monsters, and rats. Your control is limited to basic kicks and punches, and you can't interact with the scenery.

Most enemies require multiple hits to kill, but it's hard to line up with them and even harder to tell if you're doing any damage. Additional obstacles like spikes appear without warning and inflict cheap hits. The characters are quite large but not particularly well animated. There's a fine line between zany and stupid, and Kung Food crosses that line often. On the bright side, compared to Kung Food, most other Lynx titles are terrific! © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 22600
1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, YouTube