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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Lynx Reviews M-P

Malibu Bikini Volleyball
Grade: B
Publisher: Atari (1993)
Posted: 2003/11/14

screenshotGood game! Similar to Kings of the Beach (NES, 1988), 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 multiplayer 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.

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1 to 4 players 

Ms. Pac-Man
Grade: A
Publisher: Atari (1990)
Posted: 2013/6/11

screenshotMs. Pac-Man was no spring chicken even back in 1990, but she sure looks spry in this timeless Lynx cartridge. It contains the entire arcade game including the cute intermissions. The entire board fits snug on the screen, and the high-resolution graphics look sharp. Ms. Pac-Man is tiny but you can still make out that red lipstick.

The gameplay is entertaining as you gobble up dots and bonus fruit while avoiding four wandering ghosts. The sound effects are similar to the arcade, but that distinctive "waka waka" effect is missing. The Lynx directional pad is no substitute for a proper joystick, so expect to miss a few turns. Hey, you can't have everything.

This cartridge also has an extra surprise up its sleeve in the form of a second set of extra-wide boards (ala Pac-Man Junior). These are even more fun, especially with the addition of the lightning icon. It gives you a turbo boost which makes it easy to round up all four ghosts for mega-points. Ms. Pac-Man looks great on the Lynx, going far beyond my expectations. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: wide
Our high score: 26,040
1 player 

Ninja Gaiden
Grade: B
Publisher: Atari (1990)
Posted: 2017/7/25

screenshotReviewing this game was an emotional rollercoaster, with my opinion wavering between love and hate. If you're used to the more familiar Ninja Gaiden (NES, 1989), this Lynx version may come as a shock. It's a colorful but slow-moving side-scroller in the vein of Final Fight (SNES, 1991). It all makes a little more sense when you realize this is actually a port of the Ninja Gaiden arcade game.

I love the graphics. That colorful city skyline is so bright and detailed you can make out the shingles on the rooftops! The character animation however is plodding, sometimes laboriously so. The first time I played I had no idea what was going on, as my gray ninja was overlapped by a bunch of hockey mask-wearing goons.

One button performs a somersault jump and the other unleashes a series of kicks and punches. The jump is purely evasive; there's no jump-kick. As long as you position yourself next to a gang of thugs you can continuously tap the attack button to strike them all at once, eventually dispatching the entire group. You'll also encounter ninjas, a sumo with a hairy back, and burly hillbilly swinging a log.

The audio leaves much to be desired; what the heck is that tweeting noise? There are plenty of pits in this game, so be sure to knock bad guys into them whenever possible. Broken crates and phone booths reveal weapons and power-ups, but they only break when an enemy crashes into them.

I got stuck on one part where there are steel bars you need to climb across. Would you believe you need to press the "option 1" button to grab a bar? Was it really necessary to introduce a third button for this simple function?

The game plays well, thanks to interesting scenery and a moderate difficulty. The programmers must have been big fans of Top Gun, because there are Top Gun posters all over the place. Amusing illustrations are displayed between stages, including one of your ninja (in full garb) reading about himself in a newspaper while sitting on a train!

The continue screen must be seen to be believed. It shows your ninja strapped to a table with a circular saw being lowered onto his chest! Whoa! Once you come to terms with its slo-mo pacing, Ninja Gaiden turns out to be an entertaining little kung fu slugfest. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 26700
1 player 

Ninja Gaiden III
Grade: B
Publisher: Tecmo (1991)
Posted: 2017/4/27

screenshotOn the list of things I love more than anything else in the whole world, ninjas rank in at a solid #4. And Ninja Gaiden III is real ninja action! I play this one a lot. Your character may be pixelated but he's nicely animated and quite agile. Ryu can jump, duck, climb, and hang under platforms. He'll slash at close enemies and toss stars from a distance. You begin in a lab facility with glass containers housing creepy skeletons and pulsating organs. As you hop and climb around you're attacked by ninjas and spider-like robots.

The controls could be better. It's easy to climb but pulling yourself up onto a platform can be a challenge. There are red icons hanging all over the place, but you have to hack them loose to grab them. The symbols on these icons are really hard to make out.

Ninja Gaiden III is not exactly easy on the eyes. The scenery looks good but why is everything so damn red? I might as well be playing this on a Virtual Boy for crying out loud. It's hard on the eyes and the red ninjas tend to blend in.

The second stage takes place in the desert and it's a real pain in the ass. It's bad enough you're sinking in sand, but you also have to deal with these elusive fuzzballs and drones descending from above. Still, the levels are fairly short so you'll make steady progress. Just try not to die at the hands of the boss or you'll need to restart the entire stage.

The game's soundtrack has a weird, otherworldly quality that I like a lot. Considering its lack of third-party support, the Lynx was really lucky to land an A-lister like Ninja Gaiden III. It's likely to cause blindness with extended use, but that's still a better fate than playing Kung Food (Atari, 1992). © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 76600
1 player 

Grade: C+
Publisher: Atari (1991)
Posted: 2013/6/11

screenshotThis 1984 Namco arcade game features big characters, colorful scenery, and pleasant music. Pac-Land takes the basic Pac-Man formula and applies it to a side-scrolling platformer. Pac-Man has really grown up since his arcade debut. I'm not talking about the arms and legs he sprouted; I'm talking about his Fedora hat! I think he's a freakin' stockbroker now!

Moving toward the right side of the screen he must avoid ghosts and overcome not-so-deadly hazards like tree stumps and fire hydrants. The ghosts have taken their game to the next level, and can be seen driving cars, flying helicopters, and hopping around on pogo sticks. The controls are limited to jump (either button) or run (double-tap on directional pad).

The multi-layered neighborhood scenery is bright but not particularly interesting. Objects in the foreground (like trees) tend to obstruct your view, but the collision detection is forgiving. Keep an eye out for bonus fruit and power pills. After grabbing a pill you'll want to backtrack to bag some ghosts you passed. The stages are short and after you die you resume right where you left off. Certain stages feature pools with diving boards, and you really need to work the directional pad to clear the water.

Pac-Land is a fun romp until you reach the treacherous floating platforms. Some of the logs you hop across are rolling logs, and sadly that's not readily apparent. This is where the controls break down. You tend to run when you want to walk, and walk when you want to run, sending our yellow hero plunging to his death. Pac-Land contains 25 stages and 5 starting points. The gameplay is uneven but overall this is not a bad fit for the Lynx. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 12,980
1 player 

Grade: B+
Publisher: Atari (1990)
Posted: 2005/1/4

screenshotThis 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 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 arcade 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.

Our high score: 15565
1 player 

Pinball Jam
Grade: D
Publisher: Atari (1989)
Posted: 2005/1/17

screenshotIt's an ambitious title 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 of artwork shown on each table. The tables look messy, with hard-to-distinguish targets blending in with pixelated 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.

Recommended variation: police
Our high score: 712000
1 player 

Pit Fighter
Grade: D
Publisher: Tengen (1992)
Posted: 2004/2/26

screenshotThis 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.

1 player 

Power Factor
Grade: F
Publisher: Hand Made Software (1992)
Posted: 2005/1/4

screenshotBoy, 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 jetpack 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 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.

1 player 

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Screen shots courtesy of Atari Age, YouTube, Old-Computers.com