With less than a million consoles sold over its lifetime, the Atari Lynx is often considered the underdog by many retro gaming fans.
As the first colour handheld with a backlit screen, the Atari Lynx should have wiped the floor with the Gameboy. It even had a the ability to be turned upside down for left-handed play!
Even with all the makings of a classic console and reviewers praising it to everyone that would listen, the Lynx just didn’t sell.
It sold 2 million units less than the Nokia N-Gage, for crying out loud, and this was an actual console!
I’ve made a list of my favourite Atari Lynx games below for you to check out.
Table of Contents
1. S.T.U.N. RUNNER (1989)
That means that S.T.U.N Runner takes the top spot in this list of the best Atari Lynx games of all time!
As with many of the games for the Lynx, S.T.U.N Runner is set in the far off future. The year this time is 2492, and the cars all have speed limits of nigh-on 1,000mph!
In case you were wondering, S.T.U.N stand for Sub-Terranean Underground Network, but there’s no Sewer Shark FMV sequences to be found here.
Like RoadBlasters, there are lots of enemies trying to destroy you at every step of the way, the difference being that this is a fast game, and hitting anything causes you to lose your shields and slow your speed.
And don’t be under any illusions; you will hit stuff all the time!
Still, the good news is that you can’t die. Get across the finish line first, and the glory of being a S.T.U.N runner stays with you forever.
Like F-Zero X and Mario Kart 8, boost pads provide extra bursts of speed. Wield mighty power-ups to take down your opponents and try to tackle the auto-accelerate as you hurtle towards obstacle after obstacle after obstacle…
It’s my favourite Atrari Lynx game, and I hope that you enjoy it too!
2. RoadBlasters (1990)
Were down to the final two titles in our list of the best Atari Lynx games of all time, and I’ve really saved the best till last! RoadBlasters is one of the best racing games for any portable console, and I’ll not have a bad word said against it!
This futuristic racing game might have been from a different planet back in the day, but it looks a far cry from the likes of F-Zero X and WipeOut. Still, it’s a classic racing title that sees gamers trying to get to the finish line without bursting into flames…
… oh, it’s more like F-Zero X than I thought!
Not a fan of someone’s driving or wish they’d get out of your way? No problem; just use your machine gun to blow them off the road!
There’s no bananas or blue shells here, folks; it’s pure mayhem from start to finish!
Dodge armoured bikes, cars, bombs, grenades, landmines; you name it, and it’s trying to kill you in one of the 50 levels in this game!
Pick up fuel by crossing checkpoints and killing enemies, otherwise you’ll have to sit there and watch as your opponents fly past you… and then blow you up.
3. Chip’s Challenge (1989)
Chip’s Challenge proves that nerds who live in their parents basements can still get the partner of their dreams by completing a series of impossibly difficult tile-based games.
Talk about having to jump through hoops… or tiles… you know what I mean.
This might not be the most action packed title on the console, but I’m a sucker for a good puzzle game! There are 149 brain-teasers on this original Atari Lynx game, and Chip must prove he has enough mental muscle to impress Melinda the Mental Marvel by completing them all!
But what does our nerdarific puzzlenaut have to do? Well, Chip must collect keys, open doors, build bridges, and shove blocks around in order to move from stage to stage.
And not only that, but Melinda has set a time limit for him to complete every one by!
Seriously, Chip, is she worth all this hassle? I think she’s leading you on mate!
4. Xybots (1991)
Xybots takes the 4th spot in this list of the best Atari Lynx games of all time. It’s time for a 3D adventure with weird Metroid-style aliens and a dude that looks like he could be related to Keith Courage as the main character.
Imagine, if you will, a very early crossover title where Half Life and Wolfenstein are mixed in a big vat and thrown onto a portable console.
That’s a recipe for success right there and a winning formula that makes Xybots one of my favourite ever games for the Lynx.
Despite there being no walking skeletons of wizards, this game has a strong Gauntlet: Dark Legacy feel about it. I think it’s because it’s because the main premise is to just put on your Doom Guy trousers and just blast everything in sight as you make your way towards the end of each level.
Alien flying saucers continually bombard the player as you move through each stage, and you can even play this game with a friend.
Friendly fire harms your mates though, so watch where those bullets are going when the saucers start zooming around!
You might have guessed, but the flying saucers are the Xybots. They’ve obviously been playing all the other alien games on the Atari systems as they have a special pattern in which they use to attack.
It’s not an easy ride, but with a friend by your side, a link cable, and some beers, it sure is a fun one!
5. Rampart (1990)
Rampart is one for all you D&D fans out there. It’s also a weird combination between a Risk-style strategy puzzle game and a shooting game.
You might think that’s a combination that just shouldn’t work, but it totally does!
Imagine a cross between Columns and Cannon Fodder. I know it’s insane, but just try…
Minecraft and Sim City fans will love the castle building elements as well as the main aim of destroying enemy fighters with perfectly placed canons. FIRE AT WILL!
Build a castle, defend said castle, build more castles, and don’t die. Repair structures on the fly and blast back enemy forces that would overthrow you.
I know what you’re thinking; this seems like quite a tame game. What if I told you that the enemy commanders are beheaded or made to walk the plank when you defeat their forces?
DAMN! That’s nasty!
Play through six levels, strengthening fortresses as you go and improving your empire. It’s basically Age of Empires on a handheld…
… why didn’t I lead with that!
6. California Games (1987)
California Games is one for the serious E.A Sports fans amongst us. It slots neatly into line with the Summer Games and Winter games titles that you’ve probably played on one console or another and features bikini clad ladies and muscly men doing gnarly sports in California.
Pretty much like a normal L.A day then really…
If you’re looking to add some Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games vibes to your Lynx (albeit without Mario or Sonic involved) then this is the game for you!
California Games comprises of six sports. Show you your skateboard skills on the half pipe, try your hand (or feet) at roller skating, and surf some epic waves down on the beach.
There’s also BMX, Footbag (like a Haki Sak), and Frisbee. If you’re American, then you’ll know how serious Ultimate Frisbee can be!
This title was actually a pack-in game for the Atari Lynx. It’s one of the best selling games on the console (naturally), and California Games is the best selling ‘games’ title of the entire series!
7. Robotron: 2084 (1991)
Robotron: 2084 takes the 7th spot in this list of the best Atari Lynx games of all time. While the cover might look like it’s an updated version of one of the best arcade games of all time, this port is just a portable version.
I shouldn’t say just; this might be a crazy game, but it’s still one of the best there is and a seriously influential title from the golden age of gaming.
You’re basically looking at gaming royalty right here!
So, what’s going on in Robotron 2084 then?
Well, unsurprisingly, the year is 2084. Robots are trying to kill humans, and there are tonnes of them to beat back.
Your job is to slay the mechanic minions of doom before they wipe you and all your mates out.
Sound doable to you?
This game was so bonkers that people needed two joysticks to tackle it back in the day. Just look at the screen above; that’s how I would imagine a migraine looks like if you created it using stamps of retro characters!
8. Pac-Land (1991)
Nope, that’s not a typo; Pac-Land takes the 8th spot in this list of the best Atari Lynx games of all time!
I’m always writing about Pac-Man games in these lists, and there’s only so many things that you can say about a little yellow blob rolling around a maze getting away from ghosts. That’s why I wanted to include Pac-Man’s side-scrolling adventure instead!
In some sort of evolutionary marvel, Pac-Man now has arms, legs, and a cool hat. Don’t think that the Pac-Man ghosts aren’t going to make an appearance, however. They’re still the main antagonists in the game and try to stop our cheese-wheel-shaped-hero from saving a defenceless fairy!
I love seeing Pac-Man in a different environment. The graphics might be a little like an early Microsoft Paint demo and it might be 1000% different to what many of you are used to, but this refreshing adventure is right up my block-coloured street.
Like the original games, Pac-Man must grab fruit and avoid enemies. There are springboards to bounce on, obstacles to jump over, and a time limit to beat if you have any hope of making it to the next round.
Play through sixteen levels as you make it home to Miss Pac-Man and the rest of your famous Atari arcade family!
9. Rygar (1990)
Rygar is the superhero that I always wanted to be. I wanted to travel billions of years into the future to the land of Argool and challenge Ligar to a battle to the death with my massive chain shield and some big-ass muscles.
The farthest I ever got was thumb ache, however, but the dream still exists,
For those who don’t know, Rygar is a dead warrior that comes back to life to sort out the mess his world finds itself in. It takes a dead dude to stop a powerful demon when everyone else is sat at home quaking in their boots.
I never played this game in arcades, but the side-scrolling action on the Atari Lynx blew my mind. There are evil enemies everywhere; they appear from the sky, the side of the screen, behind you; it’s a massacre!
Collecting the powers from different stages and beefing Rygar up was always a challenge, but I loved becoming invisible and providing his weapon with more juice to face up against epic bosses.
The graphics looked pretty great too, but I think the thing I loved about Rygar the most was the storyline. I’m a massive Sci-Fi nerd, so undead warriors fighting mysterious evil forces is practically what I live for…
10. Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship Of Doom (1991)
The Number 10 spot on our list of the best Atari Lynx games goes to the fearless Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship Of Doom.
Fans of the NES version of Ninja Gaiden III will be happy to know that this is a direct copy. Everything has just been scaled down (obviously) for the Lynx’s smaller screen.
While this is the third game in the series, it actually comes in-between the first and second games of the canon… get your head around that one!
Ryu Hayabusa, star of Dead or Alive and many other games, started out life as the bad-ass Ninja Gaiden. In this epic tale, he’s trying to clear his name for a murder that he didn’t commit and then comes across a plan to create a race of super mutants…
It all kind of escalates from there really. But you know, it’s fiction, so they can do these things.
This game slots into place with the other Ninja Gaiden titles perfectly. The gameplay is fantastic, as are Ryu’s Prince of Persia-esque moves. The only thing that hampers this game is the fact that the sound quality was a bit pants, and it’s hard to pick out all of the individual collectibles on such a diddy screen.
Still, controlling Ryu while on the toilet or in the back of the car is just about as good as it gets!
11. Desert Strike (1993)
Desert Strike is about as close to Call of Duty as the Atari Lynx gets. It’s full title includes ‘Return to the Gulf’, which alludes to the fact that there are some heavy Gulf War vibes going on here.
An Arab general has declared war on the United States, and it’s your job to take him down and prevent WWIII from happening.
Talk about having a lot on your plate! It’s not even as if you can say ‘I didn’t sign up for this!’
Here’s the best bit about this game; you get to fly an Apache Helicopter! I’ve been in one of these as a kid and it was freakin awesome!
Rescue fellow soldiers captured by the enemy, stop their advances by blowing up key strongholds and power sources, and thwart the evil general by whatever means necessary.
Desert Strike follows a top-down perspective like GTA: Chinatown Wars for the PSP. Keep your eye on the fuel gauge and how much armour you have left, otherwise it could be game over before you know it!
12. Xenophobe (1991)
Xenophobe takes the 12th spot in this list of the best Atari Lynx games of all time, bringing alien splatting goodness to Atari’s portable powerhouse.
Fans of Metroid will love this side-scrolling space shooter. Players take a band of engineers (not soldiers, really?!) to stop the dreaded Xenos from taking over first the planet’s Spacestations, and then the planet itself!
This is going to need some serious firepower and some serious cahoonas!
Now, I know the word ‘Xeno’ doesn’t mean anything to you now, but play Xenophobe for 20 minutes and you’ll be positively petrified every time one comes onto the screen…
… I might be overselling it a little bit, but that’s the general feeling the developers wanted to create!
There’s a weapon upgrade system akin to Castlevania in which players start off with a simple weapon and upgrade as the game progresses. I’m still not sure what the Poofer gun is; it’s not as menacing-sounding as the Cerebral Bore, but it’s certainly a beast!
13. Shadow Of The Beast (1990)
Shadow of the Beast might not seem like the most advanced game of all time, but this was a marvel of graphical might back in the day…
… I tried to sound like a wise wizard then, though I’m not sure it worked…
It was pretty unusual for a handheld game to have multiple parallax scrolling layers back in the 90s, let alone the 12 that made up the backgrounds in this game. This was the equivalent of looking at Breath of the Wild on the the Switch for the first time,
But enough about the graphics; what is the game itself like?
Players must travel through levels swarming with beasts and traps in order to try to free the players curse. Dark magic has turned him into a monster, and it’s up to him to try and get revenge for the death of his father at the hands of an evil sorcerer.
It’s all very ’90s’, but it’s also one of the best Atari Lynx games without a shadow of a doubt. Beat back sub bosses, pull off crazy flying kicks, and defeat the agents of darkness with tooth, nail, and claw!
14. Tournament Cyberball (1992)
Remember when you could play as the Robot Team on Mario Smash Football? Well, Tournament Cyberball is basically the same concept, with robots playing American Football with a ball that could explode at any minute…
Tournament Cyberball is set in the year 2072 as opposed to the original year of 2022 in the arcade game. I’ve got to say that I’m glad the world never ended up like this, otherwise sport would definitely kill me.
The updated game featured new move sets and different player characteristics, creating a much more lifelike football experience… except for the fact that it’s robots tackling each other and not people…
What was that about an exploding ball? Well, the football itself is like the game hot potato; get caught with it when it goes off and you’re out! It needs to be diffused or else it will burst into flames, taking your robot with it.
Rack up points to upgrade your robots, making them stronger and faster and giving you the edge against your competitors. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s a terrible look at what the olympics might be like in 2072!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 33 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.