It’s been a little while since I’ve added to The Last Official Release series – nearly a month, actually (when I covered the Nokia N-Gage) – so, hold onto your Dreamcast branded hats as I get back into the swing of things. For the uninitiated, The Last Official Release explores the last official games released for your favourite consoles. If the Atari Lynx does not happen to be your favourite, fear not. This is the 18th console I’ve covered so far. A full list of previous entries can be found below.
There were many handhelds of the eighties and nineties that could not compete with the powerful wrath of the Nintendo Game Boy, and the Lynx was sadly a victim. Released only 2-months after the beforementioned, the Lynx was at least no slouch in the specifications department. It was the first handheld to include a backlit colour LCD to show its 16-bit visuals after all and also had the distinction of being able to be played in either portrait or landscape modes thanks to its ambidextrous layout.
Additionally, it was capable of advanced graphics on such a kit for the time. It was competent in the scaling and zooming of sprites on a hardware level, handy for pseudo-3D graphics, as well as a 4096-colour palette and a 160×102 pixel resolution. It also featured pretty decent networking capabilities thanks to the Comlynx cable. Theoretically, up to 16-units could be connected for multiplayer, although most games only utilised up to eight.
So, what went wrong? Everything was fine on paper. The answer is Atari. Atari happened. You see, the Lynx was actually developed by Epyx, who went to Atari for help once they realised they didn’t have the resources to produce such a handheld. They struck a deal where Epyx focused on development, while Atari handled promotional and manufacturing responsibilities. To cut a long story short, Atari didn’t quite fulfil their obligations, even after Epyx went bankrupt ensuring they were essentially in charge of the entirety of the project.
Even though it had the specifications and even a decent line-up of games, it ultimately couldn’t compete with the affordability and the even larger range of games that the Game Boy offered. Let alone the marketing campaigns. It eventually even lost out to the Sega Game Gear (which its self was in distant second place to the Game Boy) and was discontinued in 1996 after selling 3-million units. For comparisons sake, the Game Boy sold over 118-million units while even the Game Gear sold just under 11-million.
Only 73 games were ever released for the Lynx officially, with most seeing the light of day in the first few years of the nineties. Even though it was discontinued in 1996, the last ever game was actually from the year previous. Super Asteroids & Missile Command was released in North America and Europe only in 1995, and as you can probably guess, features both the arcade classics Asteroids and Missile Command on the same cartridge.
There really isn’t a whole bunch to say about it really. Obviously, it features enhanced visuals and sound over the arcade originals and was both developed and published by Atari themselves, with programming responsibilities falling to Steve Marschner, who also programmed Ishido: The Way of Stones on the system in 1991.
Interestingly, a very similar compilation was released on the Game Boy in 1995 too. Part of the Arcade Classics series, Arcade Classic 1: Asteroids + Missile Command was developed by The Code Monkeys and published by Nintendo. It’s completely unrelated to its Lynx counterpart bar the licencing, but it’s interesting it came out the same year. The only reason it clicked with me that they both exist is because I happen to own the Game Boy version myself.
Regardless, if you want to own Super Asteroids & Missile Command for yourself, be prepared to hunt. Atari Age gives it a “scarce” rating and as of writing, I can only find two listings on eBay. The prices seem to vary widely too, even if it is a small sample size. Both listings are for ‘new’ condition copies (whatever that means anymore) with one selling for $50 while the other is over $250. Search well if you’re interested.
Previously, on The Last Official Release:
N-Gage – Civilization (2006)
Fairchild Channel F – Alien Invasion (1981)
Atari Jaguar – Worms (1998)
Virtual Boy – 3D Tetris (1996)
Sega Saturn – Undefined Japanese Game (2000)
Intellivision – Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball (1989)
Super Nintendo Entertainment System – Metal Slader Glory: Director’s Cut (2000)
Sega Genesis – Frogger (1998)
Sega Master System – Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge
Game & Watch – Mario the Juggler
PS1 – Schnappi: 3 Fun-Games
N64 – Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
Game Gear – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
NES – The Lion King
Atari 2600 – Klax
Game Boy – Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Kanji/Keisan no Tatsujin
Dreamcast – Karous