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The Retro Handheld Console Nearly Everyone Forgot Existed

90s babies who were knee-deep in the world of gaming probably remember just how heated those console wars were.

Sega and Nintendo dominated the home console market and fought to grab the attention of young gamers with their respective machines (the best-selling Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System). Both companies also clashed when it came to earning the top spot in the handheld gaming market. Sega came to the fight with its Game Gear machine, while Nintendo fought back via the Game Boy (which ended up being a massively popular Christmas toy).


While most gamers from back in the day either had one or the other, there were outside competitors that also looked to get a piece of the handheld gaming pie. Tiger Electronics released the Game.com, NEC Home Electronics launched the TurboExpress, and SNK arrived with the Neo Geo Pocket.

Another handheld gaming machine that you may not even remember was actually developed and released by the creatives at the Atari Corporation. Here is a brief backstory about the Atari Lynx, as well as why it ultimately failed to make a splash in the handheld gaming market.

The Atari Corporation joined the handheld console race when it introduced the Atari Lynx

Originally released in 1989, the Atari Lynx is a handheld console that comes with a fully backlit screen and produces 16-bit graphics. The original design of the Lynx was completed by a game publisher/developer named Epyx. However, Epyx was unable to fund the actual production of the handheld itself. Atari eventually gained ownership of the Lynx project once Epyx declared bankruptcy and relinquished the rights to its machine. 


The Lynx launched with games like Blue Lightning, California Games, Electrocop, and Gates of Zendocon. Ultimately, 70+ games were released for the Lynx during its run. An updated version of the console (the Lynx II) made its debut in 1991.

The Lynx may have had a few likable features, but it simply failed to make a dent in the handheld gaming market that was ruled by the Game Boy and Game Gear. In 1996, Atari brought production of the Lynx to a halt.

Much like with the later Neo-Geo titles, fans have proven there's still life to the Lynx. To this day, homebrew games are being made for the Lynx. And in 2008, Atari was honored for its work on the Lynx during the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards.