||| ATARI Lynx "Frequently Asked Questions" File! Updated: 8/3/2003
/ | \
Created by Darius Vaskelis, who saw the need and filled it.
Maintained by Robert Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This file is not maintained by, overseen by, endorsed, or otherwise
associated with Atari Corp. or any of its subsidiaries. It's just a
collection of questions and answers, with a few news tidbits thrown in.
This file is posted on a monthly basis to rec.games.video.atari,
alt.games.lynx, news.answers, and rec.answers around the first of the month.
The latest version of this file is also available on the world-wide web at
http://www.digiserve.com/eescape/atari/Atari.shtml. It is maintained by
Robert Jung at email@example.com on the Internet. Send corrections, news,
updates, comments, questions, or other stuff to that address. All mail is
Updates since the last publically posted FAQ have a percent sign (%) in the
Robert tries to get the latest news and information into this FAQ; however,
he's only human, and might miss something important due to real-life demands.
Feel free to send in news tidbits and announcements to firstname.lastname@example.org for
inclusion in this FAQ.
Q. What was the Atari Lynx?
A. The Lynx was the world's first hand-held color video game system. Sold by
Atari, the Lynx offered true multi-player competition, built-in 3D and
distortion graphic effects, reversible controls, and fast arcade action.
Q. What was included when you bought a Lynx?
A. The Lynx was available in two packages:
Originally, the Lynx "Deluxe Package" included the Lynx unit, a copy of
the CALIFORNIA GAMES game card, a carrying case, a ComLynx cable, and an
AC adaptor. Later the adaptor was replaced with six AA Alkaline
batteries. The Lynx "Base Package" came with only the Lynx but no
Near the end of the Lynx's retail life, some stores were selling a
"maximum" Lynx package, consisting of the Lynx itself and four games. It
was primarily a clearance/liquidation move, and is no longer available.
Q. What happened to Atari, anyway?
A. The trials and tribulations of Atari could fill a small book (and, in
fact, once did). To summarize VERY briefly, the history of Atari is as
1972 Atari Inc. founded by Nolan Bushnell from a $250 investment.
Pong arcade game becomes a smash sensation.
1976 Atari Inc. sold by Bushnell to Warner Inc. for $28 million.
1980 Atari Inc. posts record sales. $2 billion profits annually.
Atari occupies 80 offices in Sunnyvale, CA.
1983 Decline of video games and irresponsible spending by Atari Inc.
results in record losses ($536 million, up to $2 million
1984 Warner divides Atari Inc. Home division (Atari Corp.) is sold to
1985 Atari Corp. releases Atari ST home computer.
1989 Atari Corp. releases Atari Lynx, the world's first color
hand-held video game system.
1993 Atari Corp. releases Atari Jaguar, the world's first 64-bit home
video game system (see the Atari Jaguar FAQ).
1994 Atari Games becomes Time-Warner Interactive.
1996 Time-Warner Interactive (Atari Games) sold to WMS.
1996 Atari Corp. announces reverse merger with JTS Corporation.
1996 Atari Corp. and JTS connsumate deal on July 31 1996.
1998 Hasbro acquires the rights to Atari Corp.'s name and properties
1999 Hasbro releases their rights to the Jaguar to the public; Atari
is reborn as their new home video game label.
2000 Infogrammes Entertainment purchases Hasbro Interactive,
including all of Hasbro's rights to the Atari name and all of
its properties, for $95,000,000 in Infogrames stock and
$5,000,000 in cash.
2003 Infogrammes changes its name to Atari.
Q. What was the relationship between the Atari Lynx and Epyx?
A. The Lynx was originally conceived by Epyx in 1987. It was called the
"Handy" at that time. Two creators of the system, Dave Needle and R.J.
Mical, were also members of the Amiga design team. Atari bought the
rights to the Lynx and to Epyx's library of titles, and the rest is
history. Epyx no longer has any connection with Atari or the Lynx.
Q. What are the specifications of the Lynx?
A. Physical dimensions:
Size: 9.25" x 4.25" x 2" (10.75" x 4.25" x 1.5" for original Lynx)
Screen: 3.5" diagonal (3.25" x 1.88" approx.)
Speaker: 2" diameter
Buttons: Two sets of fire buttons (A and B)
Two option buttons (OPTION 1 and OPTION 2)
(OPTION 1 + Pause = Restarts the game
OPTION 2 + Pause = Flips the screen, which allows the Lynx
controls to be reversed)
Power on light (Not on original Lynx; indicates unit is on)
Power on button
Power off button
Backlight button (Not on original Lynx; turns off the screen,
but does not turn off the game. This saves electricity use
when a game is paused)
Joypad: Eight directional
Ports: Headphones (mini-DIN 3.5mm stereo; wired for mono on the
ComLynx (multiple unit communications)
Power (9V DC, 1 A)
Game card slot
Battery holder (six AA)
For the technically minded, the Lynx has two basic chips that form a
cooperative set of co-processing subsystems that maximize the Lynx's
performance by sharing the work of executing a game program. These
chips are called Mikey and Suzy.
Mikey (16-bit custom CMOS chip running at 16MHz)
- MOS 65C02 processor running at up to 4MHz (~3.6MHz average)
8-bit CPU, 16-bit address space
- Sound engine
4 channel sound
8-bit DAC for each channel
(4 channels x 8-bits/channel = 32 bits commonly quoted)
Atari reports the range is "100Hz to above the range of human
hearing"; spectrum analysis shows the range may go as low as 32Hz.
Stereo with panning (mono for original Lynx)
- Video DMA driver for LCD display
4096 color (12-bit) palette
16 simultaneous colors (4 bits) from palette per scanline (more than 16
colors can be displayed by changing palettes after each scanline)
- System timers
- Interrupt controller
- UART (for ComLynx)
- 512 bytes of bootstrap and game-card loading ROM
Suzy (16-bit custom CMOS chip running at 16MHz)
- Blitter (bit-map block transfer) unit
- Graphics engine
Hardware drawing support
Unlimited number of high-speed sprites with collision detection
Hardware high-speed sprite scaling, distortion, and tilting effects
Hardware decoding of compressed sprite data
Hardware clipping and multi-directional scrolling
Variable frame rate (up to 75 frames/second)
160 x 102 "triad" standard resolution (16,320 addressable pixels)
(A triad is three LCD elements: red, green, and blue)
Capability of 480 x 102 artificially high resolution
- Math co-processor
Hardware 16-bit multiply and divide (32-bit answer)
Parallel processing of single multiply or divide instruction
The Lynx contains 64K (half a megabit) of 120ns DRAM. Game cards
currently hold 128K (1 megabit) or 256K (2 megabits) of ROM, but there
is a maximum capacity of up to 2 megabytes (16 megabits) on one game card.
In theory, this limit can be exceeded, either with bank-switching
hardware in the card, or by using a ROM power on/off line as an extra
address line (up to 4 megabytes). Most Lynx game cards are 256K ROMs.
Three games are on 512K ROMs: NINJA GAIDEN 3, PIT FIGHTER, and JIMMY
CONNORS TENNIS, along with the never-released EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.
The first few hundred bytes of the game card is encrypted to prevent
unauthorized developers from writing Lynx software. This scheme was
introduced by Epyx as an effort to enforce game quality.
With alkaline batteries, the reasonable average battery life is 5 hours.
(4 hours with the original Lynx) The Lynx can run off rechargeable
Ni-Cad batteries, but average battery life drops drastically to 1.5 hours
per recharge (1 hour for the original Lynx). Your mileage may vary.
Q. What were the differences between the original Lynx ("Lynx Classic") and
the later-model Lynx ("Lynx II")?
A. The Lynx II is a bit smaller and lighter than the original Lynx. It had a
slightly longer battery life, and can also just turn the screen off during
a game pause to save batteries. (The original Lynx had a five minute
auto-power shut-off that would have prevented this from being useful. It
was removed in the Lynx II). A power LED was added (which also blinks
when battery power is low), and cartridges are easier to insert.
The only differences in a technical sense is that the Lynx II has a more
efficient internal design, and the headphone jack supports stereo sound.
The speaker in the Lynx II is also not as loud as the original Lynx,
though it's more than adequate for all but the noisiest situations.
Also, the Lynx II can experience what is called "blinking pixel syndrome".
With certain game cards, one pixel on the screen (usually stationary)
cycles through all the colors very quickly. It does not affect game play,
and isn't always noticed unless it's looked for. It seems to be fixed in
later Lynxes, making it even less of a factor.
The power consumption in the Lynx II is about fifteen percent less than
that of the original Lynx. Harry Dodgson (email@example.com) shows
Classic using 343 mA, versus 296 mA for the Lynx II. Also, about
two-thirds of the Lynx power use is for the backlight screen alone, as
using the Lynx II with the backlight off used only 97 mA. He concludes,
"the 'battery life of five hours' claim by Atari is realistic."
Q. Is the Lynx an 8-bit or 16-bit system?
A. If 16-bit refers to the main CPU (such as the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive),
then the Lynx is an 8-bit system. If 16-bit refers to the graphics engine
(such as the NEC TurboDuo/PC-Engine), then the Lynx is a 16-bit system.
Q. Why does the Lynx use a 6502 and not a 68000?
A. "Some people believe it's less of a processor than the 68000, for example.
That series of chip was used in the Amiga, but it wouldn't make our
machine do things any better. In fact, it would only make the unit larger
and more expensive. It's also harder to write 68000 code, so we
definitely made the right decision."
"The real answer for the choice for the 6502 vs. 68000 was price.
Secondary considerations (that did not really enter into the decision
making process): 68000 code is very fat compared to 6502 code. An
application that takes 1K of 6502 code averages 2.5 to 3K of 68000 code.
The 6502 is very bus-efficient, the 68000 has lots of dead time on the
bus. As for it being harder to write 68000 code, that is probably not
true, and in any case was not part of the reason the decision was made."
Additionally, inside sources at Atari said that one major reason for the
6502 vs 68000 processor choice was that the 6502 design was available as a
component that could be plugged into a custom chip design. This allowed
engineers to build a chip with a 6502 and other supporting hardware around
it all in one package. It was not until 1993-1994 that Motorola offered
the 68000 as a design component.
Q. What were all of the Lynx games released?
A. The following is a list of Lynx games released in the United States. The
notation "(x)" means to refer to footnote number x. All multiplayer games
use the ComLynx cable unless otherwise indicated:
Title Players Publisher Type
----------------- ------- ------------ ---------------------------
A.P.B. 1 Atari Arcade
Awesome Golf 1-4 Atari Sports
Baseball Heroes 1-2 Atari Sports
Basketbrawl 1-2 Atari Action/Sports
Batman Returns 1 Atari Action/Platform
BattleWheels 1-6 Beyond Games Action/Driving
Battlezone 2000 1-4 Atari Action/Arcade
Bill & Ted's 1-2 Atari Action/Adventure
Block Out 1 Atari Action/Strategy
Blue Lightning 1 Atari Action
Bubble Trouble 1 Telegames Action/Adventure
California Games 1-4(1) Atari Action/Sports
Championship Rally 1-4(1) Songbird Prod. Action/Sports
Checkered Flag 1-6 Atari Sports
Chip's Challenge 1 Atari Puzzle
Crystal Mines II 1 Atari Puzzle
Crystal Mines II: 1 Songbird Prod. Puzzle
% Buried Treasure
% Crystal Mines II: 1 Songbird Prod. Puzzle
% Buried Treasure Expansion CD
Cybervirus 1 Songbird Prod. Action
Cybervirus: 1 Songbird Prod. Action
Desert Strike 1 Telegames Action/Strategy
Dinolympics 1 Atari Puzzle
Dirty Larry: 1 Atari Action
Double Dragon 1-2 Telegames Arcade/Fighting
Dracula the Undead 1 Atari Adventure
Electrocop 1 Atari Action/Adventure
European Soccer 1-2 Telegames Sports
Fat Bobby 1 Telegames Action/Platform
Fidelity Ultimate 1-2(2) Telegames Strategy
Gates of Zendocon 1 Atari Action/Shooter
Gauntlet: The 1-4 Atari Action/Adventure
Gordo 106 1 Atari Platform
Hard Drivin' 1 Atari Arcade/Driving
Hockey 1-2 Atari Sports
Hydra 1 Atari Arcade
Hyperdrome 1-4 Atari Action/Sports
Ishido: The Way of 1-n Atari Strategy
the Stones (2,3)
Jimmy Connors Tennis 1-4 Atari Sports
Joust 1-2 Shadowsoft Arcade
Klax 1 Atari Arcade/Strategy
Krazy Ace Minature 1-4(2) Telegames Action
Kung Food 1 Atari Action/Fighting
Lemmings 1 Atari Strategy
Lexis 1 Songbird Prod. Puzzle
Lynx Casino 1-2 Atari Strategy
Lynx Othello 1-2 Harry Dodgson Strategy
Malibu Bikini 1-4 Atari Sports
Ms. Pac-Man 1 Atari Arcade
NFL Football 1-2 Atari Sports
Ninja Gaiden 1 Atari Arcade
Ninja Gaiden III: 1 Atari Action/Platform
The Ancient Ship of Doom
Pac-Land 1-2(2) Atari Arcade
Paperboy 1 Atari Arcade
Pinball Jam 1 Atari Arcade/Action
Pit-Fighter 1-2 Atari Arcade/Fighting
Ponx 1-2(4) Songbird Prod. Arcade
Power Factor 1 Atari Action
Qix 1-2(2) Telegames Arcade
Raiden 1-2 Telegames Arcade/Shooter
Rampage 1-4 Atari Arcade
Rampart 1-2 Atari Arcade/Strategy
Remnant 1 Songbird Prod. Action/Arcade
RoadBlasters 1 Atari Arcade/Driving
Robo-Squash 1-2 Atari Action/Sports
Robotron:2084 1 Shadowsoft Arcade
Rygar 1 Atari Arcade
Scrapyard Dog 1 Atari Platform
SFX 1 Songbird Prod. Developer tool
Shadow of the Beast 1 Atari Action/Strategy
Shanghai 1-2 Atari Strategy
S.I.M.I.S. 1-2 B.Schick/Other Arcade/Action/Demo
Sokomania 1 Markus Wuehl Puzzle
Steel Talons 1 Atari Arcade
S.T.U.N. Runner 1 Atari Arcade
Super Asteroids/ 1 Atari Arcade/Action
Super Off-Road 1-4 Telegames Arcade/Driving
Super Skweek 1-2 Atari Action/Strategy
Switchblade II 1 Atari Platform
T-Tris 1-8 B. Schick Puzzle
Todd's Adventures 1-8 Atari Action/Adventure
in Slime World
Toki 1 Atari Platform
Tournament 1-4 Atari Arcade/Sports
Turbo Sub 1-2(3) Atari Action/Shooter
Viking Child 1 Atari Action/Adventure
Warbirds 1-4 Atari Action/Strategy
World Class Soccer 1-2 Atari Sports
Xenophobe 1-4 Atari Arcade
Xybots 1-2 Atari Arcade
Zarlor Mercenary 1-4 Atari Shooter
(1) Manual says 1-2 players, 1-4 is possible
(2) Multiple players on one Lynx, alternating turns.
(3) Players can compare scores, but not interact directly
(4) Multiple players on one Lynx.
Q. What were the unreleased Lynx games?
A: The following games were announced at one time or another as being planned
for the Lynx. With the dissolution of Atari, the chances are very slim
that any of these games will ever be produced or released. However, a few
enterprising companies and individuals have considered plans to either
finish their Lynx titles for release, to sell finished-but-unreleased
games, or to produce new games on their own.
Announced Lynx games (? = Uncertain entry):
Title Players Publisher Type
----------------- ------- ------------ ------------------------------
720 1 Atari Arcade
Aliens v. Predator 1? Atari Action
Blood & Guts Hockey 1-2 Atari Action/Sports
Bleaker 1? Dig. Thunder Action/Adventure/RPG
Blue Earth 1-2? Dig. Thunder Adventure/RPG
Cabal 1-2 Atari Arcade
Centipede 1-2? Shadowsoft Arcade
Classics 2000 1? Teflon Soft. Arcade
Daemonsgate 1? Atari Adventure
Defender/Stargate/ 1? Atari Action/Arcade
Demolition Derby 1-16 H. Dodgson Action/Arcade
Distant Lands 1 Songbird Prod. Adventure
Edward 2000 2 E. Castle Action/Arcade
Evergreen 1 JagSoft ???
Eye of the Beholder 1 Atari Adventure
Full Court Press 1-2 Atari Sports
GeoDuel 1-4 Atari Action/Arcade
Guardians: Storm 1-4 Teflon Soft. Adventure
Heavyweight 1-2 Atari Sports
Iron Reign 1-5 Dig. Thunder Strategy/Simulation
Loopz 1-2 Atari Puzzle
Marlbro Go! 1 Digital Image Racing
Mechtiles 1-4 Songbird Prod. Action/Strategy
Ninja Nerd 1? Atari Action
Operation Desert 1 Atari Strategy?
Paralemmings 1 L. Simonis Action/Arcade
Planar Wars 3D 1-4 Songbird Prod. Action/Arcade
Pounce 1? Atari Strategy
Puzzler 2000 1 Markus Wuehl Strategy
R.C. Destruction 1-4 Telegames Action
R3K 1 Team 13 Arcade
Relief Pitcher 1-2 Atari Arcade/Sports
Road Fury 1? Teflon Soft. Driving
Road Riot 4WD 1-2 Atari Arcade/Action/Driving
Rolling Thunder 1-2 Atari Arcade
Spacewar 1-2? Atari? Action
The Furies 1? Dig. Thunder Action
TNT Terry 1-4 L. Simonis Action
Ultra Star Raiders 1? Atari Action/Strategy
Ultravore 1-2 Songbird Prod. Fighting
Vindicators 1-2 Atari Arcade
Wolfenstein 3D 1 Teflon Soft. Action
Zow 1? H. Dodgson Action/Strategy
The unreleased and incomplete ROM image for Mortal Kombat II is available
Q. Where can I get a review and/or comments about ?
Q. Where can I find secrets, tips, and hints for ?
A: Robert A. Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org) has reviews for (almost) every Lynx game
and peripheral available. They are available on the world-wide web at his
web site, at http://www.digiserve.com/eescape/atari/Atari.shtml
A collection of Lynx cheats and tricks is maintained by Peter Hvezda on
the web at http://www.kurtolsen.com/~kurto/lynx/index.html
Q: Where can I get instructions for ?
A: Bob Schwarzmann and Kurt Olsen have assembled a collection of Lynx game
manuals. Bob currently maintains the archive on the world-wide web at
Q. What accessories are/were available for the Lynx?
A. The following products were available from Atari Corp.:
* ComLynx cable. Connects multiple Lynxes together for multiplayer games.
* AC adaptor. Powers the Lynx from any AC wall socket.
* Cigarette lighter adaptor. Powers the Lynx from any automobile
cigarette lighter. Will support one or two Lynxes simultaneously.
* Atari Lynx Sun Shield. Folds down to protect the Lynx screen, and pops
open to shade the Lynx screen from sunlight for outdoor play. (NOTE:
There are two models; you need the one appropriate for your Lynx)
* D-cell battery pack. Holds six D-cell batteries, and can be attached
with a belt clip. Alkaline batteries provides power for up to 20
hours of playing.
* Atari Lynx carrying pouch. Holds a Lynx, several game cards, and a
ComLynx cable. Attaches with a wrist strap/belt loop.
* Atari Lynx Kit Case. Holds a Lynx, up to 24 game cards, and assorted
accessories. Padded interior with Velcro dividers, can be customized.
Carried with a handle or a shoulder strap.
Songbird Productions offers the following Lynx accessories:
* Lynx/PC serial cable. Connects your Lynx to a 9-pin serial port. Used in
Crystal Mines II: Buried Treasure, and used with S.I.M.I.S. to allow
downloading RAM-based homebrewed games to your Lynx.
* Lynx Game Wallet. Holds 9 games single-stacked, or 18 games
double-stacked. Made of Dupont Cordua water-resistant exterior,
foam-backed soft headliner interior, 9 clear Vinyl pockets and a Velcro
latch. Originally produced by Realm exclusively for the Atari Lynx.
Naki Products also sold several Lynx accessories.
* Atari Lynx power pack. Mounts on the back of the Lynx II, comes with
an AC adapter which allows recharging while playing. Comes in 110v
(USA), 220v (Europe), or 240v (UK) formats. Cost is $39.95, or
$33.95 for replacement battery packs.
* Eliminator cleaning kit. Cleans game cards and cartridge slots. Comes
with swabs and cleaning solution. Cost is $7.95.
* AC adaptor. Powers the Lynx from any 110v outlet. Cost is $9.99.
* Car Power. Cigarette lighter DC adaptor. Cost is $7.95.
* Pro Pouch+. Holds a Lynx and up to 20 game cartridges. Nylon with
adjustable carrying straps. Comes in Black, purple, or teal blue.
Cost is $14.99 each.
Q. Was there a TV tuner option for the Lynx?
A. No. Atari's official position was that market research showed that a TV
tuner, while a neat idea, would not be bought by most players. The
unofficial word from Stephen Landrum is that the Lynx screen display is
not capable of handling a broadcast television picture.
Q. How do you get a Lynx screen shot, anyway?
A. Atari had an experimental adaptor for the Lynx that allowed graphics to
be shown on a conventional television set. This was used to demonstrate
Lynx games for corporate meetings, as well as providing videotape footage
and screen grabs for the media. Reportedly, only two or three of the
adaptors were ever made, and each one cost $3,000 to manufacture.
More enterprising players may get "screen shots" of Lynx games by running
one of the Lynx emulators on a personal computer, then taking screen shots
from there. More information about Lynx emulators can be found elsewhere
in this FAQ.
In a show of ingenuity, Wizztronics plans to release a Lynx-to-TV
converter for $199.95, and allows a Lynx screen image to be displayed on a
television set. The device requires a Lynx II, and must be installed in
order to work. More details will be provided when they are available.
Wizztronics has a web site devoted to the converter, at
Q. What can I use to carry my Lynx game cards?
A. A cheap and easy solution is the plastic cases used to hold trading cards.
They're transparent, sturdy, and lock shut when closed. Most hobby and
comic book stores will sell them; a large case costs $0.50 to $1.00, and
can hold up to 14 Lynx cards.
% Also, Songbird Productions carries a professionally produced Lynx Game
% Wallet, developed by Realm. The dimensions are 12.5"x8.5" (open) or
% 12.5"x3.5"x.75" (folded). This module is designed to hold nine games single
% stacked or 18 games double stacked. It's about the size of a piece of
% paper, folds like a letter, and features three rows of three clear pockets.
% It also has a Dupont Cordura water resistant exterior, foam backed soft
% headliner interior, nine clear vinyl pockets and a Velcro latch. The
% wallet is available at http://songbird-productions.com .
Q. What does "ComLynx" mean, exactly?
A. Some Lynx games allow multiple players to play together simultaneously.
This works when each player has a Lynx game machine, and all of the
machines are connected to each other via cables. The connection is the
ComLynx port, and the cables are ComLynx cables. Games that support this
mutiplayer simultaneous play are usually identified by the phrase "1 to N
players Lynx up" on the box, the instruction manual, and/or the game card.
Q. Do all players "Lynxed up" via the ComLynx need a copy of the game being
A. Yes. All players need a copy of the game card. An early idea that Epyx
had considered for the Lynx was to use magnetic tapes(!) instead of
ROM cards, for lower costs and to support multiple players with one copy
of the game (the idea was that you could load the game into the first
Lynx, remove the tape, load it into the second Lynx, and so on). This
idea was abandoned because the Lynx's 64K of DRAM was insufficient to
store a game, but not before spawning rumors that multi-player Lynx games
only needed one copy of the title.
Developer Harry Dodgson has invented the LGSS (Lynx Game Sharing System),
which allows a game cartridge to use the ComLynx network to download
copies of itself to other Lynx units. This would allow multiple players
to share one card. The LGSS has already been implemented in "Lynx
Othello," and Harry has plans to incorporate it in other games. Interested
developers should contact Harry Dodgson at email@example.com
Q. What's the ComLynx port like?
A. There is a limit of 18 players via ComLynx. In practice it may be
possible to connect more units together, but to operate within
specifications, the drivers in the Lynx cannot drive over more than 17
units with pull-ups on the serial ports. It's easier for the Lynx to
manage fewer players, however, since each Lynx has to track all of the
others, and having more players means more data must be exchanged (growth
is exponential). Also, tracking more than 8 players requires an extra
byte to encode the Lynx unit number with each data packet.
ComLynx runs from 300.5 to 62.5K baud. It works on a "listen and send"
structure. Data transmission between Lynxes is done in the background,
freeing up the CPU to run the game instead of communicating. It's called
"RedEye" in-house at Atari, named after an early idea of having Lynxes
communicate with infra-red transmissions.
It uses a three-wire cable (+5V/Ground/Data) and allows for bi-directional
serial communications. The system frames messages in terms of 11-bit
words, each consisting of a start bit, eight data bits, a parity bit, and
a stop bit. The ComLynx port is used solely for communications; it can't
be used to control other aspects of the Lynx, though in theory it can be
used to send signals to external devices.
Q. Sometimes a multiplayer ComLynx game will freeze up. Why?
A. A ComLynxed game will freeze if communication between the Lynxes is
interrupted. If communications can be restored, the game will continue.
The most common cause of this problem is a fray in one of the ComLynx
cables, or a loose seating in one of the ComLynx jacks. Communication is
broken, and the game "freezes". Jiggling the cable or reseating the jacks
may fix the solution temporarily, but the best cure is a new cable.
Q. I hear there was a ComLynx port on the Atari Jaguar. How did that work?
Could I connect my Lynx to it? Was there a Lynx adaptor for the Jaguar?
A. The Jaguar does not have a ComLynx port per se, but has a ComLynx signal
on the system bus. An expansion port add-on would have made the port
available, and developers had announced plans for such accessories. It is
possible to daisy-chain multiple Jaguars for multiplayer games into a
"Jaguar network". In theory, it would have also been possible to connect
Jaguars and Lynxes, though no plans for cross-system software were ever
There was also talk that the Jaguar's ComLynx signal could allow Lynxes to
be used as peripherals: software could have been developed to allow Lynxes
to be part of a Jaguar game as "smart" controllers. Again, no actual
plans were ever announced.
An adaptor to allow the Jaguar to play Lynx games was never planned.
Q. My Lynx screen is badly scratched! How can I fix it, what can I do?
A. Get some "plastic scratch remover" or "plexiglass scratch remover". You
can find it in hardware stores, or look in your Yellow Pages under
Q. Agh! My Lynx is broken! How can I fix it?
A. Unforutnately, with the dissolution of Atari Corp., repair of broken
Lynxes is no longer available. Replacement units are currently available
from CWest for $45, until quantities run out. CWest can be reached at
Q. How do I disassemble my Lynx II (assuming I want to)?
A. The original Lynxes are easy to take apart, for whatever reason you
needed. The new Lynx IIs are more puzzling, but not impossible. The
following set of (edited) instructions are provided by Ken Small
* * *
"It's not hard, but there are a lot of fragile pieces and the electronics
are sensitive to all the things that electronics are usually sensitive to,
like static. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
"First, remove the rubber pads from the bottom of the Lynx. They're glued
on, but they peel off pretty easily. Beneath them are screw holes --
remove them. Note that it's *very* easy to tell if your lynx has been
opened, since you leave holes in the glue stuff. Take off the back of the
"Remove the screw located inside the battery area. Be careful when
replacing this; it can strip easily. Mine is stripped, but the rest of
the case holds the battery bay in place. Remove the battery bay piece.
"You will see a circuit board with a couple of wires and circuit ribbons
attached to it. Carefully unplug all of these. The ribbon in particular
seems flimsy. Do not puncture or otherwise damage it. Remove the circuit
"Beneath the circuit board is an assembly screwed to the inside of the
case, which contains the screen, button contacts and buttons. A warning
when unscrewing this-- the are LOTS of small pieces in here, and they're
particular about how they go back in. In particular, be careful about the
A/B buttons, which are slightly different sizes, and the rubber mat around
the LCD screen, which has nothing to hold it in place. (NOTE: Also, there
are contacts on the circuit board hooked up to the high-voltage supply for
the backlight. They won't do any damage, but can give a mild shock.)
"The last thing is the joypad contact itself. This is a small rubber mat
held in place by a snap-on piece of plastic. You can carefully remove the
plastic to get under the apron, where the contacts can be cleaned. Clean
in-between the contacts, being careful not to abrase the contacts
themselves. They look like half-circles with a small (half-millimeter or
less) space between. Grunge between them can register an intermittent
false contact, which looks to the player like the joypad is being quickly,
repeatedly pressed in one direction."
Q: Where can I get detailed technical information about the Lynx?
A: A number of Lynx schematics are available on the world-wide web. While it
is uncertain at this time whether these documents are taken from official
Atari developers' notes or handmade reverse-engineered blueprints, they
can still offer a lot of information for the highly curious.
Lynx Classic schematics are at
Lynx 2 PCB layout is at:
Q. I have some dust under my Lynx screen; how can I clean it?
A. The original Lynxes are easy to take apart; simply remove the screws,
disassemble the Lynx, then wipe the screen clean.
It is possible to disassemble the Lynx II and clean its screen in a
similar way, but there is an easier alternative. According to John
Daniels, "The front screen on the Lynx 2 snaps on and off (easier to snap
on than off though). The transparent area and the area surrounding the
small buttons near the screen is one big piece of plastic. It snaps on
with a lip on the top and bottom edge. ... It takes a pretty sturdy sharp
edge, but once you start it moving, it just pops off and then you can
clean the area between the plastic screen and the LCD."
For cleaning, plain water or cleaning liquid will work fine. It is
recommended that you allow your screen to dry before reassembling the
Lynx, to reduce the danger of damaging the electronics.
Q. What's this about Lynx emulators? Can I play Lynx games on my computer?
A. Proving that old consoles never die, but get transposed on other platforms
instead, a number of resourceful folks have written emulators of the Atari
Lynx. This is not as trivial as it sounds, as these authors are working
without official Atari/Epyx documentation, and therefore spend a lot of
time reverse-engineering the Lynx's processors. They've reached varying
degrees of success, but the field is a fast-changing one, and what might
be insurmountable today could seem trivial tomorrow.
Because these are software emulators, there is no current method to run
Lynx cartridges directly off your home computer. However, some folks have
managed to secure ROM dumps of Lynx games, and the emulators can run those
Here are some resources for further information about Lynx emulators:
Homemade Lynx development system
Bastian Schick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lynx emulator for Windows 95/98/NT/2000
Keith Wilkins (email@example.com)
Lynx emulator for Apple Macintosh/MacOS
Partially-completed emulator in assembly
Ben Haynor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Q. What are other sources for Lynx information?
- A.P.E. Newsletter Dedicated Lynx newsletter ("A.P.E."
2104 N. Kostner stands for "Atari Power
Chicago, IL 60639 Entertainment"). Write to Clinton
GEnie: C.SMITH89 Smith. Published five times per
year, cost is $6.00/year.
- Portable Atari Gaming System PAGS is a quarterly newsletter with
P.O. Box 37692 reviews, editorials, news & info,
Raleigh, NC 27627-7692 and gaming tips. One year costs
GEnie: E.SCHOFIELD $12.00.
- Wild Cat A one-man, home-made Atari video gaming
Phil Patton "fanzine." Subscriptions are $12/year
131 Dake Ave. for eight issues, at 12 pages each
Santa Cruz, CA 95062 issue. Covers all Atari consoles and
Internet/USENET newsgroups and services:
USENET newsgroup. Contains news of all Atari video-game systems.
- World-Wide Web Pages
The Electric Escape is the official home of the Lynx FAQ.
Go Atari is a web site that sells Atari software and hardware:
Telegames UK sells Lynx units, games, accessories:
Lynx UK provides (as the name suggests) information for Lynx users in
the United Kingdom:
Harry Dodgson is developing several Lynx titles of his own, and also
has rare screen shots, and a free demo ROM image for "Eye of the
Bastian Schick has developed several Lynx titles of his own, and his
Web site includes information for other Lynx developers:
Laurens Simonis has started a web page on the development of his
upcoming Lynx game, TNT Terry (a Bomberman clone):
Carl Forhan's (Songbird Productions) numerous Lynx and Jaguar
% projects can be found at http://songbird-productions.com
JagSoft has a web page for their products at:
Markus Wuehl has a web site for his Lynx game development efforts
The Atari Lynx and Jaguar Club Deutschland is on the web:
Digital Thunder is on the web:
The Atari Lynx Generation 2 Game Deveopment project is located at
Markus Wuehl has a web page covering various aspects of the Lynx,
including his works-in-progress:
General-purpose Atari/Lynx Web pages:
Also, Yahoo!'s list of Atari Lynx web sites can be found at
Internet FTP sites:
- atari.archive.umich.edu or terminator.cc.umich.edu (126.96.36.199):
Has back-issues of Portable Addiction, a
newsletter about the Atari Lynx, Sega Game
Gear, and Atari Portfolio.
/atari/Lynx Contains assorted Lynx-related files
Microsoft Windows Help File:
Jon Reinberg has compiled the Lynx cheats file and the Lynx FAQ into a
Microsoft Windows .HLP (Help) file. This allows Windows users to use
active hypertext browsing to find game cheats for specific games. The
Lynx Help File can be retrieved with anonymous FTP, at
atari.archive.umich.edu, in the file atari\lynx\cheathlp.zip.
Instructions are included.
(209) 239-1552, baud rate/line information unknown
The BBS is completely dedicated to Atari products and Atari video game
- MADNIX BBS
(608) 273-2657, 300/1200/2400 bps
It's located in Madison, Wisconsin (USA) and has a Lynx section.
Login as "bbs" and create an account. Once on the BBS enter "go
lynx". MADNIX has game reviews and hints from the net as well as old
message threads from UseNet on LYNX related topics.
- Video Game Information Service.
(201) 509-7324, 300/1200/2400/9600/14400 bps. Multiple lines
Located in West Orange, New Jersy (USA). The BBS is completely
dedicated to video gaming, and maintains files of cheats and reviews
for all game systems. Carries video-game-related conferences from
other computer networks, including Fidonet, Worldnet, and Globalnet.
- America On-Line
The PC Games/Video Games discussion group has areas devoted to the
Atari Lynx and the Atari Jaguar consoles. Use the keyword PC GAMES,
then go to the Video Games discussion board. From there, select Atari
Discussion, then the console of your choice.
Atari ST Roundtable BBS, Category 36
- Netherlands: International Lynx Club
7339 DN Ugchelen
- Austria: Internationaler Lynx Club
- Switzerland: Swiss-Lynx-Info-Club
Q. What was the Lynx developer's kit like?
- Commodore Amiga computer: 3M RAM and hard disk.
- "Howard" board: A parallel-interface module that has the electronics
of the Lynx, also with debugging tools. A large PC board inside of
a metal case with power supply, and connections on the back for
cable to connect to the Amiga, and to the "Howdy" unit ($5,000).
- "Howdy" unit: Either a small PC board in a plastic case with buttons
and a Lynx display, or a modified Lynx. Essentally a self-contained
"Handy" (Lynx) unit, with cables to allow the "Howard" board to monitor
- "Pinky/Mandy": A discounted "Howard" board setup that allows programs to
be loaded and executed. Pinky and Mandy can only download and execute
programs that are in Handy RAM or a simulated Handy ROM cart. Minimal
debugging support ($500).
- Handy-Bug: A powerful symbolic debugger, also contains a disassembler.
- Handicraft: Graphics translator that takes IFF files and turns them
into coded Lynx sprite definitions.
- HSFX: Sound editor
- "HandyROM": Creates ROM card images from code and data files.
- Other assorted tools, including HandyAsm (a 65C02 assembler), a MIDI
music editor, a paint program for creating/modifying sprites, a text
editor, and HSPL (compiles music text files into Handy files).
- Macro libraries
- Example programs
- Notebook of system documentation (approximately 270 double-sided pages,
weighs over three pounds).
The cost of a full Lynx Developer's Kit was around $5,000.
The Lynx software encryption codes (and supporting software tools) have
been released into the public domain. The codes are available on the web