Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

[FAQ] Atari Lynx Frequently-Asked Questions

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Sex offenders ]
Archive-name: games/video-games/atari/lynx
Posting-Frequency: monthly

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
 |||  ATARI Lynx "Frequently Asked Questions" File!  Updated: 5/1/2000
/ | \

        Created by Darius Vaskelis, who saw the need and filled it.
        Maintained by Robert Jung (


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,, 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 It is maintained by
Robert Jung at 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
first column.

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 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
              Jack Tramiel.
     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.


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)
             Pause button
             (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
   Controls: Volume
      Ports: Headphones (mini-DIN 3.5mm stereo; wired for mono on the
               original Lynx)
             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 with extra bank-switching hardware
   in the card.  Most Lynx game cards are 128K ROMs.  Three games are on

   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 ( 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."
                                                --R.J. Mical

   "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."
                                                --Stephen Landrum

   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
     Excellent 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
   Checkered Flag       1-6    Atari          Sports
   Chip's Challenge      1     Atari          Puzzle
   Crystal Mines II      1     Atari          Puzzle
   Desert Strike         1     Telegames      Action/Strategy
   Dinolympics           1     Atari          Puzzle
   Dirty Larry:          1     Atari          Action
     Renegade Cop
   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
     Chess Challenge
   Gates of Zendocon     1     Atari          Action/Shooter
   Gauntlet: The        1-4    Atari          Action/Adventure
     Third Encounter
   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
   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
      Missile Command
   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
     Cyberball 2072
   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
%  Championship Racing  1-2?   Songbird Prod. Action/Sports
   Classics 2000         1?    Teflon Soft.   Arcade
   Crystal Mines II:     1     Songbird Prod. Puzzle
     Buried Treasure
   Cybervirus            1     Songbird Prod. Action
   Daemonsgate           1?    Atari          Adventure
   Defender/Stargate/    1?    Atari          Action/Arcade
      Defender II
   Demolition Derby     1-16   H. Dodgson     Action/Arcade
   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
     Over Doria
   Heavyweight          1-2    Atari          Sports
   Iron Reign           1-5    Dig. Thunder   Strategy/Simulation
   Loopz                1-2    Atari          Puzzle
   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
%  Remnant              1-2?   Songbird Prod. Action
   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


Q. Where can I get a review and/or comments about <insert game name here>?
Q. Where can I find secrets, tips, and hints for <insert game name here>?

A: Robert A. Jung ( has reviews for (almost) every Lynx game
   and peripheral available.  They are available on the world-wide web at his
   web site, at

   A collection of Lynx cheats and tricks is maintained by Peter Hvezda on
   the web at

Q: Where can I get instructions for <insert game name here>?
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 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.

   Naki Products also sold several Lynx accessories.  Some of them (depending
   on quantities) are available from Hardysoft:

   * 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.

   Another solution are Lynx card wallets.  Sold by Hardysoft, a wallet costs
   $7.50 each, or you can buy three for $20.  Each wallet holds 9 cards
   firmly.  To order, write to:

           Charlie Hardy
           24 Lawnside Drive
           Lawrenceville, NJ  08648

           Telephone: (609) 883-1083
           E-mail:  or

   For Lynx owners who don't care about brand names, a Gameboy plastic
   cartridge case holds two Lynx cards easily.  The cases can be bought from
   Nintendo at 800-255-3700, part number 21648.


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


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
   (800) GO-ATARI.


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 schematics are at:
   Lynx 2 repair information (in German) 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
   images instead.

   Here are some resources for further information about Lynx emulators:

   - BLL
     Homemade Lynx development system
     Bastian Schick (

   - Handy
     Lynx emulator for Windows 95/Windows NT
     Keith Wilkins (

   - Handy/MacOS
     Lynx emulator for Apple Macintosh/MacOS
     Richard Bannister

   - Metalynx
     Partially-completed emulator in assembly
     Ben Haynor (


Q. What are other sources for Lynx information?

A. Publications:

   - 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:

       Hardysoft now sells assorted Lynx games and merchandise:

       Telegames UK sells Lynx units, games, accessories:

       Atarinews: On the Prowl is an electronic newsletter that reports the
       newest developments in the Atari gaming community:

       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:

       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:

   - or (

                           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, in the file atari\lynx\
       Instructions are included.


   - CATScan

       (209) 239-1552, baud rate/line information unknown

       The BBS is completely dedicated to Atari products and Atari video game


       (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.

   Online services:

   - 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.

   - GEnie

       Atari ST Roundtable BBS, Category 36

   International clubs:

    - Netherlands: International Lynx Club
                   Leon Stolk
                   Vanenburg 2
                   7339 DN Ugchelen
                   The Netherlands

    - Austria:     Internationaler Lynx Club
                   Christian Lenikus
                   Obertraun 27
                   4831 Obertraun

    - Switzerland: Swiss-Lynx-Info-Club
                   Eugene Rodel
                   Sangeliweg 45
                   4900 Langenthal


Q. What was the Lynx developer's kit like?

A. Hardware:
   - 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
     system behavior.
   - "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.



"I write because I am personally amused by what I do, and if other people are
 amused by it, then it's fine.  If they're not, then that's also fine."
     Send mail to                          --Frank Zappa
------- Visit Rob on the web! ------ -------

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: (Robert A. Jung)

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM