Thursday, August 31, 2017

The 2017 IIIA State Of The Site Address

Reflecting on six years of ... well, whatever the hell we've been doing for the last six years, I guess. 


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

Well, here we are, kids. Six years of The Internet Is In America, the website I never meant to create, never meant to maintain and certainly never thought I would be publishing in this, the year of our Lord 2017.

I've already told the story about how IIIA came to be (the really, really abridged version: in one of my senior college classes, one of the assignments was to create a blog about "multimedia trends," and since I was writing for about a dozen different websites, I found it to be an easy way to consolidate all of the shit I was regularly writing about) so I reckon there's no point in restating what's already been restated. Philosophically, I guess I don't have too much to say about the site, neither. I never set out to promote any particular ideology or cover one specific beat, if you will, I just figured it was a platform that gave me 100 percent freedom to write about anything I fuckin' felt like, and by golly, that's good enough for me.

I hate to use the term, but this site really is sort of my safe space. No matter what else goes wrong or shitty in my life, I can always come back to my virtual kingdom and play Internet Jesus, and that's such a relaxing, reassuring thing to keep in the back of my head. I might get bossed around everywhere else, but here, I'm free to just be myself and write about what the hell ever I want to, and can't nobody tell me to tone it down or stop using italics (note: fuck you, I'm going to keep using italics as much as I goddamn want.)

I really don't have any big or breaking news to relay to you, so instead, I'll just give you a few heads-up on the content coming down the pipe over the next couple of months and then ask YOU, dear reader, a couple of questions about the direction you'd like this site to go in the future. You ready kids? Alright, let's get the meta-ball rolling, why don't we?

Since Autumn is our big boom period (what, with football season and Halloween running headlong into each other and whatnot) I've resolved to publish one article per day from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1. For those of you that ain't too good with the math squiggles, that means I'm plannin' on producin' 91 consecutive days of content, which, yeah, ain't exactly easy. I've mapped out most of the content, but there are still a couple of open slots on the schedule, so who knows what'll be coming up on the off-days.

A couple of things are locks, though. I plan on doing the weekly NCAA Football Top 25 Rankings and the NFL Power Rankings again, and unless some absolutely crazy shit happens beyond my control, I'll also be doing LIVE(ish) recaps of every single Oakland Raiders game this fall. There are some pretty big MMA and boxing events on the sked, too, so I'll almost certainly be covering those live as well. All in all, I'd surmise sports content will make up about 40 percent of the rest of the year's content, so if that irks you, well, too bad

Of course, I'll be doing a ton of Halloween-related articles, too. With so many horror flicks coming out, I'm aspiring to do a patented "Double Review" every week in October, and maybe even a few weeks in November. I've already got several old school (and obscure as fuck) horror movies and video games on the docket for solo articles, and without giving away too much, let's just say I've got some really big stuff planned for the last two weeks leading into Oct. 31. 

Hey, remember that old biweekly column This Week in Social Justice Warrior-Dom? Well, considering today's oh-so-fortuitous hyper-hysterical cultural climate (and despite the fact that writing about that one Vice story on gay ghosts broke my brain) I'm bringing it back next month. It probably won't be as long or as in-depth as the old column, but it'll more or less be the same type of material. And as always, if anybody out there on the opposite side of the political spectrum would like to volunteer to do a complimentary This Week in Alt-Right Bullshit, I'd be more than happy to publish your works.

Debuting next month is a new feature here at IIIA, a little recurring column I like to call ... well, actually, it doesn't really have a name yet. Taking a cue from Opie and Anthony's "Jocktober" shenanigans from back in the day, I'll be running a handful of "Blogtober" columns throughout fall going after some of the more annoying social media personalities out there. It's unlike anything we've published at the site before, and I think it has the potential for some HIGH-LARIOUS results. 

As for the rest of the upcoming IIIA churn? Eh, it's your usual goulash of fast food reviews, outlandish seasonal recipes, odd-ass propaganda video critiques, 20-year-old pro 'rasslin PPV recaps and random listicles about controversial social phenomena. But I think you'll like it a whole lot more if I keep it a surprise, so thus, my lips remained sealed.

But, yeah, do expect plenty of goofy shit like this, though.

And now, IIIA faithful, I've got some questions for you. I need your advice on a few blog-related decisions and ideas, and I'll (probably) take your input into consideration. Maybe.

  • I've been banging this war drum for awhile now, but we desperately, direly (well, no, not really) need guest writers. There's no way one man (even me) can push out 365 articles that don't suck a year, and if you're a fledgling writer trying to get your name out there before an audience of 100,000 or so monthly viewers, I'd be more than willing to showcase your musings on IIIA. I'll let you write about pretty much whatever you want, pending what you write about is entertaining, interesting and not blinded by the scourge of self-important, ultra-collectivist politics. The more original - and the funnier, naturally - the better. Ideally, I'd like some of you kids to cover some beats I don't know nothing about (i.e., modern video gaming), or submit your own musings whenever some cool hyper-local event (a retro gaming convention or a fast food test market product, for example) comes to your neck of the woods. And I'll help you edit it and show you how Associated Press style works - that way, you can add it to your resume and make it sound official as fucking fuck. Anyhoo, if you've got an idea for an article, feel free to drop me a line at JimboXAmerican@gmail.com and I'll give you a fair hearing. 
  • On the subject of social media: right now the only platform I'm on is Gab (you can find me at gab.ai/JimboX), and - obviously - I DON'T want to have to go back to using Twitter for any reason whatsoever. That said, I am interested in perhaps using Instagram for an official IIIA social media account, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Ever the contrarian, can any of you give me a reason why we shouldn't use Instagram as an auxiliary channel feeder?
  • I'm contemplating some sort of crowdfunding mechanism to monetize the site, and maybe - MAYBE - considering hosting ads. I don't want to use Patreon because that's stupid as hell, but I am curious to see what sort of funding this little site of ours could generate via something like Hatreon. The question is, would any of you motherfuckers donate to the cause or just pass it over like a hobo's empty ass change jug?
  • I'd really like to do a blog within a blog, a la' Dino Drac After Dark. Alas, the Blogger platform doesn't allow for such, so I might create an entirely different website on WordPress that links back to the main site (I've even thought about creating a "dark web" page for the "secret" blog posts, but, eh.) So should I just use the Instagram widget for my stream of conscious musings and save everybody the time and hassle?
  • By the way, there are no plans to move to a different domain or start a YouTube channel, so would you assholes stop spreading such rumors?
  • I'll be adding more tabs to the archive shortly. I've been collecting weird search engine referral terms for a long time and I've been wanting to showcase them to the general public forever. There are a couple of other categories I'm considering adding, or perhaps consolidating with some pre-existing archive tabs. Of course, the catch with the Goog is that you can't rename any of your page URLS, so that could get a little tricky - if not bamboozling - a little bit down the road.
  • If I sent out a special, weekly email blast to subscribers - with special content that doesn't go live on the site - would you sign up for it?
  • And lastly, what kind of content do YOU want to see more of here at IIIA? We'd love to know what sort of topics or issues you'd like to see us got our hands on as well as the types of articles you would like to see less of, or perhaps not at all. Hey, we value your opinion ... no, for real. Kinda'. 

Well, that's all I've got, really. There's so much stuff I've got to get crackin' on that I really don't have the time nor the patience to reflect on the year that was, but in a way, that's always been our perspective at IIIA. It's not about what we've done, it's about what we're going to do, and I assure you we've got some GREAT stuff ahead of us. 

And hey, our 1,000th post is coming up pretty soon. We have to do something big for that celebration, don't we?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

EVERY Atari Lynx Game RANKED! (Part Three: #025 to #001)

Part three of a special three-part series revisiting, reviewing and ranking every single game released on the pioneering handheld.


By:Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

HEY! Looking for the other installments in this series? You'll find 'em all at the links below:

PART ONE (Games #075 to #051)
PART TWO (Games#050 to #026)
PART THREE (Games #025 to #001)

The Atari Lynx is unquestionably one of the most innovative systems of all-time. The full-color portable was an absolute technological miracle, delivering gamers on-the-go polygonal graphics gaming 15 years before the Nintendo DS and PSP were capable of the same feat. Alas, the adoption rate remained far below that of the original Game Boy and even the Game Gear, meaning very few gamers ever owned the unit - that is, if they ever got their hands on the handheld at all. 

To mark the 28th anniversary of the pioneering portable, we here at The Internet Is In America are counting down EVERY single game in the pantheon of Lynx titles in a special three-part series examining the breadth of the unit's software library. Join us as we embark upon an epic quest to rank, review and rate all 75 official games released for the system, beginning with the suckiest of the suckiest and concluding with the absolute best the handheld had to offer (and trust me, there were some GREAT games on the platform - I mean really great.) 

Before we hop into the first installment, a few ground rules:

- Only officially licensed Lynx games qualify. That means unlicensed games, games that never got a commercial release in the States or aftermarket homebrews are ineligible for consideration.

- All games were rated on a scale from o to 10 and ranked accordingly. Factors taken into consideration included, but were not limited to, gameplay, controls, graphics, audio, level design, multiplayer integration, originality and replayability. 

- Of course I had to play the games using emulated .ROMS. You honestly think I'm going to spend all that money on physical copies of games that mostly suck dick anyway? 

- And lastly, your mileage may vary on the rankings and ratings. I tried to be as genre-neutral as I could, but some of my personal biases might sneak in every now and then. If you don't agree with the placements, feel free to make your own list and send me a link, so I can promptly never read it, you smug, self-centered prick.

And with those pleasantries out of the way, who's ready to get this portable Conga line shaking? Make sure those AA batteries are in there snug, folks ... it's time to party like it's 1989!


#025
Scrapyard Dog (1991)
Developer: CSD, Inc.
Publisher: Atari

Yeah, I know the game is technically a port of an obscure Atari 7800 game, but honestly, this looks and plays so much better than the game it is derived from that it probably shouldn't even be considered a conversion job at all. At heart, Scrapyard Dog is a fairly straightforward side scrolling hop-and-bopper with above above average graphics, fairly well done level design and super fluid controls. Ultimately, it's not a very challenging game, but it's certainly an enjoyable little experience while it lasts. That, and the whole thing is WAY more enjoyable when you release it's basically an unlicensed, wildly re-imagined version of Turner & Hooch ... you know, based on the hypothetical original script that had Tom Hanks traveling to Antarctica and visiting Dracula's castle to save his beloved pooch. And interestingly, that's not the only allusion to a Tom Hanks movie you'll see in this one; my, where in the world do you think they got the idea for that giant keyboard mini-game?

My Score: 7 out of 10


#024
The Gates of Zendocon (1989)
Developer: Epyx
Publisher: Atari

There really weren't that many SHMUPs on the Lynx, so a game like The Gates Of Zendocon was certainly a welcome addition to its software library. While nobody in their right mind is going to be comparing this one to Soldier Blade or M.U.S.H.A., it's nonetheless a fairly enjoyable little side scrolling shooter with huge (we're talking Lightening Force-sized!) levels that defy genre conventions by throwing more vertically scrolling enemies and hazards at you than horizontal threats. To be fair, there is perhaps a bit too much level recycling going on and a lot of times, it's actually easier to avoid enemies altogether by floating towards the top of the screen, but if you are a genre purist, you'll still probably get a short-term kick out of it. Radiant Silvergun, this stuff ain't, but as a morsel-sized blast-a-thon, it ain't too shabby at all.

My Score: 7 out of 10


#023
S.T.U.N. Runner (1991)
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

I guess the best way to describe S.T.U.N. Runner is part Tempest, part WipeOut and part Rad Racer. While in part or in whole this one can't live up to the lofty standards set by any of those aforementioned games, it's still a pretty fun little experience with fluid controls and a sense of speed so effective, you can't help but overlook the game's somewhat crappy pseudo-3D graphics. The core gameplay is about as straight forward as it gets. You haul ass down the highways of a cybernetic post-apocalyptic holocaust world shooting cars before they shoot you while periodically sneaking your way into inner tubes that allow for 360 degree blastin' and dodgin'. The cars handle very well and it's challenging without being too frustrating. Overall, this game does a surprisingly admirable job imitating its arcade big brother; indeed, this port may in fact be quite a bit better than it had any right being.

My Score:7 out of 10


#022
Blue Lightning (1989)
Developer: Epyx
Publisher: Atari

This was far and away the best Atari Lynx launch title and the perfect game to illustrate the handheld's impressive hardware capabilities. Sure, it really wasn't much beyond being a portable After Burner clone, but considering this thing came out just months after the Game Boy hit U.S. store shelves, that's still a pretty goddamn amazing feat. The controls are very fluid and the graphics are downright fantastic. Furthermore, the audio is surprisingly good and there actually is quite a bit of variation in the level design. With about an hour of content, it's definitely longer than most aerial combat games on the system, but without a multiplayer component, unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of replay value to be found here. Regardless, it still holds up pretty damn well almost 30 years down the road - and somehow, it managed to be WAY better than the Atari Jaguar port(!?!) that came along half a decade later.

My Score:7 out of 10


#021
Xybots (1991)
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

Even without that iconic, twisted-up controller, this port of Xybots nonetheless manages to mimic its arcade forerunner fairly well - indeed, with a much cleaner presentation, I'd argue this port is actually vastly superior to its coin-op inspiration! In this pseudo-3D action game, you run around shooting robots over and over again so you can collect keys to advance to the next level and kill even more robots. Yeah, there's not a whole lot of gray matter required to play it, but it still provides plenty of instant gratification fun. The 3D-ish levels aren't too detailed, but it's still pretty fun exploring the semi-three-dimensional game space. The two-player mode is a bit of a letdown, but you can't find too many faults with the expansive solo-player campaign; the game does chuck about 100 different levels at you, after all.

My Score:7 out of 10


#020
Lynx Casino (1992)
Developer: Brian A. Rice Inc.
Publisher: Atari

I'm not really a fan of casino video games, but this one was definitely a pleasant surprise. For one thing, you really do get a ton of mini-games to monkey around with, running the gamut from blackjack and craps to slot machines and roulette - hell, you can even get meta as fuck and visit one of the casino's many video poker machines if that itch ever hits ya. But the thing that really makes this one stand out is its weird, almost self-deprecating humor. Rather than paint Vegas as some sort of neon-hued paradise like other casino video games, the trappings in Lynx Casino are just scummy as hell, complete with appearances by morbidly obese Texan businessmen and a whole buncha' hoochies I'm convinced are canonically hookers trying to con you out of your moolah at every turn. It's a surprisingly addictive and surprisingly funny little diversion; it may not be a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but it's definitely way better than it probably had any right to be.

My Score:7 out of 10


#019
Joust (1992)
Developer: Williams, Inc.
Publisher: Shadowsoft

I don't think Joust constitutes anybody's favorite old-school arcade game (I thought the suspiciously unheralded sequel was better, anyway), but there's no denying this is a very, very solid port that's probably better than any home console port of the coin-op - and it's way better then the NES version, for certain. By now, you know the gist of it: you play a knight inexplicably riding an ostrich, and you fly around the stage bumping off baddies while also trying to avoid getting bumped into the fiery pits beneath you. The graphics, admittedly, are a bit on the fugly side but the core gameplay (complete with those intentionally slippery controls) feels very true to its arcade inspiration. That, and there are a ton of levels - I could never get passed stage 40, personally, so who knows how many more levels are included (I'm guessing a lot.)

My Score: 7 out of 10


#018
Klax (1990)
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

In the pantheon of late '80s/early '90s puzzlers, I'd put Klax somewhere in the middle. It's not quite as memorable as Tetris or Bust-A-Move, but it's certainly more fun to play than stuff like Palamedes or Mendel Palace. The gameplay here is very simple - a conveyor belt keeps spitting multi-colored blocks at 'ya and you have to stack them in color-coded piles - but strangely satisfying at the same time. Presentation-wise it doesn't really offer anything you haven't seen in other ports of the game, but for what it is, it's nonetheless a very fun, engaging and instantly accessible handheld time-waster. And no, neither the controls nor the gameplay suffer from having to tilt the handheld upside down to play it - well, too much, anyway.

My Score: 7 out of 10


#017
Hockey (1992)
Developer: Alpine Studios, Inc.
Publisher: Atari

There aren't a whole lot of good sports games on the handheld, but the bluntly titled Hockey is a welcome exception. The game lacks an NHL or NHLPA license, so you can't play as Wayne Gretzky or the Detroit Red Wings, although ever NHL city circa 1991 is represented, complete with uniforms with color schemes that just so happen to correspond with their National Hockey League analogue. Gameplay-wise, it's basically a fusion of Ice Hockey and Blades of Steel, so if you dig fast and frenetic arcade action, you'll love the shit outta' this 'un. Alas, while the offensive controls are spot-on, playing defensively is a bit of a hassle and the virtual lack of anything even remotely resembling a season mode (or even a playoffs mode) really hurts the replay value. That aside, it's still a very impressive little hockey game, and probably the best portable representation of the sport until EA's venerable series hit the Game Gear a few years later.

My Score: 7 out of 10


#016
Robo-Squash (1990)
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

There is no way in hell this game should be as fun as it is, but much to our jubilant surprise, Robo-Squash is one of the most unexpectedly enjoyable (and engrossing) titles on the Lynx. Essentially, it's a pseudo 3-D, first-person-perspective version of Pong, only with a whole bunch of shit littering the playing space (a'la Glove Ball on the NES.) So yes, the entire game is basically just you batting a little red ball back and forth across a screen, busting blocks and popping sentient, disembodied mouths right in the kisser, but somehow, it just plain works. Don't let the drab backgrounds or the generic enemy design fool you - this thing'll suck you in for far longer than you'd have expected if you give it it's fair day in gamer's court. Get it? Because squash is played in a court? Oh, fuck you, too.

My Score: 7 out of 10


#015
Battlezone 2000 (1995)
Developer: Handmade Software
Publisher: Atari

Although the minimalist vector graphics might turn you off, I assure you the gameplay in Battlezone 2000 is solid gold. Similar in spirit to Twisted Metal and all those other vehicular combat games (and, uh Combat on the Atari 2600, I guess), the object of the title is to - well, basically, just drive around the war zone shooting the shit out of everything that ain't you. The controls are silky smooth and the gameplay is surprisingly intense, and the whole experience isn't as cheapened by the Game Boy-esque visuals as you'd think. Add to the equation plenty of customization options and some downright exquisite multiplayer action (up to four players can blast da fuq outta' each other for hours on end) and you have yourself a very solid portable shooter that's probably worth going out of your way to experience at least once, pending you have a major hard-on for the genre.

My Score: 7 out of 10


#014
Toki (1991)
Developer: Tad Corp.
Publisher: Atari

Astonishingly, this is a remarkably faithful port of the obscure arcade title, and in some ways, it's even better than the translation Sega Genesis owners got (even if this version of the game drops the somewhat risque subtitle, Going Ape Spit.) Toki is sort of a hybrid hop and bopper platformer and side scrolling shooter, emphasizing exploration and strategic jumping and hot and heavy, projectile spittin' action. Granted, the combination isn't 100 percent harmonious, but Toki nonetheless plays very well, with fluid controls and well-designed levels. Naturally, the game does suffer from some flickering issues and some of the backgrounds are straining on the eyes, but for the most part the visuals - especially the enemy sprites - are just tremendous. Too bad the ride is so painfully short ... I managed to tear through this one on my virgin run in less than 20 minutes.

My Score: 7 out of 10


#013
Kung Food (1992)
Developer: Lore Games, Ltd.
Publisher: Atari

How can anybody hate a side-scrolling beat-em-up starring a mutated broccoli stick fighting killer tomatoes and carrots inside a refrigerator? If nothing else, Kung Food takes home the prize for most inventive (read: batshit crazy) idea for a Lynx title. And while the game has some obvious shortcomings (the hit detection is wonky, the enemies are cheap as fuck, the audio is fairly minimal, among a few other issues), the whole experience is just so much kooky fun you can't help but enjoy it despite its failings. The sprites are great, the level design is terrific and the whole goddamn thing ends with you punching garden snails in the face and going toe-to-toe with a Petunia that can somehow uproot itself and spin like a tornado. It may not be a great game by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly a kitschy, tongue-in-cheek genre offering that's hard to forget. 

My Score: 7 out of 10


#012
Robotron: 2084 (1991)
Developer: Williams, Inc.
Publisher: Shadowsoft

Well, you know what to expect here: so much goddamn blasting your thumbs going to have blisters on top of its fuckin' blisters, that's what. As long as you can tolerate the obvious graphical downgrade from the arcade original, this handheld iteration of Robotron: 2084 is nonetheless a fairly faithful adaptation of the coin-op standard, with constant action every bit as intense as its quarter-munchin' progenitor. While the lack of a multiplayer mode is a huge disappointment, you really can't complain about the single player campaign. Once you finally get used to the control scheme, you'll be blowing away baddies until your hands start spasming. Oh, and you better not even think about surviving past wave 50 - by then, the entire playing space is utterly inundated with enemies, to the point no matter where you respawn, you'll find yourself smackdab in a horde of bad guys who'll kill your ass instantly.

My Score: 7 out of 10


#011
Rygar (1990)
Developer: Tecmo, Ltd.
Publisher: Atari

While this shrunken down port isn't as good as the arcade game or the NES version, it's still a very, very fun game that looks great, plays great and actually has a bit more meat to its bones than most action-adventure games on the console. The levels are huge, the combat is exquisite and the boss fights (especially the one at the very end against that giant Ultimate Warrior lookalike) are all quite memorable, and even hardcore gamers will probably require an hour or two to finish it. It may not offer much in terms of replay incentives, but it's still a hell of a way to spend a short car ride - especially if you've ever wanted to play The Legendary Axe and its ilk on-the-go.

My Score: 7 out of 10


#010
Lexis (1999)
Developer: Shadowsoft
Publisher: Songbird Productions

Lexis is a game that combines two of my favorite games ever - Tetris and Scrabble. Yeah, another game (the curtly titled Wordtris) had the same gimmick, but this one just feels, looks and plays way better. The above description pretty much sums up the gameplay, and while the bells and whistles are a tad lacking, you can't say a single damn bad thing about the experience as a whole. Granted, I'm a huge word nerd so my biases may be showing here, but I had an absolute blast replaying this one - so much so that I didn't even bitch that much about having to tilt the Lynx sideways to play it. And before you ask - no, you can't spell out curse words or racial slurs in the game; I should know since I spent a good two hours trying to do precisely that. (And yeah, I know it's technically an aftermarket game, and I'm violating my own rating criteria. Well, here's the late, great Eddie Guerrero speaking on my behalf to explain the situation.)

My Score: 8 out of 10


#009
Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (1991)
Developer: Tecmo, Ltd.
Publisher: Atari

If you want a game that'll make you weep about what could've been, this one's for you. Unlike the previous Ninja Gaiden game on the platform, this is pretty much a console-perfect port of the NES game, with graphics, sound and gameplay that's virtually identical to the Nintendo game - if not even better. Within minutes you'll realize that, had Atari played their cards a little better, they could've turned the Lynx into a portable NES, complete with a deluge of quality third-party titles essentially indistinguishable from their home console iterations. Sigh - somewhere, there's an alternate reality where the Lynx got one-to-one translations of Tecmo Super Bowl and Castlevania III and the handheld was supported well into Bill Clinton's second term. If you ever see me out on public looking forlorn, odds are, that missed opportunity is what I'm thinking about.

My Score: 8 out of 10


#008
Xenophobe (1990)
Developer: Bally Manufacturing Corp.
Publisher: Atari

If you only played the supremely watered down version of Xenophobe on the NES, it's no surprise why you never understood what all the hype and hubbub was about. Needless to say, the port we got on the Lynx is WAY closer to the arcade original, and with a more streamlined approach to gameplay, is honestly a far more enjoyable title. To be fair this game has a STEEP learning curve and there's more backtracking in it than the entire Metroid series combined, but it's also an incredibly fun and addictive arcade blast-fest with a ton of quirky idiosyncrasies (I mean, for fuck sake, you can literally play as Colonel Sanders, one of the Coneheads or a gun-toting duck named Dr. Kwak - how can you NOT enjoy the experience?) Basically, it's just you running around these tight corridors teeming with alien nasties, trying to blow away as many intergalactic pests as possible without running out of ammo, but there's a lot more nuance to the game than you might assume. The level design is excellent, the atmosphere is superb, the constant action is hot and heavy and if that wasn't enough, Xenophobe is also one of the longest action games on the system - whereas most of its genre contemporaries could be finished in 30 minutes, don't expect to wrap up this one in less than 3 hours.

My Score: 8 out of 10


#007
Basketbrawl (1992)
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

THIS FUCKING GAME. I can see why most everybody back in the day took one look at the game's box art and said "nope, not even gonna'," but boy oh boy did we pay a steep price for judging this book by its cover. Simply put, Basketbrawl is goddamn awesome and might be even better than Arch Rivals, since it allows you to do all sorts of stuff you couldn't do in that game, like, I don't know, grab a fucking shiv and start stabbing your opponents, or send a dude with a baseball bat into the paint to bash the opposing point guard's skull in. In terms of audio-visuals (especially the audio, since it only has a couple of looping sound effects) it's a pretty ho-hum game, but trust me, the gameplay more than makes up for it. I mean, what other basketball game out there allows you throw boomerangs at people, use bags of cocaine as power-ups and GRAB A FUCKING ASSAULT RIFLE AND SHOOT YOUR OPPONENTS IN THEIR FACES? This game is absolutely amazing and something we would NEVER see on store-shelves today; and on top of all that insane shit, it's also a pretty good arcade basketball title to boot!

My Score: 8 out of 10


#006
Double Dragon (1993)
Developer: Technos
Publisher: Telegames

This game doesn't really play like the NES version at all, and really, that's to the game's benefit. The stages aren't as long and there are fewer enemies per stage, but the combat feels TOTALLY different. Each encounter feels extremely visceral, constituting mini boss-battles in and of themselves. When you punch or kick a motherfucker in this game, it feels like you're really landing blows, and fuck almighty does it feel oh so satisfying to back elbow dudes in this 'un. The graphics are great and the character sprites (despite some eerily feature-less faces) are huge and generally well defined, and the music sounds very reminiscent of the classic tunes we got on the Nintendo cartridge. It's not a terribly long game (you can finish it in about 30 minutes), but the core gameplay is just so much fun that I doubt you'll only want to punch, kick and pummel your way through the title once. Plus, it's worth going out of your way to experience just to see the game's idiosyncratic quirks - like the sudden arrival of a green Abobo and the game's ending cinematic where Billy (whom looks a lot like Beavis in this game) LITERALLY gets dry humped by his rescued gal pal!

My Score: 8 out of 10


#005
Krazy Ace Miniature Golf (1993)
Developer: Telegames
Publisher: Telegames

Here's a great mini-golf title that manages to do what relatively few golf sims have ever been able to - be a fun, instantly accessible game that DOESN'T revolve around an endless series of swing-meters and perfectly timed button presses. There's not a whole lot of technical depth to Krazy Ace, but what it does offer is supremely fun, simplistic and addictive physics based golf action, complete with some of the most ingenuous courses you'll likely ever see in a video game (yeah, you won't get attacked by giant whales or exploding canons in Tiger Woods, that's for damned sure.) And don't look now, but this is secretly one of the best multiplayer games for the Lynx - trust me, you have no earthly clue how fun it is to link up with three of your pals and go mano-a-mano against the game's ruthless chattering clown head and water fountain obstacles ...

My Score: 8 out of 10


#004
Super Skweek (1991)
Developer: Loricels
Publisher: Atari

I've played this game on several different platforms, but as good as Skweek/Slider may have been on the PC Engine and the Game Gear, his sole excursion on the Lynx is undoubtedly the best version of the game out there (well, except for maybe the Amiga version, but come on - who the fuck out there ever owned a fuckin' Amiga?) The gamepay in Super Skweek is deceptively simple: you play this adorable orange fur ball who has to transform all of the blue panels on the game space pink by walking over them. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, not so much, seeing as how there are tons of enemies (among them, suicidal penguins, fireball spitting Venus' flytraps and yes, even what appears to be members of the Ku Klux Klan) on the prowl to kill your ass dead. Each level is an exquisitely designed puzzle and there are a bunch of neat power-ups scattered liberally about so it doesn't become too intimidating, but it still packs plenty of challenge. Unlike some of the other versions of the game, this one has a legitimate story mode and the ability to buy upgrades (from a shop run by Frankenstein, of all things.) And its two-player mode, as the kids say nowadays, is absolute tits.  If you haven't played a Skweek game before, you're in for a treat - especially if your virgin run is with this refined and enhanced iteration of the stellar (and criminally underappreciated) series.

My Score: 8 out of 10


#003
Chip's Challenge (1989)
Developer: Epyx
Publisher: Atari

This was one of the very first games released on the Lynx and while it may not have been as technically impressive as some of its first gen cohorts, it certainly bested its contemporaries where it counted - in the longevity department. If you're looking for a game that's going to keep you glued to your Lynx for a long time, Chip's Challenge will practically weld your fingers to the portable, seeing as how it packs an amazing 144 levels in its compact cartridge guts. Although there's not a whole lot of graphical variance from stage to stage, the levels are so well designed and the puzzles so ingenious that you don't even notice the fact the background is really just Minesweeper repeated over and over. If you were ever keen on games like Fire 'n Ice or Kickle Cubicle on the NES you'll positively love Chip, as it cleverly weaves in all sorts of neat environmental challenges; we've got magnets pulling you each and every direction, conveyor belts zipping you all over the place, sentient chattering teeth trying to kill you and wouldn't you know it, some good old fashioned block pushing puzzles on top of a slippery sheet of ice ... which, naturally, is surrounded by a one touch and you're toasted inferno of virtual fire. This is just a fantastic little portable puzzler, and even if you're not necessarily a fan of the genre, methinks you might just get a bit more enjoyment out of the experience than you'd assume ...

My Score: 8 out of 10


#002
Crystal Mines II (1992)
Developer: Color Dreams
Publisher: Atari

Yes, I am listing a game produced by Color Dreams as the second best game on the Lynx. Sound preposterous? Well, clearly you've never experienced the hyper-addictive, puzzler-euphoria that is Crystal Mines II. Alike its unlicensed NES forerunner, this impossibly hard to put-down handheld gem is one part Boulderdash, one part Robowarrior, one part Dig Dug and one part Bomberman. You control an adorable little robot that has to dig, zap, saw and explode its way through caverns glutted with monsters, rubies and all sorts of hidden treasures and equally hidden death traps. And trust me, it's going to be a long time before you find everything the game has to offer, considering there's an amazing 181 levels to churn through. Admittedly, the music is a little annoying and the lack of any multiplayer modes is a bummer, but with so much content to experience as a solo player - with gameplay this captivating and habit-forming - there's precious little else to complain about here, whatsoever

My Score: 9 out of 10 


#001
Todd's Adventures in Slime World (1990)
Developer: Epyx
Publisher: Atari

Really, could anything else have taken the number one slot? Todd's Adventures in Slime World is undoubtedly the Lynx's tragically unsung killer app, and perhaps the best sliver of software in the platform's library to demonstrate just how amazingly ahead-of-its-time the system truly was. At a time when the Game Boy was giving consumers such piss-hued minimalist wonders as Dead Heat Scramble and Battle Bull, this instant-classic on the Lynx was offering players SNES-sized adventures with almost Genesis-quality visuals. With no less than seven different game modes (which really, constitute seven totally different feature-length games with totally different maps, enemies and items) the replay value on this thing was off the charts. Want a straight up-blast-athon? Set the game to arcade mode. Want a more cerebral challenge, that almost becomes a proto-stealth game? Logic mode's your boy. Want to test your reflexes? The timed "suspense" mode will have you on pins and needles. Conversely, if chillaxing is more your style, you can always play the "exploration" version of the game, which Nintendo would never admit inspired Super Metroid, even though the map system is nearly identical (by the way, this one came out five years earlier.) And if that isn't mind-blowing enough, the game even allowed as many as EIGHT players an opportunity to play the game cooperatively and competitively. That's right, Todd's Adventures in Slime World was doing LAN death matches YEARS before Doom, and not even the Sega Genesis port was able to cram as many multiplayer modules as this portable masterpiece. No game on the Lynx proved just how technologically astounding the hardware was as much as this title, and no offering on the system is as innovative, replayable and flat out fun as Slime World. This ins't just the best game available on the Lynx, it truly is one of the best handheld games of the 1990s - and if you haven't played it by now, shame on you

My Score: 9 out of 10


And that's that, folks! Personally, I had a hoot revisiting the Lynx back catalog and replaying some of the forgotten mini-masterpieces of yesteryear, as well as trying out scores of old-ass games for the very first time (even though most of them were just various shades of ho-hum, the really good stuff definitely made up for having to wade through the waves of mediocrity.) It isn't too easy finding Lynx hardware and software out in the wild, but thankfully for retro-collectors most of the games don't fetch too high a price tag on eBay these days. That, and you should have no trouble emulating the games if you choose to go the .ROM route, so really, you have no excuse for not giving the Lynx - the insanely ahead of the curve handheld it was - its fair shake. Tis a pity the Lynx never got the attention and admiration it deserved back in the day - perhaps had some major third parties like Konami or Capcom gotten behind it we could have gotten some truly remarkable titles, but as is, there's still a ton of good to flatout great software available for the unit. No, the Lynx library isn't just cutting edge tech for the sake of cutting edge tech, it definitely has some games worthy of going out of your way to experience, and here's hoping this countdown helped you separate the cream from the crap. Anyhoo, now that this thing is over and done with, what are you waiting for? Go on out there and give the Lynx the old collegiate try yourself, then come back and try to tell me it was, and I quote, "a crappy portable." The software speaks for itself, kids - the Atari Lynx fucking ruled, and we all ought to be ashamed for never giving it the just treatment it so rightly deserved ...

HEY!In the mood for more extensive, system-specific countdown spectaculars? Check out some of our previous "best-of" features below!