"It was a brave man that ate the first oyster."
LYNX GAMES BITTEN
by Richard Karsmakers
My dear friend Frank Lemmen, ex-co-conspirator and current
bigshot at a Dutch computer shop, recently spent an interesting
afternoon and evening with his girlfriend at where my girlfriend
and me live to have dinner. I had made use of the occasion to ask
him to bring some of his recent Lynx games over so that I could
borrow them for a while. Well, he did. This article contains some
miscellaneous remarks with regard to these games.
This is basically a bird's-eye view car racing game, though
perhaps not easily identifiable as one. You're a new cop on the
beat, and you have to spend your days catching crooks, pulling
over traffic rule violators and helping innocent citizens in
What it boils down to is that you have to meet your cop's quota
(i.e. the amount of arrests and such to perform on one day)
without running out of fuel. Of course, there's also a ticking
clock that you have to beat. Last, but certainly not least, you
can only violate the law a specified amount of times yourself. If
these "demerits" reach 10 you get fired. Now this might sound
altogether easy, but don't forget that there are more cars on the
road and each little dent you make in another car without your
siren on is considered a demerit.
It is actually rather difficult.
The problem with "A.P.B." are the controls. You use the joypad
to rotate the vehicle to determine where it should move. You have
to keep fire button "B" pressed to increase speed, and keeping
"A" pressed turns on the siren. However, the siren is not a
toggle switch. And it's rather difficult to hold the Lynx and
accellerate properly, let alone switch on the siren (which you
have to keep pressed) when you have to. Unless you put your Lynx
down, you only have your thumb to do the accellerating and
switching on the siren. One would almost think that the game
designers playtested it on a system altogether not a Lynx.
If the joypad would have controlled speed as well (parallel to
any ordinary joystick-driven car racing game) things would have
been a lot easier. In that case you could just use your thumb to
switch the siren on and off. Easy peasy. A doddle.
Unfortunately, the people who did "A.P.B." on the Lynx have
succeeded in making a thoroughly enjoyable concept unnecessarily
difficult. The sound effects and graphics are all really nice,
but it's playability that matters. Alas, "A.P.B." has rather too
little of it.
"Toki" is a monkey. Or an ape. Whatever. Only he's not, really.
In reality he's a librarian at the Unseen University who wouldn't
actually mind getting his human shape back (this is a lie).
Basically you have to get this primate across multiple platforms
- yes, it's a platform game. While there he can collect weapons
and treasure and, most importantly, he has to make sure that he
doesn't get killed by a host of enemies. Some of the enemies,
sadistically placed, are actually quite good at their attempts.
There are end-of-level and mid-level baddies that are something
bigger than the rest. You usually have to think to be able to
beat them, but sometimes you also just have to blast like hell.
"Toki" is a nice game, though, like too many Lynx games, it gets
too difficult too quickly. I rather like the concept - after all,
I am a bit of a platform games afficionado - but it's too
difficult for my good.
Despite its name, this is basically a puzzle game not at all too
much unlike "Lemmings" - and not too easy either. You control a
tribe of dino-fearing cavemen on their way up the evolutionary
ladder. You have to guide them to discoveries such as the stone
spear, fire, and the wheel.
Again, the thing that is likely to hamper you most is the way
you control the creatures. You move them around, press an OPTION
button to select another one, use the joypad and fire buttons to
fetch items, etc. Items have a list of things that you can do
with them (such as "brandish", "throw" or "polevault with it"),
none of which are quickly and intuitively selectable. For a
puzzle game is surely has a mighty arcade element and is very
difficult indeed - you have to make sure you do certain things
within a certain time and that time runs out almost impossible
quick, especially in the beginning.
As usual, "Dinolympics" is a game with too steep a learning
curve. A thoroughly enjoyable concept but something went wrong
during the actual programming. Again a classic case of a screwed-
up user interface. I am sure they could have done a lot better.
Are they just trying to mark games releases, rushing them out or
Initially enjoyable, it's another game I'd have to give a pass.
Well, there isn't much I want to say about this racing game.
Graphics are smooth and the objects along the track zoom in and
out nicely. The rear view mirrors work, too. But what else is
there to expect from a machine that has zoom functions built in?
It's flawless but rather boring. You have the usual auto/manual
gear switch, a dozen different tracks, the monotonous sound of
roaring engines, the works. It's just an ordinary racing game.
The thing that could make it really interesting is the Comlynx
option. You can play this thing with six people at the same time,
provided you know six people with a Lynx who all have "Checkered
Flag" (a game that's not a lot of fun on your own). It's not
actually that difficult to keep a car on the track - yes, the
controls seem nicely tuned. But you only have to touch another
car for a fragment of a second and you're sent spinning. Back to
first gear and zero speed, try to catch up like that.
Why can't anyone do a simple but effective "Pitstop II" kind of
thing on the Lynx? You could bump a fair bit, controls were
great, and you could have two players. On a Lynx those could be
six even. And "Checkered Flag" doesn't even have a pit stop. Yet
another Lynx game that's not quite the way it should have been.
"Lemmings" is available on just about all formats. Even on the
SNES and Gameboy, and I believe it can be had on the Game Gear as
well. Anyway, it's available on the Lynx too and I can tell right
off that it's quite brilliant.
Of course I didn't have the time to spend like back when I got
the thing on the ST. Oh, for hours and hours I sat playing, not
content until I'd done another level. In my sleep I dreamt of
Lemmings. When I read something I saw Lemmings crawling and
walking and falling. On the Lynx it looks every bit as brilliant
as the ST. Now I hear you say how this is possible. Well, to tell
you the truth, I don't know. The Lemming creatures still look
convincing, there's a second screen for skill selection (during
which time is frozen), the music is just like the original,
there's excellent use of zoom, and it even has the complete intro
its big brothers had.
I need not explain the principle, I hope, for I won't. I think
it more than suffices to tell you that you could do a hell of a
lot worse when you get "Lemmings" on the Lynx. It's like
"Lemmings" on the Gameboy, but with the colours it deserves. With
"Chip's Challenge" and some of the other early games this is
definitely one of the best.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.