Translations from Game Lab Vol. 198 -- February 2012 Issue

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Mana-Sama's Nostalgic Game inferno

~Part 11~

Mana's Hardware Collection

(left)
ATARI LYNX
Company: ATARI
Release Date: September 1989
Retail Price: $179.95 USD
*The console on top is the LYNX II

(right)
ATARI Jaguar
Company: ATARI
Release Date: November 1993
Retail Price: $249.99 USD

The world's first ATARI console, and the world's last ATARI console

The November issue was the PC Engine GT, the December issue was the PC Engine LT, and January was Game Gear -- for three consecutive months I have taken up Japanese makers of color portable game consoles (Except for the Nomad I got before it was released in Japan……). However, my collection is not limited to these. This time let's introduce the first color portable console I held in my hands for the first time, the shocking hardware, ATARI LYNX (abbreviation LYNX).

The first cry of the LYNX came out in 1989, one year before the PC Engine GT. With a flourishing of trumpets from the American corporation ATARI, the world's first color game console was released, this was a sensational event for game maniacs.

The Large American-made Machine Planned to be a Mobile Device

If you pay attention to the characteristics of the game console, the "3,4 inch color LCD in 4,096 colors", "built in rotating and zooming functions,"and "the use of a communication cable to play with up to 8 people at the same time" were at that time surprising high specs for a mobile console! Also, the AB buttons were located both on the top and the bottom, so by its different design it was a console with a unique appearance. However, the prime feature of the LYNX was that it was so big. Although it was a mobile console it was "HUGE!" anyway. It was an article something like 270 mm wide x 105 mm tall x 40 mm thick. Since it was American-made, of course it was made for larger American hands compared to Japanese, but with the technology in 1989, it was probably difficult to make small sized color machine. Still, although it was such a large size, with no exceptions mobile consoles were extremely bad at holding batteries.

Although it was the LYNX that was releasing conspicuous color for a game console, when I was able to hold the world's first color portable console in my hands I was extremely excited. In addition, the first LYNX game I witnessed was "California Games". The surfing on the screen was particularly impressive. At this time I was deeply moved, saying "So this is the world's first color! Cool!", but now the truth is when I look at it again the image quality isn't that great…….

Incidentally the LYNX was never officially released in Japan, so the foreign version was the only one stores were able to sell. The retail price was 29,800 yen, while the late starting PC Engine GT was starting at 44,800 yen and the Game Gear 19,800 yen. But, if you think about it from the point of view of game supply by the exclusive use of cartridges and the display image quality, its possible to say the competition went in favor of the Game Gear. I touched on this on the time I talked about the Xbox (November 2011 issue), but I received an immense shock when I encountered the phantom game console, ATARI2600, as a child. Since it has that kind of background, the same ATARI company that put out the ATARI2600 was supporting the LYNX, but in Japan since the ATARI brand was receiving low recognition, with the exception of me, not a single person in the surrounding area owned one……. But since the game market started out from ATARI's "PON", they were a great maker that sustained the dawn of the business world, weren't they.

By the way, in 1991 ATARI released the smaller more popular version the LYNX II, but really you could say to some degree that without any diffusion it disappeared. Even when looking at global sales from a picture, its possible to say the Game Gear had an overpowering energy.

Fans Involuntarily Shedding Tears… ATARI's last console

Then 2 years after the LYNX II's release, in 1993 ATARI used its company fortunes to come out with the world's first 64 bit home use game console into the market, the ATARI Jaguar (Abbreviation Jaguar)! At that time, with the Mainstream SFC [Super Famicon] and it's rival the Mega Drive, it was a period when 16 bit machines were prospering in the world. When I heard the world's first 64 it machine would be released, I remember I couldn't stop shaking. I practically obtained the Jaguar during a MALICE MIZER photo shoot. During my free time I happened to find it by chance as soon as I arrived at a Game Shop in Shimbashi and immediately I bought it!

It's black body looked like a space ship design, and uniquely it was attached with a keyboard making it a futuristic design I still haven't seen anywhere else even now. Furthermore, the controller was once again ridiculously large.

Contrary to its sharp design for a game console it wasn't very good. It was passed off as a 64 bit machine, but the game screen was disappointing to say the least.

"Is this really a 64 bit console?" I felt like I received a smack down. In the end, Without any diffusion Atari expended their company fortunes on the Jaguar making it the same company's last machine. Disappointing! Awful!! Damn~!!!

Footnote:

By the way, although it had a futuristic design I wonder why it was named after the animal, Jaguar? I think they thought the exterior of the body [of the console] was designed like a jaguar's eye, and they thought an aggressive feel in those days would be cool, but……. For those who know the origin, please inform me. 2012's first live has been decided! We are welcoming the guest ALI PROJECT on February 26th, and will be meeting at LIQUIDROOM. (Mana)

Translations by Sarah @ Mana-Sama.net