In this episode of Lynx Lounge we talk about the 1982 Williams arcade classic Joust, plus sleepovers, forts, and pizza. I’ve always loved Joust. It is a big favorite of mine. I am so pleased to be talking about it today, and how well it plays and how well it looks and sounds on the Atari Lynx. Isn’t that weird? Man, we have an awful lot of games that sound good and look good and play good on this amazing system. To me, it doesn’t get any better than Joust. I absolutely love this game. Any time you have a theme that involves something ‘medieval’ and ‘future’, and it’s combined, I am in 100%.
Let’s get this straight: This “Cybermorph vs. Star Fox” debate… it’s not a debate. It’s lazy video game journalism by the worst people in the world. Cybermorph is pretty darn smooth. It plays pretty well. You could see how going from 16-Bit 2-D games into a 3-D open landscape like Cybermorph would be really, really attractive to an older gamer who was done with Mario and Sonic. Then you see Cybermorph in a magazine and go “You know what, this is sexy. I don’t want this kid’s stuff anymore. I want something new.“ We could not have games like Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and Mario 64 without games like Cybermorph. You have to start somewhere. So let’s brew some homemade Kahlua, get Christmas started, and give Cybermorph another chance.
The summer after 6th Grade was especially adventurous. I spent every day with my best friend Jon who lived across the lake from me. We stayed up late all summer long playing video games and making public access shows and game reviews on my video camera. At the start of summer I fell head over heels for a girl named Lauren from school. Lauren was cute, with long dark hair and intensely deep eyes. At the same time this was happening, my best friend Jon had also fallen for the love of his life, a redheaded girl named Cecilia who rode his bus. At twelve years old all we could think about were Lauren and Cecilia, and they became the topic of many epic conversations had that summer. Our days were spent at the pool, playing California Games and talking about girls.
California Games and the Atari Lynx arrived at the end of the ’80s in this crazy moment when beach culture was immensely popular. Movies, TV shows and music gravitated to sunny settings, surfboards, and gnarly neon colors. Saved By The Bell’s “Bayside High”, those bodacious bros Bill & Ted (who coincidentally have an Atari Lynx game of their own) and even the Golden Girls, all contributed to popularizing beach culture during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Atari Lynx proved to be different. It was robust, advanced, smart and edgy. It had better graphics, better sound, a backlit screen, it was in color, and it threw the low expectations of groupthink back in the face of the followers. It was rebellious. When I became aware of the Lynx and how impressive it was, I set out on a mission to get one in time for summer. On weekends I would go to Sears or Toys ‘Я’ Us and just stare at the Lynx behind showcase glass.
In Moffett Park, a partition of land in Sunnyvale, California carved out between Caribbean Drive and Highway 237, lay the remains of what was once home to boundless imagination, creativity and wonder. Once upon a time this was home to the most magical company on Earth. This was home to Atari. The experience of walking around these buildings was surreal. It felt like a dead theme park. While modern companies and tech start-ups breathe new life into old offices, all you see is what once was. Like an old phone booth sitting broken and unused in the parking lot of an abandoned K-Mart. The phone booth had once been a ubiquitous part of daily life that once housed Clark Kent in his transformation into Superman, now it’s obsolete and the world around it has moved on. These are broken pieces of a fallen once-mighty empire. If you squint you can still see it.