Posted on December 1, 2012
Retro Atari Lynx Gaming: Zarlor Mercenary
By 8bitjeff (Jeff D. Fulton)
One of the first games we had for the Atari Lynx was Zarlor Mercenary. I remember purchasing it at the Manhattan Village mall in the B-Dalton Software Etc when they still sold Atari products (they even had a shelf of Atari ST and Jaguar games!). Zarlor Mercenary is a hand melting, vertical scrolling, button thrasher, space blaster that made great use of the entire power of the Atari Color Hand-Held. It was better than any game we had played on an NES or Sega Master System, and was closer to Atari ST quality. The only problem was the screen size (and view-able angles of the Lynx) and the cramping hands from trying to press 4 non-ergonomic buttons at the same time.
The Sound from the Lynx was much better than on the video. The screen capture software doesn’t do a good job on Windows 8 sound and it seems to tax Handy a little bit.
The game consists of 6 levels, multiple weapons to pick-up and purchase and the ability to have 3 different types pf weapons at your disposal at the same time, all controlled by different buttons – hence the button mashing, hand cramping action. The Main gun shoots 2 shots forward and can be upgraded in the shop to shoot in multiple directions. Also, lasers and smart bombs can also be obtained and activated by those separate action buttons.
Before you start the game you also have a choice of 7 different pilots, who each bring a little extra to the game. The game could also be played by up to 4 people via the ComLynx cable.
The Wikipedia page has a really nice description of the 6 levels and 7 pilots.
From that Wikipedia oage there is a nice description of the various power-ups:
“After each mission there is a shop run by the Merchant of Venus. Here you can purchase and sell extra items. These include extra ships, which is like buying extra life’s. Speed Up, Wing Cannons, Super Shield (regenerating shielding), Power Shots, Laser, Auto Fire, Mega Bomb, Back Shooter and Side Shooter. There are also two items for use in multiplayer mode. Invisibility so you can hide from other players and Back stabber which will attack your allied friends and not the enemy as well as protecting your loot so you don’t lose it in that life.”
Atari Age has a great page for Zarlor Mercenary, so you can check that out for more screen shots, the game rom and a link to the Handy Emulator to try it for for self.
The Title was actually created by Epyx and programmed by Chuck Summerville (who also programmed the awesome Chip’s Challenge). While later games in the Lynx Library would take even more advantage of its strengths, the original Epyx titles were some of the best for the system. Steve and I were early adopters to the Lynx and we ate up the first carts that were on the Market. Zarlor Mercenary was released in 1990 in the second wave of games by Epyx for the system. It was evident that Chuck and the team at Epyx were the premier developers for the Lynx because they knew the hardware inside and out (Epyx developed the system and sold it to Atari).
Zarlor Mercanary is pure class. For me it is the cream of the Lynx Library. The only problem I have with the game is the need for so much button mashing, but it still gets a 95%.