Review: Crossbow (Atari 7800)

In this review, we take aim at another Atari 7800 game, Crossbow. We find out how well this shooting gallery game plays.

This game was released in 1988 and is a port from an arcade game.

The game follows some generic hero’s as they wander across the land. The ultimate goal is to defeat what I presume to be an evil wizard. You, as the player, don’t control the hero’s. Instead, you take control of cross-hairs in an effort to protect the hero’s as they walk through various dangerous paths.

You are first greeted by a map. You get to choose between the red path and green path. In some instances, you also get a chance to take a blue path on top of it all. Which path leads where is ultimately a guessing game. You will likely find yourself backtracking from time to time if you happen to guess wrong. The ultimate goal is to reach the level on the lower right hand side of the map.

In each level, you’ll get to face off against a set of enemies that will try and kill off the hero’s. whether they cast spells, dive bomb them, throw watermelons, etc., any contact will cause the hero in question to burst into flames (yes, even the ice crystals will cause a human to burst into flames here). It’s almost the Michael Bay of Atari 7800 games.

If any hero gets to the right hand side of the screen, you are guaranteed to at least see the next level. If you enter an area for the first time and have every single hero survive the experience, you can even get a new “friend” to help increase the chances of your success.

At the right hand side of the level is also a piece of treasure. Sometimes it’s a diamond. Other times, it’s a box or even a bag of money. Regardless, if a character collects this item, you get bonus points. Also, for every survivor, you get a nice boost in bonus points.

Also, every potential enemy (not all enemies are going to kill off your “friends”) can net you points. Even objects flying through the air can be shot for a bonus set of points. So, you can take risks and shoot more objects or simply focus on getting your characters to the end.

If you happen to stumble on the right path that takes you to the last level, then the goals become slightly different. You need to get your characters to the trap door in the middle of the room. After that, they’ll fall down into the basement where they “face” the final boss – a giant floating head. Shoot the eyes enough times to defeat him. If you are successful and have a survivor, the game will reward your cunning and skill with a massive 250,000 points. The game will then place you back to the beginning of the game where every level becomes decidedly more difficult.

The thing to remember is the fact that every visit to a particular level means that the difficulty increases. So, even backtracking to a familiar level means there are risks. If you’ve already got a new friend from going through there, you can neither get him back nor get an additional friend.

This isn’t a particularly amazing game. It’s good that it has a somewhat unpredictable nature, but the fact that the hero’s don’t seemingly notice any kind of danger throughout gives this game a layer of frustration. If a giant ball of fire flies towards them, they don’t even flinch. They either survive thanks to your quick thinking or burst into flames on contact.

On a more positive note, this game does rely more on quick reflexes and less on strict memory work. That is certainly nice to see in an Atari 7800 game. A number of games on this system seemingly rely purely on memory. This game relies much more on skill. That means beating a level really does feel more like an accomplishment.

Generally speaking, any hint of realism goes right out the window. Still, the fast paced play presented here does work for the game. It makes it feel less like you are relying less on luck and memory and more on skill. So, there is that.

The graphics are fairly average here. The large number of settings and the number of opponents do help on the quantity front. Unfortunately, some of the quality found here is a bit lacking as some of it looks like it was drawn on MS Paint. So, not a terrible experience, but not something to declare as amazing either.

The sound effects are pretty decent for the time. They do offer some minor forms of atmosphere. The bad news is the fact that there is no music. This makes the game seem a bit bleak.

Overall, this game may be worth playing to satisfy curiosity, but it’s not exactly the most memorable one out there. The characters display no sense of spatial awareness, thus making the game rather frustrating. The good news is that this game is fairly action-packed. It forces the player to rely on skill more than luck or memory work. This is, at the very least, a decent start. The graphics do tick the box for quantity, but not necessarily on the quality front. Some of the sound effects can really help provide atmosphere, but a lack of music makes this game seem a bit bleak. So, not the most amazing experiences, but it wasn’t terrible enough for me to say that you shouldn’t try it.

Defeated the final boss and kept going to get the score of: 723,500

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 60%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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