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Crossbow (Arcade, Atari 7800 & 8 bit computers)

The reviews on this site are the text versions of the videos on my YouTube channel. The text based reviews use (if at all) very little pictures. Please follow the link to the corresponding video in order to see in game graphics.

Crossbow was made in 1983 by Exidy for the arcades. It used a stationary light gun which looked like a crossbow. The game is often considered to be the first arcade game to solely use digitized samples for speech and sound effects. In 1988 the game was ported twice with light gun support: On the Atari 8 bit computers family and on the Atari 7800. Sadly other home versions don't support light guns.

The Atari 8 bit computers port was done by Sculptured Software and the 7800 version presumably by Atari themselves. Of course the Atari versions have simpler audio and graphics than their arcade counterpart, but they look and sound really good for what they are. I am going to show mostly the Atari 8 bit computers version, but I will point out some differences.

The game starts off on a map screen. The player may shoot a colored box in order to choose a path. If no box is selected quick enough a path is chosen at random. It isn't shown which box will lead to which place and the player has to draw an own map by pen and paper or has to try to remember.

The player uses a full automatic crossbow with infinite capacity and an infinite amount of ammunition. The aim is to protect a group of heroes form hazards as they walk over the screen. Besides the hazards non hostile beings will also appear which can be shot for points. If all heroes died, the game is over. The first time the player shoots a hero a warning message will be displayed. Another shot will slow the hero down and a third shot will be lethal. Some levels will grant an extra hero when being passed for the first time.

If the player manages to pass the castle hall, a battle against the evil master takes place. Here the player has to shoot the eyes which get vulnerable as soon as they turn red. Besides the castle hall there are seven levels: A desert, a cave, a volcano, a jungle, a village, a bridge and another castle.

If the Evil Master is killed, his skull is shown. The Atari 8 bit computers version is the most graphical. The violence in the other versions seems to be turned down a lot. In general the graphics of the ports are vastly inferior to the arcade version. The 7800 version succeeds in staying rather close to the original designs while in the 8 bit computers version many things were redrawn more independently.

Now I am going to show the same segment in each version of the game, while speaking about specific characteristics. The arcade version has lots of detail. The animations are very fluent. It is very noticeable that Exidy solely uses digitized sounds throughout the game. The 7800 version uses chip tunes instead, but these fit the simplified graphics rather well. Many of the details are still intact. The 8 bit computers version has by far the least amount of details. Interestingly because of that it looks very distinct and personally I like the simplified look.

Personally I really like the game. The heroes all look very distinct and have quite fluent animations. The Atari system ports play very well and I appreciate that the game doesn't try to rely too much on accuracy, which is typically far from perfect on Atari light gun games.

The box art of the game looks gorgeous. It is very well drawn and represents the game well.