- Crossbow -




Computer Peripherals

Crossbow - February 28, '01 by -^Cro§Bow^-

When Atari released their 7800 ProSystem, they promised to the masses true arcade quality and sound for the home. Several conversions on the 7800 live up to this claim. One such game is a personal favorite of mine. That game is none other than Crossbow…
You and a band of your trustworthy friends set out on a trek across dangerous landscapes and adventure to seek out and destroy an evil wizard who has stolen all the treasure of the land and claimed himself ruler. So begets the story behind this masterpiece. The graphics, sound, and gameplay were excellent on the arcade. So how does this console conversion stack up? Let’s get to it…
The basic idea behind the game is that you take the role of protector to your “friends”. You choose the scenes by shooting at colored boxes on the bottom of a map screen. Depending on which colored block you shoot after which scene will depend on where you go next. Then a scene will appear where your friends will walk across the screen one at a time, (usually...). As they walk across the different scenes, they will face dangers such as bats, flying lava, arrows, lightning…etc. It is your job to prevent your friends from perishing by shooting those items which threaten your friends’ survival. Sometimes it will be necessary to shoot at some objects in order for your friends to even cross the scene. This only sounds easy until you start to get to some of the more difficult levels where so much is happening all at once. The archers at the drawbridge are good example of this; all those little thin arrows can be hard to take down at once.
The graphics in Crossbow are some of the best I have seen in any Atari system of the time. Although not really listed on the cart...the game is considered a Super Game class for the 7800. Almost all the scenes are created exactly as the arcade version in every detail. The resolution isn't up to the arcade version but we are talking about a console version here. However, all the animations from the arcade are included in the 7800 version. About the only scenes which do not look quite up to par with the arcade are the river bridge scene and the statue room just before the final boss. Although in my opinion, the final boss scene looks better than the arcade version if that is possible.
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The play control in this game was originally to be used with the light gun accessory which was for sale separately. Crossbow on the other hand can be used with either the light gun or the joystick controller. I must admit that I have never played this version with the light gun. But I am pleased to say that even with joystick controllers, I find the game is more than responsive and doesn't really require the light gun. I would imagine that with the gun the feel of the game would more closely match the actual arcade feel. But again, I do not feel that a player needs the light gun to enjoy the game thoroughly.
The sound is the only blemish on the surface of this game. Since the 7800 basically uses the same sound as the 2600…the sound basically “bytes” in most games on the 7800 or sound exactly like the 2600. I am not aware if the 7800 version of Crossbow uses a separate Pokey sound chip on it or not. But I am pleased to tell you that if it doesn’t, then it certainly makes very good use of what it does use. There isn’t any music but that isn’t to say that is a bad thing. Music in a game like this would distract you from what is most important, which is the sound of the critters that come after you. Each creature or object on the screen that poses a danger to your friends has a separate sound to go with it making it easier to know what’s coming. Some sounds may be repeated for different things in the game, but they aren’t repeated within the same scene.
But all this sounds like a good game. Is Crossbow a good game? I believe it is. If you’re into the shooters of that era (think Operation Wolf), then this game certainly fits within as being a fairly unique title. The gameplay is very smooth although sometimes you feel as if it is taking forever for your friends to cross the screens. The challenge is also an area where the game will be a mixed bag to players. For me I find that it isn’t all that difficult once I have played it for a while. I have so far been able to defeat the wizard at the end a total of about 4 times in a row. But I own this cart and have played it quite a bit. There are some monsters which always come from the same side of the screen and roughly at the same intervals. That makes prediction an easy thing on some scenes. On others however, things can be random and change in their attack speed. The Jungle scene frequently will get me from time to time on that.
Over all I would say that the 7800 version of Crossbow is without a doubt the best console conversion of this title I have played. I am only aware of the 2600 and 7800 versions to compare with and do not believe it was released on any other platform. Overall, if you can find this game anywhere! You should grab it and perhaps pay the premium they may ask. I still feel the game is worth the $40 or so that was spent to get it back in 88. I hope you find it to be the same for you.
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