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Crossbow Review

Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1988 Also On: None

The year was 1988. The NES, and with it the 8-bit generation, was in full swing. And yet Atari had nothing to cling to for income but the Atari 2600. Both the 5200 and the 7800 Atari models had failed, and the Atari 2600 wasn’t doing so hot itself. In what was pretty much a last-ditch effort to save itself, Atari released a slew of new games in 1988, including the game to be looked at here, Crossbow.

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Crossbow is, in all likelihood, among the first games in the point and click genre. The concept of the game revolves around a guy walking across a screen and your cursor, with which your objective is to prevent anything from hitting said guy. You destroy a hostile object by placing your cursor over it using the joystick and hitting the button. You never control the guy in any way. You get points for everything you destroy, and you lose when all of your guys have been destroyed.

Aesthetically, this game shows elements of evidence that it was released in 1988, but there are things that it should have had at that point in the Atari 2600’s lifespan that it doesn’t, such as a title screen with a musical tidbit. There is a sort of menu screen where you find out which level you’re going to play though, and it looks decently nice. The screens where the levels take place look pretty good as well, and the detail level is very high for an Atari 2600 game, but that is to be expected from a game released so late. The effect of the guys collapsing in a heap of dust is particularly impressive. Overall, the game shows that it was released late in the lifespan of the system, and looks and sounds pretty good for a late-era Atari 2600 title.

In terms of gameplay, this game is actually pretty fun. You move the cursor around, and you destroy stuff with it. The levels are fairly creative too. You have a desert level with scorpions running across the screen, or a level near a volcano where volcanic ash falls from the sky, and other levels in other environments as well. The stuff you must protect your guy from is always appropriate to the environment too. Atari handled that very well.

The levels all vary in difficulty, as is to be expected, but none of them is impossible. This game, however, tends to lack the addictiveness level of many of the earlier Atari 2600 titles. Maybe the programmers weren’t as motivated at this stage of the game because they knew that not too many people cared anymore, but whatever it was, this game, while fun, lacks that specialness seen in many of the games of the Atari 2600’s peak years. Still, this game is well worth looking into if you’re an Atari 2600 gamer, and it will last you a little while before you become tired of it. I’d recommend that, if you’re an Atari 2600 gamer, you should get it if you can find it particularly cheap.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 6.9
Written by Martin Review Guide