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Released: 1983

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Exidy

Developer: Exidy

Submitted by: Stephen Westwood

There’s nothing, as a young boy, quite like having a solid weapon in your hand.  In 1987 it was a recoiling Uzi strapped to the front of an operation wolf machine.  Before that I had a replica old west rifle laser shooting into a scene of mannequin cowboys that would move and shoot water at you (remember those?) .  But, almost as if the arcades followed the chronology of fire arm history, in 1983, it was a crossbow, in the Exidy game of the same name.

I loved crossbows for years after playing that machine- a bow and arrow and gun all in one.  I really felt like I was firing it as I moved it around the cabinet and squeezed the trigger to kill the witches and ghosts that were throwing fire bolts and trying to kill my pixelated friends.  The graphics were a little crude, but I never noticed, and the game play was good, frantically trying to keep your valiant troupe alive as they walked from left to right through the hazardous screens.  Keep them alive, and it is on to the map screen where you choose the path to take to the next lot of action.   From haunted street to cave, to bridge, to jungle… lots of variety.  It was also the first game to use digitised sound and the voices, noises and that evil laugh really made it special. 

Crossbow was one of the first games I wanted to try on MAME, and at first I was disappointed.  Not having the actual crossbow or indeed, the eyes of a ten year old child, kind of diluted the experience.  However there is a lot of good stuff there to make me come back to it now and then.  It is a good high score challenge as there are lots of things to shoot and ways to improve and make more points.  Of course the longer you play the better, and the game loops with harder difficulty, but once your friends die, it is all over.  You do meet new friends on some screens, so ‘extra lives’ as such, and it is a nice idea to not be the one getting attacked yourself for a change.  If all the warriors die on their journey to the castle, just whistle and go on your way, the other way, say it wasn’t your fault, put your feet up and have a nice cup of tea.