• Category Archives Atari 8-bit
  • Computer Arcana » Atari 8-bit
  • Crossbow (2600, 7800, XE)


    Source: Atarian – Issue Number 2 – July/August 1989

    Crossbow is an arcade game developed by Exidy and released in 1983. In 1987, it was ported to the Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari XEGS and the Commodore 64. This is probably the first light-gun (or light-crossbow in this case) game that I ever played. My local roller skating rink had one circa 1985.

    (Atari 2600)

    The above review (really more of a summary or even advertisement) is from the July/August 1989 issue of Atarian. It isn’t surprising that Atarian didn’t last very long. They were always reviewing or printing other editorial content about years old games as if they were new. In this case we are talking about an arcade game that was released in 1983, ported to various home systems in ’87 and Atarian is treating it as if it were a new release in the Summer of ’89.

    (Atari 7800)

    Having said that, even though the game was a bit dated, the home versions were decent enough, particularly if you were using the light-gun on the Atari 7800 and XE versions. I remember the arcade version the best and will never forget the “Don’t shoot your friends!” announcement you would get when you accidentally shot those you were escorting… The point of the game was to lead a group of adventurers through various locations, shooting anything that was out to harm them. Those you were defending would walk slowly across the screen depending on your protection. It was non-linear in the sense that you could choose your own path to a limited degree and the difficulty depended on the path you chose. This game can be played with a joystick but for best results, use an Atari 7800 or XE system with a light gun.

  • Solo Flight (MicroProse, 1983)

    Atari, C64, Apple II, IBM PC / 1983 / MicroProse

    This early example of a flight simulator tasked players will flying solo (hence the name) over the United States, delivering bags of mail. The game covered many of the states, and even included altitude data for mountains and taller hills. However, due to the technology limitations at the time, the in-game landscape always appeared flat. Flight models were reasonably realistic for the time, with fairly authentic recreations of cockpit instruments to watch and maintain as players flew. The game was created by notable developer Sid Meier and was one of the earliest titles published by MicroProse, a studio co-founded by Meier.


    Solo Flight was one of the earliest games by Sid Meier and MicroProse and one of the earliest flight simulators. The goal was simply to fly around the country delivering bags of mail. It was released initially for the Atari 8-bit in 1983 and then ported to the Commodore 64 and Apple II. A little later it was also ported to DOS based computers.

    For the time, it was a fairly realistic flight simulator with accurate instrumentation and even accurate elevation data though everything appeared flat regardless of the elevation. Despite the relative quality for the time, old flight simulators are a type of game that don’t really hold up well over time. Frame rates tend to be slow and the graphics limited and sparse. Still, it’s decent quality for 8-bit or early DOS computers and offers something a little different than Flight Simulator, Jet and other early flight simulators.

    Commodore 64 version

  • Atari 800XL

    Atari 800XL


    Atari’s original computer line consisted of the Atari 400 and Atari 800 which were released in 1979. These were initially followed up with the Atari 1200XL in 1983, and then by the Atari 600XL and Atari 800XL in 1984.

    The 1200XL was a bit of an odd duck. It was essentially compatible with the earlier machines being based on the same architecture and using all the same major chips (6502, Pokey, etc.). It’s biggest improvement was probably that it shipped with 64K of RAM whereas the original 800 maxed out at 48K. However, changes to some of the ports and the operating system ROMs caused some incompatibilities and in addition, the 1200XL was a very expensive machine, introduced at $899. It just was not a worthwhile upgrade for Atari 800 owners and there wasn’t much to attract new users to the 1200XL over the older and much cheaper 800.

    The following year, the 600XL and 800XL were produced. These fixed most of the minor incompatibilities of the 1200XL OS, included built-in BASIC (the 1200XL did not) and added the PBI expansion port (particularly useful if you wanted to add serious expansions like a hard disk). The 800XL looked much like the 1200XL except smaller. The 600XL was smaller still and both the 800XL and 600XL removed the function keys of the 1200XL. The 600XL was a direct replacement for the Atari 400 and like that machine only included 16K. Other than less memory and a missing monitor port, it was essentially the same as an 800XL. The 800XL was meant to replace both the Atari 800 and 1200XL. Like the 1200XL it had 64K of memory and it also had a composite monitor port (in Europe, the 600XL had this also). Taken as a whole, the 800XL is arguably the best of the Atari 8-bits.

    The XL line would be replaced with the XE line after only about two years.