Skull & Crossbones is a 1989 pirate based arcade game (released by Atari Games). This game is very rare, but not rare in a good way. It is rare because, well, it sucks to put it plainly. It has a lot of things going for it too. But in the end, it is just not any fun.

Control one of two pirates (One-Eye or Red Dog), on a mission to retrieve their booty from the evil wizard. Collect treasures for points, and those ever famous hunks of meat for extra energy. This game gives you a choice of a path after each level, so there are many different paths to the ending. But after playing through it once, I just had no motivation to do it again.

This is an example of a game that had everything going for it, but is messed up by one small detail. The graphics are fine, standard late eighties stuff, not to good, not to bad. The sounds are also fine, no problem there. The problem with this game is the controls (not the joysticks, those are great, this game shipped with some of the highest quality joysticks I have ever seen). The way your player is controlled is simply awful. First thing is that you have to press a button to turn around. This was no doubt meant to somehow simulate swashbuckling, but it feels just awful. Secondly, your swords reach is a little too short, and there is no feedback of any sort when you hit an enemy (did I hit him? or did he block?). This game would have been brilliant without the turn button, and with a bigger sword that actually knocked the enemies back or something.

This game is saved a bit by the two player mode (bad games are always more fun with two players). The game's difficulty level is a little simpler when you have a friend helping out, plus you get to duel at the end of each level for the treasure. I must also note that you can finish this game in one sitting fairly easily, just drop about $5 in to start (like Gauntlet, extra quarters increase your energy).

Atari Games made most of these as dedicated cabinets. They also made a conversion kit to retrofit existing games. This kit was most evil, because it was one of the few kits that had a marquee and control panel overlay big enough to fit a Dragon's Lair machine (the marquee was even three-fold, just like the Dragon's Lair one). Most of these games were converted within months. Very few original games remain today, and Atari quickly dropped the game from their lineup. This game is JAMMA compatible, but will malfunction if the first player, or second player start button is pressed (the sword button also starts the game), so those buttons should be removed, or disconnected.

I bought my copy of this game as a used conversion kit (it hadn't been used very much, as the setup menu says it has only taken in 3100 coins). It is currently living in a converted Asteroids cabinet. I only plan to keep it together until I can find a different kit that will fit that cabinet.

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