This board game was created by Milton Bradley in 1971, though it was the indoctrination campaign of the 1990's which would ultimately etch this name into our minds for eternity. Playing requires only eyes, hands, and a will of steel.
You run through your mental checklist as you fly high above the elongated octagon of the Crossfire Arena on your triangle roller-puck.
Leather jacket? Check!
Fingerless gloves? Check!
Totally radical attitude? Raditude, check!
The chanting crowd of fist-pumping lost souls is drowned out only by the jarring barks of thunder. Lightning dances dramatically down the blackened skies as if to meet the rising flames half way, casting an eerie purple glow on the scene. The Arena shrinks down to combat size, and you are face to face with your opponent. "Poor bastard" you think, grasping the turret-mounted gun in front of you. It feels like shaking hands with an old friend.
"CROSSFIYAH!" is declared by the Overlord, signaling the beginning of the match. You load and immediately begin sending hot, chrome-laden doom toward your opponent. He responds with a torrent of well aimed silver retribution.The Arena is a blur of purple and silver; the organized chaos captivates the cheering hordes.
Tension grows as both pucks spin closer to their respective goals. Your blistered hands are on fire - you must ignore this for now. Loading. Shooting. Loading. Shooting. Eyes ablaze; no time to wipe away the dripping sweat. Tunnel vision sets in as adrenaline courses through your protruding veins. You know nothing--but to continue. Must continue!
Mom hates it when we Crossfire in the living room
Dazed, you hardly even notice as the puck sinks. A deafening "CROSSFIYAHHHH!!!!" signals the end of the match. You watch as your neighborhood friend, turned mortal enemy, is banished to a fiery, spiraling oblivion. "Yeah! Yeah!" you declare, boastfully thrusting your fist to the heavens as the exaltation of victory washes over you.
Welcome to the world of CROSSFIRE.
Powerless in the face of pure marketing genius
If you lived through the '90s, chances are you've encountered Crossfire's iconic commercial, which saturated Nickelodeon's airwaves at the time. Representing one of the world's first successful ventures into "X-treme" style advertising, its promise of danger and glory quickly caught the attention of pre-pubescent boys everywhere. If you are anything like us, you wanted this "rapid fire shoot-out game" more than a Super Soaker 100, but didn't get it until your sadistic parents gave it to you as a sick joke when you turned seventeen.
"Remember that thing you wanted more than anything, son? Surprise! We bought it for you eight years ago, and thought it would be a riot to wait until you didn't want it anymore to give it to you!"
Irony makes a terrible birthday present.
The game's brilliance lies in the combination of ball grabbing and shooting; two of the most testosterone-fueled gestures known to man. Each player starts off with twenty marbles, and tries to shoot the polygonal pucks into their opponent's goal. It's a race to three points, and aggression is chiefly rewarded. The action is non-stop and fast-paced and other hyphenated words, consisting of constant reloading and shooting until a winner emerges. Gun jams are a common occurrence, but much like disobedient women and children, can be corrected easily with a little well placed smackage.
Tearing families apart since '71
Believe it or not, Crossfire wasn't always all lightning and flaming death. Far removed from the "I sent all my friends spinning into the ether, so now I wander this earth alone" style for which it is known, family togetherness was once the main theme.
Suburban, wholesome, family, togethernezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Not. One. Explosion.
In fact, it wasn't until 1992, twenty one years after its original release, that Milton Bradley began to change the image of Crossfire. The first attempt was quite impotent, with lame effects and a cheesy song. In truly artful protest, the lead singer pronounces "Crossfire" as "Fart fire" throughout the tune, displaying the self-aware contempt only a man stuck in a terrible '90s commercial could ever know.
In comparison, its better known counterpart has been called a thirty-second movie. The opening line "It's sometime in the future..." raises far more questions than it answers, and just seems unnecessary; but for kids, its ambiguity hinted at a deeper plot, and the open-ended storyline fired up their imaginations.
To brilliant effect, the ad was used merely as the primer for an epic to be continued in the young viewer's mind, lasting long after the ad itself ended. The unprecedented potency of the commercial is why Crossfire was so desired by kids at the time, and why it triggers such nostalgia in people today.
The same tactic was used in this classic:
It's like the more sophisticated big brother of the Crossfire ad in that it goes so far as to incorporate rudimentary metaphor (our "fire-demon" is "drinking alone", and it has yet to be slain), but there's something about the uncanny parallels that are almost.....suspicious.
[Updated on: Today at 6:07am]
Jesse Ventura has informed Cracked that Crossfire was a training & indoctrination device, set up by the Marine Corps to create a generation of American "super soldiers" by developing hand-eye coordination, tactical decision-making skills, and raw killer instinct early on in future prospects.
A random Ron Paul supporter we met online confirms this.
Good enough for us
Out of respect for the legions of people that grew up in the 1990s, still longing for that Crossfire glory which will never come, we'll fight the urge to be hilarious here and end on a serious note...
Check below for two bonus videos, and even a free Crossfire computer game!