Cross Town Crazy 8 is an old card game developed by Patrick Dell'Era with a new twist. Not only can you play against the computer, but you can even call a friend and play a game via modem!
In the crazy eights game each player is dealt five cards from a standard deck. One card is placed face up. Each player must then play a card which is either the same suit or the same rank as the 'up' card. If you can't play a card, you must either draw a card from the balance of the deck, increasing the number of cards in your hand--or pass, if you already hold 12 cards or if there are no more cards to draw.
The object is to get rid of all your cards, so drawing more cards from the deck is obviously not a good thing. If you are the first player to empty your hand, you receive points equal to the remaining cards held by all opponents.
Why is it called "crazy eights?" Because the eight can be played on any card and you can declare any suit you want the eight to be. A certain amount of strategy is needed as well as some luck, and the computer is a pretty good opponent.
The 8-bit version of Cross Town Crazy 8 is easy to play. A card-sized cursor is moved around the screen with the joystick. To select a card, just press the joystick button, move the cursor to where you want to place the card and press the button again. Unfortunately, the 8-bit graphics are poor. Not only are all the suits drawn in black, but placing the cursor on a card and pressing the button to select it renders the card almost invisible!
Another 8-bit problem is that if you don't release the joystick button fast enough, it reads multiple button presses. So if you are drawing cards, you can end up with a handful of cards real quick! Since there is NEVER any can end up with a handful of cards real quick! Since there is NEVER any time you would want multiple presses of the fire button, this aspect of the program should be fixed.
The 41-page manual intermixes instructions for both the 8-bit and ST versions, instead of having two separate sections. Also, the screen descriptions don't match the illustrations for the ST version. On the ST, Cross Town Crazy 8 is fully GEM-driven and very easy to learn, utilizing menus and the mouse. It works on color or monochrome monitors or TV. The ST screen is divided into sections, with your cards visible at the top of the screen. The "up" card, remaining deck, your opponent's number of cards and scores, and your score are also shown.
Click on the card you want to work with, then click on the destination. Using the menus, you can quit at any time, get information about the game, save the game in progress and load a saved game. (Most of these functions are not available on the 8-bit version.) The graphics are sharp and the sound of dealing and playing cards are quite realistic. The "speed up" mode lets you turn off the sound and speed up the game considerable.
MODEM CRAZY 8
The most unusual feature of Cross Town Crazy 8 is that you and a friend who both have a modem and a copy of the game can play by phone. (With the 8-bit version, you need an Atari 850 interface, ICD's P:R: Connection, or an equivalent.) Cross Town Crcazy 8 will dial a Hayes-compatible modem for you, answer an incoming call, or auto-answer a call.
Your opponent's moves are mirrored on your screen, and you can send short messages back and forth. You can also put the game on hold temporarily and send lengthier messages--a nice touch. Cross Town Crazy 8 is copy-protected, but you can make a copy to give to a friend so that the two of you can play. This copy will only work if it answers the modem, you cannot use it to play by yourself or originate the call.
I have two complaints about Cross Town Crazy 8. First of all, some of the ST alert boxes appear confused When the computer wins a hand, it states that "You got XX points." When you win, it states that "Player #1 got XX points." Also, according to my rulebook, crazy eights does not permit you to place one eight on top of another one. But Cross Town Crazy 8 not only allows it, the computer opponent uses that trick at every opportunity.
Crazy eights is a simple but entertaining card game, and Cross Town Crazy 8 is an effective Atari implementation of the game. Also, the concept of playing a remote opponent by modem is novel and seems to work quite well.
Review by David Plotkin