This weekend, a fighting game tournament called Michigan Masters wrapped up an expansive event in Farmington Hills. In addition to Dragon Ball FighterZ, Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and over 20 other fighting games, a dark corner of the venue played host to a physical board game known as Crossfire.
The entirety of my Crossfire knowledge is wrapped up in a badass commercial produced for the game in 1992. Depicted as the “ultimate challenge” from “sometime in the future,” Crossfire was literally the coolest-looking shit when I was 10 years old despite the actual simplicity of the game itself.
“I took Crossfire to Michigan Masters on a whim,” tournament organizer Jon “Chindogg” Chinnery told Compete. “I, like many people my age [Chinnery is 34] was obsessed with the TV commercial. There were jokes among the older members of the fighting game community on old IRC channels years ago about running things like Crossfire and Hungry Hungry Hippos. At Midwest Championships 2010, we added Hungry Hungry Hippos to the Mystery Game event, to much fanfare (and sidebetting).”
After the warm reception to Hungry Hungry Hippos in 2010, Chindogg looked to pick up a copy of Crossfire for future events, only to put the idea on hold after discovering the game was out of circulation and cost over $100 on the secondary market. With the recent liquidation sales at Toys “R” Us, he was able to pick up two reissued copies for cheap and decided to run a Crossfire competition at Michigan Masters.
Although only four people showed up due to scheduling conflicts, his group put together a small bracket and played it out. The tournament more than made up for its tiny participation with the excitement of its grand finals, which went to a double sudden death after the players continually scored simultaneous goals. Chindogg’s personal stream of the match showed a small but enthusiastic gathering of Crossfire spectators fired up over the proceedings.
“Crossfire uses steel ball bearings fired from a plastic stationary gun to move a star and triangle puck into the goals,” Chindogg explained. “For the sake of time, I modified the rules to being first-to-three goals with a five-minute time limit. After that time, if the score was tied, there would be sudden death. To prevent people from just trying to shoot the same puck back and forth, stalling the game, I made a rule that both pucks had to be on the board after a goal was scored as soon as possible. You load your own balls from the troughs, and if your gun jams, it’s your responsibility to shake it loose.”
While it’s certainly not the dystopian death match the 90s commercial advertised, Crossfire can still be grueling. The eventual champion, TKShadow, said the game was “tiring to play” on Twitter, going on to say “fuck Crossfire” due to the pain in his arms and joints from the constant firing and reloading. “As it turns out, the Crossfire designers decided to use the strongest springs known to man to shoot,” he explained to Compete.
It’s a proven fact that fighting game players will compete in just about anything, from niche genre entries with weird rules to straight-up staring contests. There’s something about learning and adapting to a new game that resonates with the community, and it’s this desire to improve that often makes mystery game tournaments so compelling. Chindogg plans to host Crossfire at future fighting game tournaments after the positive feedback he received over the weekend.
“I will be bringing my two boards with me to Combo Breaker [in May] and will push interest in the coming weeks,” he said. “For now, I need to recover from Michigan Masters, but I hope to get many more entries and perhaps bringing more fast-paced board games to events. Who’s down for Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots or Connect Four?”
Compete is Deadspin and Kotaku’s joint site dedicated to competitive gaming.
Ian Walker loves fighting games and writing about them. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.