Michigan Masters, a massive fighting game tournament held in Farmington Hills, Michigan saw attendees competing and betting on such classic brawlers as Street Fighter, Tekken, and Dead or Alive. But it was the competition’s mystery event, a tournament involving the 90’s marble-shooting game Crossfire, that actually had participants nursing real wounds.
Crossfire was like Hungry, Hungry Hippos on steroids. Two players each get a hand full of solid metal balls that they fire out of a spring-loaded plastic gun attached to their side of the board. Using the guns, they have to fire the balls at a star- or a triangle-shaped puck in hopes of pushing it into their opponent’s goal. Chances are, most people’s relationship to the game came from this ridiculous — and ridiculously catchy — commercial featuring the refrain of “You’ll get caught up in it!”
The Crossfire tournament at Michigan Masters ended up being a grueling and exciting match. The game is designed for children so, naturally, the trigger on the plastic gun, as well as the trough that the balls roll into after they’re fired, is way too small for adult hands. Each time the gun runs out of metal balls, players must reach into the trough while the opponent is still firing the balls at their goal. As one can imagine, this resulted in more than a knuckles ravaged by the metal buckshot. According to Compete, the player who won the tournament, later on, complained about the strain that constantly reloading and firing the gun put on the joints in his arms.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. If you take a look back at the original ads for the game from 1992, Crossfire looks like something that was designed to be intentionally painful. The commercial’s narration announced that the game was “the ultimate challenge” coming “from sometime in the future” while two 11-year-olds in leather jackets descended down to the arena on hover boards for what looked like a fight to the death. Ah, the nineties.
If this article has you hankering to play some Crossfire, picking up a copy of the game might be a bit of a challenge: It’s been totally discontinued. The folks over at Michigan Masters only got their hands on a copy after a Toys ‘R’ Us liquidation sale. Outside of that context, get ready to shell out at least $100 for your own. Beware of the bidding on sites like eBay: Much like the game, you’ll get caught up in it.