Anyway, we made our way to the video game section and eyed the selections for the 7800, which were never as numerous as they should have been. The title Crack'ed amused us, however, as did the story: ornithologist defending nests of rare bird eggs from a variety of meanies intent on stealing them.
We bought it; I annoyed the daylights out of Angie by referring to it as "Crack-eddddd" and we couldn't wait to get it home and check it out. That feeling didn't last long.
The overall look of the game was great, as good as or better than the graphics in the games for that OTHER videogame system that was becoming popular at the time. The nests were located in such diverse areas as tree branches, the wall of a brick building, and in a sewer. Those rare birds sure got around. As you play the vigilant birdwatcher, your "character" is a set of crosshairs, presumably the scope of your trusty rifle.
The backgrounds were nicely detailed, and the plethora of potential egg poachers (bad pun, sorry) were all different in look and motion. A humorous touch was that these thieves would make noises and fall off the screen, sometimes changing shape in the process. Most notorious were the "dungalings" in the sewer level, which briefly turned into toilets before vanishing. A cheap laugh, but there ain't many more in this game.
There are a lot of different egg stealers in this game. Each one makes a noise when it enters, when it takes an egg, and when it's shot. In theory this should help you keep track of what's sneaking in and when something steals an egg, but while it starts off cute and appropriate it soon becomes overwhelming. There's no background music, which is good because that would be like superimposing a John Phillip Sousa march over a techno song.
Simple, on paper. Shoot the egg-nappers before they grab an egg. If they do, shoot the thief, then get the egg in your sights and lift it back to a nest that's not already filled. Very versatile weapon, that. Kills critters dead yet won't squash an egg. These feats of dexterity are doable as long as there aren't too many enemies popping up at once. Play past a couple levels, and even at low difficulty levels you have meanies streaking out of every corner as you try desperately to defend scattered nests, shoot a whole screenful of enemies at once, and rescue falling eggs in between. Save an egg, lose two in the meantime.
It's just eggravating... er, aggravating, because you simply can't move fast enough to play well. My attempts at playing this game tended to end with me yanking the cartridge out of the Atari (a deadly sin for an Atarian, I know) and throwing it across the room in frustration.
The crosshairs move easily enough, and maybe a professional juggler with a caffeine buzz could move them fast enough to keep up with all the targets on screen. Anyone with lesser hand-eye coordination won't last long.
I feel this game was a terrible thing to do to Atari 7800 owners. It looks good, but it's not fun and in my book that makes this game a total flop.