Up'n Down

Atari 2600

Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 7

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

Up N Down Screen ShotThere are games that you expect to translate well on a system as limited as the Atari VCS (2600), and there are those you would never think anyone would even attempt. Bally/Midway's arcade relic Up'n Down was a fairly popular "think fast" maze/race/destruction derby kind of a game, pretty simple in graphic content but certainly full of diagonals and cute, rounded vehicles. The Atari 2600 doesn't "do" cute, and it has a really hard time with diagonals, come to think of it. Yet somehow, this translation manages to get the gameplay across intact with the graphics just making it past the "acceptable" zone.

The object of Up'n Down is to capture a set of flags randomly placed along a crisscrossing roadway while avoiding or smashing other vehicles in your way. There are bonuses for completing a course quickly, and there are various goodies along the roadside to increase your score. You also get points for destroying other cars, which you can do a-la Bump 'n' Jump by jumping on top of them. To add to the strategy of the game, you can also drive in reverse (you can't jump while doing so) and you can leap across roadways onto the opposite side of the screen and travel on the other path. You die if you miss the roadway on such a leap, or on any leap that takes you off the road, or if you smash into another vehicle without jumping on it.

This game comes very close to being a "flicker-fest", and has numerous bugs. For example, if you drive away from a vehicle and manage to make it scroll off of the bottom of the screen, you can go in reverse and it will have disappeared! More unusual are the times when there are three vehicles on the road, one flickers away and never returns. Then there are the expected collision-detection problems when there are too many things on the screen at once. It's quite likely that you will pass right through a car without damage at least once in a half-hour session with this game.

Despite these things, Up'n Down plays pretty well. I found that I would incorporate these bugs into my strategy for higher scores, and although these are unlike the arcade strategies, the 2600 version holds its own. The graphics, while crude, do offer some variety: you will see crossovers, bridges, ramps, trees (or are they mushrooms?), and water. The other vehicles are rather blocky but come in a few different colors and two different shapes. Not too shabby. The music is pretty repetitive but not as bad as on others I've played.

Up'n Down isn't easy to find - it seems the Sega releases that were licensed by Bally Midway were in shorter supply than others. If you find it at a bargain, along with Tapper or Spy Hunter, snatch it up - there are collectors who will want to talk to you!


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Last updated: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 05:33 PM