Saturday, 11 March 2017

Up'n Down (Sega, 1983)

Designed by Yoji Ishii.
Developed by SEGA Enterprises Ltd., and released for the Japanese arcades by SEGA, and for the North American arcades by Bally/Midway in 1983.

Ported for the following home computers and video game systems in-house by SEGA Enterprises Ltd.: Apple ][, Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit computers, ColecoVision and Commodore 64 in 1984 and IBM-PC compatibles in 1987.

ColecoVision conversion programmed by Paul Crowley. Commodore 64 music by Tony Vece. IBM-PC conversion by R. Leittner. No other credits are known.



This month, I shall be focusing on Sega's old arcade titles, starting with this slightly lesser-known title to give some filler for the other end of the alphabetically ordered list. The popularity, or at least the becoming of more common knowledge among 80's gamers of Up'n Down, I believe, can be credited mostly to piracy. At least from what I can remember, it was one of those games that was most likely to be featured on any C64 gamer's collection of either turbo tapes or disks full of single-filed games. I'm pretty sure it must have been the same story for Apple ][, 8-bit Atari and IBM-PC communities back then, but I can only attest to the game's C64 spreading. Although Up'n Down along with a few other games from Sega were to be converted for both ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC, this was one of the games that sadly never got released, but we're still hoping for a prototype or something to appear. Not only that, but there was supposed to be an SG-1000 version of the game, which was reportedly advertised in Japan and Finland of all places - that one never appeared either. As it is, though, seven different versions is already a lot to take in and write about.

At the International Arcade Museum website, the game's KLOV/IAM 5 point user score is 4.58 from only 2 votes, but at least it has been voted, unlike so many other arcade titles the blog has dealt with in the recent months. Out of all the home conversions, I was only able to find ratings for three versions. First, the 8-bit Atari version has a score of 6.6 from 19 Atarimania voters; second, the DOS version has been votes 3 out of 5 at MyAbandonware, and the C64 version has a more sustainable 94 votes for the 7.4 rating at Lemon64. It looks like the C64 version was the best-known and likely the most played version of all the versions of Up'n Down. Because of such a glaring lack of ratings for the other versions, it's all the more interesting to start making a comparison of a game that should by all means be considered a classic - at least a cult classic if nothing else.



Before proper 3D driving games started to develop, there were a few strange attempts at trying to get some sort of depth into the so blatantly two-dimensional graphics. Up'n Down represents one of the first games that took on a more isometric-style attempt, but judging by the amount of isometric racing games that came afterwards, one of the rare ones as well. Even more bravely, it added a then-obscure element of alternating terrain altitude, which wasn't used in an actual racing context until Electronic Arts' Racing Destruction Set in 1985. The thing is, while Up'n Down is certainly an arcade driving game, it's even more an action game based on jumping and collecting, making it almost a platformer - and an isometric platformer at that.

The idea is to collect all the differently coloured flags from the oddly intertwined single-lane roads, which you can drive both up and down the map, as it were - all the level maps are looped, as if you were driving around the edge of a disc. The roads are driven on by pedestrian vehicles as well, which you can smash by jumping on them. So basically, Up'n Down is a heavily modified game of Bump'n Jump, which happens within a much more confined space and goes in two general directions, and adds an objective of collecting flags. And that's not even all of it, but I'll get deeper into all the details further down.

For such an old game, Up'n Down has a surprisingly wide set of rules and gameplay mechanics, which can surprise you long after you have gotten introduced to the game. For anyone interested in old arcade game classics, and the evolution of driving games in particular, this should be one of the pivotal games on your list to check out, not only because it's an often overlooked link between Bump'n Jump, Racing Destruction Set and Out Run and their likes, but also because it's still one of the most unique and fun driving games of all time.



You might have noticed, that I'm somewhat of a fan of games that have simple controls, yet have some hidden depths to how the game actually controls and works in other ways. Once again, Up'n Down can be considered one such game, but this sort of a thing is something you would expect in good arcade games of the time.

Although you wouldn't necessarily think of it as such, the game's title actually tells a lot about how the game works. You drive your Volkswagen Beetle equivalent both up and down the screen, going up and down different kinds of hills. The way the car is controlled is surprisingly simple: you just push the joystick up to accelerate upwards and pull down to accelerate downwards. Of course this means, when you're accelerating into one direction, you are decelerating the other. You will come across various different kinds of vehicles as you make progress, which you can destroy by jumping on them if you consider it necessary. As I said earlier, you can jump when going upwards, but going downwards means backing up, so you cannot jump when doing so. Luckily, if you need to jump while going backwards, you can trick the game by going first upwards as slowly as you can, and then accelerate downwards while you're in mid-air. Since you don't actually need to follow the rules of physics in a game, why would you?

Now, before I dive into the deep end, here's a few words about the controls. The game was made to be controlled with a one-buttoned joystick, so any controller with more buttons would be useless. Then again, with a keyboard or a mutated numpad-stick controller you get on a ColecoVision, you have no choice. At least the DOS version can be played with a joystick as well, but the hassle I went through to get it working wasn't really worth the bother. I'm using D-Fend Reloaded to make using DOSbox less of a bother, and it still took me a few tries and a couple of different controllers to get things going my way. So, long story short, you might want to use the joystick type as automatic, but click the tab on "Timed intervalls for axis" to make it work with Up'n Down. I don't know why, but that's what was required. The controls can be changed from the main menu, which you will access by hitting the Space Bar in the title screen. The menu highlight can be moved with F5 and the options can be changed with F3, and the game starts by hitting the Space Bar again. Using a keyboard is the default choice, but due to the bad responsivity of the keyboard controls, I wasn't able to find keys for turning left and right. Driving forwards is A and driving backwards is Z, and Space Bar jumps, but that's all I could find, so the more difficult choice of setting up a good joystick is preferable for the DOS version, and even then, the game is awkward to play. Once you get frustrated enough and want to change the controller and perhaps find the right keys, F1 quits to title screen.

There are usually two or three roads on the screen at any given time, and these roads are always somehow intertwined. Some of the road segments may only be short passages connected with T-junctions, but there are quite a lot of crossroads as well. Most of the time, your car steers automatically through corners, but if you want to change the direction at an intersection, you will need to at least steer into the wanted direction to get where you want to. The jump mechanics often allow you to change roads just by jumping over the grass bits, but you need to be properly aligned for such action. At least the game doesn't allow you to change directions during jumps, so there's at least some logic to the game's relative ridiculousness.

Driving over hills requires some speed, else your car will slow down and start backing up, as you see some of the other cars do, due to their constantly low driving speeds. Since we're talking about some sense of gravity here, naturally this also means that your car will accelerate when you're going downhill, so you need to be really careful when dealing with other vehicles. You would think this game makes little sense, having a gravitational force when driving over hills, but still making the car jump almost like it's on the Moon, but that's how early 80's games were sometimes. Accept the rules and get on with it.

Getting all the coloured flags collected is the main focus in Up'n Down. The game features a flag indicator to show you, which colours you have already collected and which ones you haven't. Some of the flags can be collected in various different places, and there's even a little thing that looks like a radio-controlled car, that will carry a flag with it, so if you want to collect the flag from the RC car, you need to destroy the car by jumping over it like you normally would with any other car. Later levels will make life more difficult for you by making you avoid the already collected flags, because collecting one will make it revert into its original colour, effectively forcing a re-collect.

There are some randomly appearing bonus items in Up'n Down, as you would expect from an arcade game of that time period. From what I could gather, none of the bonus items actually do anything more than give you some extra score, so unless you're hell bent on getting a high score instead of just enjoying the game for a quick spin, the bonus items might as well be ignored. However, we might as well start the actual comparison part from here, since there are some strange and highly notable differences regarding the bonus items, which I shall not get into too deep, but I'll only say, some versions feature many different kinds of bonus items per level, while others (like the original) only have one kind of bonus item for each level - which is more traditionally arcade-like.

Up'n Down is a rather difficult game, mostly due to the isometric point-of-view, the high speeds you're driving at, the gravity aspects of the game and the unexpected nature of traffic. So, having three difficulty levels basically only serves as a means to start from one of the first three levels. The ARCADE original differs by having four dip switch settings for adjusting difficulty, and the only real difference between the arcade difficulty levels is the amount of traffic on the road.

Just as a hint to those who haven't played Up'n Down before: start with driving mostly forwards, because going backwards will kill you with more regularity. This is due to the behaviour models given to each car. It's a bit difficult to explain this fully, but you should be able to notice differences between the cars in the first level and those in level three and onwards. There are usually three basic types of cars driving on the roads: ones driving sedately, ones driving less sedately and ones driving like maniacs. The look and speed of these cars will change in further levels. In addition to the three basic traffic cars, you will get harassed by some sort of reinforced cars that I guess are meant to be police cars, if you spend too much time either going backwards or driving too slowly. In some versions, such as the C64 version, the assumed police cars only come from behind, and only one car at a time, while in the ARCADE original always has two police cars coming on the screen at once - one from ahead and one from behind. Due to the rather great graphical differences, I cannot say, whether all versions even have police cars, but at least in the case of the ATARI 2600 version, I would say no. More about that a bit further down.

So, the gameplay rules are fairly similar in every version. Most of the gameplay differences actually have to do with graphics, believe it or not, but all versions play at their own distinct speed, which only affects the playability in such a way to give you more reaction time when the game runs slower. Of course, the ARCADE version is the fastest one of the lot, but it's not unplayable - only a shock if you have gotten used to any of the others. The ATARI 8-BIT version shares the spot as the quickest of the home conversions with the COLECO version, but the ATARI version suffers from horrible flickering of the traffic sprites, making it sometimes impossible to see what you're crashing into before you crash into it. No such problem on the COLECO, but that version doesn't take the road alignments too seriously, so it feels a bit wrong. The DOS version is the next one down the list, and it runs almost at the same speed as the Atari version, but in order to get to play the DOS version at its proper speed on DOSbox, you need to reduce the cycles to about 250. Also, the DOS version seems to have some bugs regarding the way the car (and even the computer-controlled cars) turn from intersections, so your car might make a turn at least seemingly without any input from you. The ATARI 2600 version also runs at a similar speed, but that's the best thing you can say about it. The C64 version is the second to slowest of the lot, and while it does already feel a bit sluggish compared to the original, the increased reaction time and a slight decrease in traffic makes it surprisingly enjoyable. Finally, the APPLE version runs the slowest, but by contrast, it gives you more traffic to deal with, and the car responds to your controls more slowly than in all the other versions. Additionally, the APPLE version is the only one that uses some sort of a screen memory, which is something I don't completely understand since I'm not a programmer, but here it means that even when the traffic veers off the screen, the game still remembers them being there for some distance, which is something that doesn't happen even in the arcade original. Perhaps some might consider it an upgrade, but this feature doesn't really feel like it would belong in Up'n Down, if only because the original wasn't made that way.

As you might have come to expect, the ATARI 2600 version once again needs to be dealt with separately from the others. Having only eight flags to collect instead of ten, as is the case in all the other versions, is really the least worrying alteration. The level maps are completely different, obviously due to the lack of memory, but the game is so badly programmed, that you can often see other cars disappear at odd places on the screen and getting stuck to each other, perhaps due to the insane amount of flickering the game often exhibits. But the worst of it really is, that the computer-driven cars can change their velocity and/or driving direction for no apparent reason. Still, the same basic rules for your conduct apply on the A2600 as on all the other versions. I have seen some bad games on the A2600 in my time, but this is just horrendous.

That gives us a clear loser from the bunch, and you will be happy (or if you're a collector, collecting for the sake of collecting, unhappy) to know that the A2600 version is the rarest Sega release for the Atari 2600, so you won't have much of a chance finding it, and if you do, it will very likely be idiotically pricey. Of course, that's probably the case with the original arcade game as well, but I'm getting carried away here - the purpose of this blog certainly is not to offer any information on collecting values. Anyway, the ARCADE version is a very playable game, albeit a frantic one that will require insane reflexes at times, and I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of that sort of a thing. Even the relatively slow C64 version that I'm the most familiar with often catches me off guard. Still, the C64 version is the most playable version from the home conversions, simply because it offers accuracy, traffic that doesn't flicker and some more reaction time than the faster versions. The COLECO version is a close second, but is a bit ruined by the very loose interpretation of the jumping mechanics and road alignments. The ATARI 8-BIT version would be okay, even better than the C64 version, but the sprite flicker ruins the gameplay enough to drop it a couple of steps on the list. The DOS and APPLE versions suffer from different sort of problems, but are pretty much on the same level to each other. However, they're still only slightly better than the A2600 version.

5. IBM-PC / APPLE ][
6. ATARI 2600



Like most arcade games up until, say, 1984 or 1985 perhaps, Up'n Down isn't exactly heavy on graphics. In some ways, it can be compared to games like Pac-Man and Rally-X, but the isometric 3D'ish graphics style can only be compared to another one of Sega's System 1 games, Congo Bongo. Even there, it's a bit of a stretch, because Up'n Down scrolls both ways vertically, and Congo Bongo is played on static screens. Perhaps I shall do a comparison of Congo Bongo later on, but now, let's start this section properly.

Loaders (*where necessary) and title screens. Top row, left to right: Arcade (x2), Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64 (with loader).
Bottom row, left to right: Atari 2600, Colecovision, IBM-PC, Apple ][.

The ARCADE original boots up to the "insert coin" screen, and only after you have waited for a while and passed the high score screen, the actual title screen shows up, and a short animation sequence follows. First, the screen becomes completely green, then your pink VW Beetle-like baja buggy drives up the screen and jumps near the top to reveal the word "Upn", and another buggy follows suit and brings the word "Down" to the right of the previous word. Finally, the two Beetle-buggies drive up simultaneously, crash into each other, generate an apostrophe between the first word's last two letters and make the entire title have a set of white, green and blue lines scrolling within the letters.

Naturally, none of the home conversions have such an elaborate display of pure, unadulterated awesomeness, and only the DOS version features the "scrolling lines" effect within the title's letters, and even there it's black, red and yellow. The C64 version has a similar title logo featured as the disk loading screen, which is why I included it in the above picture, but the title screen is a bit psychedelic, with just text using the basic system font on a black background, but all the letters have random colours and change the colours randomly and quickly, in the rhythm of the title screen music. The APPLE and ATARI 8-BIT title screens have the title logo as simple, single-coloured renditions, but the ATARI version looks awfully blocky. The COLECO version has the logo closest to the original - at least before the explosion happens in the animated sequence, but the title screen itself is still about as simplified as in most of the other versions. Of course, the ATARI 2600 version has to be very memory-effective, so it has no proper title screen, just a view of the starting area with no cars in there, a copyright message at the top and options at the bottom.

Some versions throw a "get ready" sort of a thing at you before you actually get to play the game, but apart from the separate "flags to collect" screen in the COLECO version, they're all very unimportant, and look much like the "game over" screens you see further down this section. So, we shall move straight on to the first level.

Screenshots from level 1. Top row, left to right: Atari 8-bit, Arcade, Colecovision, Commodore 64.
Bottom row, left to right: Atari 2600, IBM-PC, Apple ][.

Up'n Down is one of those games, where the first level acts as a sort of a tutorial, long before there actually were any unnecessary tutorial levels built into the game. You get your fair share of crossroads, annoyingly placed flags, different sorts of cars and only a couple of terrain styles. Most of the level takes place down at the flatlands, but there are a couple of segments on very bumpy areas. Since the A2600 version has three separate level maps, all fairly different to the original maps, you also get more variety in backgrounds in the first level, even if it's mostly just different colours.

Looking at the screenshots above, there is no denying that the ARCADE original looks light years ahead of all the others in detail and colouring, but at least the COLECO conversion gets the sharpness aspect of the graphics a bit closer than the others. The ATARI 8-BIT, C64, DOS and APPLE versions offer a bit more in terms of background details, but most of them suffer from bad colouring and blocky graphics. Even worse than that, the DOS and APPLE versions have dotty interlaced four- or five-colour graphics (DOS and APPLE respectively), meaning that every other vertical line in the action screen is black, and the finer colouring has been made with alternating two colours side-by-side, so the less time spent on playing the DOS and APPLE versions, the better. Using TV emulation in the APPLE version only helps a very little, and makes for muddy screenshots. The ATARI 2600 version can only boast with its use of colour, but in every other aspect, the game looks hideous with its superb blockiness and cars that barely look like... well, anything, really. The C64 and ATARI 8-BIT versions initially seem to have similar graphics, and sure enough, the basic level design and drawing looks very similar. However, the C64 version uses more colour in the roads and the flags, but also the traffic and the info panel. Only your baja buggy looks nicer on the ATARI, even if its colour is oddly wrong - but so it is on the A2600 and APPLE versions. Speaking of colour, I found it a bit odd, that the flags in the A8B version have two yellow ones, three blue ones and no green or grey ones at all, when part of the game's design is having exactly 10 differently coloured flags. Even the DOS and APPLE versions have 10 different flags, even if they had to be patterned to make up for the lack of colour.

Bonus score screens. Top row, left to right: IBM-PC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64.
Bottom row, left to right: Apple ][, Arcade, Colecovision.

After completing a level, you are shown a bonus score screen (unless you're playing the A2600 version, that is), whether or not you earn any. Getting bonus score is dependant on how quickly you complete a level, so unless you cross one minute - or in the case of the DOS and C64 versions, 70 seconds, you will be getting some bonus score. The screen itself isn't much more than a list of the bonuses given for fitting in the completed time frame, and the one that fits your time either blinking, or in the case of the DOS version, highlighted red. If you complete a level under the time limit, there will also be a big old "Congratulations" text below the list with some ornaments where available blinking along with the highlighted time frame, unless you're playing the C64 version, which doesn't congratulate you.

Screenshots from further levels. Top row, left to right: IBM-PC, Arcade, Colecovision, Apple ][.
Bottom row, left to right: Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64.

Up'n Down is a very unusual game in yet another way, particularly considering it's an arcade game. It makes progress in the levels by building another segment into the map for each consecutive level. Level 4 is the furthest I have managed to get to in the arcade version, but the scenery changes a lot more in further levels, and the amount of roadless bits you need to jump over increases. The  COLECO version doesn't have nearly as varied scenery as the other more faithful conversions, but it does have some variety; however, having gotten to level 5 on it, I have yet to see any watery areas apart from a few puddles between roads. Naturally, the ATARI 2600 version differs quite a lot, by only having three distinctly different sorts of road maps to drive on, which, for all I know, might loop infinitely.

Game Over stuff. Top row, left to right: IBM-PC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64.
Bottom row, left to right: Apple ][, Arcade (with high score entrance), Colecovision.

Much like other early arcade games, Up'n Down gives no elaborate ceremony when you have lost all your lives and the Game Over text comes up. Only the COLECO version throws another otherwise blank, blue page at you with the Game Over text and your final score in the top left corner. Uniquely, the original ARCADE version gives you the opportunity to enter your initials after the Game Over screen, and while it doesn't offer anything new in graphics per se, it is something that the other versions just don't have. And once again, the ATARI 2600 version doesn't have an actual Game Over screen. 

So, we know the winner and the loser of this lot here, but how about the other five versions? Well, out of the two interlaced versions, the APPLE version has more colour, and the awfully dotty look can be somewhat softened with TV emulation, or by jacking the system into an old-fashioned CRT television if you have an actual Apple ][ computer... so that's a no-brainer right there. As for the battle between ATARI 8-BIT and C64, I think it's clear that the C64 version is easier on the eyes and takes the game's colouring more seriously. Only the COLECO version remains unplaced now, and it's a difficult one. Judging by the screenshots alone, one would perhaps think it only below the arcade version, but the scrolling and animation is a bit choppy, and the relatively lacking backgrounds make the game increasingly boring. Also, the perspective is occasionally a bit off when jumping around, so it doesn't work nearly as well as it looks as a screenshot. But it's infinitely more bearable than the two interlaced versions.

5. APPLE ][
7. ATARI 2600



Seeing as Up'n Down is a fairly early arcade game, it should not come as a surprise, that the game doesn't have a particularly impressive soundtrack. That said, the original ARCADE game does have five different tunes, albeit with a fairly simple instrumentation, with a few different sort of blips and beeps for the melodic instruments and a snare drum-like noise. The title screen has no music at all, and what some of us have come to know as the main theme tune is basically the old-style surf rock kind of a tune, which is played as you play the levels. The short ditty that plays when you lose a life is what could be considered as the coda for the level tune, only faster than the actual tune. When you complete a level, another short little ditty is played, only this time it's a fairly traditional "level complete" tune that has no particularly other kind of feel to it - but it sounds almost as if it's meant to be played with a snare drum and a piccolo flute, which sounds more like a simple military music combo. The short bonus screen tune has a bluesy/jazzy feel to it, and fits well together with the level tune. Finally, the fifth tune is played in the screen where you enter your name (more precisely, initials) on the high scores table, and it's a weird looped 6/4 flute melody that plays on top of a polka-like rhythm, and this in turn fits more together with the "level complete" tune. So, the soundtrack feels, on the whole, as if they weren't completely sure what to make of the game and what kind of a feel it needs, but it still serves the purpose remarkably well.

On the sound effects front, the game developers clearly strived for strict adequacy, so that the amount of sound effects wouldn't get in the way of the music too much. Thus, you get no engine noises or tire squeal or anything like that, as you would expect from proper driving games. Instead, the only sound effects you are presented with are: the blippy jumping effect, the equally blippy flag-activation effect, the rather faint crash noise for when you jump on another car, and the very brief beep as you pick up a bonus score item. And that's all you need, really.

Just for the sake of change, we shall go through the home conversions from the worst to the best. I'm sure you're all expecting the A2600 to finish last yet again, but I'm wouldn't be too sure about that. See, the DOS and APPLE version only use a single-channel beeper, so they both have a rather large disadvantage. Of these two, the APPLE version has the lesser amount of both music and sound effects, and the crash sound effect is ridiculously long and gets more and more irritating as you continue playing. However, both of these versions have the scarce tunes and sound effects nicely in tune, which is something that cannot be said of the A2600 version. Like the ARCADE original, the theme tune is only played when playing the game in the A2600 version, but it's a horribly deranged version of the original tune, and starts to offend your ears severely before the first bar of the endlessly looping tune is through. There are also only three sound effects in the A2600 version: a quick "pip" for picking up a flag or a bonus item (which can barely be told apart from the badly programmed music), a loud crash noise for landing your jump on a car, and another crash followed by a weird blippy ascending series of sounds. So, yeah, I have to agree on the expectations.

After the above three versions, the COLECOVISION conversion sounds fresh and fairly faithful to the original. From the full soundtrack, the high score tune and the "level complete" tune are missing, and there's a notable lack of simulated percussive instruments here. At least the sound effects are nicely joyful and fulfilling, and give the conversion the sort of feel the game has and needs.

Of all the home conversions, the C64 and ATARI 8-BIT versions feel the closest to the original, and they sound very much alike to each other. Both feature all the tunes from the original game, apart from the high score tune, of course, and the main theme tune has been altered to sound more logical as a short, looping surf rock tune. Actually, the same thing was done for the APPLE, DOS and COLECOVISION versions as well, but I forgot to mention it earlier. Most of the sounds used for the music are a bit muddy on both ATARI and C64, but the sound effects bring some nice contrast. Each version has its own specific sort of special sounds, which makes each version sound like the machine they're played on, but in the end, feel surprisingly equal. Still, you can't beat the original.

5. APPLE ][
6. ATARI 2600



Still a long time after 1984, arcade-originated games as originals would most likely be the most playable, the best-looking and best-sounding versions of any arcade-originated games, so there's no need to elaborate on the winner here. However, the contest for the best home conversion has been a bit more surprising than it probably might have been. Both the ATARI versions suffer from horribly flickering graphics, rendering each game often unplayable, and practically for this reason alone, the C64 version wins the competition, since the quality in playability and sounds in comparison to the bottom half of the home conversions is so vastly superior. The COLECOVISION version was, in the end, a real disappointment for me, because on screenshots, the said version looks surprisingly good, and it's not a bad-sounding version either. Just not nearly as good on the whole as either the C64 or the 8-bit ATARI version. So, here are the inevitable mathematical results:

1. ARCADE: Playability 6, Graphics 7, Sounds 6 = TOTAL 19
2. COMMODORE 64: Playability 5, Graphics 6, Sounds 5 = TOTAL 16
3. ATARI 8-BIT: Playability 5, Graphics 3, Sounds 5 = TOTAL 13
4. COLECOVISION: Playability 4, Graphics 4, Sounds 4 = TOTAL 12
5. APPLE ][: Playability 2, Graphics 3, Sounds 2 = TOTAL 7
5. IBM-PC COMPATIBLES: Playability 2, Graphics 2, Sounds 3 = TOTAL 7
6. ATARI 2600: Playability 1, Graphics 1, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 3

Screenshot from the Sega Saturn version, released on the
Sega Ages Memorial Selection Vol. 1 compilation.
(borrowed from HG101)

Hardcore Gaming 101 had their own take on Up'n Down a few years back, and their article mentions also a Sega Saturn version, which none of the other sources I've used for this comparison have mentioned. The reason for this is likely because it was only included in the Sega Ages Memorial Selection Vol.1 retro compilation, and while there's some slight differences in screen arrangement and graphics in general, it's basically the exact same game as the original arcade game. Unfortunately, I don't have a Saturn at my disposal, nor even an emulator to prove the point, so the only thing I can do is borrow a screenshot from HG101 and hope no-one gets mad.

That's the first of this month's thematic threesome down, and you can expect two more Sega games to be dealt with before the end of the month. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!


  1. Flickering on the A8 is mostly due to the game - being NTSC - played on PAL hardware.

    Here's a recent flicker fix for PAL computers, which makes the game much more enjoyable on PAL A8s:


    1. Oh, that's great, thanks! Too bad the original release wasn't written with PAL machines in mind. But I did try the game with NTSC emulation, and the problem wasn't solved with that, so I guess the emulation isn't 100% working in this particular case. But hey, thanks again for the suggestion!

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