Remembering a true classic - Daniel Major aka @GuyFawkesRetro recalls Crack Down on the Amiga by US Gold - released in 1990
To put it bluntly, arcade conversions on the Amiga suffered with delusions of grandeur. Not only did they command you to believe that they were all powerful via the over zealous in your face artwork, they pretty much demanded your attention simply because of one thing – probably a giant goat, a monkey, a cyborg and fire on the front cover. The Amiga has its wealth of varied gaming genres for the system.
Point & Click, sports, horror, strategy are to name a few. Platform games rarely promoted the systems high end spec next to its console rivals but somehow it didn’t need them. Arcade conversions however, notably anything SEGA did however pack a decent punch. Golden Axe for example is a superb ode to the coders and musicians of the conversion era. Working alongside what SEGA had implemented soundly couldn’t be easy.
Going unnoticed however was a game called Crack Down. Already released in arcades, the top down modern approach to Gauntlet was given the home console treatment from SEGA for the Mega Drive. While US Gold employed the unmistakeable efforts of Tiertex and Creative Materials, Arc Developments were given the chance to show their worth with a home computer conversion of the game, namely the Amiga.
They didn’t disappoint. It’s not a clone, not in any sense of the word anyway. The word clone gets thrown around everywhere these days. Instead of a clone, it could be denounced as an improvement on the top down perspective.
Taking control of Ben or Andy, one or two players have the chance to progress through a labyrinth of buildings while taking down a variety of mercenaries under the control of Mr X, a crime lord slash mad scientist hell bent on conquering stuff through the distribution of narcotics. The game flows through each level with only one outcome; you must plant and detonate a bomb in each building. Drugs are bad, as you know, so taking out the local drug dealers with high calibre 16bit weapons shouldn’t be an issue.
The game provides the stealth approach to the drugs issue and delivers quite ingeniously with the integrity of the arcade game intact, if not slightly better. While the arcade and console versions were more action based, Arc Developments approached the game with a more in depth personal take on the game.
Sliding around walls and slowly manoeuvring towards your victims before executing them unnoticed by other villains works extremely well. There are plenty of places to hide, dead ends to overcome and containers to run around as you approach the final element of the mission, planting a smart bomb and taking out the scum filled drugs den. Visually, it looks nothing like the other versions of this game. It’s a blessing in disguise however, making for a more detailed experience.
The game can come across garish and bright at first, but design wise it only adds to the cockiness of this conversion. Split screen action can be more of a testing experience, leaving you and your co-player two inches from a radioactive CRT. There’s a scanner, is amazingly accurate and details the movements of enemies on and off screen.
This helps in the more detailed stealth section of the game and adds to the fun. As for weapons, machine guns aren’t exactly the most accurate with enemy collision detection slightly off. The cannon does provide a much needed boost against the drug dealers, but generally gives away your position on the map. Ammunition can be scarce, adding to the joy of realism during a gun filled drugs raid. Sound FX isn’t too over exhilarating, but the soundtrack provides the feeling of urgency – yes, the timer. Don’t worry though; it’s a feature that actually pushes the momentum of the game from stealth and slow to stealth and action paced.
So, what we have here is a game that differs from its own incarnation.
Taken from an arcade drug busting action title, to a top down stealth perspective with a twist of lenient urgency. The two player mode only adds to the mix with slight pinch of nausea, but overall Arc Developments made good on this title. It’s enjoyable, easy going and mostly playable.
Article by Daniel Major
You can follow Daniel on Twitter here: @GuyFawkesRetro