Retro Game of the Day! Crack Down by Sega
Crack Down - original arcade release by Sega in the glory days of 1989, and ported to their home console a year or so later. Additionally it showed up on plenty of other platforms through partnerships with several other distribution channels, which explains (somewhat) the disturbing monstrosity I am displaying as the game's box cover.
Crack Down, otherwise known as "the other Crack Down" (or to me, "the Real Crack Down!" is a litte strange in it's heritage. It was an original arcade unit by Sega, using some sort of floppy disk system I believe (highly uncommon in arcade boards!) For this reason it was some years before I could play the game on MAME, but that's a different story. Otherwise, unlike most of Sega's own properties, they had some third-party release it in the States (Sage's Creation.. hmm.. anagram of "Sega?") and I believe it's no impossible the same was true in the Japanese MD's case - but don't quote me on it, it's been a long time!
Beyond that weirdness, there's the whole case of "Wait, didn't Realtime Worlds release a 360 game titled "Crackdown" just a couple of years ago, what's the connection there?" Hmm. Good question. Hey! Why don't I just make a brand-new game and call it Super Mario Brothers by Ron Alpert. I can do that right? I don't know what the thinking was there. Dead brand? They were clueless? Sega po'd them somehow? They removed the space in-between the two words? Okay, so maybe Sega's original title wasn't the most groundbreaking game, but have some respect, gentlemen. We won't een get into David Jaffe's "Criminal Crackdown" PSN title (they renamed it to "Calling All Cars" just before launch) - I assume that was to avoid confusion with the 360 game though, not out of deference to Sega.
Alright, so politics notwithstanding, here's there part where I actually discuss the game- Crack Down was sort of Sega's late-to-the-party answer to the Western game Gauntlet - multiplayer (2 rather than 4, but still), top down action, work your way through a maze and get to the exit, to clear the round. A few important beats here - sci-fi theme instead of medieval fantasy, you had a split screen (so you'd not have to wait for the other player to move the entire scroll along), large overall map, and the kicker was that you had a supply of time bombs which needed to be placed on big red X's in different areas of each level. Drop your payload and then get the heck outta there. Unlike Gauntlet, I sensed no different abilities in the two player-characters - they had limited ammo, they could also melee attack, and (a cool touch) you could sort of lean up against a wall for cover, which felt cool. I believe you could acquire powerups as well, from suitcases.
Crack Down was an impressive and stylish game in the arcade, it arrived a little late to the scene on the home units (and suffered graphically for it - still looked neat, but everything was too tiny, for a 16-Bit game!) I always liked the sad-synthesized techno tunes they had in the soundtrack, it still sounds very classy and intense. Crack Down is a fun little gem that Sega never gave it's due.