The game features two heroes, Ben Breaker and Andy Attacker, who have to get through a series of levels as quickly as possible by placing bombs on marked X spots scattered around the levels. The levels are heavily defended, but the player has an array of weaponry including a cannon, machine gun, and superbombs at their disposal in order to stay alive.
Crack Down is unusual in that its System 24 roots mean that the screen is always split into two. As a result, one of the main complaints for weaker systems (with lower screen resolutions) is that the majority of the screen is not used when playing a one-player game.
Crack Down' has subsequently been ported to a variety of systems, including the Sega Mega Drive, Commodore Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS and ZX Spectrum. The Mega Drive version is a common choice for compilations, and has therefore seen several re-releases among other early Mega Drive titles. It has also been brought to the Wii's Virtual Console service.
For whatever reason, Sega had Sage's Creation publish the Mega Drive port in North America (it may have had to do with HOT-B making the port).
While an arcade machine was obtained to help with the conversions, the lack of any sort of pause button or tile viewer on the unit meant initially the team were forced to copy the graphics by eye in Deluxe Paint III. Attempts were made to reverse engineer the System 24 hardware (or more specifically the internal floppy disk format), but this proved unsuccessful and Sega of Japan refused to give the team any technical details. Sega did provide a black and white copy of some of the game's graphics, however.
Graphics were drawn on Amigas, before being transferred over to IBM PC compatibles (using the Amiga-to-IBM file utility Dos2Dos) for the main development of the game. Once on the PC, a bespoke program would be run to strip the graphics files of unnecessary data prior to use. During development the graphics spanned at least 36 floppy disks.
The Amiga and Atari ST versions omit the intermission screens to save space.
There is a known glitch in the Amiga version of the game which causes the final level to crash. While more recent patches by fans have fixed the problem, it was never addressed during the game's original production run.
Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum versions
The Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum versions were also created by Arc Developments, and also used a similar system of drawing the graphics on an Amiga with Deluxe Paint III, while writing the code on an IBM PC. Two weeks were spent bringing the game to the Amstrad CPC, after which a further two weeks were spent converting the CPC code to the Spectrum.
Using a technique developed in the Spectrum ports of Forgotten Worlds and X-Out, graphics scroll two pixels at a time. This technique does not affect the way the Spectrum draws graphics on-screen however, so in order to overcome colour clash all in-game graphics share the same two colours.