Up Up Away Review | Personal Computer News - Everygamegoing

Personal Computer News

Up Up Away
By Pulsar
Atari 400

Published in Personal Computer News #007

A Flight Of Fancy

A Flight Of Fancy

It really does make a change to find a game both simple in concept and enjoyable that doesn't depend on the mandatory zapping of aliens for its thrills. Even so, if this is representative of hot air ballooning, I'd take up Russian Roulette as the odds on staying alive are better. Fortunately, the disaster level doesn't detract from the appeal of this professional product.


Although this is a game for one player, others would enjoy just sitting and watching the antics of the balloon wobbling its way across the sky. This whole game seems so simple you wonder how you're going to enjoy it and still be challenged.

There you are on the ground in a hot-air balloon being fuelled and all you have to do is drift around the sky amassing points by staying aloft until you have to refuel.

To achieve this, just land at the fuel dump, top up, and off you go again. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, it would be, if only there were no hazards.

First Impressions

As ever, this games comes packaged in the ubiquitous flat cardboard box with an illustration on the front and a bit of tempting blurb on the back. In this case the illustration contains a jolly mixture of the balloonist and some of his hazards tastefully portrayed in cheerful pastel shades.

The disk or cassette is held firmly in the package in its own compartment and the instructions are on a small, well-printed fold-over sheet. The first reaction to the instructions is that they seem too sparse. However, they do give you all the information you need.

Once you are playing the game, the things that stand out are the very good graphics and sensible use of sound - with the solitary exception of the playing of that most famous dirge, Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor, each time a life is lost. It seems a shame this piece of music is as overused in games as it is in state funerals.

In Play

Having loaded the program from disk or cassette, it starts by displaying the title page to the tune of "Up, Up And Away".

This page lets you select your preferred skill level from five options, novice, student, graduate, pilot and expert, using the Select key. The game starts by using the Start key. This is the only time the keyboard is used - thereafter all action is dictated by the joystick.

Novice level is nice and slow, giving lots of time to get acquainted with the scenario. The screen scrolls from right to left showing your beautiful pink balloon, the passing landscape (trees, hills, church, pub and fuel dumps) plus various fully bits in the sky.

The skill levels vary from level to level by allowing you different amounts of fuel, sand, speed, number of lives (five for novice, four for student and three for each of graduate, pilot and expert) and other random hazards.

These include nasty little boys throwing stones, flying kites, windmills turning to the tune - of course! - of A Windmill in Old Amsterdam - aerobatic planes and thunder and lightning. And each time one of these hazards hits you, or you run into a tree, your balloon bursts spectacularly and Chopin starts playing yet again.

If you start out flying as a novice pilot, you are automatically upgraded to the next level on completing a couple of trips around the balloonist's world.

As you are flying along a nice touch is that if you manage to stay in the air long enough, Roll out the Barrel starts playing as you pass the pub (pass?). This comes as a shock the first time it happens, but is welcome thereafter.

This continues for each level until expert is reached. At this stage the speed and hazards are so intense it is necessary to have a strong, sturdy joystick and wrist.

It has to be admitted that the lightning, the stone-throwing boys, the kites and the windmill can be dealt with relatively straightforwardly due to the predictable nature of these hazards - but only with care and a lot of study of the phenomena.

Against these features is the totally (as far as I could work out) random appearances and activities of the flying circus which, when coupled to the other hazards and restrictions, make this a very demanding game at the upper skill levels.


Up, Up And Away is a professionally written and presented game incorporating just the right blend of humour, skill, graphics and sound plus the randomness of the flying circus to keep you on your toes or preferably in the air.

The graphics really are very good, to such an extent that while the game was being played a throng formed to watch what was happening.

The fact that the game, in all honesty, is really a very simple concept and is only made challenging by the inclusion of dubious real hazards should not detract from the enjoyment it gives both players and watchers.

At the price it may not be the best value for money game available, but it is quite likely to start a trend towards less violent high quality graphics games.

David JandaNigel Cross