Monday, January 28, 2013

VGR Die Hard (Nes)

One skyscraper. 40 terrorists. A handful of hostages.
And a barefoot cop with very little time. You're John McClane in this NES adaptation of the cult classic movie!

Die Hard Another Day in these classic Eyz reviews!

VGR: Die Hard
From Pack-In-Video/Activision
Played on Nes
Also available on Commodore 64 & MS-DOS

Type Top-down action shooter
Year 1990

Actually released the year of the release of the second film in the franchise, Die Hard on the Nes is an 8-bit adaptation of the original Die Hard movie.
is actually 

The game was developed by the Japanese developer Pack-In-Video for Activision.
They're mostly known for a bunch of terrible/average Nes/Famicom titles such as Terminator 2, Friday the 13th, Predator and Rambo.
Chronologically one of their later and last titles for the 8 bits system, was it yet another rehashed tie-in game with poor mechanics or did they step up their game for this last offering?

Die Hard on the Nes follows the Bruce Willis classic to the letter.

It's the story of the blockbuster epic we all know.
Officer John McClane came down to LA to meet with his estranged wife Holly Gennaro at a Christmas pary taking place in the Nakatomi Plaza.
But things turned out for the worst when a bunch of robbers invaded the building to commit a highly complicated heist disguised as a terrorist attack.

The game takes place in what was quite unusual at the time in video games - a free open environment (for the mast part) in the Nakatomi Plaza.

The story is told via little inanimated pictured cutscenes.
Hans Gruber and his pals have to go through six locks to get to the money safe on the 30th floor.
Each lock takes about four minutes for Theo to break through.

To follow the film, the game introduces a pretty original gimmick in the form of the "foot meter".
That's right, in the pause menu you can keep track of your foot's "stats".  Walking on glass like in the film will damage his feet and will slow down the gameplay. You can restore them in the various bathrooms you'll find around.

As John McClane you have to put a stop to the terrorists plan, save the hostages and save your wife.
You'll have to use your hits and have quick reflexes to survive the night.
Our New York cop is alone, tired and barefoot. But what can you say, old habits Die Hard~

It's definitively a complicated game to define in a few words. 

The game can be seen as a simple action shooter game played from a top-down view at first look.
But it's so much more than that!

First of all, you start with only your regular gun, with a mere 15 bullets to boot!
John starts the game on the 32nd floor.
Hans and the hostages are situated on the 30th one.
The game uses a health bar, similar to other Nes titles such as Mega Man.
Bad guys die in one shot.

Rapidly you will have to get a better weapon. You can grab various ammo, radios and a machine gun from defeated foes.
When you get hit you'll sometimes lose part of your equipment.

The radios are required to listen to the orders Hans Gruber will be giving his henchmen around.
If you stay in one place too long or make too much noise, Hans will order some more guys on your floor.
The idea is to explore the rest of the building while trying to defeat all 40 crooks, survive until the end and get to Holly/Gruber.
From the 32 you will be able to get at first to the 31st, the 33rd, the 34th and the 35th. Each floor inspired by the scenes from the actual movie!
You can reach the roof if you find the key one of the goons is carrying around. And you can also go way down to the 4th floor like in the film, if you are able to get access to an express elevator.

The thing is the enemies will continue following their schedule. Taking the elevator or the stairs will take different amount of time on each locks. And you can try doing several little "quests" to match the movie, but taking account that each can only be done during a specific moment during the "scenario" (before reaching a specific lock).

And that's when things will start to get complicated...

You can only call in the cops before the third lock's done and you need to get to the roof and have a radio for that.
You can only reach the fourth floor where you can blow up the main computer/destroy the rocket by using the express elevator, which will be deactivated after the second lock.
You can only know where enemies will be going later in the game once the terrorists stop using the frequency on the radio if you call the cops and have Al Powell helping you from outside.
You can only enter the 30th floor once the hostages have been taken to the roof where you'll have to avoid the helicopter of the FBI.
You will have to face any of the 40 terrorists still alive in the end on the 30th floor before going up against Gruber.
Karl will go against you near the end and he is the strongest, meanest and hardest one to defeat.

It's a question of finding your own route and taking your own objectives freely. You can decide to perfectly stick to the movie's plot (you can even jump from the rooftop with the fire hose...or not!) or going freestyle, getting all bad guys one on one and simply taking the stares to the final confrontation!
The game does feature several endings (how many? I couldn't find any info on this...), depending how close you were to the movie (calling the cops, saving Holly? calling the cops, keeping the detonators, saving Holly? calling the cops, saving Holly, killing Gruber but being killed as well?) and even several Game Over screens. (Gruber escapes with Holly with a stolen Ambulance,..)

The graphics are quite nice if honestly a bit too simplistic. Even for the Nes.
It's decent enough that you can recognize easily the Nakatomi from the film.

The game does have some replay value going for it, you can always try finding out the other endings/going at it differently.
On the harder Advenced difficulty you will often start on other floors and there's even some more floors available!

Overall, the best Die Hard game, and the only one that truly puts YOU, the player, in John McClane's shoes!

Don't let its reputation nowadays fool you. Some call it bad, I call it challenging!
It's one of those games you still need to have to try for yourself to make your own min about.

It's probably the best movie-to-game adaptation I've ever played, in my eyes.
A real interactive experience, which is quite impressive for a Nes game! A sort of early "sand box" open world game, with a certain number of enemies to defeat, various timed quests to play out as you progress through a scenario. 
It certainly takes some getting used to keep an eye on both an health bar AND a foot meter, as well as your current ammunitions, items, etc.

The only real complaint one could have with this game is that it's insanely difficult.
No, not really difficult. But you'll die a lot never the less.
It's one of those games where you need to die a lot to learn the various environments, trial and error. The kind of game you don't see around anymore these days...

A very original but challenging game.
The one and only Die Hard-sim

The game is also available on Commodore.
Though important enough to note, on the Commodore/Dos version it uses a 1st and 3rd-person perspective instead.
I give it:
 3 / 3 Invaders!

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