Monday, February 11, 2013

VGR Die Hard Arcade

John McClane is back for yet another adventure!
You thought he had it HARD in the past? This time he faces hundreds of terrorists, sumos, giant football players, lasters, megalomaniac crazy kung-fu guys and even robots!!

Die Hard Another Day in these classic Eyz reviews!

VGR: Die Hard Arcade
From AM1/STI/Sega/Fox Interactive
Played on Sega Saturn
Also available on PS2 & Arcade

Type Arcade beat 'em up sidescroller
Year 1996

Simpy a year after the release of the third Die Hard movie turned out to actually be the year for the franchise.
Not one but two separate DH games were simultaneously released by different publishers and developers.

The first one was Sega's Die Hard Arcade, the other was the Die Hard Trilogy.
This time let's take a look at Sega's title.

This game actually isn't properly a part of the Die Hard franchise per say.
It actually started production at Sega as a simple beat' em all fighting game for the Arcades.
In Japan it is known as Dynamite Deka.
It was co-developed by Sega AM1 studio (Altered Beast/Golden Axe series) and Sega Technical Institute (aka STI). It is actually the last title developed by the famous American studio that was behind several Sonic games, they disbanded shortly after.

The "Die Hard" license was brought in pretty late during the development.
I you think they changed a lot of the game to add it, you're actually way off.
The game was clearly inspired by the first Die Hard film.
It's sort of a spoof/tribute to those old action films from the 80s. It doesn't just take from Die Hard and goes all over the place.
The story takes place entirely in a skyscraper that looks exactly like the Nakatomi Plaza, heavily featuring the Nakatomi logo everywhere. On that regard it looks way more faithful to the film than Die Hard Trilogy's building.
Nothing was changed except the name of the main character in the manual and merch associated with the game.
Actually he even looks a lot more like Bruce Willis in the Japanese artwork of Dynamite Deka than in the westernized Die Hard Arcade art. Just compare it for yourself!

The story takes place some years after the films.

New York Police Office John McClane (Bruno Delinger in the Japanese version) is back in L.A. to visit his ex-wife and kids.
On his way there he decided to go check on a friend on the local Police Department. (Al Powell?)
That's when he heard of a bunch of terrorists taking the Nakatomi Plaza - which appears to be now fully operational and installed hostage. The President's daughter was also kidnapped but escaped their sight and appears to be trapped there.

McClane tries to get there but gets shut down by the FBI. 
They assign a rookie cop to tag along McClane, but he's able to squeeze in an helicopter and arrive on the scene.

Now it's up to McClane and the rookie to defeat all the terrorists, save the girl and prevent White Fang and his terrorist organization to escape with the billion dollars from the vault!

Alright so the story starts out as "yet another Die Hard, McClane trapped against terrorists, yadda yadda...." but quickly the non-sense begins!

More than just a Die Hard, the game is more of a true successor to the old Streets of Rage series back in the days of the 16-bit consoles.
It's a pretty straightforward beat 'em all, meaning you fight your way through hordes of bad guys.
It's in 3D but it still plays like old sidescrollers, which is always nice. 
You can punch, kick and jump. But there's various moves you can pull out, the gameplay is closer to a Virtua Fighter than a Streets of Rage.  You can grab foes, throw them, etc.

You can pick up various weapons and items around. Either lying around or from stuff you'll break in the background. And you can pick up those from enemies as well.
And it's quite variety of odd objects from simple weapons to the weird stuff you can carry.
Guns, rockets, knives, pipes, bottles, chairs, aerosols, pepper sprays and even clocks! 
You name it!

Every now and then there's also some QTEs (quick time events), quick cinematic actions in which a prompt asks you to press a button quickly. 
One of the earliest use of QTEs I've seen.
Long before Shenmue popularized the term QTE from which most current games use that feature to this day.
Usually just a quick Punch, Kick, Jump or moving left and right to avoid an obstacle or hit a coming enemy while running.
If you lose those...well, that's one more additional fight you will get. The QTEs are here to avoid extra fights.

There's also several bigger enemies, "bosses". You can usually distinguish those by how odd and different they look. A big football player amongst thugs? Yep, that's one of those. A sumo guy? An SM lady? An enormous firefighter? A punk carrying bazookas? 
The game gets harder the more you progress, until the annoying knive-throwing katana-wielding final boss which you'll have to fight TWICE! A real pain in the ass.

Thankfully you can manage to collect various Continues. How so?
 Die Hard Arcade comes with Deep Scan.
An old classic 1979 Sega arcade title.
It's a pretty simple but slow tactical submarine game.
Throw torpedos at submarines from your boat but avoid naval mines.
It's a bit strategical, everything moves so slow in this game.
But it's a pretty easy game.
And you'll manage to grab several continues which aren't used in Deep Scan but in DHA.   

The Saturn port is an exact same copy of the arcade.
Same gameplay and same resolution. Well, simple, it was made for the arcade card STV which is basically a Saturn. A near perfect conversion.

The game is actually playable by 2 players as well.
Though you'll probably need to gain some extra credits for that...
It's also the only way to get to the TRUE ENDING.
It's a reference to Double Dragon. The President's daughter will then decide to hire you as her body guard, but you'll have to both face-off against each other in a final duel.

The game might have been developed as a separated entity to the DH franchise but it's still counts in my eyes.
Even though it parodies other action films, has several robot guards at some points (I don't remember those in the movies!) it still has a bad ass John McClane than ends up with his iconic white sleeveless undershirt (he gets progressively worse through the game).
It's also the first time he actually fight some real terrorists (after the President's daughter, no less!) as ridiculous as they appear.

The story got "westernized" and officialized as a Die Hard - so what? 
Probably one of the best and my favorite movie tie-ins - which it isn't really.

Overall, it's a fantastic game, one like you didn't see much anymore by the mid-90s.
The Saturn didn't had much of a share in the beat 'em all genre unlike the Megadrive. But it's a great game through and though.
It's a shame and quite ironic the best and most fun Die Hard game wasn't actually really a Die Hard game at all.

The game proved quite popular in the arcade and it even got a sequel later on that parodied 90s action flicks. It didn't receive the Die Hard ip though.
It was known as Dynamite Cop in Europe and America. (but that's for another time)

Fantastic game. Long, fun and unique.  
I give it:
3 / 3 Pacmans!

No comments:

Post a Comment