Sunday, April 7, 2013

VGR Die Hard (PC Engine)

For this review, we'll go back to Die Hard 1 and a very unexpected release...!

VGR: Die Hard
From Pack-In-Video/Nihon Bussan
Played on PC-Engine
Also available on /

Type Top-down action shooter
Year 1990

Here we are again. Die Hard. This time however it's a little game adaptation chances are you never heard of.

The  PC Engine - aka the TurboGrafx-16 in the US - got a very unique title.

Developed by Pack-In-Video aka the laziest developers in the world. The old Friday the 13th, Predator and Rambo on the NES? That was them.

Loosely based on the movie, I suspect Pack-In-Video got the trademark very late during the development since it has so very little to do with the actual Die Hard movie. Hey, if Sega could add it to their title Dynamite Deka to better sell it in the west, chances are it wasn't that an expensive copyright to get from 20th Century Fox.

Come out the coast, shall we?

The game starts well enough though. You are welcomed by a great title screen. The right logo and all. Some digitalized screens from the movie itself. Then...

NYPD Officer John McClane came to LA to meet with his wife Holly at a Christmas party taking place in the Nakazomi Plaza. But when terrorists decide to take the building hostage to get to the 600 million $USD vault, it's up to McClane to save the day.

But first, you have to reach the building!

And that is when the game starts going off rails.

Die Hard is about ~10 levels long. You have to make your way from some random forest nearby to the building roof where Hans Gruber's waiting for you in an helicopter(!). That's right, apart from the overall story you get in the cutscenes it doesn't follow anything remotely close to the movie.

The levels will take you from a garden (with collapsing ground!), the pond nearby, an underground maze (no Argyle in sight..), a machine room, offices, a construction floor (the game doesn't follow the order of the plot but rather the floors), "duct" (I suppose they meant airduct by that), a water room (remember that room from the party with a fountain in the movie? well, the developers didn't...), a computer room, and last but not least the rooftop. Nothing looks anything like the movie. The Nes Die Hard game with its limited 8-bit graphics seemed to take the textures straight from the Bluray release of the movie compared to this!

The game is a sidescroller tip down action game. Similar to Commando or Ikari Warriors if you want.

It's a run and shoot type of affair.

You start with only your fists - like in the movie actually - but you can sometimes grab weapons off enemies.
"Now I Have A Machine-gun Oh - Oh - Oh"
There's basically 3 different sorts of enemies the entire game, slight color variations aside. The weapons range from the usual pistol to a shotgun, a very useful machine gun, the most awesome flamethrower ever and more!

They ran off ammo pretty quick so avoid shooting away what you have. The game switches guns automatically upon collecting them, so only grab another gun if you're out but try to keep the better weapons equipped.

The levels are timed, so don't try shooting every single foe. And don't even bother exploring all the paths, there's usually no time. It's not a very long game with 3-5 minutes levels.

It is a sound concept that shouldn't be much problem to handle.

Problem is, the game is really repetitive very quick.

After a pretty straightforward first level in the forest you get a swamp with various segments branching out. Not that hard to handle, with some trials and errors, but the rest of the game will give you even less time with even more enemies the whole time till the end.

And let's also talk about the worst level of the whole game, the third one. The maze.

This one goes on and on forever! You'll get various doors that either lead to another floor within the level, colored differently. Or that will get you back to the beginning of the stage!

The game isn't without some help. McClane's iconic shirt will change color is you collect additional lives or a bullet proof vest. Like the blue body armor.

You can also see the enemy's health bar in an enemy meter on screen, below McClane's health.

It's best not to take this game as a literal adaptation of the first Die Hard.... Because it just doesn't make much sense. It sort of starts out like the movie...but then anything goes!

It's a basic run and shoot game.

But the game is riddled with little annoyances.

The hit detection is a real problem. There's simply no sense of height, a real lack of dimensions in the space. If you jump to avoid enemies thinking your hit box is in the shadow you leave on the ground...think again! You can still get hit by enemies on the ground or above. And don't even try jumping lasers. The hit detection is very approximative, so is your jumps!

The little cutscenes are nice to remind you this was a movie at some point. Some are animated! Even though, he only really looks like Bruce Willis in the beginning, it most he either reminds me of Travolta or Tom Jane for some odd reason!

The music and sound is...barely present. The stage 1 has the catchiest music, but after that it's just another annoyance.

Overall, a very rushed production and a quickly tied-in license. This sounds like a cheap attempt to make a quick buck.

I suspect they added the Die Hard license to try selling some copies. Even though it never got released overseas. You do fight some bosses that sort of look like henchmen from the movie. (for some reason there's only 2 boss fights, gigantic thugs throwing stuff at you). But then you face Hans Gruber in a helicopter, so there's no sense following the movie much.

Not a very long game, but difficult enough to take you hours to complete. 

Is it worth it?

Not really.
I give it:
1.5 / 3 Invaders!

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