Review by scanfind

Reviewed: 05/15/01 | Updated: 05/15/01

Arcade-Quality Port = Arcade Level Of Fun...

For those who've played the arcade version of this old Sega movie tie-in game back in the early 90's, you'll fondly remember the blocky graphics, the somewhat linear gameplay and the sheer frustration of some of those VERY cheap Bosses that kept eating up all your pocket change each week.

Suffice to say, nothing much has changed for the Saturn port and that's excellent news!

Sure, they could have prettied up the graphics and made Mclane's head a little less like a Virtua Fighter (Mark 1) character (maybe with a RAM cart included?), but the graphics really don't impact the game too much here. I've always favoured playability over the look of these things, and Die Hard Arcade delivers exciting gameplay in spades....Gourad shading and texture mapping be damned!..Most importantly, the collision detection is near perfect and all the cut-scenes and linking shots are well executed and never affect your ability to get through each level competently.

As in the arcade version, sound and music are minimal, but effective. They never get in the way and they are neither bad enough, or good enough, to be particularly noticeable.

Gameplay is the meat and potatoes of this title and I'm thrilled to report the Saturn version is near-identical to the much more expensive arcade jamma board. Everything flows nicely, there is absolutely no slowdown at any stage and loading times are mercifully short (indeed, you forget you're playing a CD game at some stages...feels more like a Nintendo cart!). Most importantly, you never feel the need to throw that controller at the TV because you just died again due to some dodgy, too-hard section that never should have made the final game. Everything (apart, perhaps, from the occasional really CHEAP Boss) feels right here.

And, as with the arcade version (and the movie, of course), your mission is still to punch, kick and shoot everything in your way, as you seek to free the President's daughter from the clutches of the terrorists holding her hostage at the top of the Nakitomi Building.

A real surprise in this title is the way you gain extra credits to use during play of Die Hard Arcade. At the Start Menu, the option to play something called 'Deep Scan' (although you'll know it better as 'Depthcharge' perhaps?) appears. Enter this rusty old Sega classic and enjoy again the thrill of launching tiny squares (depth charges) from your large jagged block (a destroyer) at other large jagged blocks below you (submarines). Actually, I shouldn't rag on this game because again, simple gameplay far outweighs the graphic limitations. I loved this game 30 years ago and it's still a bit of fun. The fact that I can gain around 25 credits playing it, to then take with me and use in the main game, is also a HUGE attraction!!...

Only negative is that the game shouldn't take you more than 2-3 hours to finish with the stock of credits you'll have and is therefore over pretty quickly. However, trying to finish it on just the 6 credits you start with should add a few more days to this time!

Controls for Die Hard Arcade are as you remember them and work fine from either a regular keypad, or stick controller. Punch, kick, jump and pick-up of weapons are all intuitive and easily learnt. Not once have I ever felt the controls let me down during play of this game and that is high praise indeed for an arcade conversion of a complex control system. Yes, there are still a lot of fight combos to remember (and you'll need them for that final CHEAP Boss!), but memorizing three or four of them should get you through the hardest levels eventually.

In summary, Die Hard Arcade is certainly one of the better action titles for the Sega Saturn and combines a great mix of fighting, ala Street Fighter 1 and a little walk-around-picking-up-things-to-hit-people-with, ala Double Dragon. For those that haven't played the arcade version, grab this title immediately. For those that have, and miss the old beast, this version is a worthy port and one helluva lot cheaper than the jamma board.

One point off each though for: CHEAP final Boss, blocky graphics and short gameplay. Otherwise, this is a 2 player co-operative gem and certainly worth the effort to find!

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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