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Die Hard Arcade

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Released: 1997

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Saturn

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega AM1

We love Die Hard. Who could forget how Bruce Willis and his unnamed female assistant tore through scores of bad guys including firemen, NFL stars and robots, all in order to rescue the president’s daughter from her bald captor? Nobody, and this game is a perfect translation of that film.

As you might have guessed, Die Hard Arcade plays pretty fast and loose with the plot of Die Hard. This is only to be expected though, as the game wasn’t originally developed as a Die Hard game – Dynamite Deka, as it was known in Japan, merely had a similar premise of a man taking on terrorists in a building which looked a lot like the Nakatomi Plaza. Oh, and he ends up in a tattered vest by the end, too.

For all of its failings as a film adaptation, Die Hard Arcade succeeds as a game. As a home conversion, it is every bit the faithful adaptation. The arcade game ran on the Saturn-based ST-V board, making for a smooth transition to the home hardware. The home version also includes a bonus game, Deep Scan. This early Sega coin-op sees you blowing up submarines for extra credits, a handy way to help weaker players through the game.

Die Hard Arcade is one of the last gasps of the traditional scrolling beat-’em-up genre, as it faded from prominence in the mid-Nineties. The 3D visuals are a little rough, as is standard fare for the era, but the gameplay itself is solid. Characters have a variety of outlandish moves at their disposal such as pro wrestling piledrivers, and the building is littered with handguns and explosive weaponry. Humour is found in abundance, as you fight men in their pants and clothesline people mercilessly in QTE sequences. In a novel twist, when equipped with a handgun you can non-fatally arrest enemies for a slight health bonus.

It might not be Die Hard, but it’s good, ridiculous fun all the same.

Die Hard Arcade is one of the top 25 Saturn games, as voted for by Retro Gamer readers. If you’re curious to see what else they picked, why not pick up a digital edition of issue 128 to see the full list?