Die Hard

Die Hard USA Die Hard NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper:

Released: January 1992
US Cartridge ID: NES-57-USA

Players:  1
Genre: Shooter
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (128k PRG, 128k CHR)

Requires Flash10

Based on 1988’s blockbuster movie of the same name, Die Hard by Pack-In-Video features NYPD officer John McClane’s  fight against the terrorists who have besieged a skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles. Closely following the film’s plot, Die Hard USA 002 256x2241 Die Hard NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotJohn has just arrived from New York City on vacation, hoping to smooth things over with his estranged wife, Holly. Soon after meeting her at the Christmas party being thrown by her employers at Nakatomi Plaza, terrorists seize the building and take everyone hostage. The terrorists, led by Hans Gruber, are using the innocents as leverage to buy themselves time as they work on cracking a corporate safe containing six hundred and forty million dollars worth of bearer bonds. Managing to eavesdrop on a private conversation once he’s escaped, John realizes the scope of their insidious scheme: they intend to blow the roof off of the building, kill the hostages, and make their escape with both Holly and the bonds. With the lives of his wife and the innocent hostages hanging in the balance, Officer John McClane steps up to answer the call of duty.

McClane’s plan involves gaining access to and searching several floors of the Nakatomi Building, killing terrorists and arming himself while trying to figure out how to save the day. Theo, Hans’ expert hacker, is working on breaking the six computerized locks that secure the safe. Before he finishes, John needs to kill as Die Hard USA 085 256x224 Die Hard NES Nintendo Review Screenshotmany of the forty terrorists in the building as he can. Once the lock is disengaged, John only has a short time to reach Hans before the villain escapes, and any terrorists that have not yet been dealt with will attack John upon arriving on the thirtieth floor  where Hans, Theo, and Holly await.

Playing from a top-down perspective, Die Hard  allows the player to see only what John can see from his personal vantage point. Anything obscured from John’s eye line by a wall is blacked out, lending a real sense of tension to the game play. John starts with a pistol in hand, but can quickly find C4, flashbang grenades, axes, and submachine guns by searching rooms and looting dead terrorists. John has two lifebars to consider in Die Hard: one for his health, and one for his feet . Just like in the movie, John is barefoot, and stepping on broken glass or running will cause the condition of his feet to deteriorate, slowing his movement considerably. His overall health can be recovered by drinking soda, and health kits will allow John to bandage his feet in order to improve speed. Other useful but optional items, like the rocket launcher and the map, can be found by thoroughly searching each floor.

Die Hard‘s graphics are a mixed bag. Digitized still shots from the film are often Die Hard USA 073 256x224 Die Hard NES Nintendo Review Screenshotused to relay important information and events to the player, looking uniformly excellent despite the severe dithering. The in-game graphics, however, tend to be bland and washed out. With few furnishings or recognizable markers, most of drably colored environments feel sterile and empty, and the poorly animated sprites lack any discernible detail. The sound is lackluster, coupling poor quality effects with a forgettable and repetitive soundtrack.

Its overall unimpressive presentation notwithstanding, Die Hard plays remarkably better than most Pack-In-Video developed movie tie-ins. The controls are precise, and the enemies, while not too easy, do present a fair challenge. Though John can only fire in eight directions, he can spray in arcs, allowing him to take down enemies that he’s not otherwise perfectly lined up with.  Terrorists will often cover the screen in machine gun fire, but bullets are usually avoidable with practice and a Die Hard USA 099 256x224 Die Hard NES Nintendo Review Screenshotgood display of reflexes. The mechanics are solid, but the game’s flow is hindered by a regrettable lack of clear short-term goals. With the game’s focus on cinematics and story, this odd decision largely undermines the tension created by the imposed time limit.

Fans of the Die Hard film will enjoy reliving John McClane’s adventures, but those not previously acquainted will find Die Hard  an interesting and ambitious game idea subverted by unattractive visuals and average gameplay.

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flag us Die Hard NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDie Hard
Activision, 1/1992
flag uk Die Hard NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDie Hard
Activision, 1992
flag jpn Die Hard NES Nintendo Review Screenshotダイ・ハード (Dai Haado) / Die Hard
Pack-In-Video, 7/1991