With the 2013 release of “A Good Day to Die Hard,” the renewed interest in the “Die Hard” franchise and its hero John McClane will inevitably cause fans to get a little nostalgic for the earlier installments that created the iconic status of the series. Back in the day when “Die Hard” was simply a trilogy of action films, there were few heroes that could rival the everyman mystique of John McClane and he became a popular character in video games for years. These classic Die Hard video games offer lots of playability, particularly the later 32-bit releases for the original Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn consoles, while allowing you to relive the magic of the first three installments of Die Hard.
Die Hard (NES)
The NES version of the Die Hard video game stayed true to the original film’s plot, although the action was not as thrilling as the blockbuster Bruce Willis movie, but that was due to the technical limitations of the time. The 1989 NES release allowed players to guide John McClane through Los Angeles’ Nakatomi Plaza while the character rescues hostages. The top-down perspective was the norm for the day and allowed for more exploration than a traditional side-scrolling video game.
Die Hard (TurboGrafx-16)
The technically superior TurboGrafx-16 console received a movie-to-game conversion of Die Hard as well. This 1990 version benefited from more detailed characters and environments thanks to the TurboGrafx-16’s extra processing muscle. The game retained the same overhead camera perspective of the NES release, but for some unexplainable reason the action is not set in the Nakatomi Plaza. It is not even set in Los Angeles. The gameplay takes place in jungles. Yes, jungles. It’s as if the developers decided to place the John McClane hero character in a video game facsimile of a “Rambo” movie. Did the transportation unit get lost en route to set? The gameplay is actually really solid, though, so long as you can get past the fact that this video game is based on some bizarre world where John McClane wound up in the “Rambo” script. Hey, that’s actually not a terrible concept, now that I think about it.
Die Hard Trilogy (Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation)
The 1996 Die Hard Trilogy game went above and beyond what was expected from a movie-to-game conversion, offering tons of replay value and diverse game genres in one complete package. The game covers the first three installments of the “Die Hard” movie franchise with each game offering a nice virtual interpretation of the respective movie it is based on. The first game plays much like a 32-bit upgrade of the original NES Die Hard game except with far more intense action and more detailed explosions. This portion is strong enough to serve as a standalone title. The Die Hard 2: Die Harder game is a rail-based shooter game that allows the player to use the controller or optional light gun as he battles bad guys at Dulles Airport. The gameplay is respectable but this is certainly the weakest of the Die Hard Trilogy. The Die Hard With a Vengeance part of the Die Hard Trilogy game is really well constructed with a sound game engine and loads of tension, allowing the player to navigate the streets of New York City by taxi, and other vehicles, in a quest to locate and defuse bombs. The action is intense and addicting, definitely worthy of carrying the “Die Hard” movie franchise banner.
Die Hard Arcade (Sega Saturn)
Die Hard Arcade is among the most interesting of the classic Die Hard video games. Sega originally released Dynamite Deka in Japan as an action-oriented beat-’em-up title that let the player take the role of Bruno Delinger. Sega acquired the Die Hard license and slapped it on the title when they brought it to the United States in 1997 and, thus, Die Hard Arcade was born. The thing about this is that the game is really good and did not need to rely on the film license at all. I would actually call Die Hard Arcade great, so don’t let the last minute name change and the fact that the game does not follow the Die Hard storyline at all bother you. There are literally hundreds of moves in John McClane’s arsenal, giving Die Hard Arcade tons of depth and replay value. The action is fast and the game mechanics are developed to perfection as you would expect from a 1990’s Sega arcade title. Interestingly enough, the best Die Hard video game did not even start its life as a John McClane-based entity. Yippee-ki-yay, indeed!
The contributor keeps Die Hard Arcade around his home entertainment set-up at all times for when he gets the urge to go full-McClane.
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