Die Hard Arcade (aka Dynamite Deka in Japan) is, of course, loosely based on the first Die Hard movie, with some major character and plot changes thrown in to fit the video game medium. In DHA, you start on the roof of the Nakatomi Building and work your way up and down the building in order to save the hostages. During your adventure, you will find yourself battling many heavily armed terrorists in numerous rooms and floors.
In a time when most 3D titles were still immature in terms of both graphics and gameplay, Die Hard Arcade actually excels in both regards to become a title that still holds up as a solid title to this day.
The Saturn port of Die Hard Arcade is accurate to the ST-V arcade original and was above average for the time of its release. Since the 32-bit era was in the early years of 3D gameplay, the characters are somewhat blocky, but the frame rate is solid. In order to provide the best perspective, the game engine changes the view by zooming and panning. From what I can, tell the game runs in a standard resolution (As opposed to the High-Res mode seen in VF2). The character movement is similar to watching several of the VF2 characters in action. The characters are also texture-mapped, complete with facial features. Die Hard Arcade, as a package, was also well-produced by Sega, so the overall presentation of the game is top-notch.
Action-packed tunes fill the Die Hard Arcade soundtrack and keeps your heart pumping while fighting off baddies. While they aren’t very memorable, both the sound effects and the soundtrack are appropriate for a brawler based on an action movie.
DHA is essential a 3D Final Fight/Streets of Rage style brawler with 2D gameplay – however it lacks the constant side-scrolling. After defeating the enemies in one particular room, you automatically move on to the next. While in transit from room to room, you may meet up with a terrorist and have to take him/her out quickly. If you press the right button within the allotted amount of time, this will be done successfully. If not, you will miss the terrorist and have to face him/her (plus any backup that might be called) in an additional battle.
The game features 2-player cooperative action and more than 15 weapons are available. You start off unarmed, but are able to pick up weapons along the way such as Rocket Launchers, Handguns, Sub Machine Guns, Fire Axes, and Hairspray (Which can also be used in conjunction with a cigarette lighter, in order to form a makeshift flamethrower.) There are hefty bosses you’ll have to face — some of them are a bit on the wacky side, but they are all good fun and can pose a challenge.
Die Hard Arcade also improves on the controls of many of the brawlers before it. The game actually offers a number of combos in addition to the standard kicks, punches and weapons. You can also score extra points for performing arrests (which is basically a combo in itself) as opposed to killing the enemies.
I think the area where Die Hard Arcade really shines is the 2-player action. While multiplayer naturally improves brawlers, Die Hard Arcade thrives on teamwork more than most games in the genre. It also boosts the fun factor as two players with massive weapons is nothing but pure fun. Having two friends watching big explosions and bodies flying is not an experience to be missed. To sum up the gameplay, Die Hard Arcade has everything an Arcade junkie would want.
You won’t get much out of this game’s story. The dialogue and voice acting have a high cheese factor, so you will get most of your entertainment out of the gameplay.
Die Hard Arcade was not a rare title, the combination of its quality and the fact that it wasn’t a headlining title will keep it from being dirt cheap. You should be able to find the disc for $15 and a complete copy for around $30.
Overall Score: 9
A sequel of sorts to Die Hard Arcade was released on the Dreamcast as Dynamite Cop (Dynamite Deka 2 in Japan). It attempted to mimic the style of Die Hard Arcade, but it seemed to be less polished and just not as much fun. It also did not push the Dreamcast’s capabilities like DHA did with the Saturn.