Review by GMitchell

Reviewed: 06/09/02 | Updated: 06/09/02

Hard-hitting action done right!

I've played a LOT of ''beat-em-up''s in my time, and have to admit to being a big fan of that genre. That being said, Die Hard Arcade stands amongst the very best of the button-mashers, and is a game that has replay value to infinity. I've owned the game since roughly the day it came out ('96 or '97), and to this day play it quite regularly, and consider it not only one of the Saturn's best games, but one of the better videogames made for any console, ever.

Die Hard Arcade is at the soul of it a great fighting game. You (and possibly a friend) are foiling a terrorist plot by taking out the bad guys in scores, with a flurry of fists, feet and fantastically selected pro wrestling moves. Further, you can pick up nearly any object in any room and use it as a weapon upon your hapless foes, including pistols, anti-tank heavy artillery, a grandfather clock and a bathroom mop, amongst other items.

One thing that immediately sets DHA above other mediocre or poor attempts at the same formula (Fighting Force comes to mind, ugh) is that the fighting engine is so good and so customizeable. String combinations for the melee attacks are possible, whereas in lesser games simple punches, kicks and throws are all that's available. The list of move combinations and throws and holds possible is extremely impressive, and is a big part of why this game is so great. Every time you play the game, you can take out tne enemies in dozens of different ways. If you've got a pistol, you can ''arrest'' the opponent from a hold. Or, if you choose, you can pile-drive, suplex or power-slam them for extreme punishment and entertainment. Or, of course, you can blast them with a bazooka from across the room. can collect pepper spray and a lighter...and torch them with a quick home-made mini-flamethrower. So many ways to pummel, so little time.

DHA is, sadly, somewhat short for this kind of game. Generally, if you've got enough credits, you can motor through the game in about 20 minutes. Entertainingly, you start the game with far too few credits to complete the game, and must play an old Sega arcade came called Sub Hunt in order to earn enough credits in DHA to get anywhere. Thankfully, Sub Hunt isn't a terrible game by any means, and this means of earning credits is both new and ingenious. I'm disappointed that this didn't catch on in other games as a great way to solve the problem when translating a game like this from arcade to home, but that may be due to one of the major failings of DHA's sequel, Dynamite Cop! for Dreamcast. In DC!, the game used to earn credits is a TERRIBLE old game that's barely tolerable, and earning credits is much more of a chore than it needs to be. However, in DHA, it's a perfect solution to the problem, and adds to replay value rather than hurting it.

One other minor flaw keeps DHA from getting a ''10'' from me, and that's the poor programming for the cutscenes. The cutscenes are quite entertaining, don't get me wrong. But for some reason, when the team put the Saturn version of DHA together, they chopped up the scenes really, really badly. If you've set the options to show the cutscenes instead of skipping them (thank god there's this option...), you will sometimes have a 7-8 second load time for a 3-second section of a cutscene, followed by another 5-6 second load time for a 4-second section....very jarring and annoying. I'm baffled that the scenes weren't programmed in cohesive sections to avoid this goober crap, but mistakes get made, life goes on.

For Saturn owners, Die Hard Arcade shouldn't be missed. It's an absolute blast for either one or two players, it doesn't get old anytime fast, and is an adrenaline rush that's hard to beat.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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