Sunday 14 June 2015

Elevator Action (NES review)

Developer: Micronics
Publisher: Taito
Released: 1987

Elevator Action is a vertically scrolling action game that was originally released in the Arcades in 1983.

You play a spy and your mission is to traverse 30 floors collecting secret documents from the red doors and continue until you reach the ground floor. At this point your character runs to his car and zooms off to the next level where you repeat the same objective. Most of the time you'll be riding lifts that can be manually controlled but sometimes you'll need to use escalators if your path is blocked. Pressing A jumps while B fires a bullet from your pistol; you'll need to use this weapon frequently as guards enter through doors and try to shoot you. The game is a high score affair and there's a couple of interesting ways you can take out enemies. Firstly, you can squash them with a lift if you time it correctly; you can also shoot the lights and if a guard is standing directly below it will kill them. Things start off well and the AI isn't too difficult in the first couple of levels. You'll constantly need to be alert and it's fun strategizing the best way to get to the next red door. However, before long nagging control problems start to dampen the experience. Making split second decisions isn't easy, especially when you're trying to access a red door with several guards surrounding you. You must be facing the correct way and have your character placed exactly on the doormat otherwise nothing will happen; usually this leaves you wide open to incoming bullets and instant death. There's also a real lack of gameplay variety and every level looks the same with only minor colour pallet variations. The animation is very poor and the music only consists of one short, annoying loop.
Elevator Action is a decent game for around ten minutes but then you'll probably get annoyed by the limited gameplay and stiff controls that are usually responsible for your deaths. The core mechanics are briefly enjoyable but more variety and polish was needed to make this an acceptable purchase, especially in 1987.

Random trivia: A version for the Nintendo Game Boy was released in 1991 and it added extra weapons such as a machine gun with rapid fire.

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