Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Elevator Action - One Credit Challenge, Fourth building

Elevator Action is a good arcade game. Elevator action is not a good NES game.

I don't mean that the graphics suffered horribly in the transition (I actually think they improved a bit) or that the play control is off or even that the game is fundamentally different in any way. From what I can tell, it is a very accurate port.

What I mean is that the game works much better as one that you walk up to in the arcade, put a quarter into, and play until your three lives are gone. Maybe later you come back and try to beat your high score. Perhaps you get really good at it and show off to your friends your skills. The game does a good job of showing that you are a spy, sneaking into a building and stealing documents while avoiding opposition by shooting them or jump-kicking them. As you clear each building, the difficulty gets greater and greater and eventually it is so hard that you just die. This is a well done arcade game.

By the time the NES came along, people wanted something more.

They wanted games that they could progress in. They wanted games that had a beginning, middle, and end. Super Mario Bros. was the definitive NES game because as you played it and got better at it, you progressed further and got to new levels. At the end, you finally rescued the real princess. This was the type of game that gamers expected of the NES.

So, even though Elevator Action's move from arcade to NES was near-seamless, it lost something just for being on a different platform. It went from being a good arcade game to a mediocre NES game. So, I still enjoy it and find it fun to play, but there are many more game I wish my parents had spent their $50 on.

In the 1988 holiday season, I received three games from my parents for my NES (none of which I asked for): Pinball, Hogan's Alley, and Elevator Action. I could have gotten Castlevania, I could have gotten Mega Man, or I could have gotten Metroid. Instead I got those three games. I realize that Pinball and Hogan's Alley were probably discounted, but Elevator Action had just come out. It is probably the best game of the three (though Hogan's Alley is a competent light gun game), but none of them are games that you can just keep playing. After awhile, you just have to put them down. Maybe my parents knew this and this was their plan to make sure I still went outside. But probably not. The memory of those three games still haunts me to this day.

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