As I was playing Elevator Action in preparation for this review one of my
roommates walked in, and upon seeing it gave an exclamation of surprised
delight. He had not seen the game in many years, but still remembered it.
Iíve noticed that this game has that effect on people, myself included. I
only saw Elevator Action at an arcade once, and that was in 1984. I never
played it again until MAME added it in 1997. But even during those 13 years,
I still remembered it, and sometimes even found myself wanting to play again.
So now that Elevator Action is back, letís see if reality can match memory.
The concept is simple. You are a spy of some sort, and your job is to
proceed through the building retrieving secret documents and shooting endless
numbers of bad guys dressed in black. Exactly why youíre doing this is never
explained, but it doesnít really matter. When youíve gotten everything you
came for and reached the bottom of the building, you hop in your car, collect
some bonus points, and zoom off to the next building to do it all again. Of
course, the bad guys get smarter, faster, and more numerous every round,
making it that much harder to clear the building and get out.
And thatís the whole bag.
Graphics and sound were not the strong points of early Taito games.
Elevator Action is no exception. Even for 1983 when it came out, the gameís
graphics are not very good. Compare them to Spy Hunter or Gyruss, which came
out the same year. The Elevator Action characters are quite blocky and
distorted (the heroís eye is half the length of his face) and there is no
variety in them. There are only two character sprites, the hero and the
identical bad guys. Furthermore, except for the colors, the buildings are the
same in every round. At least having two different interior layouts would
have been nice. And the building colors look terrible. Who ever heard of
buildings painted in blue-green or lavender? The sound is little better.
Unless youíre used to it from long experience, the background music will drive
you crazy. Itís short and repetitive with a tinny, digitized feel to it. The
game sounds (gunfire, jumping, etc.) are functional, but little else.
So what is it that makes Elevator Action so memorable? Very simply, itís
fun. Elevator Action is just that, a pure action game. Thatís why the plot
is unnecessary, itís just an excuse to kill lots of bad guys. And nothing
like Elevator Action had ever come out before. The play doesnít just involve
blazing guns, in fact the heroís firing rate is limited. He has a jump kick,
which looks really cheesy but must be used often to survive. But the
elevators are what make the game unique. Few games before or since have taken
a simple object like an elevator and given the player so many ways to use it.
You can ride them in either direction (to the limits of the shaft), reverse
directions in mid-floor, and sometimes crush enemies wandering underneath
them! You can even ride on top of the elevator rather than inside, though in
that case you canít control where itís going. The elevators are central to a
good game, as they can be used to aid in both offense and defense. The fun of
working with these crazy elevators will keep you playing. The level of
challenge is excellent. Elevator Action will beat you down, but it still
leaves you feeling like next time youíll do better.
If youíre looking for a good action game thatís not the usual space-
shooter or beat-Ďem-up, and youíre willing to overlook the graphics and sound
flaws, then I highly recommend giving Elevator Action a whirl.