Diving Into Die Hard’s Many Game Adaptations

Original Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

While it’s largely been dormant for the past decade, few film franchises have as much as a gaming history as Die Hard. The Bruce Willis action vehicle has spawned 10 different games over 20 or so years of releases on consoles ranging from the Commodore 64 to Nintendo Gamecube. They’ve ranged from pretty faithful adaptations to original stories, and it’s worth looking into the many different takes on the same idea.

Die Hard Video Games

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard (Commodore 64 & PC)

The 1989 version of Die Hard was the action series’ first foray into gaming. Not only is it an early example of a third-person shooter, but it also has some light survival elements thanks to its inventory system. Plot wise, it winds up being largely faithful to the first movie.

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard (TurboGrafx-16)

Die Hard Video Games

Do you remember the scene in the first Die Hard where John McClane mowed down a bunch of soldiers in a jungle? If you don’t, it’s because the scene didn’t exist. The PC Engine version of Die Hard took some major creative liberties, but the action eventually moves inside the Nakatomi Plaza after a long section outdoors. The game is a pretty average top-down shooter and weapons range from standard guns to flamethrowers and rocket launchers.

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard (NES)

Die Hard Video Games

The Nintendo version is also a top-down shooter, although it’s a much more faithful adaptation. It’s actually a pretty ambitious title as it levies a “foot meter,” which is lowered by walking on glass and debris, that impacts McClane’s movement speed negatively. This is based directly upon McClane not wearing shoes in the film. The artificial intelligence also becomes aware of the player’s movements after a while, and all of the action is unscripted. It’s one of the cooler 8-bit titles to go back to.

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Die Hard Video Games

Die Hard 2: Die Harder is an arcade shooter that has the player taking out all of the terrorists that are holding the airport hostage.  There are some pretty cool sequences thanks to the locale, but these sort of games always fall a bit flat without an actual light gun.

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard Trilogy

Die Hard Video Games

Probe Entertainment’s Die Hard Trilogy is definitely one of the coolest adaptations as it presents three separate games each based upon one of the first three Die Hard films. The first movie is a top-down shooter, while Die Harder (seen above) is a light gun shooter, and finally, Die Hard with a Vengeance is a driving game. It’s an impressive amount of variety in a single package, and while none of the games are truly revolutionary, each is fun enough to be worth playing through at least once.

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard Arcade

Interestingly, Die Hard Arcade wasn’t originally released as a Die Hard game in Japan. Instead, it was called Dynamite Deka and was clearly based upon the movie franchise. Rather than dealing with any legal ramifications when bringing it stateside, Sega wound up getting the rights to slap the Die Hard name on it. As such, it presents a totally original story that isn’t connected to any of the films, but features similar action due to it being based off McClane anyhow. A non-branded sequel called Dynamite Cop was released on Dreamcast in 1999.

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas

Die Hard Video Games

Die Hard Trilogy 2 retained the genre-switching gameplay of the first game, but it featured an original story that took place in the city of sin. This also meant that the levels just switched gameplay styles when it made sense to do so, rather than each being their own game. It isn’t nearly as memorable as the first game, but the whole Vegas motif is pretty fun.

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard: Vendetta

Die Hard Video Games

There isn’t much nice to be said about Die Hard: Vendetta as Bits Studios’ first-person shooter is incredibly unpolished. There are some neat ideas, such as a bullet time mode and some disguise mechanics (McClane winds up dressing up like a homeless man in one mission), but the shooting is unspectacular throughout. There’s also a surprising amount of first-person platforming which is never a good sign. The only real positive is an original story that involves Hans Gruber’s son, Piet.

Die Hard Video Games – Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza

Die Hard Video Games

The second middling first-person shooter released in 2002 was a retelling of the original film. It’s incredibly faithful for the most part, as it uses nearly all of the dialogue from the movie, but it also adds in some additional scenes in order to lengthen the runtime. The only thing that really drags it down is the fact that the gameplay is rather pedestrian and uninteresting.

Die Hard Video Games – A Good Day to Die Hard (Mobile)

Die Hard Video Games

The most recent Die Hard game was Gameloft’s mobile rendition of the latest film. While it features a pixelized version of John McClane, it tries to invoke Die Hard Trilogy by keeping things varied. Beyond the basic run and gun shooter elements, it also has quick-time events and some vehicle chases. It’s not the best adaptation, but it’s certainly not a bad one by any means.