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Elevator Action


Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Time for some brutal honesty here: elevators aren't fun. They do their job, but aside from that they remain markedly unappealing and you'd deem any developer that decided to use them as a basis for a videogame to be a few tins short of a six pack.

Such preconceptions make Taito's Elevator Action - which thrilled audiences back in 1983 - all the more startling.

The game features a dashing, blond-haired spy who is tasked with infiltrating a high-rise building, locating top secret plans containing with and then escaping without messing his Teflon undergarments. Along the way stiff resistance is encountered but thankfully this particular agent is armed with a standard issue handgun and (possibly more importantly) his wits.

Utilizing the elevators and escalators that appear in abundance throughout each building he can run rings around his attackers. When confrontation is inevitable there's obviously call for lethal force but the game offers a refreshing degree of freedom in this regard.

It has its ups and downs.

Enemies can be comically 'squashed' by dropping elevators on top of them, for example. It's also possibly to put extensive martial arts training to good use with a few judicious flying kicks. However, the most inventive way to depose of assailants is shooting out ceiling lights and causing them to fall onto the craniums of unsuspecting foes; doing this results in all other illumination in the building going out for a short time - an undeniably neat touch back in 1983.

While time has not been especially kind to Elevator Action, it's astonishing just how playable it remains. The core concept is solid as a rock and has only since been improved upon by its 1995 sequel.

A recent Wii Virtual Console release has granted a new lease of life for this highly entertaining slice of arcade history and although it would be naive to expect a game that's over 20 years old to keep you glued to the television for more than a few minutes, it's well worth a look if idea of trespassing and stealing top secret documents appeals to the more nefarious side of your nature.

And let's be honest - it certainly should do.

8 / 10

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