Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wooing the gamer

John Woo, for those that don't know, is a famous action movie director. He's done Mission Impossible 2, Hard Target, Face/Off and many more. I think in every film, at one point or other, the protagonist is jumping to the side or backwards while firing a gun. This inspired games such as Max Payne and pretty much any game with 'bullet time' in it. But, to my mind, the first game to have jumping backwards in slow-ish motion while firing a gun was Elevator Action. And this, I think, is John Woo's dirty secret; it's the source of his inspiration. The fact that there have been elevators, enemies, guns and doors in his films must be pure coincidence, right? I don't think so.

Elevator Action (arcade version) is a brilliant game. I've probably played it at least two-hundred times. The premise of the game is so simple. Go in the red doors to collect 'the documents' and then leave via the ground floor, while peeling away in a red sports car. The trick is that there are enemies that are intent on shooting you and there are elevators, which doesn't sound so hard until you try and play through a level.

The way to play the game is to use the elevators to go down, toggling movement up and down to avoid the shots from the enemy on each floor. You can't crouch while on a lift, but you can jump if need be. The tension comes from having to wait for lifts while the baddies leave their rooms and are very quick to shoot at you. They can only fire once every three seconds, so if you're able to avoid the shot, then it should be easy to either shoot them or do some kind of jump/kick to the head to finish them off. And that's it.

Amazingly simple, yet very hard to master. I think my best score is well into the top ten on Twin Galaxies but, really, I play because the game is addictive, challenging and fun.