| Dan Hitchens
|Port of the 1983 Taito arcade
Elevator Action is a title that no one in his or her wildest dreams
actually thought existed. So when its existence was reviled on a
message board there was quite an uproar. To further complicate matters,
the whole story started out as an elaborate April Fools Day joke without
an ounce of truth to it. But when by a chance meeting with an ex-Atari
programmer someone was able to obtain an actual prototype, no one actually
believed them. But when it was it was shown at the Philly Classic
all skepticism and criticism was put aside as collectors got to see one
of the true lost classics of the 2600.
For those not familiar with the arcade game, you play the role of Agent
17 (codename: Otto) who must grab all the top-secret documents from a
30-story building and make his way to the getaway car at bottom.
Along the way you'll encounter enemy agents who will pop out of doors
and attempt to assassinate you. You can either shoot the enemy,
or crush him with elevators or by shooting out ceiling lights. Ah
yes elevators, it wouldn't be Elevator Action without elevators now would
it? Along you way you'll encounter numerous elevators, which you
must ride down to lower floors. Unfortunately the enemy likes to
ride the elevators too and will attempt to crush you with them, or just
shoot you as you ride. Elevators aren't the only source of transportation
in the building, on the lower levels you'll find escalators which will
take you down one level but leave you exposed to gunfire. Scattered
through the building are red doors which contain the top-secret documents
your after. You must grab all the documents before you get to the
bottom of the building or you will be forced to go back and retrieve the
documents you missed.
Surprisingly the 2600 was able to simulate the look and
feel of the arcade version fairly well. The graphics are bright
and well done and the gameplay (bugs aside) is almost an exact copy of
the arcade. The programmer was even able to get multiple enemy agents
on the screen at the same time (if only in one color) without much flicker.
This is far better than most thought the 2600 was capable of. Unfortunately
this version is still has a long way to go before being a final product,
and is riddled with multiple bugs. The most obvious sign that the
prototype is incomplete is the complete lack of sound and music, although
this doesn't hurt the game as much as you'd think.
The next thing that most people notice is that your character
can fly (no really!). If you push up to jump and keep pushing up
your character will hover in the air indefinitely (right above enemy bullets).
You can use this trick to "fly" by moving left or right before pushing
up keeping your character airborne as he moves about the building.
You can also do the reverse of the flying bug by crouching and moving
left or right effectively hanging below the enemy's bullet range. The
jumping bug is responsible for another interesting glitch, which makes
your character invincible (to a point). If you push up while your
character is in his death animation, you will break out of the death cycle
and jump instead. With careful timing you can use this trick to
become invincible although you'll still have to watch out around elevators
since you can't jump inside an elevator (Remember Caesar, thou art mortal!).
Some other bugs to watch out for are wrap around bullets
(stand next to the left edge of the screen and fire into the wall), walking
across open elevator shafts (I guess this is related to your flying ability),
and walking into the sides of escalators (push left or right while riding
an escalator). You can also see the "super secret" 31st level by
push up in just the right spot on the roof, if done correctly your character
will ride an invisible escalator into air and the screen will show a bunch
of garbage. The elevators are also a bit buggy in this version,
and will sometimes take a minute or two to come up to your level (be patient
though, if you wait they will come).
Even though it's far from complete, Elevator Action is
an amazing piece of programming given how limited the 2600's resources
were. All the features from the arcade game were preserved in the
2600 version (a rarity among 2600 arcade translations). Players
could shoot out lights, squash agents with elevators, and even ride escalators.
Its obvious Atari had a winner on its hands, but like so many 2600
arcade to home translations it was left unfinished. Had Atari held
all its games to high standards like Elevator Action they might have been
able to stave off the crash a bit longer.
||Approx 75% Complete
to 2600 Software