Film license games have a bad reputation for being quick, dumb cash-ins with hacked together set pieces and mediocre copycat gameplay. Die Hard on the Nintendo Entertainment System is no exception and is quite possibly one of the worst licensed games ever made.
On the positive note, Die Hard does contain some Interesting little connections to the film script, such as having an injured foot. Sadly, these additions quickly evaporate under the sweaty weight of all the bad ideas above them. Gameplay is a hybrid of Gauntlet and Commando, with various floors of a skyscraper for John McClane to fight forty deadly terrorists in.
The visuals are the first sign everything has gone wrong. It employs an iffy top down angle coupled with extremely cheap animation. Our hero's walk cycle is utterly tragic. None of this is helped by the enemy frame rate, which is ridiculous and sprays around in constant cyclic bursts. None of this is any fun.
Even if you can get beyond the terrible animation and mediocre graphics, you'll no doubt discover the 'Fog of war' effect masking the rooms around you. It makes the game look broken and buggy, easily one the most pointless effects I've seen. If there's any reason to play Die Hard, it's to see just how stupid it all looks in action.
I will confess to not completing this terrible game, as it's near impossible to actually play or enjoy! Punching an enemy seems more effective than trying to shoot them, but doing so will drain half your health from the unfair hits from stray bullets. If you kill the enemy, they will drop weapons and ammo. Coke cans littered around and snacks in vending machines add a single bar of health but other items are a rare and precious luxury only for those willing to persevere.
At this point in the review there should be some kind of insightful balancing counter argument in favour of the games finer points. Unfortunately, there are none. This clunky old ship's going to sink to the sea bed! Dull floor texture and blocky objects ... that's about all you get to see as visual variety is sparse and lazy with an ever repeating mess of tiled pixels. It's as if the whole thing was designed by a disenchanted coder and had to be cobbled together without any editing or quality control.
An indicator on the in-game menu shows how many enemies there are left to eradicate, and apart from the enemy radio chatter that appears as text to give insight on their plans, that's about as varied as Die Hard gets. You sense the actual gameplay was a complete afterthought. In summary it really captures none of the excitement of what was a decent film and makes you feel completely inadequate for the task at hand, which is mainly to be an all-conquering action hero.
My heart goes out to anyone who paid full price for this back in the day. Die Hard on the NES is as bad as movie-based games get, and so difficult to play that the title becomes a complete lie as it's certainly not hard to die.