Sega were known for doing the quirky thing with their games, this was true in the early days. Titles such as Alex Kidd had you fighting bosses with “rock, paper, scissors”. Later titles did cool things that we see today though no fighting game has revived the Daytona car like Fighter’s Megamix featured. In Die Hard Arcade, for the Sega Saturn, we saw an early version of “quick time events” that we saw proliferate in the God of War series. For the time these were interesting ways of integrating sweeping camera angles while keeping the player engaged. Featuring the Die Hard license apparently didn’t translate to Bruce Willis’ looks as your character doesn’t look like him outside of them both being males. That doesn’t stop Die Hard Arcade from being interesting and challenging.
Keep in mind that by the time Die Hard Arcade was released, Sega had a little bit of experience with 3D fighters thanks to Virtua Fighter (historical article here on RGM). While we were not privy to the evolution of brawlers, Die Hard Arcade did hold its own against the competition of the time. There are the usual problems of this era such as polygon tears, breaking and the like- things that have been perfected over the years.
Fights are engaging, if not a little blocky and hard to take for most modern gamers. Throughout the fight scenes the camera will jockey for position to provide the best view of the fight. Much like early 3D platformers, it will sometimes screw you over and ruin a good combo.
The “quick time events” allow for things that would not work in a 2D brawler such as avoiding a fire truck or running down a hallway. This adds a bit of cinematic flair to the action which is cool considering we have yet to get many 3D brawlers. There is a story here and it is told quite well using the game engine, non-interactive scenes and more “Sega” elements that retro gaming fans loved.
Die Hard Arcade has not been re-released yet (don’t hold your breath) so if you are wanting a copy, grab a Saturn (Ebay link) and an original copy of Die Hard Arcade (Ebay link) and enjoy Sega when they were cool.