Elevator Action Old & New - Why the Rarity?
Obviously it's rare because there's few copies. Duh. The real question is whether it's worth the money...
It's strange when a game becomes something of a rarity in this industry. A lot of games have done it. Gitaroo Man and Rez for the PlayStation 2, the US version of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Master System, and a gaggle of Atari 2600 cartridges, including a few adult titles that defy description, such as Beat 'Em and Eat 'Em. But the Game Boy Advance doesn't really have that many rarities. One of them, however, is rather quirky...
The game is Elevator Action Old and New. It was released for the Game Boy Advance in Japan in late 2002, just in time for the Christmas season. Developed by Taito, the makers of the original Elevator Action arcade game, the new version features not only an old-school version of the arcade game, but a new enhanced version with selectable characters and cuter little animations. The game was a sleeper hit more than anything, not going gangbusters on sales but providing serviceable numbers. Unfortunately, no US publisher was interested in bringing the game stateside, and therefore it remains, to this day, an import item.
Better make that an expensive import item. Starting in late 2005, the price for import copies of Elevator Action started fetching high numbers on Ebay- at least $50 on up. Why the rarity, no one is sure. Perhaps the cartridge had become a limited item in Japan, especially with the fading of the Game Boy Advance market and the uprising of the Nintendo DS one. There's also the consideration that Taito is now under the Square Enix umbrella, and thus doesn't really do that much publishing anymore. It could be a number of things, honestly. But is the game worth the high dollar value?
In a word...well, maybe. It really depends on how hardcore a fan of the original arcade game you are. And there are a few fans out there who consider Elevator Action one of their all-time favorites. The original game is still loads of fun, as a player maneuvers his way through a building while retrieving secret documents and shooting enemy agents. The name Elevator Action comes from having to use elevators throughout, while dodging bullets and staying alive.
The new game, however, seems to rely a bit too much on its cutesiness. While the game is still entertaining to play, many might be thrown off by the updated visuals. The numerous characters that are available in the game are interesting, especially the female agent, but the general gameplay remains about the same.
This isn't the first time that Taito has tinkered with the Elevator Action formula. In 1994, the company released an arcade follow-up titled Elevator Action Returns, featuring a much more serious tone and different characters. However, the game turned out to be a modest success, even if as not as successful as the original. Taito would release a Sega Saturn port of the game in 1997, and include it in this year's import-only release of Taito Legends 2 for the PS2 and Xbox.
Back to the topic at hand. Even if you are a hardcore fan of Elevator Action, you have to consider other options available to you for playing the game without dropping $50+ on this import. A port of the original Action game was released for Game Boy a few years back, making the game a cinch to play on the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Player for GameCube. There is also an import game called Elevator Action EX for the Game Boy Color, although players might find it easier to locate the US version of the game, which has been modified with the Cartoon Network license Dexter's Laboratory and released as Robot Rampage. Finally, if you want to play the original arcade game in all its glory, it's included in the PlayStation 2/Xbox release of Taito Legends, published by Sega last year.
If you have to have it, hey, don't let us stand in your way. Elevator Action Old and New is still a sufficient sequel that fans will enjoy, and it does make a dandy addition to your collection. But unless you have an absolute desire for it, it doesn't really look like an all-out necessity. There are other ways to play Elevator Action, even if it means dragging the NES out of your storage space and playing it that way. Honestly, the best way to have this game is if you bought it well before it became a rarity- like I did. $26 well spent, I say.