Elevator Action was an arcade game first released by Taito back in 1983. Your mission is to guide secret agent "Otto" through a 30 story building collecting vital secret documents. This title was later followed up in 1994 by Elevator Action II which was available on the Taito F3 arcade hardware (Elevator Action II was also alternately titled Elevator Action Returns).
I have long had a love of classic games, but much of it is oddly nostalgia for things that I never actually experienced in the first place. I was only 6 years old when arcade gaming peaked back in 1983, so there are tons of games that I never actually got to play on a real machine. But Elevator Action is one of the exceptions! I distinctly remember playing this game in a Pizza Hut when I was in second grade, it was right next to a Deco Cassette Bump 'n' Jump. Elevator Action has ended up on my most wanted list solely based on that small childhood memory. Who would have thought 25 cents spent in 1984 would cause me to plan a $300 purchase almost 20 years later? Ok, enough about me, Agent 17 has an important mission, and he needs your help to do it!
Your mission ...should you choose to accept it.
The basic idea behind this game is Elevators. Sure there is the requisite story about collecting secret documents, but basically this game is all about moving up and down in little elevators (and escalators), and shooting bad guys. But as long as Agent 17 ("Otto") is blasting the bad guys, then he might as well try and pick up the documents along the way, it is the least he can do.
The action is played out from a side view of a 30 floor building. Various blue doors, elevators, and escalators fill each floor, along with far too many enemy agents for my tastes. The elevators move up and down on their own, but you can control them once you are inside by pressing up or down respectively. The many enemy agents can be defeated by shooting them with your gun, jumping on top of them, shooting light fixtures, or crushing them with an elevator. Some floors are not lighted, and are fairly dangerous, because you can barely see the bad guys, I usually try to skip right past these floors to avoid losing yet another life.
Some floors include red doors, behind these red doors are the secret documents. You must enter all of these rooms to complete the level, so don't skip any of them. If you take too much time, then an alarm will be sounded and the game will get much harder. I suggest grabbing all the documents as quickly as possible, and then heading for the getaway car at the bottom of the building. Reaching the bottom awards you a bonus of 1000 points, and sends you to the next level. With each passing level the enemies change ever so slightly in the form of a smaller amount of time between their shots.
Elevator Action Hardware Information
Elevator Action was available in two different arcade formats, a cocktail table and an upright dedicated cabinet. Both versions used the same internal hardware though.
The upright version came in the standard "Taito Classic" cabinet, which was the same one used for Jungle King, Zoo Keeper, Alpine Ski, and many others. These cabinets normally did not have sideart that advertised the name of the game, instead they had a painted design of lines and shapes, along with a Taito logo. Different titles had different designs and color schemes, although they have been known to ship games in the wrong cabinets. But lets get back on track here. Elevator Action should come in a brown cabinet with a Taito logo up near the top.
The marquee shows a scene of Agent 17 waiting for an elevator while an enemy agent shoots at him. While the monitor bezel shows agents on either side, has game instructions at the bottom, and shows an elevator floor display at the top. This bezel artwork is silk screened on glass, and is prone to peeling, be very careful if you have to handle one of these.
The control panel has a single 4-Way ball-top joystick mounted centrally, with jump and fire buttons located to either side. These controls were of the leaf switch variety, but modern microswitch based replacements can be used without modification.
Internally the machine uses a 19" open frame monitor mounted horizontally, and a set of game boards that conform to the "Taito Classic" wiring standard. Many other early Taito games (such as Jungle Hunt and Bubble Bobble) will plug directly into this cabinet without modification.
The cocktail version came in a table similar in design to the one used for Space Invaders and Carnival. It was not decorated except for a pair of instruction cards underneath the glass. Most Japanese game makers purchased their tables from the same few manufacturers, and were quite likely to change the exact model of cocktail that they shipped in mid production. So assume any Elevator Action cocktail is original unless it is obviously converted from another title.
I want to play!
You can play this title on your Atari 2600 or on your Nintendo Entertainment System. The Atari carts for this title are very expensive, but the NES version is usually only a few dollars. You can also play the original arcade version using the MAME emulator.
This is a great title to add to your arcade game collection. It is one of the cheaper classic titles. Currently pricing seems to be around $200 - $300 for a dedicated unit, with conversions going for slightly less. Of course pricing varies wildly depending on location, condition, dumb luck, and the phase of the moon. If you already have a converted Taito cabinet, then you should be able to assemble an Elevator Action kit simply by purchasing parts on eBay. This is a common game and the parts are readily available.