The Die Hard movie franchise is beloved for many reasons: it’s extremely quotable, the action is good, and the first movie technically qualifies as a Christmas film and can thus be watched seasonally. Back in 1999, it turns out that Bits Studios had been quietly developing an action game called Die Hard 64 on the N64 for Fox Interactive, but the game’s time in developmental purgatory meant neither press nor public would ever see or hear about the ill-hated title – until now, that is.
An Assembler Games forum member who used to work at the now-defunct studio recently came forward with an early development build of the game, which has previously never been seen outside of the studio and its publisher. The user’s copy of the game is incomplete and is split into three roms, boasting about 24 levels in all with about 9 of them being playable, though some levels don’t even have enemies – the majority are just test maps which take place in and around Nakatomi Plaza. Bruce Willis totes a grand total of two lines in this unfinished build of Die Hard 64, but you can bet Fox Interactive made them count: the lines are “Yippie Ki Yay!”and “That must hurt.”
Interested gamers can take a look at Die Hard 64 below, and get a nostalgic flashback of how awkward using the thumbstick of the N64 controller to aim used to be:
The basic building blocks of an N64 title not entirely unlike Duke Nukem were there: multiple weapons ranging from machine guns and shotguns to dual-wielded handguns were available, and players could negotiate the maps by climbing ladders, pushing buttons, crouching around, and even leaning around corners. The developers obviously planned to implement a Max Payne-esque bullet time feature as well, with the camera rotating around bullets as the slow-motion action unfolds. The AI wasn’t finished yet, so the above video is able to execute some unusual strategies like “crawling up to the enemy and stabbing them in the foot until they die.”
Supposedly, Die Hard 64 was slated for release simply too far into the life cycle for the N64, so Fox Interactive changed it to become a Gamecube title instead. The result was Die Hard Vendetta, a game which was met with almost universal disapproval from press and public alike. Welcome to the party, pal!
According to 10ahu (the Assembler Games forum member who uncovered the roms), simply using a popular emulator like Project64 won’t work with these developer files. Instead, the digital relic extractor is using an Everdrive in tandem with genuine N64 hardware to get the three roms running again. Though Bruce Willis is still continuing the Die Hard series on the silver screen, we somehow doubt the world will ever see another Die Hard game, making the discovery of Die Hard 64 that much more precious.
Die Hard 64 was planned to release for the Nintendo 64 in 1999.