Platform / Media: Game Boy Advance Cartridge
Publisher: Taito
Developer: MediaKite
Release Date: 12/20/2002 JPN (4,800 yen), N/A rest of world

As the name implies, there are two versions of the game on the cartridge. One is the good old Elevator Action classic, near-CGA palette and all. It is recreated quite faithfully and is entertaining to play still, although probably a bit slow for most modern gamers - the walking pace of Agent 17 is downright glacial.

The New version is, oddly enough, not the Elevator Action 2 Returns written of herein. Instead, MediaKite came up with a completely new version which is some strange chibi hybrid of the original and the EX. You have three (and one secret) characters to choose from, much like EX - an average guy, a strong but slow guy, and a fast but weak girl.

The changed game mechanics include the introduction of hit points, limited ammo, a strict time limit, power-ups in the form of health, ammo, grenades which actually roll (allowing you to drop them on enemies from above), disguise and submachine gun, the ability to duck behind any door, and a variety of increasingly tough enemies. There are still elevators, escalators (although enemies will no longer take them), red doors, constantly spawning enemies, the ability to shoot out lights (which now makes you undetectable by enemies, which is nice) or to jump on enemies to destroy them (although only the weaker ones).


Overall it's still the same deal - make your way from the top to the bottom (although on later stages you occasionally start from the bottom and go to the top, to be extracted by helicopter), picking up secret briefcases from secret doors painted a secret shade of red, and avoiding or shooting bad guys. The bullets still fly at 15mph, and still high enough for you to duck under (or low enough to jump over). The maps are more complicated, requiring you to backtrack frequently - later stages even require more sideways movement than up and down, in a nice twist.

The game consists of 4 stages, each with an alternate layout and slightly different color scheme. These are a building, a high-rise, a lab, and a secret mountain fortress; the sideways levels mostly occur in the last stage. Each stage is composed of 4 substages, which are usually of increasing difficulty. The game will save your progress as you complete each full stage, at which point the next one will open up. It will also keep track of stages you've unlocked with each of the three characters. Once opened up, you can replay any stage at any time.

Overall the New inspires a bit more strategy than its arcade predecessor, as enemies spawn rapidly and your slow-firing handgun will simply not be able to handle them all. The late game puzzle-like layouts and tougher enemies will also force you to consider your approach carefully.

VS Mode

Perhaps the only real new twist is the ability to play the game versus another spy bent on stealing the documents. What's even more entertaining is that the other spy can either be human (second GBA/cart required) or the AI! So as an added challenge, you have a suicidal AI rampaging through the level, stealing the documents ahead of you. It's quite fast and able to take impressive risks to get there faster. When either spy is killed, s/he drops all the documents carried, making interception a must.

Versus maps are different from single player maps; they're based on them, but twice as large. It's simply a mirrored layout, connected through the middle by hallways. Twice the fun!

Graphics / Sound

The graphics from the Old version are replicated perfectly. The New is, as I mentioned, slightly on the chibi side, so all fans of deformed anime rejoice (large heads, thin bodies, exaggerated gait). The buildings are prettier and have more varied decor, as well as being more colourful overall. Projectiles and elevators all move far more fluidly than the original. I feel that the GBA could do more (like Ninja Five-O's splendid presentation), but it is adequate.

Sound for the Old is likewise the same, composed of bleeps and bloops and an amazingly sharp crack for the pistol. Sound for the new is fairly forgettable, consisting of sound effects only a little improved from the Old, but lacking the charm. The background jingles, while being different for every area, aren't very compelling.

Opinion / Conclusion

Apart from the nostalgia value for those longing for the good old days of simple, hardcore arcade action, Old & New doesn't really have much to offer. The Old is quite dated looking even on the GBA, and the New doesn't innovate much and is in fact a step back (considering the shenanigans of EX, an older title). Since a US resident will pay a minimum of 40 bucks to have it delivered (and similar in Europe, most likely), it's probably a title best purchased by a fan of the game, or retro gaming. For those few individuals, and perhaps a few hopeless arcade addicts, it might be well worth it.

Note that the game is of course untranslated, but the menus are very simple to navigate by trial and error even with no knowledge of the language (Select savegame, select character, select single player or versus mode, start). The Old version has no navigation, you hit Start and...start (oddly enough). There is no way to return to game selection once you choose; you must restart your GBA.

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