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The Untold Truth Of Die Hard 64

Every so often, a game development studio will secure the rights to a film or TV show and do its source material justice. The results of these endeavors are the GoldenEye 007s and DuckTales of the gaming world. For every single licensed video game success story, however, are countless failures. These are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattans of the gaming world.


This latter category also includes Die Hard 64. For a multitude of factors, the 64-bit adaptation of the Bruce Willis classic never even saw the light of day. Without the Die Hard branding, such a title might have failed to even warrant a footnote in gaming history. Due to the success of the film franchise on which it was based, however, Die Hard 64 remains a predominant "what if?" for both the Die Hard franchise and the N64 era.

While the game famously was never released, some lesser-known details about its development help explain why its very nonexistence remains such a curiosity.

Die Hard 64 was part of a trilogy

Unseen64, which is a blog that chronicles the development of canceled games leading up to and in the N64 era, documented the development of Die Hard 64 in detail. Their piece explains how Die Hard 64's developer, Bits Studios, was able to secure a working relationship with Nintendo due to some well-received releases for the SNES and GameBoy.


Thus, Bit Studios was contracted to develop a trilogy of games exclusively for the N64. These three games did not share a plot but were simply a trilogy insofar as they shared a developer and possibly some design elements. Their gameplay ultimately can't be analyzed, however, since none of the three titles ever saw the light of day.

That said, based simply on images and descriptions available of the other two titles, they did at least share some stylistic elements. One of these was RiQa, a military-themed shooter, and the other was Thieves World, a stealth-based heist game.

Die Hard, as a film at least, includes its fair share of both high-adrenaline combat and sneaky vent-crawling, essentially linking to both of the other two games in Bits Studios' canceled trilogy.


It wasn't always going to be a Die Hard game

Unseen64 also describes how the game that was in development for a time as Die Hard 64 was originally not even a Die Hard game. Its first incarnation was titled Muzzle Velocity and was an original Bits Studios property. Its plot put players in charge of a SWAT team member tasked with stopping a rise in crime in Los Angeles.


Bit Studios secured a partnership with Fox early on in the development of Muzzle Velocity, which led to their decision to rework it into a licensed game. It didn't immediately become Die Hard, however. First, it was to be a video game version of the Keanu Reeves-less Speed 2. Before major headway could be made on the Speed 2 video game, the film tanked in theaters. Thus, Speed 2 the video game morphed into Die Hard 64, another Fox IP.

Following the cancellation of Die Hard 64, Bits Studios held onto their license and made Die Hard: Vendetta (originally titled Die Hard: Next Generation) for the GameCube. While that was an entirely new game, its origins can nevertheless be traced all the way back to Muzzle Velocity.