Classic Elevator Battles

Back when I was a kid, playing games on my NES and Super NES, I remember the classic game trope of the elevator battle sequence (or the rising platform battle). This was heavily used in many side-scrolling beat ‘em ups of my early days in gaming — games like TMNT: Turtles in Time, the Streets of Rage series and so many others.

Here’s how it usually went down. You’d be fighting your way through some area in the game and reach some type of “closed off room.” Next, the platform would start to move (up or down) and you’d quickly realize you were in an elevator. Now you’re fighting new enemies on each floor as they enter your elevator. Sometimes enemies would drop down from above — super dangerous.

Although this technique was used in many games, I guess I never really thought about how much it was used. It may have been a game dev shortcut for a few battles in a level. Instead of creating one long area in this world, you just had to create this platform and you could have it go down or up this long, repetitive elevator shaft. That would make the background layout much simpler, so you could focus on all of the different enemies entering on each floor instead.


There were two recent games that got me thinking about those classic elevator sequences games. The first was Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The game featured a couple of long elevator rides. However, there were never any elevator fights/battles. Instead these long rides consisted of dialogue and moving the story along.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2021) • Elevator Ride

While playing through these long rides, I found myself paying close attention for even one single enemy to appear. That never happened. Instead, I got to enjoy Rocket say FLARKIN a few too many times. I did truly enjoy the game, just a few too many FLARKINs.


The second game that took me back to the classic elevator ride battles of my childhood was Sackboy: A Big Adventure. I started playing Sackboy: A Big Adventure this past weekend with my girlfriend. I’ve had my eye on this title for some time now to play with her. I finally picked it up this weekend on sale. 
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a PlayStation Exclusive 3D platformer that catches the spirit of a Nintendo platformer. It’s a great Co-op adventure for up to four players. As you play through different levels you’ll find different types of platforming — 3D, 2D, top-down.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure • Platform Rising

The difference between Sackboy and the Guardians example is that these were closer to the classic elevator battle sequences. In fact, Sackboy: A Big Adventure has even evolved the classic elevator fight sequence and made it something bigger.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure • Elevator Battle Level

I would love to see some more of these elevator battles in new games. It can be used as a way to squeeze a horde mode sequence into a game. In Guardians it was used to move the story forward. In Sackboy, they built a couple of levels using this technique and taking it a bit further.

I love seeing people take classic video game ideas and using them with the technology of today. It’s especially exciting when you’re playing a game and it takes you a while to realize that it is using a certain mechanic from an older game, but revamped for today.

If you can think of any classic game sequences redone in newer games share them in the comments below.

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