Love in an elevator

In real life as in video games and Aerosmith videos, elevators are important. These machines make it easier for tired people, sick people, lazy people, and fat people to get to upper floors without using stairways.

Unlike real life (and cartoons), elevators aren’t the safest place on Earth, especially when you are trapped with hordes of enemies that are trying to kill you.

This is something that has become a cliché in most beat-em-ups like Streets of Rage and Sailor Moon.

Sailer Moon

Yep, Sailor Moon attacked that thing with a force strong enough to push it through the elevator glass.

No wonder bad guys chose the last floor of a giant building for the final fight in Final Fight.

final fight end

They probably didn’t think it through, though.

The problem with elevators is that you won’t find anything that may help you in your quest, such as hidden items in barrels or similar destructible things. The only things you are going to get are enemies, one after another.

Something interesting is that it’s not always the same kind of elevator. Thus, I divide elevator levels into three categories:

Elevator Fight


You just know what you’re in for when you get on this elevator in Metal Gear Solid.

This is the kind of elevator where tons of enemies will arrive to try to kill you, but thank god their bodies disappear once you beat them, or else the elevator would be too heavy to support you and the weight of a pile of dead bodies.

We can subdivide elevator fights into two categories:

Outdoor Elevators


If you remember Commando, then you know the kind of elevator I’m talking about; the typical elevator used for freight. This is the kind of elevator where you don’t feel trapped in a box. You can throw people out of this kind of elevator, which makes it easier to kill enemies and survive the level.

Indoor Elevators


A boss rush in an elevator…this can’t be good…

This is a typical residential/passenger elevator, and it’s what most people think of when they think of an elevator. You are stuck and you don’t have a nice view, which would be something good to see while you are beating the humanity out of dozens of enemies. There are no barrels, no health-recovery items, and again, there’s no view; only enemies.

Trap Elevator

megaman pinches

This is something more commonly seen in platforming games. This is the kind of elevator where you have to avoid traps like bombs, electrical fields, spikes, etc.; pretty much everything except cutting the elevator’s wires because that would make sense and be easy. In hardcore platformers this elevator level is a complete nightmare.

Ultimate Elevator

splatter house 2

Splatterhouse 2: The Elevator Strikes Back.

This is what you get when you combine enemies with traps. This can be one of the most annoying levels of a game because not only do you have to be aware of things that fall, but you also have to punch enemies to leave you alone. Thank god this is not something you’ll see very often. I can only think of two examples, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other games were this happens, and I’m pretty sure that the ones that I played aren’t the hardest of the bunch.


Even Street Fighter Alpha 2 has an elevator.

What a about a whole game?

Elevator action

Elevator Action: the game that started all this.

Meet Elevator Action from 1983, probably the first video game in which elevators were introduced as a place of action and violence, (unlike cartoons where elevators are like the holy ground in Highlander). In this game you control a spy that infiltrates a building from the top floor. Your goal is to steal some documents hidden in the red doors while facing a lot of enemy agents and using elevators to get to the bottom floor where a car will be waiting for you. I have to admit the game is kind of fun; not my favorite of the 80s, but it was a good game for the standards of that time.

Elevator Action_002

Elevator Action was a fun game, but it gave us elevator levels…ugh…

Ya know what? Screw you, Elevator Action! Thanks to you we have these frustrating levels where all you can do is kill tons of enemies and wait to the get to the next floor where more enemies will arrive.

Next time use the stairs. Trust me, nothing can go wrong on stairs.


  • Retro-Inactive

    Great read. Love the images and gifs too. Not sure if you’ve ever played Elevator Action 2, but it’s among my favorite arcade action games. Faster paced, more varied level, but still plenty of elevatoring and red door espionage.

    Also, I’m reminded of NES’ port of Trojan, a later level was a lengthy enemy and boss rush elevator stage that was freaking brutal.

  • Mike Bowerman

    This was awesome! Ha ha

  • Derik Moore

    This was an excellent read, and the gifs are fantastic. I can honestly say I never thought about how many games use the elevator level. Great work.

  • This really was great. Such a funny topic… lol