Atari 8-bit

Review by Review Contest 2003!



Graphics: ?

Sound: ?

Gameplay: ?

Overall: ?

H.E.R.O. is gradually becoming one of my favorite home video games. From what I can tell, all five versions of this game have the exact same map and layout of the mine, at least up through level 12 or so. This is a tribute to the Activision team and the quality products that they made back then, and still today.

heroataripc.gif (5669 bytes)You are Roderick Hero, the H.E.R.O. (Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operator?). This is an action/adventure game where you explore the mine to find the trapped miners. With an unlimited power, lightweight, safe and easy to use jet-powered-propeller-pack, they probably could have called this game Miner 2049er.

You must blast through the walls, and shoot at a handful of volcanic vermin, in search of the trapped miners. You get points for everything that you shoot, and bonus points for the seconds remaining on your timer. The timer is your energy supply meter, so don't run out, or you lose a life. Your only weapons are six sticks of dynamite and a micro-laser beam (which emits a ray from your helmet/visor). You have an unlimited energy supply for the laser, but use your dynamite wisely. You have just enough to get the job done on the higher levels. Any remaining sticks count as bonus points.

The most challenging aspect of this game are the pits and walls of lava that you must avoid. You can fly and hover over and around them, but this does take some time to master - so be patient and practice. You will definitely lose lives learning how to master the jet pack, not to mention preparing for a few killer spots in the mine that often take away your life.

The Atari 8-bit version offers a two-player game, and a pause button, which certainly can be useful. There are also modes to start the gameplay at higher levels, which is useful when practicing (learning) the higher levels.

The 8-bit Atari, H.E.R.O. cart is uncommon, and I have yet to find one in the wild. Fortunately, I have it on disk. More specific evaluations are: Controls, Gameplay, Graphics, Sound, and Addictiveness.

The controls are very good, but regardless of which version you play, it will take some time to completely master the jet pack.

The gameplay is nearly identical on all versions that I have played. The Atari 8-bit version has one drawback - in that when using the laser to eliminate a wall, it takes forever to completely blast it. Not so on the other four versions. Using the laser instead of dynamite comes in handy if you accidentally run out of dynamite, or if the quarters are too tight. You see, if you are too close to the exploding dynamite, then it takes you with it. Anyhow, it takes much too long on this version to laser blast the walls, making it boring and tiring. One of the highlights of H.E.R.O. is finding and using the "raft".

The graphics are not as good as on other systems, but do not detract from the gameplay.

The sound is pretty good, but could be better. The bonus sounds and point scoring efforts seem cheap and incomplete compared with other home versions. The use of the laser to blow away a wall has no sound when you partially break the wall (i.e. a hint that you are doing some damage to it), and when the wall is destroyed. Maybe the programmer forgot to update this and it never made it in the code by his deadline.

This game is very addictive and will bring you back over and over again trying to get to the next level. The identical layout on all platforms adds to this addiction as you can play H.E.R.O. on any system and have a great time, as well as to improve your knowledge of the mine.

Atari 8-bit Designer: John Van Ryzin, for Activision.


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Last updated: Sunday, September 25, 2005 07:47 PM