|Another year, another game set in a mine
H.E.R.O. (or Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operation) was first developed for the Atari 2600 and released in early 1984. It was subsequently released on most other console and computer platforms of the time.
In this game you take on the role of Roderick Hero whose task it is to rescue miners that have been trapped underground due to volcanic activity. To aid you on your mission you can fly with the help of a backpack mounted propeller and are equipped with a laser and several sticks of dynamite. As you descend into the mine you have to avoid (or shoot) various nasties such as bats, spiders and snakes. If you touch a lamp the current screen becomes dark so you can’t see your way. Additionally magma must be avoided as touching it takes a life. Occasionally your path will be blocked by a wall. These can be destroyed by dropping a stick of dynamite next them being careful to avoid the blast.
The controls on the 2600 and C64 are quite slick as everything is controlled from the joystick and a single fire button. Pushing forward on the joystick allows you to fly. Pulling back drops a stick of dynamite. Left, right and fire are self explanatory. The Atari 5200 uses a separate fire button for dropping the explosives.
These three versions are great games which is why they are all on my list. Gameplay and sound are on a par so the only difference between each version is the graphics. As with River Raid, the Atari 2600 has simplified graphics with the caves being made up of solid blocks of colour. On the Commodore 64 they have tried cramming in too much detail and the graphics end up looking messy. It’s also a little easier as the laser has a longer range. Of the three the Atari 5200 is my favourite, but this is purely down to the graphics being less cluttered than the C64 yet more detailed than the 2600.
|The Atari 5200 boasts the best graphics of the three.
|Graphics on the Atari 2600 are a bit sparse...
|...while the C64 suffers from too much detail.