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HERO

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Released: 1984

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Atari 2600

Publisher: Activision

Developer: John Van Ryzin

Submitted by: Owen Cooper

Pronounced "Hero" or "Aitch-ee-arr-oh"? Who knows? Who cares?

One of my alltime favourites and it can call itself whatever it likes.

Playing like the lovechild of Jetpac and Airwolf, H.E.R.O. sees the intrepid 2600 gamer navigating flip-screen mazes in the interests of reaching the trapped miner at the end of each level. Challenge comes in the form of the tricky inertia-prone helicopter backpack that makes vertical movement a little more challenging than it should be.

Standing inbetween protagonist Roderick Hero and the end-of-level miner are bats, spiders, snakes, flowing lava rivers and poisonous walls. Couple this with thin walls that must be dynamited from your limited stock of TNT (pull down on joystick and then run!), an ever-dwindling energy supply and a laser that can shoot the fauna of the mine BUT at a cost to your energy supply and you have the ingredients of a superbly playable and addictive maze game.

The game is full of neat touches that you don't expect to find on 2600 games – lanterns can be shot out or accidently collided with, plunging the screen into darkness – yet light a stick of TNT and the screen briefly reappears in dim grey. Lava rivers have fancy rippling wave effects. Roderick himself is colourful enough to turn a Speccy sprite green with envy.

It's an amazing tour de force for the 2600 as well as a fantasically addictive and playable game more than capable of standing alongside it's younger 8-bit cousins. As well it should be – H.E.R.O. is a monster game for the 2600. It came out on a ROM cartridge weighing in at a mighty 8 kilobytes!