H.E.R.O. deserved better. It's a fun, challenging game incorporating a number of innovative ideas. Your mission is to save lost miners by flying down mine shafts with a little helicopter contraption. You have dynamite sticks to clear out walls and special goggles that shoot red laser beams to kill snakes and spiders.
I like how H.E.R.O. slowly eases you in, providing a simple cave layout to begin, and then building on that in terms of size and complexity. Advanced elements include lamps that turn out if you touch them, plunging you in pitch darkness. You can use a stick of dynamite to provide a brief glimpse, but there's only a limited supply.
The controls can be a little tricky. Holding up will let you fly upward. Pulling back places dynamite, and when you do that you'd better move your ass. It's very easy to accidentally plant a stick dynamite. Half of your deaths will be the result of blowing yourself up!
The mines often branch into multiple paths, and sometimes you'll need to backtrack after taking the wrong one. On the other hand, sometimes taking that route gives you a peek at dangers ahead.
The graphics are crisp and colorful, although the rock walls are just big blocks. The boom of your dynamite is satisfying and frying animals with your eye laser is insanely fun. In advanced stages you need to navigate narrow passages that are deadly to touch, so you really need to go light on the joystick.
One thing I like about H.E.R.O. is how its timed stages are very fast, making it excellent speed-run material. There are variations that let you skip the early stages, but I actually enjoy seeing how fast I can run through the early ones. That's a credit to the game. I think H.E.R.O. would have generated a lot more noise had it been released in 1982. As it is, I consider it a hidden gem. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
As in the movie, Michael is slow but relentless. You never know when he's going to suddenly appear in a doorway or at the edge of the screen. Better yet, his appearances are punctuated by an excellent rendition of the spooky Halloween theme song. If he grabs hold of a victim, you're treated to gratuitous gore bordering on hilarious. A lot of people lose their heads, and the spurting, pixelated blood is over-the-top. Halloween's gameplay is a little slow but there are some subtle nuances.
Michael's movements are predictable, and with good timing you can lead children right past him. Occasionally you'll find a knife which allows you to briefly turn the tables on him. The lights on the top floor occasionally black out, adding additional suspense as you "feel" your way around in the pitch dark. Jack-o-lanterns track your "lives" on the top of the screen - a nice touch. My biggest gripe is that Michael appears too often which minimizes the suspense factor. Halloween isn't the best game in the world, but fans of the film and game collectors should be fascinated by it. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Your pixelated Master Chief looks great as he scuttles around and engages in shootouts with gangs of ruthless aliens. He can only fire left or right, but aliens can fire in any direction and their bullets whizz by at high velocity. Fortunately the responsive controls make it possible to dodge bullets and slip through crossfire situations. Your foes come in a remarkable variety of shapes and sizes, and even in low resolution you'll recognize many familiar alien species.
The landscape is sparse but there are scattered trees, generators, and cannons. A critical power-up is available for your gun, shield icons provide one-hit protection, and you can find special boots that let you run twice as fast. It's tempting to dismiss Halo 2600 as a clever novelty, but this is one of the more addictive and intense titles I've played on the system. There's plenty of technique involved, although memorization helps too.
Destroying the oversized boss enables the "legendary mode". Unfortunately, the only difference is that you move much slower, prompting my friends to deem it "molasses mode". Lacking randomization, scoring, and a password feature, Halo 2600 comes up short in terms of replay value. Still, the frantic action is great fun while it lasts. This makes you wonder how other modern franchises might fare on the 2600. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Hangman's gameplay is entertaining but it gets old in a hurry. The graphics are very blocky but the letters are easy to read, and the alphabet song plays as you cycle through them. The "hangman" himself takes the form of a monkey hanging from a pole by one arm. I can only assume that Atari had some kind of misguided policy against lynching people in their games. The difficulty switches can be used to institute a 20 second time limit, which I highly recommend. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
You control a pair of square eyes that can only see objects in the area illuminated around you (via a lit match). This limited visibility was previously used to good effect in Adventure (Atari, 1980). Roaming the house are three spiders (blue, orange, red), a bat, and a ghost. Each is deadly to the touch, but you get nine lives.
Each floor has six square interconnected rooms, but locked doors make it a challenge to navigate between them. A skeleton key lets you move freely from room to room, but you can't hold it and the urn pieces at the same time. A scepter makes the bat and spiders oblivious to your presence, but it won't protect you from the ghost. Since the bat steals your items, you might be better off letting a spider bite you instead.
Haunted House isn't spectacular but its simple elements blend to create a compelling dynamic. With the completed urn in hand and no lives remaining, it's a pretty intense situation as you desperately try to find your way back to the entrance. You never know what's behind the next door.
Complementing the action are crisp sound effects including footsteps, crashing thunder, howling winds, and slamming doors. Should you escape, your "score" is a combination of remaining lives and matches used. Trying to convey any degree of fright on the 2600 is a tall order, but with the right mindset, Haunted House gets the job done. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
Your three fielders move in unison and can't even throw the ball. You just scoop it up and run down the baserunner before he can reach the next base. It's not as hard as it sounds because your fielders are speed demons. I like how the runner's footsteps continue long after he's disappeared from the screen. There are no fly balls but hits to straight-away center are automatic home runs. You'll want to share that little tidbit of information with your opponent or he'll be really mad at you.
The pitching is the best part of the game. You have total control of the ball and can fool the batter by having it flutter all around before catching a corner of the plate. It's also possible to hit the batter in the face, which is always a good time. I have fond memories of playing Home Run with my dad as a kid but today I find the game borderline unplayable. If you employ a few basic techniques you'll throw a shutout every time.
As an experiment I had my friends Brent and Kevin give it a try. They had never even heard of the game. To my surprise they seemed to have a great time, especially when it came to tormenting each other with those crazy-ass pitches. After that I wondered if I had been too hard on the game. But then I had Scott and Chris play and they hated it.
Scott remarked that if he had a choice between playing Home Run or being poked in the crotch repeatedly with a sharp stick, he would only reluctantly choose Home Run. Home Run is a likeable but shallow sports title that's only fun for a while. On a final note, one astute reader pointed out that Home Run is only 1.84 kilobytes in size. By comparison, MLB The Show 17 is 38 gigabytes, making it 20.5 million times larger. The question is, is it 20.5 million times more fun? I doubt it. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
The sparse sound effects are nothing but a series of monotones. Still, I can't deny that the game is quite challenging and requires some thought. The water tower is a small target on difficulty B, and downright miniscule on A. Some variations incorporate moving barriers, which test your reflexes as well as your mind. I found the difficult variations to be nearly impossible. Human Cannonball is a weak title, but had it been combined with Circus Atari, they would have made a nice package. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
The controls are fantastic. In fact, I can't recall another game with controls this responsive. Hunchy quickly scuttles up and down ladders and can even jump onto (or off of) a ladder mid-rung! The fact that he can fall any distance without getting hurt not only boosts the fun factor but adds strategy as well (catch bells while you're falling). The stage layouts are tricky and a few are just plain diabolical.
Some bells require you take a circuitous route while keeping an eye out for blue projectiles that randomly cross the screen. Once you get a feel for the controls you can whiz through the early screens with ease, but it's easy to hit the proverbial wall difficulty-wise. It doesn't help that many jumps have low clearance, which can result in hitting your head and falling into the abyss. I hate it when that happens. Otherwise Hunchy II is a well-crafted platformer that will put your skills to the test. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.