(Gremlin Graphics, 1988)
In Greek mythology, Hercules (or Heracles) was punished by Eurystheus and made to carry out twelve labours. However, you don’t actually perform twelve tasks in this game. Instead, you fight against a seemingly immortal skeleton in a terminally boring, single-screen beat-’em-up. The twelve labours are each represented by an icon that occasionally appears; if you hit it, it will move into an urn on the left of the screen. However, watch out for the large spider that will steal the labours you’ve collected, unless you can reach it in time and hit it. At the bottom of the screen is a snake, and you can only harm the skeleton if it is above the snake. The length of the snake is also important; the shorter it is, the better you’re performing. The background graphics are OK, but the music is terrible and the gameplay is sluggish and very repetitive.
Volcanic activity has trapped several miners deep underground in the mines of Mount Leone, and Roderick Hero (also known as R. Hero – get it?) has come to the rescue. Equipped with a propeller pack, a laser and sticks of dynamite, Roderick must enter the mines and rescue them. Each level is filled with hazards such as spiders, bats and snakes, and you’ll also need to be careful not to accidentally extinguish the lanterns that light up some caverns. The dynamite is useful for blowing up walls, but you only have a limited amount. HERO was originally released for the Atari 2600 console in 1984, and this is an excellent and very faithful conversion. Don’t be put off by the primitive graphics, because it’s a joy to play. Roderick moves very swiftly around the mines, the levels are fairly short, and there’s a great feeling of satisfaction when you negotiate each one successfully.
The Golden Talisman protected a faraway city from evil, but it has now been stolen and broken up into five pieces which have been scattered throughout a deadly labyrinth. You must enter the labyrinth and find the missing pieces, so that the Wizard’s curse on the city can be removed. The labyrinth consists of more than 500 screens; it’s big! There are objects to be collected, including coloured keys which open portcullises of the same colour, candles to help you see where you’re going, and flags which increase your firepower, which will help you defeat the dragons. The graphics and sound effects are primitive and the controls are rather frustrating, as is the need to position yourself absolutely precisely when trying to bounce off the walls and on to a ledge lower down.
The Z-ray particle destroyer gun, which is able to destroy entire planets, has been stolen from its location in a secret laboratory and divided into six pieces. Herobotix the droid has entered the alien ship where the pieces are now hidden, and must find and reassemble them. The ship is massive, although it has a network of teleporters to jump to different parts. There are also computers which can switch off the conveyor belts for a while or show a small section of the ship on a map, and switches which turn off force fields – and touching them results in instant death. The graphics are rather average, and while the gameplay is reasonably good, you won’t enjoy it much unless you’re willing to make a map of the ship.
(Interceptor Software, 1984)
Karn has been ravaged by evil, and four of its mightiest citizens – Beren the king, Istar the wizard, Haldir the elf-lord, and Khadim the dwarf, known as the Heroes of Karn – are trapped under four different spells. Only a fearless adventurer such as you can set them free. The atmosphere of this adventure is complemented by the awesome graphics that are shown when you enter a new location, and it’s easy to get into the game, although it becomes harder after you’ve rescued Beren. However, the limited vocabulary and primitive parser ruin what is otherwise a fine adventure.
(US Gold, 1988)
Reviewed by John Beckett
Closely based on characters and events from the Dragonlance book Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the aim of this game is to take your party of eight brave warriors deep into the ruins of the temple of Xak Tsaroth and retrieve the Disks of Mishakal from the huge dragon guarding them, thus saving the world or something. The storyline is a bit lame, but the graphics make up for that; the characters and monsters move fluidly and there is a lot of detail in the backgrounds. Also, the loading screens of the game’s warriors are pretty nice too. Alas, the sound effects aren’t on the same level, and also the game is too hard; when you first play, all eight of your characters will be dead before they know what hit them – which is a shame, because the game has got potential.
See also: Dragons of Flame.
(Defecto Digital, 2016)
Reviewed by Missas
Take control of Fry from the cartoon Futurama, who has to try to save various cartoon characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel Comics and The Simpsons in this simple platform game. The graphics are in Mode 0 and they are good and clear. Bebop and Rocksteady as well as the other enemy sprites are clearly depicted and nicely drawn. Unfortunately there is no in-game music but there are some sound effects. The gameplay is simple; grab the crystals, avoid the bad guys and set free the characters who are trapped on each screen. What particularly sparked my attention was the smooth animation. Overall, it’s a simple game that is addressed to lovers of old platform games (although other gamers should enjoy it too).
(Gremlin Graphics, 1991)
Morcar and his legions of Chaos have taken over the empire, but four men have undertaken the task of defeating him. You control the party – a barbarian, a dwarf, an elf and a wizard – as they attempt fourteen quests. In every room and corridor, there are things to be discovered; secret doors, hidden treasure, potions, monsters and traps. Many of the quests offer rewards for completing them successfully, which you can use to buy extra equipment for the later quests. It’s a classic role-playing game which is based on a board game of the same name, and the graphics and sound are very good (if you have 128K of memory, that is). The pace can be a bit slow, but there is a real urge to explore further, and when you’ve completed all the quests, there are ten more for you to try in HeroQuest: Return of the Witch Lord – but they’re much tougher!
(Bubble Bus, 1986)
Reviewed by Guillaume Chalard
A simple but funny game where you control a little character running on complicated structures. Two policemen try to catch you, so you must escape by climbing ladders and trapping them with glue. Though it seems simple, this game isn’t so easy because you must walk along every inch of the building to complete a level, so you have to find the best itinerary and avoid dead ends. Graphically it is basic, but this isn’t the most important aspect. The gameplay is good and there are hundreds of levels, but controlling your character is sometimes difficult because you must be exactly positioned in order to turn around or to climb a ladder.
(Blue Ribbon, 1989)
The popular quiz game Trivial Pursuit is recreated in an inferior manner. Between two and four players roll dice and move counters around a board answering questions from four categories – science, sport, history and geography, and arts and entertainment. Answer enough questions correctly in each category and you must return to the central square of the board to win the game. The graphics and presentation are very basic, and I found most of the questions to be quite easy – and it doesn’t help that there are no additional question packs, so you’ll find them being repeated often. (The answer to the question in the screenshot is “1805”, by the way.)