Hero’s Heart for DOS

Hero's HeartHero’s Heart is a puzzle game with elements similar to Boulder Dash and perhaps a little of Chips Challenge. It was made by Everett Kaser back in 1992, he is a one-man game company that made many DOS shareware games back in the day and is in fact still making new games. You can can check out his newer work on his website: http://www.kaser.com.

InstructionsLike most of his old games, Hero’s Heart uses EGA graphics in high resolution mode (640×350). This was common practise for one-man shareware developers even after most other game developers had moved onto using VGA. I suspect this is because old machines with EGA only cards were common and for puzzle games such as these the higher resolution afforded more game space without having to do the difficult coding for scrolling. Despite the limitations of only 16 colours in a EGA mode, the sprites and levels are quite pleasing to the eye. There is only a little animation, but what is there works quite well.

Come to think of it, this is something about most old DOS games that I do find rather nice. Looking over my collection of screen shots here in my media library I can’t help but note how colourful pretty much all old DOS games are. There are a few exceptions of course, but largely most are exceptionally colourful and nice to look at, even those with worse graphics. EGA graphics in particular, perhaps because of its limitations, seems to produce some of the more colourful scenes. Maybe it’s nostalgia in me talking.

All doneHero’s Heart features PC speaker sound, but it isn’t turned on by default. If you click the setup button there are options for turning the sound effects on and setting music for the theme and end of level. I’d suggest you should only turn on the basic sound effects as they are ok, but the musical options are fairly basic renditions of classical tunes that don’t translate well to PC speaker.

CreepersThe game-play is nice and relaxed as it is turn based. Every time you move, all other objects also get a chance to move. If you happen to trigger something like a falling boulder or arrow, quick reflexes won’t get you out of the way. The puzzle element is sort of like Boulder Dash and Chips Challenge, there are objects to collect (in this case hearts) and hazards to avoid. Boulders fall like those in Boulder Dash, but only when triggered by a nearby moving object. Balloons behave similarly only going up instead of down. Arrows point in any direction but otherwise behave the same.

Some parts of the puzzle are less hazardous, but still require thought. When moving onto or pushing something onto ice it can only move in a straight line until it hits something. Fire can’t be crossed without using an extinguisher to put it out first. Lumps of earth can also be pushed to put out fires, but are also useful to create land bridges over water, for longer stretches of water a raft is useful for crossing. Some of these are similar to elements found in Chips Challenge.

Ice islandWhilst the puzzles incorporate features similar to Boulder Dash and Chips Challenge, there are a few unique features such as bridges that roll out and hearts that require a specific enemy to walk into before you can pick them up. Also the construction of the puzzles is very different, the boulders aren’t the primary obstacle and most areas are open to movement for the player and hazards alike. The puzzles are all one screen in size, and so don’t feel like mazes which you could get lost in. So this really does feel different despite the similarities.

Water, bridges and rafts.So far the game has been challenging, but not frustrating, primarily because you can attempt any level as often as you like with no penalty. If you really get stuck you can always skip a level as you can select any puzzle in the set to solve. I’ve gotten about half way through the shareware levels and have frankly gotten stuck, but have at least enjoyed the journey to getting there. If you really enjoy puzzles you should give this one a go.

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