In its salad days, Activision had some of the top video game of the talent of the era under its roof. After a shift in organizational culture at Atari left several of its top designers feeling undervalued and underpaid, they famously went on to form Activision, which then created some of the most well remembered titles on the Atari 2600. One such beloved title is H.E.R.O., released in March of 1984 with several ports that followed.
H.E.R.O. stands for Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operation, and that’s the game’s plot in a nutshell. Designed by John Van Ryzin, players take on the role of Roderick Hero, a man with a backpack helicopter tasked with rescuing workers trapped in various mines on Mount Leone. Levels consist of maze-like mine shafts rife with cave dwelling creatures and dead ends. Equipped with a handful of dynamite and only limited energy used to navigate the helicopter unit, the objective is to reach the distressed miner unharmed before running out of said energy.
What we get is a fast-paced action game with intense replayability. Even with a shelf full of modern games behind me, I find myself going back to H.E.R.O. and having a hard time putting down the joystick. This is one that I would definitely recommend to players looking to explore games for the Atari 2600 or build a collection. But it also came out on a number of other systems including the Atari 5200, ColecoVision, and the Commodore 64. No matter how you play it, you’ll find yourself saying “Just one more game!”