Another Sunday means another episode of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, the (hopefully) weekly series where I play through all of the games listed in the book - 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. If I played the game before, then I will share my memory of the experience. If I haven't played the game before, then I find an online version or an emulator and I play the game (for at least 30 minutes). This is a book every gamer should have in their library, and if you're interested in purchasing it, you can find it here.

Last week I played Bank Panic, an old arcade shooter that tests your reflexes. If you played Hogan's Alley on the NES, you're familiar with the concept. Just imagine you're a sheriff in the Wild West protecting banks from bandits, and there you have Bank Panic. I hadn't played it before, so I found a place to play it online and was able to mark it off my list. What do I have in store for this week's episode? Something I've played before or not? Let's find out. This week features...


H.E.R.O. (an acronym standing for Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operation) is a single-player video game published by Activision. First developed for the Atari 2600 and released in March 1984, the game was ported to many of the home computers and gaming consoles of that era. In the game, the player uses a helicopter backpack and other tools to rescue victims trapped deep in a mine.

The player assumes control of Roderick Hero (sometimes styled as "R. Hero", a play on "our hero"), a one-man rescue team. Miners working in Mount Leone are trapped, and it's up to Roderick to reach them. The player is equipped with a backpack-mounted helicopter unit, which allows him to hover and fly, along with a helmet-mounted laser and a limited supply of dynamite. Each level consists of a maze of mine shafts that Roderick must safely navigate in order to reach the miner trapped at the bottom. The backpack has a limited amount of power, so the player must reach the miner before the power supply is exhausted. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

I feel like I've played this game before on the Atari 2600, but I couldn't say with absolute certainty so I found a place to play it online just to be sure. If you're interested, you can find it here. It took a little tinkering to finally get it working, but I finally got it, and dare I say, had fun with the game. Besides all the critters hanging out in the caves (like spiders and snakes) you have to conserve your fuel so you don't run out before you find the missing miners. You also have to be careful not to blow yourself up after you set some dynamite - which I found out the hard way.

The game was ported over and available on a number of different platforms. If I did play it I'm guessing it was on the Atari 2600. This website does a great job showing off the box art and screen shots from the various versions. It also does a great job relaying the history of the game and summarizing the story.

Whether I've played the game before or not, I've played it again now and can definitely understand why it was included in 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. It's a great little game and for its time, I'm sure it offered gamers an amazing amount of fun.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this week's episode is the fact it made me aware of the Activision Patches initiative.

Activision, the first 3rd party videogame publisher, operated a fantstic marketing program in the 80's to promote the sale of their software for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Colecovision and the Mattel Intellivision. To obtain any of the coveted Activision patches, a player would need to play a particular game, reach a pre-determined score, and mail a photograph prooving the accomplishment to Activision. Weeks later the Activision patch would arrive in your mailbox compliments of Activision, accompanied by a nice letter from the company congratulating you on your game-playing skills and welcoming you to the club.(SOURCE: Activision Patches)

Apparently H.E.R.O. was included in this deal, and if you scored 75,000 you could send off for a patch. How cool is that? Surprised I never heard of this before, especially since I grew up gaming in the height of this program. I wish we still had stuff like this. Oh well, this was a great week for this feature and I get to mark another game off of my list. I'm looking forward to see what's coming next week.

Until then, hope you had a wonderful weekend.


Episode 60 (here)

Episode 61 (here)

Episode 62 (here)

Episode 63 (here)

Episode 64 (here)

Episode 65 (here)

Episode 66 (here)