Retail Price: £9.95
Author: Odin Computer Graphics
For thousands of years a fierce battle has been fought between the forces of good and evil. During this war, the people of the Nether World were transported from their own dimension and imprisoned inside The Book, where the conflict with the evil demon Midas and his followers rages.
The Book, in which the people of the Nether World have been trapped, was sent into our dimension arriving on Earth for safe keeping until Midas is defeated. The tome has been passed down through the generations until, one day, it comes into your hands. Being an inquisitive sort of person you sit down for a good read. As your eyes skim the pages, drowsiness sets in. Unable to stay awake, you stumble to bed, fall into a deep sleep and start to dream of many strange things.
A lady dressed in white begs for help in rescuing her people, trapped in the lands contained in the weird dimension inside The Book. She tells you that the final chapter of The Book has been torn out and its six pages scattered through the lands, mixed up with six Dark Pages created by the forces of evil. The people from the Nether World can only be returned to their own dimension once The Book is whole again - the missing pages must be found and replaced. The six Dark Pages must also be destroyed to put paid to the powers of Midas once and for all.
The Lady in White transports you, bed and all, into the Heartland, and the mission to free the oppressed people of the Nether World begins. Although the reign of the evil Midas is on the wane, some of his fanatical followers still roam the Heartland and do their best to hinder progress.
Movement through Heartland is achieved by scampering Mad-Hatter style from screen to screen, being careful to avoid the holes in the ground - a fall means instant death. Providing the central character is facing left or right, he can leap in the air to catch floating objects. Doorways and lifts link screens and can be used by going 'into' or 'out of' the screen. The bed permits travel between the lands that make up Heartland, once pages of The Book have been collected.
On the quest for The Book and its elusive pages it is wise to collect a weapon or two along the way. Contact with any of the nasties or their weapons saps strength, and relying on acrobatic skills to stay alive isn't very clever. Weapons or objects are collected by jumping through them, whereupon they are added to the inventory in the status area at the top of the screen. The top hat is the least powerful weapon - three hits are needed to eliminate an enemy, but an unlimited number of throws is available. A knife is good for nineteen stabs, with most baddies dieing after two hits; the flaming power-ball turns even the stubbornest baddie into dust and old bones with a single hit, but only lasts for nine shots.
The evil minions of Midas do their best to sap strength - and as they remove your life force, Midas gains energy and his grinning countenance grows in the inventory. Wizards fire lightning bolts of energy and can be a right nuisance. Goouches refuse to stay dead for very long, even after they've been reduced to bones on the floor, and rise up out of their remains to seek vengeance. Spacemen just hang around being irritating until they are killed. Apart from evil minions, spells float around, some nice, some nasty. The large star spell homes in, saps energy and cannot be destroyed. Running away is a good move... Touching a small star spell confers temporary invincibility, while bubble clusters build up strength levels a little.
The passage of time in Heartland is shown by two revolving hourgiasses, one on either side of the status area. The glass on the left revolves every couple of seconds, while the right hand hourglass takes about eight minutes to complete a revolution. Whenever you travel to another land the hourgiasses reset, but tarrying longer than eight minutes in one land causes the Lady in White to run out of power. If the hourglass on the right is allowed to complete a revolution, it's game over.
First on the list of things to do has to be 'find a weapon' so that the score can be evened a little; then it's time to search out The Book and begin hunting for pages. To make life that little bit easier, The Book flashes when a missing page is in the vicinity - but pages still have to be found and identified. Only the Good pages must be added to The Book: the Bad pages have to be destroyed. Let's hope the Lady in White can hang on in there and keep you in this strange dimension until the task is completed.
Control keys: top row to fire, Q-P into screen or jump when facing left or right, A-L out of screen, alternate keys on the bottom row left/right
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: a bit awkward
Use of colour: no clashes, a bit sparsely used
Graphics: excellent animation
Sound: spot effects
Skill levels: one
Heartland in a way resembles the film, The Never Ending Story as the plot is based around a book. As with all the other Odin games this is very playable and immensely compelling. The graphics seem to be a little more impressive than those on their last release: there is plenty of colour and the animation of all the characters is superb. The sound is also excellent wtth lots of spot effects during the game and a very jolly tune on the title screen. I strongly recommend this one as it is a very good place of 'finished' software.
The Spectrum has had its fair share of arcade/adventures, some good some bad, but we Spectrum owners have come to expect the best from Odin. Heartland is definitely up to scratch. The graphics are superb, the tune at the beginning suits the game perfectly and the addictiveness scores very high. When the game first loaded up I was sure that I was in for something special - the title screen is superbly drawn, and like the rest of the game includes lots of colour and few attribute problems. The whole look of the game is very smart, it's beautifully animated and very involving. Your average arcade adventurer will love it, but your old shoot em up fanatic may find it a bit boring after the effect of the graphics has worn off.
This is a very nice game. The graphics are fabulous, and the animation is really rather neat. The things like wizards and Goouches (mis-spelt cricket players?) are great, and the game itself is very attractively designed. Playability-wise, Heartland is very good indeed, and it's also addictive. Lots of things combine to make this one of the better games on the Spectrum. Another credible release from the people who brought you Nodes, Arc, and Robin O' The Wood.
As the man said, if you want to get ahead, get a hat. And if you want to get someone else's head, get a hat like the one in Heartland. Remember how John Steed used to separate heads from bods with his steel-rimmed bowler? Our jaunty hero does a similar turn with his topper. Three hits with the hat and the enemy disintegrates into a pile of bones. Three hits mind you. That's why it's called a hat trick. Boom, boom!
If you feel a bit of a div doing someone a nasty with your hat, you can fortunately find other weapons on your travels. Swords and fireballs f'rinstance. And you only need two strikes with the sword and one with the fireball to reduce the opposition to a skeletal state.
But what, you cry, is the purpose of all this aggro? A book. A big book, mind, that tells the tale of Heartland and the struggle between good and evil (what a surprise) that took place there. Trouble is, the last six pages are missing - but you just try telling that to the lending library. Much easier to go off like a half-cock Hancock in search of the missing leaves. And as this is a tale of mystery and some imagination, there are two possible endings to the tome. The white pages you'll collect provide the Mills and Boon finale; the black ones must be wiped out with whatever Tippex substitute you happen to have on you.
Heartland has Odin written all over it - on the inlay card, on the cassette and, you guessed it, on the graphics and gameplay. Robin O 'Yesod characters get up to all sorts of Arc Of The Wood things. And the game will get you in the same way. It's really a very simple shoot 'em up in a very complex maze. As soon as you've mastered the trick of staying alive, start mapping. Of course, staying alive after you've lost your way on your newly drawn map is much more tricky - your time on each of the levels is limited and you have to make your way back to your bedmobile (I don't write 'em, just review 'em) to travel onto the next section.
Each of the levels has a different scenic theme but they all share the same cutesy graphics. From potted palms on the country estate, you'll move through post-modernist pipes and pulleys to Lilliput Lane country. It's all so twee it makes the Care Bears look like a bunch of grizzlies. The only redeeming feature is the way some of the wizards come at you with a rather delightful gobbing action. Splat. Someone's bound to tell me it's a mage's spell not his spittle but what the heck, we all need illusions.
When the nasties shuffle past you, your energy wanes and the face of the baddest hat of 'em all begins to appear at the top of the screen. As he starts to flash, you must be sharp and dash about like a solid Aero in search of bubbles. Fail and your shelf-life will be shortened to a matter of seconds. For those with a suicidal streak, you can also cop it by taking a pot shot at the book (not much point in racing round after the last six pages if you've just lost the first six hundred) or by falling down a hole - and there are more of those than in a packet of Polos. You float down to oblivion leaving only your topper on show.
Okay, I've got this far and I've resisted saying it but it's no good, I can't hold out much longer. I take my hat off to Heartland. Phew, that's better. And it's nearly true. It won't knock your sockets off but it's a fine game that lets you ease yourself into it until you're ready to take on the real challenge. Take it away Fred, I'm putting on my top hat....
Joysticks: Kempston, Interface 2
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
In the end, imagination is what counts. Heartland is, in a certain way, a simple game - yet it's also highly original.
Trying to compile a list of hints and tips for it proved rather difficult because there isn't much to say! Sometimes that would be a compliment but Heartland is so beautifully designed, so pleasingly arranged and so imaginative that it is only when you stop to reflect upon it that you realise there is very little to the plot.
The Heartland scenario is pitched somewhere between The Neverending Story and Peter Pan but imagination lifts it well above the average pixie pot-boiler. The key to the game is a book, a book from another world in which is told the story of Heartland, an unfinished tale of a battle between good and evil as represented by a demon called Midas. The book has arrived into our world, the world of real people who live in places like Dagenham and Milton Keynes, and you find it in your attic. Having got tired of the Neverending Story you start to read the book and, becoming sleepy start to dream of strange people and places (nobody said that magical books are necessarily an enthralling read). Anyway to cut a longish mythological fable short, you get nominated to collect the last pages of the book, in which the fate of Heartland is revealed.
This involves collecting missing pages. But beware, only keep the light pages because the dark pages are evil, probably difficult to read, and say that Heartland lost the war.
There are half a dozen different levels to this game, each with its own style of background graphics. On each, somewhere, a page of the book is lurking, finding it is the goal and staying alive whilst looking for it the crux of the problem.
You're an odd sort of character, a sort of mini-magician with enormous top hat and somewhat less than totally macho walk - Rambo you ain't. Baddies include (on the first level) creeping punk magicians and, worst of all, groups of roving social workers who can only be temporarily destroyed (OK, I know they probably aren't really roving social workers, but they have loose shirts, a misshapen slouch, jazz beatnik type beards, side burns and look like they are wearing cut off denims of some sort - what else was I to think?) Avoid them anyway.
You arrive on each new level complete with four-poster bed. Finding the missing page requires you to search around the strange world you discover. On the first level it's all faintly surreal: elegant potted palms placed neatly on marble pillars and strange statues. A curious backdrop to fire-spitting (literally) magicians and social workers. Your energy is gradually depleted by each social worker you bump into and each spit that hits home. The current state of your energy is represented by a growing face, that of magus himself, which forms in the top of the screen. As you lose energy you can replenish it by catching bubbles that float through the air occasionally.
Of course, you're not defenceless. You may be able to grab one of the weapons that sometimes spin through the air: a top hat needs to be spun successfully three times at a baddie to destroy him temporarily. Swords and fireballs work in the same way except that they require only two hits and one hit each.
The tricky thing, as far as playing, is that your current weapon is automatically replaced by the next one you bump into - even if it is of lower power. So you have to be pretty careful about what you touch.
When, on each level, you arrive at the right location for the page the book, an icon at the top of the screen flashes. Now simply wait for it to flutter down from the top of the screen.
Even when you've got the page the hardest bit is yet to come. How do you find your way back to the bed, near the start, in order to be transported to the next level? A map of some kind is indicated, I fear.
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
Heartland continues the story-line which seems to run throughout nearly every fantasy and adventure game. A once peaceful land has been ravaged by war. It's the old story of good versus evil. What makes this particular idea so inventive is the way you become involved, and the way you can put things to rights. You come across a book which chronicles the war. As your read it, you become aware that it is far more important than a mere fairytale. But, as you near the final chapter... the pages are missing.
It is your task to enter a world which contains the pages, and collect the correct ending. Yes, another twist! There are two possible endings. If you finish the book so evil wins, terrible things will happen, and the Heartland will be sucked into a whirlpool of very frightening events indeed. You have to collect the Light pages. which contain the cheery ending to the story.
Essentially, the game is presented in the same manner as many other Spectrum programs. The Mikro-Gen series of Wally games springs to mind. Animation is flawless. You take the role of an odd-job style character, all togged up in a smart manservant's uniform, complete with top hat. As you walk around - hand holding onto your hat - the little guy will swing his arm and stride about most convincingly. Now, that hat is pretty useful, in fact. When assaulted by a member of the 'other lot' (who presumably want to see evil triumph) you can sling it toward them, to defend yourself.
The ugly problem of attribute clashes rears its head once more in Heartlands. Despite the fact that most of the colour use is quite simple, and safe, sometimes colour will get "washed out" of the background scenery when you jump over it.
The sound isn't all that good, so I'll tell you about the more interesting points which have been included.
When you have found the book, (nicely drawn) you can start hurting for pages. These drift down the screen - should you be lucky enough to find one - before bouncing off the bottom and floating back to the top. There is a wide variety of monsters that you have to avoid or destroy. Zombies, knights, wizards and even spacemen pop up in the appropriate area.
Once you have collected the pages, they will be assembled into the book. An egg-timer runs constantly at the top of the screen, to indicate how much, or how little, time you have left. There is also a large skull and crossbones to show how much energy you have left.
At the end of the game you will be told what percentage you have achieved, and how many pages you've collected.
Heartlands is really very good.
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