H.E.R.O. Logo

The Original

Back in 1984, Activision released the game H.E.R.O. by John van Ryzin for the Atari 2600. As the Atari 2600 had such limited hardware the game was tailored to its strengths and made full use of the machine. The game was good enough to be ported to various platforms and I played the C64 version in my youth.

The Conversion

In februari 2022 I started porting the game to the VIC-20. I wanted to attempt to make a smooth action game for the VIC-20 and I thought it would be possible to make a software sprite port since the original game was so simple. I initially aimed for a 24 KiB expanded machine but I ended up with a demanding 32 KiB expansion requirement.

The Game

Your mission is to rescue trapped miners from underground caves. There are 20 levels to play and you will be considered a professional hero after these 20 levels. For the real hardcore players, the game ends when you reach one million points.

The game exists in two diskette formats, but standard kernal loading is used so any Commodore DOS compatible loading device, like CMD HD or SD2IEC, should work if you copy the files inside the disk images.

The game has been made with compatibility in mind. It works on both PAL or NTSC machines. However, just like the original game, NTSC gameplay runs slightly faster. This way you can experience it the way it was played back in 1984.

The hero shooting laser on a spider
The hero flying in a cave


Play the game with a joystick. Pressing the STOP key pauses the game. Pressing STOP again resumes. During pause mode you can press Q to abort the current game and get back to demo mode. In the demo mode you can select a starting level using the F1 and F3 keys.

Summary of Rules

H.E.R.O. Gameplay Video