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Heartland 2000 is,  as  Mr Ni!  presents  it,  an  adaption  of  the  original
Heartland game by  Tony Greenwood (Stosser software),  and  the main change is
that it  is now  running in one  VBL on  all Atari  compatible  machines. That
"2000" version  was originally  presented  at the  STNICCC 2000 but the public
release happened in april 2002 for some reasons.

Basically, Heartland 2000  is a platforms game,  featuring  an egg-shaped hero
exploring a  large level.  The goal is  to find  the whole set  of Hearts of a
card game  without being killed.  Some of those cards  are hidden behind doors
that teleport  you to another  part of the level.  No explanation  is actually
given either in the  game itself or  in the documentation,  so I had to figure
out by myself what to do at the beginning...

You can toggle between the two heros, namely Sizzy and Sazzy (probably Dizzy's
illegitimate offsprings),  by pressing the 'C' key, but the only difference is
their shoes and gloves color.  There are  no baddies at all,  so your  enemies
are  mostly  spikes here  or there.  But in case you  get wounded,  there is a
limited amount of health potions scattered over the game area.

Technically  speaking,  the game  is good.  The multidirectional  scrolling is
smooth (50 fps on 8 MHz machines), the level size is more than respectable and
Sizzy/Sazzy  is moving fast  and reacts promptly to  joystick orders.  It even
made me think about Sonic on certain parts as the action can be frantic!  That
achievement is  even more impressive  considering  the game was coded  in STOS
Basic.  At least  the original  version  was,  and  I suppose  Mr Ni! did  not
re-coded everything  in another language...  The graphics are simple but clear
and colorful, more frames for the animation  of the sprite would not have hurt

On STE (and probably Falcon)  you can hear  a digitised music,  made of a very
short sample warping all the time, but strangely it does not sound repetitive,
maybe because  it's a really basic melody.  I even let the sound on during the
time I played, although usually game musics quickly annoy me. On STF, the game
comes with a soundchip tune, but once again it's a nice one. Note that you can
switch from DMA music to YM music if you have a STE.

I eventually got an archive of the original Heartland game on the internet. It
is really similar  to the new version,  except the technical  improvements and
some additionnal feature  like the keyboard support, which is really sensible,
and  the jaguar pad  support,  which is  more trivial.  One thing  is annoying
though. The 1996's Heartland had a menu  that allowed you  to load/save a game
at  any moment,  and it  seems this feature  has just  disappeared  in the new
version. And everyone knows how annoying it is  to have to play the same level
again and again, especially in a game with such big levels.

To conclude,  Heartland 2000  is technically a good platformer considering the
ST limits,  but the lack  of badies  and paradoxically the size  of the levels
make the game a bit boring.  Basically what you have to do is exploring a huge
level to find the lost cards,  and that can be a long task : I spent more than
half an hour on the first level without being able to finish it. Consequently
the disappearance  of the saving feature  is really  a big loss,  that  50 fps
animation does not counterbalance in my opinion.



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