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In 1962 Alan Kotok and Bob Saunders built and wired in a detached control device for the game Spacewar. This device has been called the earliest gamepad.
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You are Andy, a Dennis the Menace wannabe whose greatest fear is the dark. After an eclipse of the sun whisks away your beloved dog, Whiskey, you quickly fly off into another dimension in a homemade spaceship you built. Yes, it is far-fetched, and yes, it makes little sense. But since most of us don't play platform games for good stories, this is somewhat forgivable. Armed with a trusty laser gun, you must blast screen after screen of unspeakable horrors to find your dog.

While it sounds simple, Heart of Darkness is much, much more difficult than OOTW. Even side-scroller veterans will find themselves dying more than usual after only a few minutes of play. This is a game that requires patience, flawless reflexes, and lots of trial and error to complete. Although you have virtually unlimited lives, you will have to start over either at the beginning of the level or certain "restarting points" when you die. These points are few and far between, and there is no telling where you will restart. This leads to hours of backtracking and grinding teeth, and you may be too frustrated to play it through to the ending.

Fortunately, Andy has the ability to run, double-jump, and shoot his way through multiple screens, and the action is more thought-out than other platformers. Rather than mindlessly jumping for coins or power-ups, this is a true action adventure, and survival relies on wit as well as reflexes. Light and shadow, along with subtle audio cues, play major roles in the game, as seemingly innocent reflections come to life. Though the enemies are cartoony, several of them are quite disturbing, and this probably isn't the best game to give your kids. After all, Andy gets beaten, snapped in two, swallowed whole, torn apart, immolated, and crushed in a variety of grisly fashions.


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