Heart Of Africa (Ariolasoft/Electronic Arts) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

Heart Of Africa
By Electronic Arts
Commodore 64

Published in Commodore User #40

Heart Of Africa

The year is 1890 and you stand in the port of Cairo. Somewhere in this mysterious dark continent lies the hidden tomb of an ancient pharaoh packed with treasure beyond belief.

You have been despatched on this noble quest by an equally mysterious Mr. Primm who stipulated this quest as the condition you must fulfil to gain his inheritance.

You must go alone and seek out the tomb and return within five years.

All you have to begin your search is supplies enough for ten weeks and £250.

Included with the game disk is a 20 page booklet in which you can find Mr. Primm's invaluable notes on Africa. These describe his journey across the continent and the natives he met.

Among the huts that form the port of Cairo you find buildings in which you can buy food supplies, weapons, ship passage to other major ports, useful equipment such as a machete to hack your way through the jungle, a canoe to travel by river (look out for waterfalls!), a map to help you find your way round and a shovel to dig up buried caches of previous explorers and curious novelties to trade with the natives.

When you're away from the civilised ports you're literally on your own.

Here your first priority must be survival as you hop from one native village to the next. If the natives are friendly, you can trade for more food and perhaps have an audience with the chief. Offer him the right present (bribe) then you may get a useful clue as to the whereabouts of some gold or copper or the tomb itself. Unfortunately, you may also earn yourself a spear in the back!

Primm's notes are an invaluable help when dealing with natives and give some clues to the nature of the Ugandi, Swahili, Lunda, Pygmy, Nubian and Zulu tribes as well as the others you're bound to come across. Also, a valued insight into the way the tribes talk since some refer to east as west (where the wind comes from) or even as left of North! If you don't know what they mean, you can't understand their clues.

As you travel uncharted territory your exploits are noted in your diary and earn you much needed cash when you return to a port. This is particularly useful, especially if you've just staggered back into port having abandoned your leaky canoe over the Victoria Falls, been robbed by the Bushmen and dying from a snake bite.

With enough funds you can get yourself patched up, re-equipped and back on the trail.

The screen display hardly reflects these heroic deeds as a miniature screen plots your movement and local surroundings. Besides this meagre display are your current totals of food supplies, money, gifts and what you've got in your hand.

Pressing the Fire button selects one of four icons that allow you to refer back to your diary (that plots areas discovered and clues you've got from native chiefs), check your bearings either in a town (find useful hints) or in the country, check how you are and where you are and pick and use objects (dig with shovel, climb mountains with rope and bribe chiefs with emeralds and gold or threaten them with a gun).

The chiefs are the key to the game as if bribed or threatened they reveal what little they know about the tomb and its location. Having walked and rowed the length and breadth of this massive continent I at last found some natives that sang songs of an ancient white god. They've promised to lead me to the tomb but first they insisted I stay for dinner...

Heart Of Africa is a fascinating game of exploration and survival that you must play unti you get a rumour of the tomb. Then you must follow the trail village by village as the rumours get stronger but always being on the lookout for danger, particular cannibals!

A worthy successor to Seven Cities Of Gold.

Tony Hetherington

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