Once Upon a Time…
Here’s something a little different from the retro enthusiasts over at Hamster, this week’s addition to the Arcade Archives release is UPL‘s high-fantasy shmup from the dawn of the 1990s: Black Heart, now available on PS4 and Switch.
Released to the arcade market in 1991, Black Heart is a relatively obscure release that attempted to marry the new wave of shmup titles with the increasingly popular Dungeons & Dragons fantasy aesthetic. Players control a brave warrior on a quest to rescue a spirited damsel from an evil sorcerer’s kingdom. Riding a mighty, fire-spewing dragon, the hero battles through eight incredibly tough stages in horizontally scrolling action. Along with waves of enemies and boss characters, the player must also contend with environmental hazards and obstacles.
You can check out the action in the video below, courtesy of YouTuber Retro Hawk.
Despite the cutesy visuals and attractive and unique fantasy vibe, Black Heart is a little cumbersome and clunky — mostly due to the huge hurt boxes on the player character and his surroundings. It all gets very difficult, very quickly, and not in a “challenging” way, but more in a “frustrating” way. Regardless, Black Heart is certainly a unique release and quite the oddity in the shmup Hall of Fame, worth taking a look at for genre completionists. This Arcade Archives release is the title’s first official home release.
Black Heart is available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, priced at around $8.