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So begins Herz, an arcade game with a history as apocryphal as it is true. You have been chosen, but why, and for what? 

It is said that this game has never been successfully ported to another console or operating system; that something in the code resists being copied. And yet, it has also been noted that this game takes on qualities of other games around it. Herz is possibly in flux, constantly seeking stability at the same time as rejecting it. 

Perhaps this why people have reported the game is both easy to win and yet almost impossible to complete. That its instructions are never clear but reward experimentation. How it causes a form of destabilization in the player by refusing to end and yet sometimes ending abruptly, or by occasionally drowning information under a wave of noise and static.

What is clear, is that Herz typically involves destroying prisms/prisons (both words have been used) to release "seeles", which must be collected. These become a kind of 'currency' that allows the player to unleash a "superweapon", which is needed to destroy some form of "central chaos" - that itself must be 'conjured' into being by succeeding at the game, or by crossing some form of threshold.

However, there are also "ensetzt" waiting to be released, and they are said to mercilessly pursue the player, devouring any collected seeles. There are many types of failure in Herz, and all are fast and common. And yet, not necessarily final.

Reports differ on the actual controls, but the most common words used are "right", "left", "space" and "combine" (one assumes this refers to button sequences). Again, here experimentation is rewarded, as is the idea that certain buttons allow the player to 'rebirth' and/or increase certain statistics. This harkens back to many similar stories about various arcade games (or at least the cabinets they were housed in) that rewarded secret button combinations: extra lives, a higher score, etc.

Last of all, there are also many stories of a second game, or perhaps alternate part, hidden within Herz; stories of becoming something else.  For a game that purposefully obfuscates its intent, it is surprisingly clear as to the process involved in reaching the second part: survive, and conquer chaos.

By far the easiest information we can gather from Herz is why it's considered 'forgotten'. Simply put, it was but one of many clones of far more popular arcade space shooters released into arcades in the eighties. Perhaps the only reason it occasionally reappears is because someone feels compelled to complete it, both in a coding sense and as a player. As the game reminds us:


This excerpt taken from 'A History of Forgotten Popular Culture' by Norman Strauss.


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

Herz.exe 19 MB

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