The name of this game is wrong here in Atarimania. It's not "HERO", but "H.E.R.O.", as it's short for "Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operation", if I remember correctly. So it should be one of the the first "H"-games in the list.
Pretty much all H.E.R.O.-versions that I have played have a charm, atmosphere and a good and very similar playability. I could play any of them for fun without a problem.
The Atari 800 XL(etc.)-version is like an upgraded Atari 2600 version. What I like about these Atari versions is the large color palette expressions and the 'ripping' sound effects. That Atari noise wave is just something the SID can never give me.
This game is pretty simple, and it gets a bit repetitive in the long run, but it's always great, atmospheric fun, and it's 'different' to save these guys instead of always collecting or destroying stuff, like in so many games. (Though you do destroy things, but at least it's logical - you do it only so you can advance deeper in the cave, etc.)
The resolution is lower and the graphics style is simpler than on the C64 version, but the palette is bigger, and there are more 'flashing effects' that make the graphics in some ways more eye-pleasing.
The 'lazer'-sound is better on the C64, as well as the 'counting the remaining energy and bombs' sounds, but otherwise, this is like the optimal version of the game.
There's nothing wrong with the C64 version, it's charming, atmospheric, good-looking and has high-res graphics.
But there's just something that makes the Atari 8-bit version slightly better, perhaps a bit deeper atmosphere, together with the colors. And who could get enough of that wonderful explosion sound?
But this game is pretty much friggin' EXCELLENT fun in all platforms that I have tested, including real Atari 2600. So you can't really go wrong with H.E.R.O., no matter which version you want to play (perhaps excluding the Colecovision version..)
Like River Raid and some others, Activision really converted this game faithfully to multiple platforms, utilizing the strengths of those platforms a little bit (if not to the fullest).
I guess they didn't want to risk making the games too different, but to keep the 'core game' intact. I can understand that.
A great classic, that I love playing on the Atari 800 XL as well as the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600.
Is it possible to get bored with this game? In decades, that has not happened to me, yet. This game always feels fresh and playable to me for some reason.