Believe it or not, but Hoog is actually a shareware game released in 1994 by MP Lord, yes he of Droid fame. It's an incredible platformer, quite similar in looks to Creatures but with more of a puzzle theme including elements that remind me of games like Sleepwalker, Lemmings, and the like. Our objective is simple - rescue baby Hoogs which are trapped inside cages and are desperately looking to be freed. However, these little kiddies are daft and, once released, will wonder off into their dangerous new world and die! So it's your job to help guide them to safety.
Hoog can walk, jump and chuck bombs but he's only a short fella and cannot do much without the help of helium-filled balloons to cover the landscape and reach those inaccessible areas. Various mechanics will aid our odd looking hero; look out for springs to bounce high into the air and our big Hoogie can even activate switches to unlock hidden platforms. There are more, such as gateways that can transport him long distances in the blink of an eye.
Playing this cute platformer requires an enormous level of strategical thought; the babies aren't the brightest and need to be guided every step of the way. It would be disastrous if you was to free one without first clearing its path from monsters. Don't forget to have a balloon ready to help navigate the dangerous waters or raging flames. Each level becomes progressively harder and complex with numerous hazards and usually more than the one caged baby. Always explore before you even think of freeing any Hoogs - unless you enjoy watching them suffer!
Visually, this is one of the most impressive games I have ever played and it's now you should stop and remember that Hoog isn't commercial but shareware! The graphics are truly outstanding and some of the best I have ever seen with such astounding colours, parallax scrolling and beautifully drawn sprites. There are plenty of special effects like gorgeous exploding stars and I also love the neat little touches - like Hoog smiling as he jumps or how he wiggles his bum when using balloons! (and you should forget emulation because Hoog looks infinitely better on a real Atari ST)
Once again, MP Lord has released a wonderful game and one which humiliates some of the commercial companies who rushed through sloppy conversions!! This just proves what the Atari ST is capable of - a magnificent example of great coding. It's not easy but is utterly superb and will keep you occupied for many hours with its humorously challenging gameplay. Hoog is one of my favourite #homebrew games and I highly recommend it!!