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Hard Nova

DOS - 1990

Also available on: Amiga - Atari ST

Year 1990
Platform DOS
Released in France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, United States
Genre Action, Role-Playing (RPG)
Theme Cyberpunk / Dark Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi / Futuristic, Space Flight
Publisher Electronic Arts, Inc.
Developer Spaceport Malibu
Perspective Top-Down
Dosbox support Fully supported on 0.70
4.14 / 5 - 29 votes

Description of Hard Nova

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Hard Nova is an overlooked epic sci-fi RPG that is a follow-up of sorts to the excellent Sentinel Worlds.

Every aspect of the game is a vast improvement over its predecessor, the most important one being even more freedom: you are no longer a Federation officer but a free-wheeling mercenary (either male or female) who takes on increasingly difficult missions for fun and profit. The wide variety of gameplay styles that made Sentinel Worlds a classic is even more distinctive in Hard Nova: the moving dots that represent NPCs in the overhead exploration view of Sentinel Worlds has been replaced with distinct characters (although they still look somewhat like bigger dots), each with his or her own portrait that pops up with you strike a conversation. The static topological map of planets (from which you select landing site) is gone: you now pilot your spacecraft over a planet's surface from a neat isometric 3D view, which requires you to pay attention to obstacles such as tall mountains, as well as collision with other ships.

While Hard Nova retains all the strengths of its predecessor and features numerous improvements, it also unfortunately retains most weaknesses, some of which are amplified. The worst offender of these is the fact that you cannot dismiss a character that you added to your party. In Sentinel Worlds, this limitation made sense, as you were commanding a crew of loyal space police. In Hard Nova, however, you hire fellow mercenaries to the team, only to find out later that they really exist to help you in one mission and have little use otherwise. Since you cannot dismiss anyone, this means that you must decide carefully on what characters are to be developed in which skills. Fortunately, all characters can gain experience points in many ways, especially in ground missions, so that eventually even the most inept party member can prove indispensable in the later stages of the game.

With interesting varieties of gameplay, colorful characters, and interesting missions and items to find and use, Hard Nova is in many ways a better game than the already excellent Sentinel Worlds. A must-play for all sci-fi fans!

Review By HOTUD

External links

Comments and reviews

smoke_th 2023-01-27 -2 points

Deservedly overlooked. Game's hot garbage. Controls are way too clunky.

I do like some of the dialog but when it suppose to be a hard-boiled space rpg where you have gun store and equipment store on every planet - combat suppose to be up to snuff. It isn't. It's absolutely godawful.

Your movement is grid based but in realtime, and chopp at that. Firing at enemies revolves around first selecting the target. Not directly mind you - you have to keep hitting rmb/space to select target and then you just spam 5 or click on yourself to shoot the target. And in space it's even worse where you get swarmed immediately. There is no pacing to combat at all. Just mad "shoot everything before it shoots you" mechanic.

Navigation is just as bad. Hovercraft portion doesn't have overmap, just radar. Which means if you want to do go anywhere you essentially have to liftoff back to the orbiting ship and then drop your hovercraft planetside again. And in space - there is no overmap either. So you must memorize where you been and where stargates lead to.

Overall - game is too damn ambitious for it's own authors' incompetence.

Atova 2022-04-30 1 point

Really good game but needs the manual. The manual is actually really good and explains a lot of the mechanics in the game along with controls =)

larry 2021-12-05 2 points

love that "space trading games" of DOS/AMIGA era. they blend adventure+rpg+simulation+strategy elements in various ways. that gives them a true deepness and provides a real experience.

KC 2019-11-02 -12 points DOS version

A truly stupid game. The controls are totally lame. A manual might help, but not supplied here. F-keys? I hope you got them all memorized without having to look at them individually. I honestly do not get you "Great Game!" people. If you like this game, try a coloring book.

Peregrino 2019-08-03 11 points

Some tips for this game:

- If you run the PC version trough DOSBOX and want to play with sound, run the game typing "merc hms", instead of "hardnova".
- The reviewer complains that you can't dismiss a character. Which is true, but you don't need to dismiss characters as there is no limit to the amount of people you can have in your crew. If you have more than six characters, just press "X" on the crew configuration view to switch page and see the remaining crew members.
- Only the crewmen appointed to Ship Positions will earn experience from space combat: Pilot, Navigator, Gunner, Engineer and Tech. Nova/Stark will win experience from space combat even when unassigned, as (s)he is the Ship Commander (you can assign her/him to other additional positions and will carry the duties for any unappointed positions). The Hover Gunner will not earn experience from space combat, it will only earn experience from destroying hover ships in the planet surface.
- You want to give your two companions in the Ground Squad positions in the Ship also, so they can benefit from space combat experience farming and don't fall behind Nova/Stark in levels.
- When developing characters, first raise Aptitude at maximum. You will need three or four levels to achieve Aptitude 20, but at 20 itl gives you 7 skills per level. Your land squad will earn as much as 25-30 levels by the endgame (if you appoint them also to ship positions), those appointed only to space combat will make about 15-20 levels (it's very easy to farm px from space combat once you have developed your crew).
- Once your characters have 20 aptitude and get 7 skills per level, their initial stats doesn't matters that much, just pick for development the ones whose names and portraits you like more.
- A'Kri is a compulsory choice for B-Nav position. He is the sole navigator you can get in the game, and he isn't good for anything else. So remove him out of your land squad as soon as you get to your ship.
- At the start of the Game you can recruit Ace in Malibu and Cerallon on Tikorr. Ace starts as a good gunner for your ship, and Cerallon can improve your ship programs by two or three ranks when you recruit her, wich will give you an edge early on in space combat and will let you farm px in space.
- Get a smuggling deal in the dock of Mastassini, preferably the one for Ciberan. You will get fired a lot in route to the coordinates, but do not worry, the 30.000 credits for the mission are more than enough to repair the damage taken. To make the most from the vogage, buy also as many weapons and clips as you can carry (both in characters and in the pool) at the Starkiller HQ in Holbrook, then shell them in Varan, the planet next to Ciberan. Two or three runs like this will solve all your monetary problems for the whole game.
- After you accomplish the Ciberan Tanker mission, you can get Rogers Amaro, a great fighter with a very soild amount of hit points, who also comes with very needed engineer skills. You may want to replace Ace or Cerallon with him for your land squad. Your boss also assigns Janai to you. She has good space-comm skill, but that skill is useless. If you want to use her in your crew, then teach her Ship Evasion and let her take over as Pilot from Nova/Stark.
- The next recuit will be Leod, your boss assigns him to you after killing general Camede Rodgen. He comes with some Ship Evasion skill and can take over as a Pilot if you have not developed Janai for that position.
- Leod is the last potentially usefull character you get. Galejay, Waldo, Dennar and Skreed come too late, at a point in which their skills will be overshadowed by the developed characters in your crew. They are useful only as replacement characters if you get any of your crew killed and feel like a hardcore gamer who doesn't savescumm. A.L.I.C.E is only useful as a way enter stealth mode as a robot, but that feature, like dracator stealth mode, is bugged, at least in the PC version for download here.
- If at any point in the game you feel overwhelmed by enemy fire on land missions, just farm experience though space combat. There are three good places for it: Holbrook (spawns squardons of Delta Coro fighters), Ariel and Ciberan (spawns squadrons of Ariel warships).

KC 2018-08-30 1 point DOS version

Seems hard to understand what to do or how to do it without a manual or something to get you started. I tried just random "missions?" and ended up flying around space with no clue as to what the hell is going on. I don't get all the hype.

Jack 2018-05-22 3 points DOS version

Great game, a bit of a forgotten gem.
The IBM version is very good for a 1990 game, much better than the Amiga and ST versions.
The Roland sound is quite beautiful and this game actually uses VGA, around 180 colors on screen.

Gation 2009-07-08 1 point DOS version

A simple and easy to play game. The gameplay is varied from flying you spaceship, to hovercraft and landing teams.
The game can be a bit buggy, but runs fine in dosbox. Try it you should be able to finish it in a couple of days. Oh.. and dont forget a pen and paper to write down the drop coordinates.

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DOS Version

DownloadEnglish version 681 KB DownloadSpanish; Castilian version 672 KB ManualEnglish version 9 MB

Game Extras

Various files to help you run Hard Nova, apply patches, fixes, maps or miscellaneous utilities.

CluebookEnglish version 38 MB MapEnglish version 1 MB RefcardEnglish version 2 MB

Amiga ROM

Game Extras

Various files to help you run Hard Nova, apply patches, fixes, maps or miscellaneous utilities.

RefcardEnglish version 1 MB

Atari ST ROM

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