You're using an image counter for the hearts, right? Why not put a second image counter of empty heart shells beneath the health, set to the max hearts value?
Hmm... looking at MMF2, I can't seem to figure out what they did with the ability to make a counter act like the default lives object, like a tally of images. Weird. So maybe a lives object for the current health, and a lives object for the empty heart frames would be a quick implementation, unless you want to hardcode it yourself.
"Omg. Where did they get the idea to not use army guys? Are they taking drugs?" --Tim Schafer on originality in videogames
andy - how do you recommend using an active to show max and an active to show current. youd need many frames for the changing max and current hearts. i've got an example almost complete, and commented, that works perfectly so far, with fastloop, just need to get rid of a flicker problem.
theres a few problems with that. the max hearts is always displayed. in zelda the max on screen changes just like the current hearts. when you collect 4 heart peices a new heart container appears. you can fix it by doing the same to the max as you did to the current. also its limited to 32 directions meaning 31 hearts (0 to 31 = 32 directions) and 32 heart containers (1 to 32 = 32 directions). this is a problem when in zelda you can have half and even a fourth of a heart filled.
with the fast loop one and using actives you can have unlimited hearts/containers with half and fourth hearts. its much more flexible as well. im still cleaning up the flicker tho.
only drawback is that it will use up actives that are limited in tgf.