|Source // Wikipedia|
I had absolutely no idea what Head Over Heels was going to be but when I saw it described as having similarities to Knight Lore, I knew I was in for a puzzling time - both in terms of getting my head around controlling a character from an isometric viewpoint, and of having any idea whatsoever of what I needed to do.
You control Headus Mouthion and Footus Underium, better known as Head and Heels, two spies from the planet Freedom on a mission to liberate a number of enslaved planets. I've got to say that that was a plot I was not expecting...
Head and Heels have different abilities and will need to work together to complete their tasks. How many of those tasks will I manage to complete? Probably very few, but there's only one way to find out.
I'm playing the ZX Spectrum port that you too can have a go at online, and thankfully it has the option to remap the controls as you see fit. There's not a whole lot to keep tabs on - movement, jumping, shooting, grabbing objects and swapping between the characters - so you should be able to dive right in.
I'm not really sure what the heck any of the HUD relates to, though picking up items seems beneficial, and not losing lives like an idiot is also a wise idea.
Puzzles involve teleporters, conveyor belts, remote controlling robots and platforming what can be devilish jumps, especially if you're not comfortable with the view. Precision is essential when in rooms where the floor can kill you.
Some puzzles will require that Head and Heels work together. Head can jump higher but Heels can carry objects. It'll require a fair bit of thought to get each character to the same room, let alone solve the puzzle together, so you best get good at controlling each of them.
Unfortunately, across my 16 starting lives I managed to progress through only 14 of the 300 rooms - but I did get to see and control a robot and bounce on a spring, so, uh, that was fun.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that Head and Heels failed in their mission to liberate anything, so I hit up YouTube to see some far, far better runs of the game where I found something rather interesting.
|Source // Retrospec|
For those of you who actually want to be able to see what trouble you're getting yourself into, Retrospec has a completely overhauled version free to download and play. No more imagining what you're looking at, because it's right there in marvellous detail.
Not that any amount of graphics will help me. I simply can't fathom how someone not only gets this good at a game, but knows what to do. Some puzzles I'm staring at right now involve jumping up into rooms you can't see, from platforms that disappear almost as soon as you step on them. Others involve dropping blocks (in this case a sandwich - I don't know if it was a sandwich in the original or just the Retrospec release) onto Heads head (or is that Heels head?) and using it for a bit of extra height to get somewhere.
It's mind-boggling, and while it's not for me it could very well be for you. With multiple platforms to choose from it won't be hard to give it a go at least.
It's been given a 'citation needed' note on Wikipedia but it's too good to ignore: Programmer Jon Ritman said the storyline lacked any connection to the gameplay, as he "made the whole game up and then added the bullshit in the last ten minutes".
Head Over Heels, developed by Ocean Software, first released in 1987.
Version played: ZX Spectrum, 1987, via emulation.
Versions watched: ZX Spectrum, 1987 (RZX Archive)
PC, 2003 (Rory)