Head Over Heels logo

I hate this game, not in a rational or critical way, but with an instinctive loathing that is hard to quantify. When writing reviews of 8-bit games I hated it. I'd escaped to the Amiga, but only to find them hunting me down here too. This exhibits some of the worst tendencies ever seen in computer gaming, it looks terrible, is over five years old and I'm not very good at it!

Z80
A common slight of reviewers is to liken 16-bit graphics to those of the Spectrum, but for once, this is truly justified. Head Over Heels is drawn in pixely patches of single colours, there's little shading and no subtlety. They can, at best, be described as self-mockingly jolly. On top of this, the action is displayed in an isometric 3D-perspective. If you've never played a game in this mode, then you don't know the frustrations that come from having all your joystick commands twisted through 45 degrees. It's unnatural and incredibly hard to map.

Head Over Heels sounds as bas as it looks, with jingle tunes that jangle the nerves and sound effects that hiss their way through the speaker. A silly soundtrack is fine for cute games, but they need to be above the Benny Hill standard set here. The reasons I hate the game is it simply feels too bad to be good. But much to my chagrin it is good, good in the extreme.

The tale consists of two strange symbiotic creatures: Head and Heels. When together they can link up and share their skills but when separated one has the edge in terms of horizontal speed, while the other can leap tall things in a single bound. These two cutesy types begin the game at opposite ends of a dungeon-like complex. The first aim is to get the two of them together, which requires much flipping between the characters, negotiating of traps and masses of mapping.

Fatal attraction
Most rooms in the maze contain a single, fatal puzzle. These problems test joystick agility, lateral thinking and your intuitive understanding of the isometric system. The most common of these tests involve deadly floors and a series of floating platforms which have to be leapt upon. If you're not totally familiar with the oddities of such a 3D system, then misjudgement can be a frequent killer.

Once Head and Heels are joined, then the game puts the hooks in. You wander around a bit feeling all hunky, with the abilities of both creatures combined. Then you're forced to break the partnership by yet more puzzles. It's frustrating as hell, all that work smashed to pieces by another series of mind and joystick twisters. But it does force you to get stuck in, so they can be reunited again.

Luckily Head Over Heels is littered with humorous touches, many of which disguise sly gameplay agents. The Reincarnation fish for instance, is effectively a system that allows you to restart the game where you last touched a fish. it neatly side-steps the need for a saves disk while encouraging continual play, because these points are only saved in RAM.

Tweaky
The playability has been banged to rights. There's even a chance to tweak the controls before you get started, tailoring the game towards your own particular style. This, combined with an excellently judged pace, are all that the 8-bit wonder from yesteryear has to offer the modern 16-bit gamester. It looks like a game from the Stone Age, but its split-character design remains as challenging as ever.

I still hate Head Over Heels. the garish graphics and tinny sound are soon submerged in the twisted world of isometric mazes, floating platforms and fatal traps. It's definitely not to everyone's taste (especially mine) but then £8 is not that big a gamble!


Das waren noch Hunde!

Head Over Heels logo

Immer dann, wenn man gerade denkt, jetzt wären endlich alle 8 Bit-Klassiker für den Amiga umgesetzt, kommt der nächste daher. Bei diesem Software-Gruftie ist aber löblicherweise nicht nur der Inhalt, sondern auch der Preis ausgesprochen nostalgisch.

Head Over Heels war einer der Wegbereiter für Action-adventures im Stil von "Cadaver" und Konsorten, bei seinem Erscheinen stellte es das Nonplusultra in Sachen isometrischer 3D-Grafik dar. Zur Story: Im Blacktooth Reich werden fünf Planeten in Sklaverei gehalten, die Rettung soll nun von zwei hunde-ähnlichen Wesen kommen, eben Head und Heels.

Zunächst müssen sich die beiden aber erstmal finden, anschließend können sie entweder fliehen oder nach fünf geheimnisvollen Kronen suchen - beides führt unweigerlich zum Sieg des Guten über die Mächte des Bösen!

Im Spielverlauf begegnen die Helden unter anderem Fischen, die sich beim Verspeisen als Teleporter entpuppen, außerdem finden sie sinnreich konstruierte Hupen, mit denen man Doughnuts (kleine Gebäckringe) verschießen kann - mit einem Wort, Head over Heels ist das, was die Monty Pythons für ein ganz normales Actionadventure halten würden...

Außer englischem Brachialhumor bietet das Game über 300 Räume zum Erkunden, ausgesprochen logische Rätsel und vor allem jede Menge Spielspaß.
Präsentationsmäßig gibt's putzig animierte aber ansonsten recht spartanische Grafik, der Sound besteht nur aus FX und Jingles. Die Steuerung per Stick oder Tasten ist keinesfalls überbelegt, läßt sich dadurch aber auch sehr gut handhaben: laufen, hüpfen, Gegenstände bewegen oder gemeinsame Operationen - alles kein Problem.
Kurzum: viel Nostalgie zu einem fairen Preis! (mm)


Head Over Heels logo

The highest rating yet in AMIGA POWER, and - hey! - it's for a budget 8-bit conversion!

Veterans of the 8-bit scene won't need any introduction to this game, but for the benefits of every one else they're going to get one away, Head Over Heels was for many people the ultimate game in the genre spawned by Ultimate's legendary Knight Lore, the 3D isometric arcade puzzle adventure. It featured two player characters, Head and - oh go on, take a guess. The twin heroes had different characteristics and capabilities, and could be combined into one super-character to negotiate some of the game's trickier obstacles, although others would require Head and Heels to separate and take different routes.
The ultimate objective was to retrieve firve crowns from the evil Emperor Blacktooth, but that's enough plot.

What you need to know is that Head Over Heels is likely to give you some of the greatest game-playing pleasure you've ever had from your Amiga, and lots of it too. The game design is of a quality rarely - if ever- seen in a 16-bit arcade game, and the level of addiction is almost frightening. Head and Heels start the game in different locations, and getting them together is a sizable challenge in itself. The reward for this is a character with superb powers of speed and manoeuvrability, but after a few screens your bubble of confidence is burst when you reach one which can only be passed by splitting the two comrades up again. This, of course, simply makes you all the more determined to re-unite them, and the cycle of challenge followed by reward followed by frustration is just one of the things which makes this game so utterly compulsive.

It's far from the only thing, though. The monstrous deviousness of some of the puzzles makes it all the more teeth-grinding when you lose a life (as you invariably do) on one of the embarrassingly simple ones immediately before or afterwards, and you'd be well-advised to have something soft strategically placed besides your computer to save you from punching goodbye your warranty.

The game maintains a balance between addiction and frustration, though, by the use of the Reincarnation Fish, a novel gameplay device which acts as a RAMsave. On touching one of the fish, your game position is stored, and when you run out of lives you can restart the game from the last fish you reached, without all that boring techie knobbing around with actual save functions. This little touch is just one example of how much care has been taken to keep you locked up in Head Over Heels' little universe, and away from nasty computer talk. You'll never see a 'Decrunching Level Two' message in this game, pal.

Still, this is supposed to be an objective review, not a meeting of the Head Over Heels Fan Club, so here's a list of the game's bad points: the graphics haven't changed visibly from the original 8-bit versions: there aren't any keyboard controls.

Pretty crap for bad points, weren't they? The graphics are undeniably primitive for the Amiga, but they're gorgeous and cute in their own right and anyway, in the final analysis they're almost entirely irrelevant. As for the keyboard, it IS a pity (this is a game which was always meant to be played with keys), but the joystick controls won't give you any problems after 30 seconds' practice.

I'm running out of space now, and I haven't even told you about the user-friendly front-end with adjustable sound and control sensitivity, or about how clever and funny the in-game obstacles and puzzles are, or about half of the things that make me love this game so much. If you didn't believe that they used to write better games in the old games (creak creak) play Head Over Heels and eat your words.


Head Over Heels logo CU Amiga Superstar

We make no apologies for giving this more space than the normal budget reviews,, as Ocean have set a new standard for cut-price titles.
Listening to Joe Public's constant moaning about 'how the oldies are the best', Ocean have dipped into their impressive 8-bit back catalogue and have converted one of their classic titles. Originally written by Match Day maestros, John Ritman and Bernie Drummond, Head Over Heels was the duos second attempt at the popular isometric adventure genre. Pioneered by Ultimate and their legendary Knight Lore and Alien 8 games, over the following years the 3D arena was choc-a-bloc with all manner of dros contenders to the Ultimate throne.

However, it was Ritman and Drummond's brilliant Batman and Head Over Heels that set the new standard. Drawing its name from its principle characters, the Amiga version of Head Over Heels has been given the complete works, and the monochrome graphics of the Spectrum version have been upgraded to make use of the machine's basic sixteen colours. The result is a game that knocks the spots off any other arcade/adventure.

Set in the sprawling land of Blacktooth, both Head and Heels must locate a series of crowns which will rid their world of the evil despot currently throwing it into chaos. These crowns are secreted within the hundreds of rooms that make up the Empire, and using their assorted skills, both heroes must eventually team up to fight the good fight against evil.

Each of Blacktooth's graphically stunning rooms contains a series of puzzles and objects, which must be solved and manipulated before our heroes may pass. To conquer these, both Head and Heels have specific abilities. The trumpet-faced Mr Head, for example, can protect himself by firing any collectd doughnuts through his unusual schnozzle, but his movement is restricted due to a severe lack of feet.
However, Mr Heels, a fine canine-looking fellow, scoots around at a fair pace on his paws, and can collect objects in his handbag(!). By positioning Mr Head on Mr Heels' shoulders, though, the two creatures' special properties are united, creating a 'Super Being' who can run, jump, fire and collect useful objects. On the downside, though, if the piggy-backed heroes come cropper, two lives are lost rather than the one when they are independent of each other.

With its many tricks and traps, Head Over Heels can quite easily claim to be the best arcade/adventure the Amiga has seen. Blacktooth's many rooms are overflowing with puzzles, which range from creating a staircase from a series of blocks to guiding a 'Charlek' (a cross between Prince Charles and a Dalek) with a joystick to bridge seemingly impassible gaps.

In addition, teleporters take the duo to deeper areas of the Blacktooth Empire, which include graphically superb libraries and laboratories, all of which contain suitably weird inhabitants. Graphically, the game is great and the Amiga's processor makes for a far faster game than its 8-bit predecessors could handle. In addition, although not exactly world-shattering, the game's many ditties and effects have been faithfully recreated, adding to its surreal atmosphere admirably.

In releasing Head Over Heels after all this time - and on budget - Ocean have taken a worthwhile risk which they have pulled off perfectly. Head Over Heels is a must for every Amiga owner, and could hopefully pave the way for some of the better past licences and original products to eventually make it on to the Amiga.


P A S T     M A S T E R S
Of the surviving 'old' companies, both U.S. Gold and Ocean have back catalogues crammed with games just waiting to be updated to the Amiga. With Ocean leading the way with Head Over Heels, there was also a rumour that two Portsmouth-based coders were busying themselves by converting Beach Head, Raid Over Moscow and Beach Head II for U.S. Gold, but these never came to fruition. In addition, Ocean were also promising such delights as Amiga versions of Gryzor, Combat School and Yie Ar Kung-Fu, but, despite several pages of advertising, they also never appeared. However, if Head is a success, then Ocean may give more thought to re-releasing and updating a few old faves. Let's hope so.