A literal blast from the past with this look back on a fantastic Mega Drive classic.
I didn’t own a Mega Drive until around 2004 but one game on it that I have real fond memories of is Dynamite Headdy. I remember a friend of mine from school had a Mega Drive and whilst he had all the obvious titles of Sonic and things like that, it was this game that I have a real affection for.
Dyanmite Headdy is a side-scrolling platformer where you play as, yup you guessed it, Headdy. Headdy is a puppet with a detachable head and you’re out to seek revenge on the King Dark Demon who is turning the toys of North Town into his dastardly minions. In order to get around you can jump and also throw your head and this allows you to haul yourself onto platforms, attack enemies and grab onto levers and things. Not only that but you can also obtain power ups throughout that give the head a different effect.
The power ups range from pretty standard offerings for a game of this age and type, including the classic invincibility, speed enhancer and increased damage to things like a spiked head you can use to scale walls and a vacuum head to suck up enemies, health items and power ups.
There’s a sense of humour to the game too, with the levels bearing movie based puns such as “Terminate Her Too”, “Mad Mechs” and “Clothes Encounters” to name a few. It may seem like a small unnecessary detail but for me it just adds to the fun of the game on the whole.
Speaking of the levels, the amount of levels, sub levels and bonus rounds available make for a fairly long gaming experience which you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Annoyingly though, it was always pretty easy to not gain enough continues and you start with none, so if you lost your lives you had to go back to the start of the game, which is probably why I never saw it through to the end.
The game was very well received when it originally came out, scoring highly on all the main game media outlets at the time and even in the modern day it’s been deemed popular enough for re-releases in 2006 on the PS2, the Wii in 2007, a compilation for Xbox 360 and PS3 and then finally on Steam in 2012.
Whether this game gets enough credit for influencing other games I don’t know, but it’s safe to say in terms of game play and even character design, the elements within it bear an uncanny resemblance to more modern games such as Rayman and even more recently Puppeteer on the PS3.
The fact Headdy’s head floats above his body ala Rayman does seem a bit too similar to be coincidental but this could be exacerbated by there only being a year between the releases. Maybe Puppeteer and it’s interchangeable heads don’t quite get the same allegations thrown it’s way because it came out some 19 years after, but play Dynamite Headdy if you haven’t and I guarantee you’ll see the connections.
So there you have it, a fairly difficult but thoroughly enjoyable jaunt from 1994.