Welcome to my time capsule, where we will celebrate media forgotten by the masses over time. Media that was innovative, creative, or maybe just deserves more love than they got. And this week’s game ticks all three boxes. 1994’s platformer: Dynamite Headdy (Pronounced head-ee, cause it’s a pun).
Detached Limbs Are In This Season
Dynamite Headdy is an action platformer from Treasure Co., the company responsible for Gunstar Heroes. Coming just one year before Rayman, Headdy is a puppet that has a separated head that he can use as a weapon, grappling hook, or a number of other things thanks to various power-ups. It makes us wonder about the strange obsession with characters having unattached body parts.
Being that Headdy is a puppet, the world he inhabits is an awesome series of stages, complete with scaffolding, iron beams that show through the set, and curtains. Keeping with the motif, Headdy’s health indicator is a spotlight, with green indicating full health, and turning to red when his health is low. The story is simple: bad guys took your other puppets to make them evil. Headdy needs to save them by defeating the stage bosses, called key masters. Fight enemies, beat boss, repeat.
Adding to the already massively innovative game is the level design. From an opening level that allows you to test many of the heads before you begin to get a good understanding of what they do, to levels that play with perspective. Dynamite Headdy is a masterclass in great design that uses the levels to introduce new concepts gradually, learning as you go.
Get Your Head On Straight
Dynamite Headdy is one of the most unique and challenging games of its generation. The stand-out element here is the power-ups. There are 18 different “heads” Headdy can get in his travels. While I won’t list all of them here, I will touch on a few. There is a vacuum head that sucks up everything in the area. A pig head that shoots stars in figure 8 around Headdy (I don’t know why). Also a biplane head, mini head, and sleep head.
On top of the obligatory extra lives, health pickups, and point bonuses, there is also a “liberty head” that looks like the Statue of Liberty’s head. It also takes you to a bonus level where you use Headdy’s head to hit basketballs into hoops for bonuses. One of my personal favorite minigames of all time.
Although Dynamite Headdy received positive acclaim on release, as well as a few ports and appearances on a couple of compilations, I still struggle to find anyone who remembers it by name. Showing a couple of screenshots can elicit an “oh, yeah. I remember that.”. However, Headdy deserves way more love. Cute characters, detailed and boundary-testing levels, and more power-ups than you can shake a disconnected head at. This game has everything. Show some love for Dynamite Headdy!