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File:Head over heels 7662.gif

Heels and a Prince Charles Dalek

Undercover spies Head and Heels, working to overthrow the corrupt emperor Blacktooth, have been captured and thrown into separate cells. The pair must escape from prison, gather the tools of their trade, and then meet up before attempting to spark revolutions on all of the worlds occupied by the evil empire by finding and recovering the lost crowns of their original rulers.

The two agents have unique skills when alone. Head can jump higher than Heels, and can direct himself in the air. He also carries a donut-firing hooter to stun enemies. Heels runs much faster, though, and has a bag that allows him to move objects around to get to those out-of-the-way places. But when they meet up, Head can jump up on top of Heels to combine their abilities.

An isometric puzzle game by John Ritman and Bernie Drummond for the ZX Spectrum (later ported to more machines), Head over Heels is considered to be one of the best games in the genre not developed by Ultimate. The gameplay is very similar to their previously developed Batman title, and contains numerous surreal friends and enemies, most famously a Dalek with Prince Charles for a head. The player can switch between Head and Heels at will, and while the start of the game focuses on getting them together in order to complete the escape, the game soon has you needing to split them up again.

That crazy plot, though? The developers freely admit that it all went in as an afterthought once they'd finished the game...

Retrospec has remade the game with updated graphics, and you can download it for free here:

This Game Provides Examples of:

  • Acid Trip Dimension: On the Amstrad CPC version, and even more so on the Atari ST version, wearing sunglasses is advisable for certain screens. In the case of the Atari ST port, this is because Ritman and Drummond had no control over the colour schemes used.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Once the two characters meet, their combined form can jump and run faster than either can individually. But they can't fit through small gaps anymore.
  • Bag of Holding: Heels' unique ability, which allows him to carry certain blocks around.
  • Block Puzzle: Push them, stack them, you'll be doing this a lot.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: Egyptus, one of the worlds you have to save.
  • Canis Latinicus: The manual gives all of the characters in the game silly Latin-inspired names.
  • Collision Damage: Some blocks kill on contact.
  • Control Room Puzzle: Only a few, but quite clever compared to the norm.
  • Crate Expectations: Some of them very odd looking indeed.
  • Door to Before: Once you reach a world's crown, the very next room (or sometimes the same room) will drop you back into the first screen of that world so you can teleport straight back to the hub. (Most often, it's the previous room. And it's a one-way teleport, so get the crown first...)
  • Flip Screen Scrolling: Although sometimes you're shown a little of what's on the next screen. The remake merges these sorts of rooms, so huge rooms scroll as you'd expect.
  • Golden Ending: You can flee to the rebel home planet of Freedom from the teleport hub at any time, but the full ending needs to you find all the crowns first.
  • Gravity Barrier
  • Hub Level: After completing the escape, you reach a teleport station that allows you to visit the remaining worlds in any order.
  • Improbable Weapon: Head wields a klaxon horn that fires donuts which stun enemies.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt
  • Informed Equipment
  • Involuntary Group Split: The game is very inventive in coming up with ways to force you to split the characters up.
  • Isometric Projection
  • Jump Physics: Different for each character (and for the combine).
  • Jungle Japes: Safari, one of the worlds you have to save.
  • Malevolent Architecture
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder
  • Penal Colony: Penitentiary, one of the worlds you have to save.
  • Platform Hell: Occasionally drifts into this.
  • Save Point: Reincarnation fish.
  • Sequence Breaking: Mapping a key to the 'jump' and 'change character' actions, then hammering it, will allow Heels to jump the barrier seperating him from Head at the beginning of the game. Don't forget to fetch his bag first though, or you'll be blocked.
  • Shout-Out: The jingle played when you enter a room in Safari is from Sabre Wulf.
  • Spikes of Doom
  • Spooky Silent Library: Book World, one of the worlds you have to save.
  • Springs Springs Everywhere: Staple puzzle object for areas where you only have Heels.
  • Teamwork Puzzle Game: many puzzles rely on the fact the two characters have different abilities that must be used together.
  • Temporary Platform
  • Training Dummy: Head's first screen has a ladder you can climb for practice (with an extra life rabbit at the top), a skill you'll need later.
  • Unwinnable by Design: If one of your two characters runs out of lives, you can't finish the game. But it doesn't actually tell you. Averted in the remake; the other character can sacrifice two lives to give one back to a dead character if required.