Dynamite Headdy (Sega Genesis) Review
Treasure made quite a pairing with the Sega Genesis back in the 90s. From Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier, Light Crusaider. Even some of the more obscure titles like Yū Yū Hakusho or even the McDonalds game. So with no surprise, you’re in for a treat today with Dynamite Headdy.
Released in 1994, Dynamite Headdy is a platformer game. Headdy Arrives in North Town to find out that the evil puppet Dark Demon is attacking the puppet town to choose which ones to be converted to his force of evil minions. Headdy is rejected and thrown into a dust cargo to be burned to death.
The entire game is set out in a puppeteer show, each of the nine acts is basically a scene in the play. The controls are very simple but work very well.
Headdy’s main form of attack is by using his head that he launches at enemies. He can also use it to jump and scale to reach higher areas.
One thing that really adds to this element is the fact that you can switch between different abilities. One that was really cool that surrounds you with stars as almost like a machine gun. There’s also this that acts like a homing missile. Heck there’s even one that makes you invincible. Now this isn’t just useful against enemies, some power ups even let you make decisions on how you play through each of the stages.
One of the abilities lets you shrink down in size and lets you walk through tight areas that you normally wouldn’t be able to. Or the slammer one that you need in order to break these blocks. Although why is this guy in the background in some sort of jock strap wearing flip flops and rotating the gears?
There’s even one called the spike head that lets you climb up almost as if you’re scaling a mountain.
The level design breaks up into even more variations by introducing shooter stages where you can even pick up different forms depending on the situation that you’re in. Seriously, this feels like a mini shmup just built right in which is awesome!
Then there’s this teeter totter stage where you can actually start to fall off as it rotates. This puts a bit of depth into the otherwise two dimensional gameplay that you have to jump between platforms.
There’s also this part where you have to keep climbing as the boss takes out sections of the stage. This one’s called Stair Wars. Yeah, I’m not kidding, it’s called Stair wars. There are some other cool movie references if you look hard enough. Here are a few that I enjoyed the most.
There’s definitely a lot going on in terms of level design. You got this conveyor belt that carries you to the top. There are these these platforms that rotate as you hit them. You’ve even got a rocket ship you have to duck under as runs over enemies like a bus. There’s also these platforms that drop once the enemies turn into stone.
The graphics are colorful and really demonstrate the cartoony style of gameplay that Dynamite Headdy was going for.
There’s some really cool paralax scrolling in the backgrounds as well as objects in the foreground that give an added touch to the overall feel when playing through some of the levels.
Dynamite Headdy backs up the great graphics with an outstanding soundtrack. It uses the Yamaha sound chip found in the genesis to perfection. I’m sure if you played the soundtrack blindly to someone, they wouldn’t be able to tell you if it was on the SNES or Sega Genesis. Keep in mind, Dynamite Headdy was released late in the lifecycle of the Genesis so the developers knew how to get the most out of the hardware.
The bosses are massive and downright obnoxious. there's one where it almost looks like a balloon animal while there’s an orchestra playing the nutcracker in the background. Then there’s this one that turns from red to green as you hit the targets. Another one reminds me of metal storm on the original Nintendo as you rotate gravity. There's a puppeteer that makes you avoid the swinging puppet. All in all the boss battles were extremely unique and animated quite well.
The only major flaw in Dynamite Headdy is that it’s really tough to beat. I found that the first five stages of the game were fairly easy, but anything after that was insanely hard.
You only start off with three lives and picking up extras is pretty hard to do. Oh and if you lose all your lives, continues are rare and most of the time you'll have to pick up from the title screen.
I really enjoyed reading through some of the old promos and reviews for Dynamite Headdy. It’s good to see that it was very well received back in 1994 when there really wasn’t many forms of game reviews back then. I mean, a copy of Electronic Gaming Monthly that I would Have to beg my mom to buy me as we were in line at the grocery store was really the only way I was able to find out about upcoming games.
Dynamite Headdy is a blast to play and I’m glad it’s gotten so many re-releases over the years. You can find it almost anywhere now, it’s even on the Sega Genesis Mini if you’ve been able to snag one. It’s definitely a top 20 or even top 10 game for the Mega Drive of all time in my books so yeah find a copy and give it a go!
Dynamite Headdy is available on Android, Steam and on the Sega Genesis Mini