Head over Heels (video game)

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Head Over Heels
Head Over Heels
Cover art of Head Over Heels
Developer(s) Ocean Software
Publisher(s) Ocean Software
Designer(s) F. David Thorpe (loading screen)
Programmer(s) Jon Ritman
Artist(s) Bernie Drummond
Composer(s) Guy Stevens
Platform(s) Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amiga, MSX, ZX Spectrum
Release date(s) 1987, 1988, 1989
Genre(s) Platform game, Puzzle game, Arcade adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

Head Over Heels is an arcade adventure video game, released in 1987 for several 8-bit home computers, and subsequently ported to a wide range of formats. Originally, the working title for the game was Foot and Mouth.[1]

Visually, Head Over Heels bears a number of similarities to Ultimate Play The Game's Knight Lore and Alien 8. It uses an isometric engine that is similar to the Filmation technique first developed by Ultimate. Head Over Heels is the second isometric game by Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond, after their earlier Batman computer game released in 1986.


Heels tries to catch a ride. (Amstrad CPC)

The game introduces an original concept: the player controls two characters instead of just one. The two characters have different abilities. Head can jump higher than Heels, control himself in the air, and fire doughnuts from a hooter to paralyze enemies; while Heels can run twice as fast as Head, climb certain staircases that Head cannot, and carry objects around a room in a bag. These abilities become complementary when the player combines them together after completing roughly a sixth of the game. Compared to its predecessors, the game offers unique and revolutionary gameplay, complex puzzles, and more than 300 rooms to explore.

Drummond contributed some famously surreal touches, including robots (controlled by push switches) that bore a remarkable resemblance to the head of Prince Charles on the body of a Dalek. Other surreal touches include enemies with the heads of elephants and staircases made of dogs that teleport themselves away as soon as Head enters the room.[2][dead link]

The game had short bursts of fanfare-like music, including a version of Greensleeves.

In 1994 its authors wrote another isometric video game, Monster Max, for the Nintendo Game Boy which is twice the size of Head Over Heels.[3]


Headus Mouthion (Head) and Footus Underium (Heels) are two spies from the planet Freedom. They are sent to Blacktooth to liberate the enslaved planets of Penitentiary, Safari, Book World and Egyptus, and then to defeat the Emperor to prevent further planets falling under his rule. Captured and separated, the spies are placed in the prison headquarters of Castle Blacktooth and must first escape, then break through the market to the orbiting Moonbase where they can teleport down to the planets to locate and reobtain the stolen crowns. Liberation of the planets and defeat of the Emperor will allow Head and Heels to return to Freedom as heroes.

Ritman admits that the storyline lacked real connection to the gameplay. In an interview for Edge, he stated that he "made the whole game up and then added the bullshit in the last ten minutes."

Conversions and remakes[edit]

Head Over Heels was first released in 1987 for Z80-microprocessor-based home computers (ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX). Due to its huge success, it was later ported to other platforms including the Atari XL/XE and ST, Amstrad PCW, Commodore 64 and the Commodore Amiga.

The latest remake of Head Over Heels (for Windows, PowerPC Mac OS, Linux and BeOS) by Retrospec is available as freeware on their website. It was recently[vague] voted the second best remake ever by PC Zone magazine.[citation needed]

Critical reaction[edit]

Review scores
Publication Score
Amstrad Action 95%[8]
CVG 34/40[7]
Crash 97%[5]
Sinclair User 9/10[6]
Your Sinclair 9/10[4]
Zzap!64 98%[9]
Publication Award
Crash Crash Smash
Sinclair User SU Classic
Zzap!64 Gold Medal
Amstrad Action 10th best game of all time[10]
Amiga Power 24th best game of all time[11]
  • Your Sinclair awarded Head over Heels 9/10 in the June 1987 issue and the game was placed at number 5 in the Your Sinclair official top 100. Sinclair User also awarded 9/10.
  • Crash magazine gave Head over Heels 97% and called the game "The best fun you're likely to have with a Spectrum for quite some time".
  • Zzap!64 gave the Commodore 64 conversion of the game 98%: enough for its coveted Gold Medal Award; the joint highest score in the magazine's history; and the first Gold Medal of the year - in its August 1987 issue. It was described as "An all time classic - not to be missed for any reason"[9]

Cultural references[edit]

  • This game is parodied in the DVD release of The IT Crowd series one. In the DVD menu system, a game very similar to Head Over Heels, but with characters from the TV show, is played while you choose an episode.


  1. ^ Head over Heels at everything2.com
  2. ^ Goring, Graham. "Head over Heels". The Big Wobbly Speccy Game Review Page. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  3. ^ Ritman, Jon. "Monster Max information at Jon Ritman's website". Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  4. ^ Head Over Heels
  5. ^ CRASH 39 - Head over Heels
  6. ^ Sinclair User review
  7. ^ http://www.worldofspectrum.org/showmag.cgi?mag=C+VG/Issue067/Pages/CVG06700028.jpg
  8. ^ Amstrad Action magazine, issue 20, Future Publishing
  9. ^ a b "Zzap! 64" (28). August 1987. pp. 14–16. 
  10. ^ http://retroactionmagazine.com/retroactionextra/amstrad-action-all-time-top-10-games/
  11. ^ Amiga Power magazine issue 49, Future Publishing, May 1995

External links[edit]