Friday, 27 May 2016

Retro News - Classic Game, New Conversion!

The Spectrum was my main source of gaming for so long that it's really hard to pick one single favourite game for it, but one title that has always been up there is Head Over Heels. It was originally made for the Speccy and remains associated with the system more than any other despite being converted to many other formats of the day. There was a fancy remake for the PC a good few years ago now (available here if you're interested) but it's the conversions for the older systems that I've been looking at. One was for the MSX and that version, like many others, looks very much like the original, but now there's a version for the mighty MSX2 as well.

It arrives courtesy of FX Software, a Spanish homebrew developer I believe (I haven't really been able to find much info on him/them) who have already remade Batman, the spiritual predecessor of this game. This latest project has been followed with much interest by the MSX community and recently came to my attention as well, simply because it's Head Over Heels. And Head Over Heels is well awesome. But it also looks like a really nice version of Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond's wonderful game. The latter's lovely monochrome graphics were positively brimming with creativity and character and suited the Speccy perfectly but, as alluded to earlier, most of the other versions were not really adapted to utilise that system's strengths and were instead very close to the Speccy version. Some had the odd splash of colour here and there while others were seemingly direct ports, and consequently, despite being universally adored, it's not really a game that's been regarded as much of a looker.

Even the mighty 16-bit machines didn't jazz things up much - the Amiga version definitely wasn't monochrome and instead featured some strange, even garish colour schemes - but this new version is the best looking one so far in my view. The colours, at least from what's been seen so far, are great and the characters and peculiar rooms all look fantastic! Even if it didn't, though, it's still Head Over Heels, a game that always earns a retro-head's attention, and how could it not? Isometric games rule anyway, but the inventiveness and quirkiness of the game-world here coupled with its sheer size (300+ rooms) made it an instant classic. Firing parmping doughnuts as Head or scampering away from bubble-robots as Heels were among many memorable moments it offered, and who could forget the moment you were able to bring the two unusual creatures together? A game with dual-character co-operative play still isn't that common nowadays, nevermind in the mid-80's? Fuggedaboutit!

Finding out about projects like this really warms my oft-barren heart, and I'm sure many of you feel the same way. So, if you fancy adding this wonderful release to your collection, it will be released on cartridge with full instructions and packaging, and will no doubt also be available as a digital download too, so head over to the relevant thread on the MSX forum here. It's in Spanish but Google Translate can do its thing, and I believe Mr. FX speaks English too, so alternatively, feel free to bung him an email here:



  1. What is that, like some British version of CatDog?

  2. What in the blue blazes is CatDog? :| Head Over Heels is the great game ever.

  3. Another stuck-together animal pair. This ran on Nickelodeon for a few years.

    I think I may have played this before, but isometric puzzle-platformers aren't really my thing. Solstice for the NES kinda soured me on that genre.

  4. You don't like Solstice? How come, it's pretty cool, I thought. I do quite like isometric games though, and that all started with... Head Over Heels! :)

  5. MSX2 version nice on the eye :) Had quick look at blog, but couldn't find price. Not that it's relevant: I've just discovered MSX2 goes for hundreds, so it's out of my humble league :'( Someone on the blog mentions the ST version also looks great, and come to think of it, ST looks a lot like MSX2.... :O

  6. As far as I'm aware the ST version is like the Amiga version in that it looks nice but features some questionable colour schemes. I think this MSX2 version is my favourite but I'm sure they all play superbly :)