'Head over Heels' was (and remains) a classic computer game for the Sinclair Spectrum
, Commodore 64
, Amstrad CPC
and Atari ST
. It was programmed in 1987 by Jon Ritman
(code) and Bernie Drummond
(graphics), and was released in June 1987 by Ocean Software
for the reasonable sum of £7.95. It was originally to have been called 'Foot and Mouth
', and shares a graphical engine and general style with the same team's previous game, 'Batman
It was the ultimate evolution of the 8-bit isometric 3d platform game, and is still extremely good fun nowadays. The plot involved our two heroes - 'Head', who could jump a great distance, glide with the aid of tiny wings, and stun enemy robots with doughnuts, and 'Heels', who could run quickly and pick up objects - negotiating a series of complex, multi-room puzzles in order to collect a set of lost crowns and thus liberate several planets from a nasty galactic empire. Head and Heels resembled the heads of dogs, connected directly to human-shaped feet without the benefit of torsos. Judging by the scale of the other objects in the game, they were three feet in diameter. Giant torso-less dog heads with human feet, in other words.
The gameplay was finely judged - it was hard, but not unfairly so, and although it passed unremarked at the time, the game was one of the first in which the player had some degree of choice in completing it; if lives were low, you could simply escape back to Head and Heel's home world rather than collect all or any of the crowns.
The player could switch between the two characters at will; most of the time they were separated in different parts of the map, but on rare occasions they met, and could combine their abilities by forming a gestalt entity. This became an intriguing gameplay element, although the game was structured in such a way that the two characters were usually forced to separate soon afterwards.
After release, Ritman and Drummond started work on a 'Lunar Jetman'-inspired game entitled 'Starship', although this was abandoned as Ritman was poached by Rare Ltd. Apparently he is now working on a modern-day version of Matchday.