Head over Heels (video game)

Head Over Heels is an action-adventure video game, released by Ocean Software in 1987 for several 8-bit home computers, and subsequently ported to a wide range of formats. The working title for the game was Foot and Mouth. It uses an isometric engine that is similar to the Filmation technique first developed by Ultimate.

Head Over Heels
Head over heels cover art.jpg
Developer(s)Ocean Software
Publisher(s)Ocean Software
Producer(s)D. C. Ward
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, Atari Jaguar

Head Over Heels is the second isometric game by Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond, after their earlier Batman computer game released in 1986. In 1994 another isometric video game by Ritman and Drummond, Monster Max, was released for the Nintendo Game Boy.[1]

In 2003, Retrospec released a remake of Head Over Heels for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, BeOS, and Linux. In 2019, Piko Interactive released an Atari ST port of Head Over Heels for Atari Jaguar.


Heels tries to catch a ride. (Amstrad CPC)

The player controls two characters instead of just one, each with 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.


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.


Jon Ritman re-used and modified the isometric engine he created for Batman to support the control of 2 players instead of just 1. Modifications were made to the code for the C64 version to lower processor load, but in the end there was very little difference between the versions.[2]


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.[8] It was also chosen by Your Sinclair editors and readers as the ZX Spectrum's 1987 Game of the Year.[15]

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".[5]

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".[13]


  1. ^ Ritman, Jon. "Monster Max information at Jon Ritman's website". Retrieved 2007-01-12.
  2. ^ "Head over Heels". 2011-07-10. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  3. ^ Berkmann, Marcus (June 1987). "Head over Heels". Your Sinclair. No. 18. Dennis Publishing. pp. 68–69. ISSN 0269-6983.
  4. ^ Berkmann, Marcus (August 1990). "Bargain Basement - Head over Heels". Your Sinclair. No. 56. Future Publishing. pp. 76–77. ISSN 0269-6983.
  5. ^ a b Sumner, Paul; Dunn, Mike; Stone, Ben (April 1987). "Head over Heels". Crash. No. 39. Newsfield. pp. 20–21. ISSN 0954-8661.
  6. ^ Brooker, Will (April 1988). "Looking for an Old Angle - Run it Again! - Head over Heels". Crash. No. 51. Newsfield. p. 84. ISSN 0954-8661.
  7. ^ Roberts, Nick (August 1990). "Big Budget Bonanza - Head over Heels". Crash. No. 79. Newsfield. p. 48. ISSN 0954-8661.
  8. ^ a b Jenkins, Chris (July 1990). "Review - Head over Heels". Sinclair User. No. 101. EMAP Images. pp. 62–63. ISSN 0262-5458.
  9. ^ Douglas, Jim (May 1987). "Head over Heels". Sinclair User. No. 62. EMAP Business & Computer Publications. pp. 28–29. ISSN 0262-5458.
  10. ^ Boughton, Paul (May 1987). "C+VG Reviews 8 - Head over Heels". Computer + Video Games. No. 67. EMAP. p. 28. ISSN 0261-3697.
  11. ^ "Budget - Head over Heels". Computer + Video Games. No. 104. EMAP. July 1990. pp. 66–67. ISSN 0261-3697.
  12. ^ Wade, Bob; Monteiro, Richard (May 1987). "Action Test - Head over Heels". Amstrad Action. No. 20. Future Publishing. pp. 46–47. ISSN 0954-8068.
  13. ^ a b Rignall, Julian; Jarratt, Steve (August 1987). "Zzap! Test - Head over Heels". Zzap!64. No. 28. Newsfield. pp. 14–16. ISSN 0954-867X.
  14. ^ "The Amiga Power All-Time Top 100". Amiga Power. No. 49. Future Publishing. May 1995. p. 14. ISSN 0961-7310.
  15. ^ "Game of the Year". Your Sinclair. No. 28 (April 1988). 10 March 1988. pp. 64–5.

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