Head Over Heels: ZX Spectrum HD ($1.99) by Elite Systems Group Ltd is a port of the classic 8-bit puzzle game for desktop computers. Actually, they weren’t called desktops in the eighties because there were no other sized computers around. Imaging being able to tell your 13-year-old self that, someday he (or she) will be able to play Head over Heels on a device that fits in the back pocket of their Jordache jeans.
This game looks almost exactly like the original. It has single-color screens and, what would now be considered, awkward controls. The characters “Head” and “Heels” can only move a couple of ways and are very limited in their abilities. There are complex puzzles in each room that make less sense in today’s world than they did when this game first came out. Players must utilize nearby objects to help Head and Heels get together and out of danger.
The game starts with players controlling Head. His special feature is the ability to jump higher and move while in midair. He can get across a bottomless pit with a casual leap in the right direction. Heels’ special power is that he can run very fast, which is helpful when he is stuck on a conveyor belt that is headed for certain doom.
To get through rooms, players must either walk through an entrance/exit door, or manipulate the room in some way in order to get out. For example, a room may not have any doors, but a floating ottoman will allow Head or Heels to escape to another room where players must then figure out how to get across a spike-covered floor.
There are power-ups located throughout the game that will give the characters special abilities, like invulnerability, high-jump and super speed. When Head and Heels are in the same room, they can join together as one super being.
There are a few key points that are mentioned in the help guide. Players should be aware that they can’t possibly complete the game without the “Hooter,” which lets Head shoot doughnuts at enemies, and “The Bag,” which lets Heels carry certain object with him on his quest. Be sure to find those items during your adventure.
There are two options for controllers. Players can choose the traditional computer keyboard “WADS” (in this game, QAOP) controller, or a virtual joystick controller. They are both awkward since the other movements, including jump, fire and swap are in the middle of the screen. This is not a fast-paced action game, so it doesn’t really matter whether the controls are well-placed or not. Besides, it is iCade compatible, so who needs virtual controls anyway.
The game is available for the iPad in the HD version, or for the iPhone/iPod touch in the regular version. Neither game is universal. If you want to play on both devices, you have to pay twice.
Fans of the classic will absolutely love this game. It is nearly the same in every way. Even if they’ve never played the original, fans of retro games will also embrace the old-school mechanisms of Head Over Heels. For young’uns that are more into high-definition graphics and flippin’ the bird, this may be too much of a Grandpa’s game for them.