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Retro Review: Dynamite Headdy

On 03/30/2020 at 11:05 AM by The Last Ninja

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This insanely creative Treaure game is bursting with charm 

Hey guys! So I recently picked up a Genesis mini. It's got a lot of games on it, but unfortunately, many of them aren't that good or don't hold up. However, there are some good games, so I'm going to be posting some reviews of the notable games, starting with this one. Also, I've done reveiws of some of the games on the mini, so I'll put links to those at the end of this review if you want to check those out. 

pic 1

Dynamite Headdy is an action platformer developed by Treasure and published by Sega. It was released for the Genesis in 1994. DH is a puppet with the ability to throw his head (yikes), and as you play, you will be able to switch heads for a short time (like power-ups). These different heads include a spiky head, a three-headed spread shot, a vacuum head that sucks in anything nearby, a tiny head that makes DH small enough to fit in tiny spaces, and a Statue of Liberty head that (for some reason) puts you into a basketball mini game. 

The presentation here is outstanding. Levels are presented with wooden backdrops as if you're watching some kind of puppet skit. The graphics are very colorful and detailed, and the music is just right so that it adds to the experience. The story (as far as I can tell) is that DH needs to get keys from the "key masters" (aka the bosses) in order to unlock a door or something. For some reason a brown cat is trying to stop DH at every turn. There's also a pink girl puppet that jumps in and nabs the keys before DH can, and then gets away while he's freaking out (he's got a crush). Of course, later in the game she gets captured and DH has to rescue her. 

pic 2

Level design here is also very strong. Levels are broken up into sections (with signs such as 1-1 and 1-2). This isn't your basic platformer. Every section is vastly different from the last. One section has DH running up a spiraling tower as the cat tries to push out sections of the tower; another section has you moving through a block maze trying to find your way out; another section has you running for your life from a giant face as you change gravitation from the floor to the ceiling. The game is constantly throwing new challenges at you, which is just wonderful. 

The bosses are also really fun (and many times bizarre). One boss is a dancing mannequin that changes clothes; another is a giant robotic horse that takes up the whole screen. Perhaps my favorite boss is a giant baby head that shoots lazers at you. After hurting it enough, the head transforms into a young man's head, and then later into an old man's head. It's so bizarre but also great. 

pic 4

But this game also has its flaws. The gameplay is often too difficult. Headdy can grab orange circles and pull himself up or over, but doing this never felt natural and usually resulted in falling. Certain sections can be really tough and frustrating. Save states were my best friend here, but without them, I would probably see the Game Over screen pretty early on. One level turns the game into a shmup, which is great, but this level is brutally difficult, having you dodge electric fences in tight spaces. 

Final Verdict--4 Stars: Recommended 

While I recommend playing this game, I don't recommend finishing it. Some sections will be truly frustrating for you unless you're very patient. You should try the game, I think you'll find it's very charming and bizarre, but it's also really tough, and it's not worth pulling your hair out over an old Genesis game. If you like Treasure, you should definitely check it out as it's got their strange sense of humor and charm all over it. 

Check out these other Genesis Mini reviews: 

Columns Review

World of Illusion Review

Sonic Spinball Review

Streets of Rage 2 Review

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

Sonic the Hedgehog Review

Eternal Champions Review

Light Crusader Review

Ecco the Dolphin Review

Gunstar Heroes Review

Vectorman Review

Shinobi III Review



Matt Snee Staff Writer

03/30/2020 at 12:06 PM

Wow, I have NEVER heard of this. Looks wacky. 

The Last Ninja

03/31/2020 at 12:53 AM

Really? Well, it is very wacky, even more so than most of Treasure's stuff. 


03/30/2020 at 04:21 PM

I think I still have the cartridge for this plus I have the Genesis Mini. I've never played it. LOL

The Last Ninja

03/31/2020 at 12:53 AM

You really should give it a try, although don't worry about beating it. I think you'll enjoy it

Super Step Contributing Writer

03/30/2020 at 11:07 PM

I actually just got a Genesis Mini and a lot of the games are too damn hard for me from jump. This one is no exception, as I love the presentation as much as you do, but to hell with that cat! 

The Last Ninja

03/31/2020 at 12:54 AM

lol yes! Most of the games on Genesis Mini are very hard, but save states makes them a bit more managable if you want to make progress. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

03/31/2020 at 06:51 PM

I'm definitely getting the hang of some of them more and more though, and taking the CRT filter off seems to have made everything look a lot less dark on my TV and ... somehow improved the music? That or I'm just getting used to the Genesis's sound. I'll probably write a blog myself about it. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

03/31/2020 at 07:08 PM

Also, you probably know this already, but a cool Easter Egg is you can play the Japanese/EU versions of all the games by changing the language settings. Differences are minor, but the box art in Japan is SO much cooler. 


03/30/2020 at 11:59 PM

I think I played this on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. I would love be able to redesign these old games that have such terribly difficult levels. I'd keep everything about the art style and gameplay, but just make it easier. 

The Last Ninja

03/31/2020 at 12:56 AM

That would be wonderful! It's insane to think that we as kids would play these kind of tough as nails games, but that's all we had. 

Cary Woodham

03/31/2020 at 08:59 AM

I wrote a blog series about the Genesis Mini a while back.  

Dynamite Headdy has a lot of neat ideas, but it's just too chaotic for me.

There's not a whole lot of Treasure games I really like. They're either too hard or feel like half a game to me.  The only one I really liked was Astro Boy: Omega Factor.

The Last Ninja

04/01/2020 at 08:05 AM

Chaotic is a good word for it. Treasure games are very interesting because they tend to really think outside the box. I think my personal favorite Treasure game would be Gunstar Heroes. 


03/31/2020 at 04:44 PM

*sigh* I've been meaning to play this game for years now and just haven't gotten around to it. Too bad it's so difficult. I do love that Treasure weirdness though.

The Last Ninja

04/01/2020 at 08:06 AM

Give it a try. This game is bursting with lots of weirdness.

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