Released in 1994, Dynamite Headdy has some of the best graphics on the Genesis console with its huge bosses and rotoscoped graphics. The main draw of this game is the variety of heads you can collect which include a hammer, a bomb, and a vacuum cleaner. As Headdy you set out to defeat the Dark Demon. Along the way you meet a mysterious woman named Heather and the pesky nuisance Trouble Bruin.
Best time: 0:41:17 by Tyler 'Zyre' Larsen on 2011-10-03.
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I'm not entirely sure where in my mess of cables the sound is getting cut out of one of the channels, but it works 95% of the time. There is only a few spots where the sound cuts out for a few seconds, and it is that way on the recording so don't worry about your viewing program of choice messing it up.
To start things off, I need to give my thanks.
~Thanks to my wife, Anna, for putting up with all of my gaming habits and even encouraging me to continue speedrunning. Love ya, babe!
~Thanks to Arrow for not only providing the previous speedrun on SDA, but also for giving me pointers and even racing me at the first Summer Games Done Quick.
~Thanks to emu for his TAS.
~Thanks to everyone on the forums who supported me in the making of this speedrun.
~And of course, major thanks to everyone who keeps SDA going.
Dynamite Headdy has always been a fun game for me to play, even more to speedrun. Compared to other Treasure games, Dynamite Headdy is considered an underrated gem as it was easily overlooked for other games such as Gunstar Heroes. However, people should play this game. It is bright, colorful, and has many little details that you don't notice the first time around. It even has elements that will challenge you beyond normal gameplay (namely the Secret Bonus Points and Secret Numbers). Best of all, it makes you use your head (literally)!
I think that's enough about the game, so onto the run!
~Scene 1-1: The Getaway
Easy auto-scrolling level. I think that last spike was a dud. The robot doesn't do anything to you (not even hurt you), so it just ends up as target practice. If you destroy it, you get a Secret Bonus Point (SBP for short). If you don't, nothing happens gameplay-wise, but don't you feel bad for those townsfolk that get taken away now that you've just ditched them?
At the end you meet the wannabe star of the show, Trouble Bruin. He isn't hard to beat, but can only be hurt when he is trying to catch his breath. Getting hit here does look bad, but I didn't lose any time. Fun fact: Trouble Bruin is a brown cat in the US, while in Japan he is a purple bear with a creepy happy face.
~Scene 2-1: Practice Area
One of these times, I'm gonna knock that top hat guy from his high perch...
Practice Area is just that: a practice area. You meet three helpers that help you understand your abilities better and will provide mini-challenges. If you complete the challenge you get a SBP. As I don't need the practice, nor is there any benefit to performing the challenges, I skip them.
~Scene 2-2: Toys 'N The Hood
And now you get into the action! Attacking while on the ground will stop your movement, but attacking in the air won't so I try to use that as often as I can. The first part goes well, with a damage boost from the sentry. At the first Headcase (a helper who lets you change your head's properties and abilities) the TAS uses Super Head for the speed boost. As I don't have reflexes that match the level of a TAS, I opt for the Hammer Head and the double damage it offers. Catherine (the green robot) goes down quickly, and I hit the cactus-man and his donkey as soon as I can. Hitting them grants me SBPs (which does nothing), however the screen won't scroll until they are gone, so I take them out. At this point you have a choice. You could get Spike Head and go up to face Snake Eyes (a mini-boss) and earn a SBP, or get Pin Head and navigate a mini-maze. As Snake Eyes is a little random and the maze isn't, the Pin Head path wins.
~Scene 2-3: Mad Dog And Headdy
Boss time! Trouble Bruin is back, and this time he's armed...until the REAL boss shows up. Mad Dog's weak point is his tail, so I start hitting it before it is on screen. I take advantage of Headcase's appearance to get the Hammer Head to finish off Mad Dog. Those metal puzzle piece-things that come out of the boss grant you another try if you collect enough of them. Originally I thought that another try meant another life, but I later figured out that another try means continue. You start off with no continues and three lives, so collecting these pieces are important if you want to use a continue. Since I don't die once in this run, collecting these is just something to do for fun.
I wish I could skip Heather's cutscene. Each time she comes to collect a key it wastes almost 30 seconds of time...
~Scene 3-1: Down Under
This is not my best performance of this stage, but definitely not my worst. I have done this stage flawlessly before, but it doesn't happen often. I avoid destroying any enemies until the flying soldiers, which they then either dodge my attacks, or I mistime my attack and hit them when they are invulnerable. You have to wait for the platforms to be level before you can advance to the next stage, so I had just missed the completion of a rotation and had to wait. Getting there before the end of the fifth rotation is ideal, but here I had to wait until the end of the sixth.
~Scene 3-2: Backstage Battle
Super Head is the head of choice here thanks to the extended range it gives. You can beat Trouble Bruin without it, but it isn't nearly as fast. I have beat Trouble Bruin faster than this, but even this attempt was faster than the majority of other attempts. Had I hit him just a little faster I would have triggered his explosion sooner and would be closer to the right side of the screen...
~Scene 3-3: The Green Room
Both the Puppeteer and Gentleman Jim need to be destroyed, and a SBP is rewarded if you take out the Puppeteer first. I try to keep hitting both of them (they have separate heath) as often as I can, so I tend to take a reckless approach here. This is the first spot in the game where my speedrun attempts have a decent chance of ending due to death. I get hit a few times and miss a few shots, but this still worked in my favor.
~Scene 3-4: Clothes Encounters
It is possible to beat Wooden Dresser during her Dragon form, but I just barely wasn't able to get it here. I was just one hit away. Beating her on her Dragon form just comes down to timing when to knock off the head. When done just right (about half a second earlier than I did), she (yes, it's a she) will still dance for about eight seconds - just enough time to take her out. I use Spiral Head on Dragon form and Super Head on the Ballerina form because they make it easier to knock the clothes off. Of course I then proceed to miss the final hit with Super Head not just once, but twice...
~Scene 4-1: Terminate Her Too
This level, playing it normally, is a lot of fun. Speedrunning it, however, is different. The first part goes well with no problems. I use Bomb head to take out half of Mons Meg's (the robot) health. Robots sure get used a lot in this game. Mons Meg goes down without a problem. Then comes a TAS trick I learned: you can jump over the first set of metal platforms, fall into a pit to avoid hitting the second set, and not using Hammer Head! After that, the Super Tank Machine doesn't cooperate with it's first shot, so I lost a little time due to a 50/50 chance. At least I got the jump onto that drain plug/totem pole/thing right, so that saved a few seconds there. The conveyor belts went smoothly up until that last bit. I meant to jump forward to exit the stage, but my thumb was still holding down when I hit the jump button, so I had to wait until I just about landed from the pit jump to exit the stage.
~Scene 4-2: Mad Mechs
Pretty much perfect except for jumping a tad too early and getting hit by that Wise Woman. The banana I got at the end of the last stage really helps here.
~Scene 4-3: Mad Mechs 2
The spinners here have soldiers or fans that can make using them annoying. I've had many attempts where I would hit the spinners the way I wanted to, just to have a soldier flip it the other way. Instead of taking the upper route, I take the lower route which has only one spinner. I'm not sure if it is slower than the upper route, but at least this way is more reliable to me. Getting the Hammer Head may be optional and something that isn't needed in the future if you're going to take the lower route. I haven't tested that, but you do need the Hammer Head for the upper route.
~Scene 4-4: Heathernapped
Now we're going to be facing the easiest boss in the game! Nothing! Here you see the only dialogue (other than the practice rooms, which got skipped) in the game, and I skip it! In the Japanese version, there is much more dialogue that explains more about the story of the game, but they took it out in the US version. The dialogue that I skip here just explains why there is no boss. In short: Heather beat me to it, defeated it, and took its key all before I set foot in the room. Why couldn't she do that to the other bosses?
I can't move during the scoring, so that's why there is no dance.
~Scene 5-1: Go Headdy Go
Following the easiest boss in the game is the second easiest stage in the game! The easiest stage is Practice Area with just needing to move right. Here you have to move right and jump once onto the first step! Once you're on that step, Headdy takes control and moves on his own up those stairs to the next stage.
~Scene 5-2: Stair Wars
This stage makes speedrunners, and sometimes even regular players, rage. You need to hit Trouble Bruin eight times before that female voice says that you've earned a SBP. If I hear that voice, the run is over as the stage has taken too long. This is the second spot in the game that has a high chance of killing run attempts.
Until recently, I thought that Trouble Bruin's action was completely random. Just like many, many other people. Then one day someone (I don't remember who, but you know who you are) told me that the TAS manipulates Trouble Bruin into ramming you (the only time he is vulnerable). I was intrigued by this thought and watched the TAS again. I couldn't see exactly how Trouble Bruin was manipulated, but I had a theory based off of what I saw in the TAS. My theory says that Trouble Bruin will ram you if you are horizontally level with him at a certain point in his animation. When exactly that certain point is, I'm not sure. But the results seem to work, as every time that I tried my theory out, Trouble Bruin rammed me more often. There may be more to it, but that's the gist of it. I hope that it gets proven someday and can relive future speedrunners, racers, and even gamers in general of the pain that is Stair Wars randomness.
I try to use my theory in this run, and as you can see, you may get hit once or twice.
~Scene 5-3: Towering Internal
The stage up until Armordillo went well other than a couple missed shots and a cannonball that got between me and Hangman. Armordillo could have ended one jump sooner, but I got hit instead of hitting him. I jump down and pit jump to the upper level. However this moves the screen a little too high so that you're out of jumping range to trigger the next stage, so I jump as I'm rotating the gears to reset the screen location.
~Scene 5-4: Spinderella
Every time I fight Spinderella I try to get a TAS-like performance by killing her before she rotates the tower. I've gotten her down to one hit on multiple occasions, but you wouldn't tell by this attempt. This could be one of my worst fights with her. I normally don't get hit at all, and she hardly ever has more than two hits left when she rotates the tower. In this attempt, she has three hits left and I've gotten hit twice.
~Scene 6-1: Flying Game
All of the 6-x stages are auto-scrolling shmups. There are only a few things that you can do to speed up the stages, so I'll highlight them as they come.
Also unique to the 6-x stages are three new Heads. Air Head, a bi-plane head that shoots out three bullets and can turn around; Rocket Head, a rocket that can only face to the right, but shoots a laser that can penetrate foes; and Feather Head, a bird that spews baby chicks from its beak in a downward spray. In a normal playthrough, I used to just get Rocket Head for every stage. For speedrunning, it is actually easier to get Air Head first as it is the first head available and aids in the Sky Battleship battle, and then get Rocket Head.
I tried to make this entertaining by not getting hit, but I failed only 30 seconds in. When the Sky Battleship comes onto the screen, you'd think that you should start attacking the claw holding it up right away, right? Well, for some reason the claw does the damage animation but won't actually take damage for a period of time. Since there is no point in attacking it right away, I take out the mouth and rear cannon. The mouth can shoot these homing faces that are annoying to try to dodge, and the rear cannon is just to reduce the amount of damage I take when I attack the claw. Then comes one of the few moments that I may be able to influence the length of the stage: destroying the claw. At some point during or after the cloud cover, the claw actually does take damage. The trick is knowing when. I, however, don't know when that is exactly, so I just attack the claw once the rear cannon is destroyed. Once the sky battleship is done for, I comically grab Feather Head and mess around for a moment while waiting for the stage exit to appear.
~Scene 6-2: Fly Hard
Trouble Bruin is back, and this time he's packing some heat! Well, hot fireballs, lightning nets and homing mines, anyways. This is the second spot where you can influence the length of the stage. You can't hurt him when he is in the background, but he can throw some mines out at you. The mines, however, are easy to destroy with any Head you have. Once he is in the foreground though, he is vulnerable and will attack with the fireballs and nets. Taking the damage at the beginning doesn't matter as there is a banana to heal you, so I just pummel him with lasers. Sadly he gets a little trigger happy during his second foray into the foreground, so I take more damage than I would like. Two trips into the foreground (which is optimal) and he is done.
~Scene 6-3: Fly Hard 2
One of my favorite levels in the game. Nothing in this stage speeds you up, and nothing short of a death will slow you down either. Considering my health is lower than I'd like at this point, death is a possibility. However, I end up playing just as I normally do and finish the stage without getting hit once. Combine that with the banana at the end and I'm good for the next stage.
~Scene 6-4: Baby Face
Baby Face is the last spot where you can influence the length of the stage, especially when you consider that he's a boss. This fight as four forms, each form getting older than the last. Baby Face is simple, dodge the fire bubbles and pummel him with lasers. Sadly the bubbles can easily trap you, so taking a hit here is to be expected.
Boy Face can be difficult if you don't have Rocket Head, as his hand blocks your bullets/birds. I purposely take a hit here to manipulate the hand to a spot where I can both dodge the lightning bolts and hit Boy Face. A perfect Boy Face fight see the hand appearing only twice. Sadly, I see it three times and have to wait until the third wave of lighting is sent from his finger before the battle progresses.
Man Face is the hardest form. He reaches up with his hook and brings down a curtain to block your view, then proceeds to fire many lasers. Doding the lasers and the hook/hand is fairly easy with a little experience and practice. Optimally you'll keep hitting Man Face the entire fight so that when he puts the curtain back, his hook/hand doesn't appear again. I mess up, however, and went for about a second or two without hitting him, so his hook/hand came back up for a little longer, costing me precious seconds.
Then comes Grandpa Face. You can fight him and avoid his bony hand as it reaches for you if you want, as it rewards a SBP. But if he grabs you with his hand, he'll chuckle...then die from old age. Obviously it's faster to let the Grim Reaper do his job.
~Scene 7-1: Headdy Wonderland
Now for another of my favorite levels! PETA will be furious with me for how I treat a couple of animals along the way, but I get SBPs out of them. Then arrives the Gatekeeper and Heather. The point here is to get Gatekeeper to turn away from Heather so she can throw the keys she has been collecting into that container on his back. Gatekeeper jumps between 2-5 times before turning to face you, so some luck has to be considered. Also to be considered is the fact that Heather moves as well. Normally I can manipulate Gatekeeper so that Heather doesn't miss (if she does, she panics and then has to retrieve the key), and in this case she doesn't miss, however I got unlucky with her position and Gatekeeper's three times.
After getting all the keys into the container, Dark Demon's castle is revealed! But now comes what is one of the harder boss fights in the game: Nasty Gatekeeper! Ideally, you want Nasty Gatekeeper to grab Headcase and never let go. This gives you an opportunity to use Bomb Head on Nasty Gatekeeper. If you hit him with Bomb Head twice plus one normal hit, he's toast. It takes a few tries, but I manage to get two bomb hits on him in a quick time.
~Scene 8-1: The Rocket Tier
You can use one of two heads to avoid the missles. Pin Head lets you hide in the gaps in the floor, while Spike Head lets you grapple the ceiling. Spike Head is a little more difficult as you have to constantly grapple, but you move faster than Pin Head. One idea that I had floating around in my head was using the soldiers to take a small amount of damage and then use the invincibility period to pass through the missles. This tactic is fairly risky because if you mistime your damage, you could get hit by the missle instead of or even including the soldier. Getting the banana helps keep my health at max when I leave the stage.
~Scene 8-2: Illegal Weapon 3
The strategy for Missle Man is simple: Keep hitting him, and when the missle is about to launch, walk into Missle Man. The damage from Missle Man is negligable compared to the missle's damage. What's strange is that I believe I've accidentally found a glitch with Missle Man! If you watch my health, it doesn't go down at all when I walk into him. Why? I think it is because I'm walking into him when he is still going through his hit animation or because the missle has started moving. Either way, I get hit and the invincibility triggers, but I don't take any damage!
~Scene 8-3: Fun Forgiven
This level has ended a few runs. Mostly because my health was too low from the last two stages. But this time I'm walking in at full health, so I'm good. Grabbing Hangman and using the game's recoil animation to propel myself forward is a trick I picked up from the TAS. The TAS manages to skip both of the pits, but I can only manage one. Still, I was quick enough to jump out the second pit and not have to wait. The Tarot fight goes well, even with getting hit a couple of times and resting afterwards. I wanted to rest just in case I accidentally fall into spikes so it doesn't end the run and I do lose a few seconds with that, but I make up for a couple with a perfect Hangman wall climb to the end of the stage, so the resting wasn't necessary.
~Scene 8-4: Vice Versa
This stage goes well other than a fall into spikes that normally doesn't happen. In retrospect, it was a good thing that I rested after Tarot as that spike could have ended the run! Even so, I stop to rest at Headcase (thankfully not for long) for the upcoming mini-boss and boss fights. After getting Empty Head for the invulnerability, I take Sparky on. You can hurt him yourself, so you have to use the metal balls provided. The size of the ball doesn't matter, as they all deal the same amount of damage, but if you are lucky to get two balls close together, you can hit him twice as he doesn't have any invincibility after he gets hit. At first, I thought I had messed up the fight and it was going to take a while. But instead it went perfectly as every flip after the second hit him twice! As a bonus, I never got hit, meaning I had near full health going into the boss fight.
~Scene 8-5: Twin Freaks
This is it. This is THE HARDEST BOSS IN THE ENTIRE GAME! Ask anyone who has played this game and gotten this far or farther, they will agree that Twin Freaks is, hands down, the most difficult boss to fight in this game. You can easily get crushed, which is instant death. Spikes are all over, and they really hurt. As a plus, Twin Freaks has two modes: Green and Red. Green mode is when he is vulnerable, but he throws these flying heads at you. The heads don't do much damage, but they can knock you into a wall, spike, or get in the way of hitting the switch. Red mode doesn't have the flying heads, but he moves faster, trying to crush you into a wall. This is the guy that ended the most runs for me.
Can he be beaten without getting hit? Yes, he can, and I (along with many others) have done it. Too bad it doesn't happen like that here. But the strategy I take here is reckless, but very rewarding. Just see how low his health is when I hit my first switch. I then have to wait until I have more room before I can start attacking him again, but that doesn't take long. Reckless? Yes. Fast? Oh, yeah.
~Scene 9-1: Fatal Contraption
A vertical auto-scroller. This one isn't hard, but if you're not careful, you could get hit under a floor/block and get crushed. Trouble Bruin also doesn't make things easier, as he hangs out under your elevator platform, shooting energy balls at you from his Super Fanangler. I really do try to keep the number of attacks I do to a minimum, as this level can lag in a few spots.
~Scene 9-2: Far Trek
This stage has perhaps one of the hardest, if not the hardest, SBPs to get in the game. With the Super Fanangler out of control, Trouble Bruin needs someone to protect him. As there is no one else around, you'll have to do. To earn the SBP, Trouble Bruin cannot get attached to you. No small feat when he is chasing you down and you have energy beams coming from the Super Fanangler to worry about! Thankfully SBPs don't matter in a speedrun, so it is just a matter of keeping the damage to a minimum. I do alright in this regard, but I still felt my health is a little lower than I'd like.
~Final Scene: Finale Analysis
Dark Demon is a tough boss. When I was little, there was no GameFAQs to help me out and I didn't know if there was any sort of strategy guide. I had to figure out his attacks myself. Thankfully it didn't take too long to realize that the color of the orb in his hand determined the attack. Pin Head is the most useful head here for survival, as you can dodge 3 of his attacks with it. I take a more aggressive approach here by getting Hammer Head first to hit Dark Demon, then immediately switch to the Head that I need to survive. This tactic is risky as if I don't switch in time, I'll take damage. The only attack that I don't feel confident enough to switch fast enough for is the blue electric wall attack. So I just keep Hammer Head and take the damage. Sadly he uses the blue electric wall attack three times, but I'm able to survive to finish him off.
~Final Thoughts and Credits
Well, that's it. Dynamite Headdy has beaten Dark Demon, saved the town/world/universe, and got the girl. While the gameplay can be improved in many spots, this was my best time without dying. I'm actually very happy with this run and the little mistakes throughout. I can't think of one major mistake in this run. This was a fun game to speedrun, and I hope that it provides a challenge to those who want to better my time in the future. Can it be better? Yes it can. A little cleaner execution along with a little better luck can definitely see this game under 41 minutes. Who knows, maybe even that luck and execution will get it under 40? Only time will tell. Enjoy the long ending credits and my attempt at opening the secret boss door.
See you next speedrun!
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