Monday, October 4, 2021

Matter of Import 80: Headbanger's Heaven [Llamasoft 1982]


Headbanger’s Heaven is an early Llamasoft title for the ZX Spectrum so you know we’re in for a weird time. A rather lengthy introduction introduces us to the game; we take on the role of Chico, a British heavy metal fan, who loves to headbang so much that he’s grown a bit addicted to having hammers hit him in the head. Our goal is to grab sacks of money from the right side of the screen and transport them left as a rain of hammers descends towards us, stopped only by three Space Invaders’ style bunkers along the way. Getting hit in the head by a hammer gives us points, getting hit anywhere else costs us a life.

Chico can take 10 hammer blows to the dome before getting a headache, so to reset that meter you’ll need to get hit by a red hammer, which is apparently filled with painkillers. Or something. I don’t know, man, Jeff Minter is a nutjob, but the longer you go without grabbing a red hammer the more points your head-blows are worth.

The game is simple and fast paced, but the controls aren’t terribly responsive leading to more deaths than you probably deserve. The rain of hammers quickly becomes unreasonable as well - your character takes up three “rows” on the screen, and you can only safely take hammer hits to the skull in the middle “row”, but the hammers soon fall in sheets nearly the length of the screen that both eat up your bunkers and give you no safe way to traverse.

I feel that if the difficulty and controls were fixed this quirky little game would be worth playing for the premise, but as it is I cannot recommend it.

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