Head Over Heels

Genre: Action-adventure
Release Year: 2003
Developer: Retrospec
Publisher: Retrospec
Age Rating: Everyone
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 8 x64
Availability: Officially released for free

When a remake of a game you remember from your childhood turns up on a list of old games, that does rather make you feel a little old. If, like me, you grew up in the 1980s and 1990s and you remember the Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum and/or the Amstrad CPC, chances are you encountered the isometric platform adventure game Head Over Heels. In the game you lead freedom fighters Head and Heels as they escape their prison in Castle Blacktooth and set off on their quest to liberate the various planets in the Blacktooth empire. Considered a masterpiece when it was originally released, winning high accolades from critics and gamers alike. This remake is faithful to the original gameplay but enhances the graphics dramatically, making it even prettier than the Commodore Amiga version. Like many early videogames, limited lives and a need for pixel perfect jumping make this one game that most modern gamers will quickly drop in frustration. However, for the determined, or those who simply relish a bit of old school action, this remake is pure perfection. Head Over Heels still remains our favourite isometric adventure (with the superbly atmospheric but even more dauntingly difficult Solstice on the Nintendo NES a close second).


The game will install without any issues on a modern PC. Simply download the game for free from the official homepage and run the installer.

Running the game

Start the game from the Start menu/screen or desktop shortcut as normal. If the game crashes when you try to launch it, simply add the games executable “HoH.exe” to the list of programs excluded from Data Execution Prevention (DEP). For a tutorial on how to do this, see this link.

Tweaking visual quality

To make sure the game is running at its best, choose “Game Options” from the main menu. Now, make sure that “Shadows” are set to “Complex”. Also on this menu, “GFX Mode” can be toggled between “Windowed” and “Full Screen”. On our Windows 8 machine, switching between full screen mode and window mode caused the game image to blank. If this happens, press the Escape key several times, then the Enter key. This will force the game to quit and then the next time you launch it it will run in the desired mode just fine.


Game crashes on startup – Check that you disabled DEP for the game (see under “Running the game”).

Problems saving games and other settings – Like many old titles, Head Over Heels saves its game data into the same folder as the game itself. In some instances on more modern versions of Windows, this will mean that save games and configuration files cannot be written. To solve this problem you can either run the game as administrator (right click on the games icon and choose “Run as administrator”) or, better still, set the permissions on your game folder so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here. The games default installation directory is “C:\Program Files (x86)\HeadOverHeels”. The actual save game files are named “save1.dat”, “save2.dat” etc, while configuration settings are saved to “Config.dat”. Remember the game doesn’t save your progress automatically, you must find a reincarnation fish in order to save.


Click on any screenshot to enlarge. See more screenshots at the games official homepage here.

Heels braves a spooky looking dungeon.

The duo take on planet Egyptus.

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