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Dynamite Headdy
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.

 

Run: 0:47:35 by Wes 'Arrow' Fathauer

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Greetings. This is my first speed run, and definitely not my last. Dynamite Headdy is one of my favorite games on the Sega Genesis, and one I am intimately familiar with; I couldn't really think of a better choice for my first run. The game is well known for its difficulty in the later stages. I would guess that many people who played the game have never actually beaten it. From the start, my top priority in this run was to complete the game with no deaths, as I knew this would be just as impressive, if not more so, than any speed tricks I could find. I also spent a great deal of time practicing the bosses, optimizing the battles as much as I could. I'm quite satisfied with the results, and I hope you will be too. I'll warn you in advance that my comments are rather long. I like to explain things as much as I can so it will be clear to those who haven't played the game before. Plus, I personally enjoy reading detailed comments, and I have a feeling I'm not the only one. Anywho, on with the run!

1-1 The Escape
Auto-scrolling level until the end. The spikes and robo-collector can't actually hurt you. Destroying the robo-collector is unnecessary, it just rewards you with a secret bonus point. This is as good a time as any to comment on secret bonus points (from here on referred to as SBPs)... I do not attempt to collect all of the SBPs in the game during this run. Many of them are out of the way, some literally involve standing around doing nothing for a while. Not very entertaining for a speed run. I do, however, snag any that are directly in my path and/or don't cost any time, such as the one on this level. Next is Trouble Bruin, a boss I've fought way too many times now. Not much to say about this fight, it's pretty simple. Occasionally the pattern of the balls forces me to take a hit in order to strike TB as fast as possible, but that wasn't the case this time. This game, graciously, allows you to skip through the points tallying unlike most games.

2-1 Practice Area
This is the tutorial stage. The three doors I pass contain mini-games that teach you how to play and reward you with SBPs upon completion. Obviously, it's faster to just skip them.

2-2 Toys n the Hood
Behold my first speed trick: hitting soldiers with an aerial strike! Usually when you shoot your head, Headdy has to stop moving, but not so with an aerial shot. I *could* just jump over the soldiers, but it requires precise timing. Much easier to just do the jump attack. So then I proceed to forget to use this technique against the third soldier >_< Too many run attempts was taking its toll on me or something. The rest of the level goes just about perfectly. At the first Headcase I use, you would think I would want to take the Super Head since it increases my run speed. Unfortunately, it would only get me to Catherine slightly faster than normal, and it ends up not saving time since the Hammer Head does double damage. As an aside, the Super Head is NEVER offered at a point where its speed boost can be beneficial. I use it once later in the run, but for its range increase. Anyway... Catherine goes perfectly. I hit the two guys that jump out of the cage not for the SBPs, but because if you don't the screen won't scroll to the right until they run off to the left. I take the Pin Head path here. Generally it would be best to avoid the Pin Head as it decreases your speed dramatically, but if you take the upper path, you have to fight a mini-boss named Snake Eyes that can be very random. It's probably possible to go slightly faster if you take the upper route, but it's way too luck dependent. In all my practice runs, the lower path was faster, so that's the one I stick to.

2-3 Mad Dog and Headdy
Owned. I like the trick I figured out to hit his tail before it's even in the screen. He goes down quick and without incident. My apologies to fans of the Nutcracker Suite.

3-1 Down Under
This is my least favorite stage in the game, at least where speed running is concerned. The enemies tend to be grouped too closely together to use the jump strike trick, and are too large to jump over. This leaves going around them, which is very difficult due to the tilting of the stage. The frogs are pretty much impossible to get around without stopping or getting hit, so I chose to just dive in the pit before them since the damage I take is negligible and it costs no time. The flying soldiers can be difficult... you have to be almost perfectly aligned with their shadows to hit them. Overall, this was one of my better runs of the level.

3-2 Backstage Battle
Here's where I use the Super Head. It's actually possible to beat TB during his first rotation, but requires perfect precision with your shots. Difficult, to say the least. I've done it once out of my hundreds of attempts, so it wasn't too surprising that I fell short this time.

3-3 The Green Room
I take out Gentleman Jim first because he's very annoying to fight during the second phase, while the Puppeteer is very easy. The only good reason to kill Puppeteer first is to get a SBP.

3-4 Clothes Encounters
I accidentally figured out a method to beat Wooden Dresser during her first form, but I was never able to replicate it. I'm not even sure if it would be much faster. It involved waiting around a long time before you knock off the dragon costume... Wooden Dresser then kept dancing around for 8 seconds as if she was still wearing it. Even if I had been able to repeat it, the waiting takes almost as long as waiting for Wooden Dresser to switch costumes anyway. I think beating her during the second form is fast enough... people who have played this game before are saying, "Wait, I thought she had a third form!" They're also probably saying, "Wooden Dresser is a SHE?" According to the Japanese version, which had a LOT more dialogue (that is to say, it *had* dialogue), she is.

4-1 Terminate Her Too
Minor mistakes here and there, nothing too costly. Bomb Head is by far the quickest way to beat Mons Meg (or any boss that has it available as an option for that matter, which is a grand total of two bosses). Ideally, Super Tank Machine (love that name) will fire the first cannonball straight, but it's a 50/50 chance it will bounce as it did here; only a few seconds lost. I use the Empty Head here so I can press against the tank and pass as soon as possible without taking damage. The part with the conveyor belts can be kind of annoying, so I save myself some time by falling in the pit and then grab the banana to make up for the damage I take.

4-2 Mad Mechs
Almost a perfect run through, except for missing that last jump. Luckily I landed on the ledge below and recovered quickly.

4-3 Mad Mechs 2
This level can be frustrating due to certain elements that seem placed specifically to disrupt going as fast as possible. If you try to move onto the spinners as soon as you can, the soldiers will usually flip them at the same time and hit you, or at least send you off in a direction you don't want to go. At the very last spinner where I stop the fan, occasionally you can jump into it while it's spinning and have it flip you right up to the ledge that leads to the exit. This is very random though, and if it doesn't work can sometimes result in you losing a lot of time by being stuck in it while it spins. This wasn't a risk I was willing to take, so I just stop it the old reliable way.

4-4 Heathernapped
The only dialogue that was left in the game (aside from the tutorial rooms, which you don't get to see) is featured on this level. I skip it, of course =P

5-1 Go Heady Go
Just in case you were wondering, getting the Hammer Head here would be pointless because you lose heads between stages. The only reason it's offered is because if you take the Liberty Head (for the bonus game), that option will disappear after you use it, so there has to be something else available on Headcase. No, I'm not controlling myself when Headdy climbs the stairs... he's on autopilot.

5-2 Stair Wars
Ah, Stair Wars, my other least favorite level. While Down Under was frustrating due to pixel-perfect precision demands, this one is frustrating due to the bane of all speed runners: luck. As far as I've been able to determine, whether TB uses the scythe or moves into the center where you can hit him is completely random. I've had him move into the center four times in a row before, and I've also had him go a whole minute without doing it. So there's a good two minutes or so riding on random, uncontrollable factors in this level. I try to stay low so that TB won't hit me when he moves to the middle. I fall twice, but it's not like it costs me any time. This run through was on the slow side compared to my average, but I've had it take even longer.

5-3 Towering Internal
Avoiding those fire things at the beginning is tough. I could have saved some time on Armordillo by hitting him between uses of the Ticker Head, but I didn't want to get too caught up and then miss grabbing the head altogether. I do save a second or two by canceling the head as soon as I know I've hit him enough times (16). Getting the banana at the end of the stage is rather unnecessary since Spinderella never hits me.

5-4 Spinderella
This is my favorite boss in the game, for a few reasons. 1. She has my favorite music (Baby Face also has this song). 2. I think the tower spinning effect is kind of neat. 3. She's extremely easy. Which is ironic because when I was younger I considered her to be one of the hardest bosses in the game (she is if you aren't familiar with her pattern). The only time I could have possibly saved here is where I accidentally stop too early when I'm in the background (it's tough to line yourself up back there).

6-1 The Flying Game
Let me take a minute to talk about the available heads for the flying stages. Air Head: Shoots bullets in three directions and allows you to turn around. Rocket Head: Shoots rapid fire lasers in a straight line that can penetrate barriers, but you can only face right. Feather Head: Sucks, and will not be seen in this run. I choose Air Head first for two reasons... it's the first head available, so I don't waste any time waiting at the beginning, and it allows me to shoot the Sky Battleship from behind. More on that in a bit. The flying levels are all auto-scrolling, so there's nothing I can do to make them go faster (aside from the Sky Battleship and TB fights). My approach to this was that I should make them as entertaining as possible by not getting hit and/or destroying all enemies. Watch me fail miserably on both counts =P In my defense, the flying levels are the first that really start to pick up in difficulty. Also, getting hit on this first stage doesn't really matter since there's a banana at the beginning of the next one. Anyway, you may wonder why I'm not more gung-ho about attacking the claw against the Sky Battleship, since the level doesn't advance until I destroy it. Well, according to the Dynamite Headdy FAQ written by Minty Fresh Death, no matter how much you hit it, the claw can't be destroyed until the cloud cover passes. As far as I've been able to tell, this is true. Instead, I focus on destroying the mouth (the things it shoots out are VERY annoying), then move behind it to destroy the cannon back there, and then focus on the claw. The planes and the mines they drop are much easier to avoid from the back, so that's why I use the Air Head here. Afterwards, I switch to Rocket Head for the next stage.

6-2 Fly Hard
My main goal here is to do enough damage to TB that he only moves into the foreground twice. My secondary goal is to not get hit much. Well, I managed to accomplish one of those goals. At the start, it really doesn't matter if I get hit since that banana is coming up. After that, I try to be a little more cautious and dodge attacks occasionally. TB was a lot more trigger-happy during this run than usual though, so I take more damage than I would have preferred. I still beat him in the optimal time, but I'm going to regret those hits I took...

6-3 Fly Hard 2
This level probably contains my worst mistakes of the run. Thankfully it's auto-scrolling so none of them cost any time. Here's what's going through my head at the beginning of the level: "I took more hits than usual on that last level, so I better be extra careful." Then my hands decide to do the complete opposite and I drop down to one health. At this point, I was convinced my run was over, but I kept trying and somehow managed to make it to the banana despite how nervous I was. Yes, that end part with all the climbers really is as hard as it looks. As a side note, I don't know why I switch to the Air Head here. It isn't an accident; I do it every run. For some reason I just prefer flying with it.

6-4 Baby Face
Normally Baby Face isn't too much of a challenge, but I'm fighting with lower than usual health. First things first, get the Rocket head so I can save a TON of time on Boy Face and Man Face by shooting through their barriers. Baby Face is sort of like that first fight against TB where the pattern of the balls sometimes forces me to take a hit. Usually this isn't a big deal, but since my health is already low, it's far from desirable when it happens this time. My technique against Boy Face took a while to develop. Originally I was convinced that I had two ways I could fight him when he moves to the left. 1. Stay to the left and keep shooting. Boy Face himself won't hurt you when you do this, but his hand will when it comes up. 2. Move to the right where I can safely avoid all damage, but won't be able to hit him for a while. Between the two, obviously the first choice would be better, but it would be risky in situations where I was at abnormally low health (like this run). At some point in my practice runs I suddenly realized that I could just move to the right briefly to have Boy Face's hand come up in the middle, and then move back to the left to resume hitting Boy Face, only taking one hit in the process. This was a great technique and it worked famously. Too bad I completely botched it in this run. I almost forgot to move, so I end up with the hand way too close to avoid the sparks. I still manage to beat Boy Face with the optimal time, but now my health is so low that Man Face can easily take me out with one hit. Don't you just love these tense situations in speed runs? I'm not so crazy about them anymore. But as it so happens, my fight against Man Face was perfect. Now for those who aren't familiar with the game, let me explain what the deal is with Grandpa Face. He tries to grab you, but if he does, he just dies instantly. What's the point of even bothering to fight him then? Well, if you manage to beat him, you're rewarded with a SBP. For the sake of a speed run, obviously just letting him grab you is faster... not to mention that it's hilarious =P

7-1 Headdy Wonderland
Not much to this stage. Gatekeeper is kind of annoying. He jumps a random number of times, so it's impossible to predict which side you need to stand on to have him facing the right direction for Heather to make her throw. I only miss twice this time, which is average. Very rarely do I only miss once, and I think I've only done it with no misses once or twice. Now comes Nasty Gatekeeper. My strategy here is plain and simple. Get the Bomb Head as quick as possible and use it until Nasty is toast. Doing this is easier said than done. A lot of factors have to go your way. Firstly, Nasty has to grab Headcase. Sometimes he'll do this, sometimes he'll grab Bino instead (like he did in my run), and sometimes he'll use the arm holding Heather to attack instead of the empty one. And sometimes he'll just jump around. Once he has Headcase, you have to time grabbing the Bomb Head so that it will go off at his feet right when he uncovers his face. But sometimes the timing will be off and sometimes he'll choose to attack instead of uncovering his face. And sometimes he'll just jump around. If you can't tell, I'm not a big fan of the jumping; it's a major waste of time. The Bomb Head has the potential to defeat Nasty in two hits, but is VERY luck dependant. The nice thing about it is that even when you miss, you can usually still hit Nasty with a normal attack, so it doesn't waste any time compared to not using the Bomb Head at all. I manage to get one off, so I'm a happy camper.

8-1 The Rocket Tier
Swing, and a miss! Hehe. There's two ways you can do this level. 1. Use the Pin Head to duck under the missiles, which is cowardly and slow. 2. Take the Spike Head to grapple the ceiling. This is more difficult, but much much faster, not to mention that it looks impressive. Obviously I choose the latter option. Then I make one of the silliest mistakes of my run: I stop to grab the banana. When I had full health. Yeah >_< Force of habit...

8-2 Illegal Weapon 3
The missiles fire off with either short or long intervals between launches. If there's a long one, I can beat Missile Man in three turns, but they were all short this time around.

8-3 Fun Forgiven
The level goes smoothly, and I had a very nice Tarot fight. Falling in the spikes wasn't too cool. See, what was supposed to happen was I would jump off the edge towards certain doom, and land perfectly on that scarecrow, and then jump to the middle without missing a beat while you, the viewer, stare in amazement. Instead, I jump late, fall in the spikes, and have you, the viewer, laugh at me.

8-4 Vice Versa
Small time saving trick to hit the level flippers in mid-air. By total accident, I discovered during one of my practice runs that those enemies that hang from the ceiling don't hurt you, only their bullets do. I stop before Sparky to use the Sleepy Head - the only place in my run where I use it. Ideally, I didn't want to ever use it, but if you're familiar with the game, then you know I'm going to want to have as close to full health as possible for the next level. Sparky is the only boss (well, mini-boss) I could never figure out a fast method for beating. The size of the ball that hits him doesn't matter, however I think two hitting him at once does double damage. But actually getting this to happen is rather difficult.

8-5 Twin Freaks
The climax! As anyone who has played this game (and gotten this far) will tell you, Twin Freaks is BY FAR the hardest boss in the game. No contest. I tried to downplay this level when discussing my run on the forum, but all along I was dreading it, knowing that it would probably be the downfall of more run attempts than any other level. This actually wasn't the case, because I never even got as far as Twin Freaks in any of my previous recorded attempts =P Anyway, I practiced him a lot, and eventually got to the point where I could beat him pretty consistently. But even the smallest mistake here results in being crushed (which is instant death). So I can't begin to describe the pressure I felt at this point in my run. But the fight goes almost flawlessly, so I'm more than content :) For the record, I *have* beaten Twin Freaks without getting hit, a feat that probably only a few people in the world can admit to.

9-1 Fatal Contraption
Another auto-scrolling level, and not a very hard one. The only real danger I have is being shot by TB at a *very* inopportune time, causing me to be crushed. Aside from that, it doesn't matter if I get hit here since there's a banana at the beginning of the next stage. As it so happens, I don't get hit. Yay.

9-2 Far Trek
Yet *another* auto-scrolling level... it's the last one, I swear. I kind of suck at this stage. You have to avoid the haywire Super Finagler's laser fire while ALSO avoiding TB grabbing onto you (which doesn't hurt you, but slows you down and keeps you from being able to jump). The damage I took this run through is pretty much average for me.

9-3 Finale Analysis
First, let me say that I was extremely nervous by this point. I wanted this to be the run I kept, so I was a little more cautious when picking heads against Dark Demon than I am usually. This caution caused me to miss hitting him a few times, and also to get hit by the laser once. So it was sort of sloppy. I probably lost about a minute due to the misses. The only other thing I could have done to make the DD fight go faster would be to use the Hammer Head for double damage, but the only time I feel safe using it is when DD uses his spike attack. As you can see, he didn't use it once -_-

Enjoy the ending, curtain call, and credits that make up the next half of this video -_- Seriously, watch the credits long enough to listen to the pretty song once, and then just skip the rest... you aren't missing anything important. Random note: somehow I managed to glitch the game at the very end of the credits. I was pushing C repeatedly so I could just skip past the security door, and somehow this caused the hand to appear in the middle of the screen, with my controls frozen. It's never happened before... I'll take it as an omen that it was a good run. I went so fast that I broke the game =P

I made about a minute worth of small mistakes in this run. Had I been lucky, another two minutes could be saved on Stair Wars and Headdy Wonderland, plus another two for a DD fight with no misses and lots of Hammer Head use. Having all of this go in your favor is highly unlikely, so I would say that it's probably not humanly possible to get a time over four minutes faster than mine. "Will you ever try to improve your run?" Not unless some major time saving tricks are discovered. I enjoy this game a lot, but I don't think improving my time by a couple minutes is worth it unless there's a significant change made. "Will you ever do a 100% SBP run or a run that gets the four digits from the bonus levels to access the security door?" Probably not, since it's a lot of extra wasted time that doesn't really make the run look any more impressive... just slower. "Do you have any future speed running plans?" Why, yes I do. I'm already planning a run of another Sega Genesis classic. Something a little more... funky. Stay tuned to the SDA forums for details.

Thanks to Radix and Nate for doing their thing, Minty Fresh Death for his insightful FAQ (found on gamefaqs), and the supporters I had on the forum. Also, a very special thanks to everyone else that has contributed speed runs to SDA. One can never fully appreciate how difficult it is to make a run until you do it yourself. And finally, thanks to anyone who actually read through my full comments. I appreciate it :)

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