Obscure Video Games: Hard Head 2

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It’s hard

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Hard Head 2 is janky as hell; but that’s what makes it so fascinating. Released in arcades back in 1991, the game wants to be a Super Mario Bros. clone. Yet for some reason, the developers at SunA decided to throw out everything that made Mario control so well and instead amped up the weirdness.

The story starts out with our protagonist dancing with his girlfriend. A giant cyclops then comes along and sucks the girl into his mouth and starts chewing on her. Your mission is track him down and get her out of there before he swallows. She might get a little mangled, but she’ll be fine. Also, you’re a baby.

Gameplay consists of climbing, jumping, and toddling left to right to complete each level. The designers decided to save money on a jump button, so instead players have to push up diagonally on the joystick instead. This is extremely frustrating, because frequently you will unintentionally jump when trying to move (or vice versa). The action button is reserved for weapons, like baseball bats, maces, and guns that shoot bubbles. Despite the name, (and unlike Bonk’s Adventure) your head is not a weapon.

The graphics, character design, and animation are all terrible (even for a game made in 1991), but this makes the game rather endearing in an ironic sort of way. Your badly-drawn boy loses clothing as he takes damage until he’s wearing nothing but his big pink boots. Enemies include everything from vase-carrying turtles to miniature dinosaurs and vicious monkeys. Meanwhile, the bosses range from a giant armadillo to whatever this guy is:

Unfortunately Hard Head 2 has never been ported to home consoles, so you’re going to need an emulator if you want to play it. I think it’s worth the effort, though, even if just for a few minutes. If you like strange, difficult games, you might be surprised how much fun you’re having.

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