When I was a kid, I didn't really have a lot of knowledge on games outside of Mario, Sonic, Rock Band, and some GTA through word of mouth at school. We went to GameStop one day in maybe 2011 or 2012 or so and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PS3 caught me eye, so I took it home with me. My mind was absolutely blown when I started playing it. 40 doesn't seem like too many now, but all those strange little games from before I was born were awe-inspiring to me. However, for the longest time I couldn't really make any dents outside of the Sonic and Alex Kidd games, so I didn't really form real thoughts on many of them until the past two or three years.
Dynamite Headdy, on the other hand, stuck out to me almost immediately. Might be the very first one-off title to really resonate with me. I knew very early on that I wanted to finish this one, that it was a winner. Similar story with Ristar, but between the two this won me over.
To this day, this is my favorite game in the Genesis library. Upon replaying Gunstar Heroes it came into a VERY close second, but the memories and nostalgia for this one are near unparalleled for me. It helps that I also love just about everything that it does. It's so goddamn stupid in the best way possible, just all over the place, completely off the rails. You can poke around at random shit and maybe you'll find some secret bonuses, which after I learned about it basically completely enthralled me all over again. It also has maybe my favorite game soundtrack out there
. I really don't think there's anything not to like here. It's a stone cold classic.
It's another victim of changes in localization, though. I've always been used to the international release since I've played it so many times, but for today's replay I did the Japanese version and I think I have more issues with the palette changes than the difficulty changes. A lot of stuff just looks much, much better in the Japanese version, and in the process of turning Maruyama into Trouble Bruin overseas it made a lot of boss and enemy palettes comparatively really awkward. Most of the dialogue is taken out as well, which unfortunately removes a good chunk of the humor. I fucking love how these wacky ass adversaries all speak so professionally, like the big colorful goofy ass dog who is played completely straight as a bounty hunter. That kind of shit is so funny to me.
I think charm prevails over all in a grand majority of my favorite things, but aside from a few brutally difficult sections such as scene 8-5 (again mitigated in the original Japanese version) this is pretty much flawless in all other regards too if you ask me. It was probably my favorite game of all time before joining the site, and it still comfortably sits in my top 5.
One more thing, I think it's genuinely one of very few things that couldn't be recreated today. There's a ton of overly absurd and "quirky" indie platformers nowadays, but they just don't hit the same. There's something lost these days in the art of presenting the goofiest shit possible with a straight face, instead typically being overtaken by layers of irony and pandering to internet culture. And then a bunch of kids who probably advocated for Banjo in Smash Bros will shove it down your throat. Maybe it's something I'm just a killjoy about, but it really just isn't the same. Post real Soul™.