Hard Head 2

Platform: Arcade (SunA 8-bit hardware)
Developer: SunA
Publisher: Space Age Electronics
Released: 1991
Genre: Platformer - Scrolling
Players: 1-2 (Co-op)

Hard Head 2 is one of the worst games ever released. In the arcade gaming environment, where games like R-Type and Street Fighter II set the blueprints for their respective genres for years to come, there's no room for weak games, and Hard Head 2 is one such game. How could it have possibly been made and released in the arcades?! How do you mess things up this badly? Well, the truth is, to make something this bad, you have to be part of the insidious SunA, a mysterious, sinister video gaming cartel that clearly had no business making arcade games, or games in any capacity whatsoever.

A platformer in the same slow-and-steady mould of Tad Corporation's Toki, Hard Head 2 is a colossal failure on every level. The game is staggering in its ineptitude just to look at. The graphics are bizarre, grotesque and, at times, slightly unsettling, especially the giant screaming face and the frankly insane appearance of Chairman Mao on the final stage. The music consists entirely of two tracks, which take one eight-beat sample each, then play it over and over and over again. The sound effects are, mercifully, drowned into obsolescence by the incessant music, but they're just as bad. There, in just three sentences I've encapsulated the aesthetic nightmare that is Hard Head 2. Unfortunately, I now have to talk about the game itself.

Every stage in the game is exactly the same, with each one scrolling so very slowly to the right that you can out-run the screen, forcing you to constantly stop, let it catch up, then keep going. On occasion, you'll be directed to stop by a box at the bottom of the screen. Don't worry, this doesn't mean that there's any interesting level design that lets you take different routes throughout the stages; it just means that you'll often be commanded by this stupid little box to stop what you're doing and kill every enemy on screen. If this makes the game sound like it's a constant stop-and-start rigmarole, then that's because it is- the game is so slow-paced that the timer at the top of the screen might as well go backwards. This is made worse by the hordes of enemies you have to plough through on each stage- you're usually outnumbered four-to-one, but they're so dumb and uninterested in you that it's a chore to even fight them.

The biggest crime the game commits, however, is in the level design. It doesn't matter whether the stage is in the forest, under the sea, or apparently in the bowels of Hell, it's all the fucking same! It might as well be the same stage repeated 8 times. There's nothing interesting, there's barely anything memorable beyond the horrifying graphics, and unlike nearly every other video game I have ever played, I can't remember any level at all. I've just got nothing. Even the screenshots on this page aren't jogging my memory. You can't even enjoy it ironically, it's that fucking bad. Once you've seen the horrifying face and Chairman Mao (and you can do that in screenshot form) then there is absolutely no reason to play this shit-pile. It is the worst.

For its crimes against video gaming at large, Hard Head 2 is awarded...

In a sentence, Hard Head 2 is...
A cruel joke masquerading as a video game.

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