Headbanger’s Heaven was apparently written for the ZX Spectrum first and later ported to the VIC-20. The Spectrum version first came out in 1982 and is a pretty poor game, but with interesting character graphics and somewhat professional presentation.
The idea for this game was inspired by Jeff watching Alan Parker‘s Pink Floyd: The Wall and smoking far too many Jazz Woodbines… The marching hammers in the film are turned into raining hammers in this game… But anyway: you must avoid the raining hammers and pick up the bags of cash on each screen, and return them to the start again.
If you get hit by a hammer your pain meter increases and when it reach a certain point you’ll pass out. Your only real protection are three bunkers that erode away as the hammers rain down on you. Successfully returning a bag of money will sometimes rebuild a bunker for you. Your only mission, though, is to keep walking left to right and keep taking those bags of cash past the falling hammers without getting knocked-out.
Gameplay is monotonous and ridiculously simple, but the way the cut scenes and dialogue are presented is pretty good and it gives the game some character. The game basically satirises “headbangers“, or heavy metal fans of the time, and you play as “Chico” a heavy metal enthusiast with a number of ‘hip phrases’ in his repertoire, and who is part of “a strange group of English youth” called “The Headbangers“. Which is all quite funny.
I also really liked the ‘game over’ screen, although if that sounds like I hated playing Headbanger’s Heaven that’s incorrect as I actually didn’t mind it – it’s just gets boring quickly because the gameplay is repetitive. And the Spectrum version is a touch slow and jerky when there are lots of hammers falling at the same time. Which is most of the time. So yeah: it’s slow.
Headbanger’s Heaven was also ported to the Commodore VIC-20, and while the VIC-20 version is faster and more playable, it doesn’t have the charm of the Spectrum version.