The Head (Unreleased, SEGA Genesis)
(Image source: MTV.com)
In May 2014, the source code for a cancelled SEGA Genesis game called The Head, based on the surrealist 1994 MTV cartoon of the same name, was unexpectedly found.
Created by Eric Fogel, the brains behind Celebrity Deathmatch and Glenn Martin DDS, The Head follows Jim, a New York City trade school student who wakes up one morning to find his head has ballooned to epic proportions. A purple, demonic-looking-but-benevolent alien named Roy has taken residence in Jim’s cranium to help prevent an invasion of parasitic aliens. The interstellar attack is led by the green, three-horned, mind-controlling Gork, who has chosen the head of Jim’s girlfriend, Madeline, as his living quarters. Together with his head specialist doctor and a human anomaly support group, Jim and Roy set out to recover five pieces of the Anti-Invasion Machine that are scattered around the world to save the fate of all humankind, while avoiding the Feds and a mad doctor.
An April 28, 1994 press release announcing that the Englewood, Colorado-based Creative Programming & Technology Ventures (“CPTV”) had acquired controlling interest in Alexandria, an independent California video game developer founded by former Vice President of Product Development at SEGA of America Ken Balthaser, also made mention that its newest project was The Head, which was set to be published by Viacom New Media for the SEGA Genesis and the Super Nintendo. The game was scheduled to premiere at the 1994 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, and was slated for a February 1995 release.
The source code came from Earl K. Stratton, a senior developer at an IT asset management software company (link). According to his MobyGames biography, which Stratton confirmed was accurate, he previously worked at SEGA of America from 1991 to 1993 and helped program Sonic Spinball. He then joined Alexandria for two years, where he did the SEGA conversions of Demolition Man and Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster, the latter of which was completed after CPTV decided to fold the company to focus on its other gaming subsidiary, Oddworld Inhabitants (link).
(Image source: MTV.com)
Many of The Head‘s game directories are missing, as are its graphics. Stratton told me that the project was cancelled early into development.
“I worked on the initial code for SEGA Genesis, using the same engine used by Demolition Man, but it never really got off the ground; never even made beta,” he said. “I don’t think there was any work done for SNES.”
Although he couldn’t recall why the game was dropped, he did remember some of what was actually implemented.
“An alien would pop out of a human’s head,” Stratton said. “The head would split in half and the alien would jump out. Gameplay focused on the alien during this time, with the human character standing still; his head split a full 180 degrees.”
The game would have followed the events of the animated show. Consulting the source code, Stratton compiled an outline of the seven proposed levels:
“Neighborhood,” based on the urban setting of New York City from the pilot episode, would have had “birds circling around and attacking the head,” while “Headhunter,” set in the South American Rain Forest, as seen in “The Jungle” episode, would have featured “Aborigines throwing spears.”
In addition to Roy, Federal Agent Smithee and Gork would have made appearances as well. There were also plans to make the backgrounds interactive.
Below is an entire list of the files, which help give us a glimpse into more of the game’s mechanics.
“Since this was 20 years ago, I have forgotten much about this game,” Stratton admitted to me. “As a matter of fact, I had totally forgotten it until asked in May, and browsing my archives brought back some memories.”
Note that adding “.zip” as the file extension will allow you to open the following download.