There's your intro. Does it make sense? Of course not, don't be stupid. You're not playing one of your darling Final Fantasy games, where things are supposed to be coherent. You're not even playing R-Type, where you were simply given "Blast off and strike the evil Bydo Empire!" which, while short and sweet, actually made sense. But not here. Oh no. You're in SunA Territory now, son.
So here's Stag- wait, hold on! Does that say 1 Stage, and not the more logical Stage 1? Bingo, this game's making less and less sense by the minute. We're going to adopt SunA's crazy stage-naming scheme for fits and giggles, but before we tear this game to pieces, let's just look at our main character for a sec. Wait, hang on. Who the hell is that, anyway? What happened to the guy from the title screen and the intro?!
But... I wanna be The Guy! Not that other guy with the lop-sided head and the disturbing eyes! Just what kind of Mickey Mouse operation is this?! So, instead of playing as a crudely-drawn-but-almost-endearing bald guy that appeared in the intro, we get the honour of playing as this... Thing. Is it even human? I really don't know, and I'd probably be better off not knowing. Even worse, if you leave your character alone for a second, he'll s-l-o-w-l-y turn his head around to look at you.
Truly the look of a serial killer.
... Weeeell, not quite. While he does slowly turn his head to look at you, he also does this.
Which, you might argue, is actually scarier.
Anyway, here we are! This is 1 Stage, it's a jungle, and it's also your first taste of pain, Hard Head 2-style! Gasp! As you notice that the enemies don't actually look like anything at all! Thrill! As the slow pace of the game makes you hope for death! Become worried! As your character dies for the 15th time and you have to see that horrible ass yet again! But, you know, aside from the horrible death sequence, the unrelentingly bad music constantly repeating ad nauseum, the ugly graphics that look they were cribbed from Toki by the graphics designer in a drunken stupor, and the actual game itself that's so slow you'd swear your character was actually wading through syrup, this looks pretty normal so far.
But then this delightful fellow shows up. A giant monkey that seemingly shits out more of his buddies for you to fight. Apparently, the diligent workers at SunA haven't quite figured out that monkeys do not crap out their offspring with quite such spontaneity, but we'll let it slide, it's a video game after all. Still, if you're a slightly more delicate individual, the first time you see this will probably make you want to stop playing. It's a good thing you're not playing it, then, and I am. The things I do for you people.
At the end of the stage, as is the platform game tradition, we get a boss fight! Are you as excited as I am? No? Good. This boss is pretty simple in theory, as he just walks around a bit and extends his head to hit you. To be honest, this is what practically all the bosses do- shuffle around a little, maybe throw smaller enemies at you, and that's it. However, as this game isn't fair in the least, given the fact that you're much slower than he is, and since if you have to continue, you have to start the boss again, you're going to die a lot to this guy. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I had to just switch the cheats on and lay into him, because my will was already starting to break at this point.
Alright, 1 Stage cleared! No need to get so happy about it, kid.
Incidentally, this amusing screen crops up after every level you complete. As a nice bonus, we see the return of the sub-MS Paint artwork from the intro, but I'm a little more interested in contemplating what's actually happening on the screen at the moment. The dungaree guy (who I'd much rather be than the Lovecraftian horror I actually have to play as) is, as we've previously noted, looking for his girlfriend. Who happens to be right behind him, in the monster's mouth and yet he's still yammering away about how 'may you being safe' and whatnot. Then again, nothing in this game has made sense so far, why should we even try to find any coherence whatsoever?
So, this is 2 Stage. It's a cave. And, I'll be frank with you, from here on out the game is drudgery city. Every single stage is basically the same thing- the game will slowly scroll through each level, the graphics look different but everything is the same on a fundamental level (i.e. it is not fun in any way, shape or form) and it just drags on forever. I mean, think about it- in those old 90's instruction manuals for platform games like this, they'd describe the different stages in a hyperbolic way, but at least they're right in the sense that something different happens on each different stage, or world, or whatever. Like Sonic, for example- Green Hill is different to Star Light, right? And it's not just because the graphics are different, right? It's because they used different elements unique to each stage. Hell, even though the majority of the stages in the original Super Mario Bros. look the same, at least there's different level types, like the underwater, underground, and castle stages. Even the overworld stages had differences between them, some having gimmicks like springboards, Lakitus, flying Cheep-Cheeps... This is fundamental to fun platform games. Oh, and Sonic and SMB don't play like ass either.
This is what Hard Head 2 simply doesn't do. Each level is so amazingly generic that by the time I finished grabbing all the screenshots I needed, I simply couldn't remember what happened on every level- and bear in mind, it's only 8 levels long. There's no variation whatsoever, and this is compounded by the fact that the game isn't fun at all. Even better, each stage uses the same enemies, regardless of whether they're appropriate or not! The same enemies you're pounding upon in the jungle are the same ones you're nailing in the ocean level, and it doesn't make one fucking bit of sense! So, you know what, screw it. We've gotten wise to Hard Head 2's game now, so we'll blaze through the rest of this stupid thing.
3 Stage is underwater, but that doesn't make any difference to how the game is played, you can bet your ass it's just as slow and repetitive as normal. But no, you see, everything gives off bubbles, that MUST mean we're under the ocean! Let's just ignore all the other technicalities for the moment, we're under the seeeeea, under the seeeeea! Eh, whatever. However, 3 Stage isn't without its charm, as it's the only stage in the game where the boss isn't repeated on a later stage. And you thought the programmers wouldn't stoop to such a level. Oh, how you thought wrong.
Next, it's 4 Stage, and defying all laws of logic and science, it manages to be even more generic than the levels that came before it. I mean, really, it's a typical temple location with the occasional bit of art on the wall, but mostly brick after brick after brick. There's also lots and lots of awkward and difficult platforming segments that will no doubt end with you plummeting to your death. In a further display of laziness, it's got the same enemies again, and it's even got a palette-swap of the boss from 2 Stage at the end! Can this game get any more cookie-cutter and samey?
Oh, wait, looks like I spoke too soon! 5 Stage absolutely destroys the prior record of laziness on the part of SunA Electronics, as not only is there little scenery to speak of in the foreground, the background is an ever-so-slightly darker version of the background from 1 Stage! It makes the stage the least memorable of all of them so far. I mean, I can vaguely remember some of the bits from the other 4 stages, but 5 Stage? Screw it. I'm drawing an absolute blank. I had to reconstruct the experience from the copious screenshots I took. At least the boss isn't a palette-swap this time, but still, SunA, you must try better. I give this stage an D-. See me after class.
Now, you're probably wondering "Hey, nameless website guy! Where's the punchline? This is getting boring fast." Don't worry, I know. I feel your pain, but you evidently don't feel mine. You haven't been writing this crap. SunA have been listening too! Because they deeply care about your opinion of their fine game, they realised that the previous stages had been lacking in sheer weirdness, and so from 6 Stage onwards, they crank this shit up a notch! They do everything in their power to destroy your fragile little mind! Dare you go on?
Pfft, you're bluffing. I'm going to the next page!