E3 '07: Dead Head Fred Hands-On Preview

Dead Head Fred. I love that name. The PSP exclusive title is another third party action game, but this time the emphasis isn’t on dragons, it’s on collecting heads.

The titular character is Fred. Fred was a P.I., and one day he awoke with his head gone, and a jar in its place. Who was behind it? A mad scientist hired by the mafia, of course. Fred’s journey starts off with him looking for the people who took his head, and trying to find a way to get it back.

As far as the general combat is concerned, Dead Head Fred is nothing too spectacular; one button attacks, one button rips off heads (that’s how you collect them, after all). What makes the gameplay interesting is what you can do with said heads. The heads you collect will replace Fred’s jar, and each one grants you unique abilities. In total, there are 8 heads available.

For the purposes of this play-through, D3 kindly entered a debug code granting me access to all the heads at the beginning of the game. Normally, players will start with only the default head and grab more as they follow Fred’s story. For now, though, let the cheating begin!

The game’s locations vary between indoor and outdoor environments, all of which traverse a variety of focuses. Some are nice indoor areas, some are rundown; some outdoor areas are nice, some are sewers. In the portion I played, most of the action was happening indoors.

I found myself fighting two skeleton-like creatures. I attacked them non-stop for like 3 minutes before I was told that to kill an opponent (or at least these ones), I needed to remove their head. (Now I know how Shaun felt.)

With Fred’s normal form, there’s not a whole lot of specialty about it (other than ripping off heads). The other forms, though, are pretty entertaining. During my brief play, I messed around with the scarecrow, stone, bone claw, tiki, mini, and ghoul forms. The stone form is basically a giant stone head which grants Fred immense strength, but at the cost of speed. On the other side, the bone claw form is a travel-like form, offering sharp claws which provide more brutal looking combos, and the ability to climb walls.

The mini form is fairly obvious in what it does, so I won’t explain that. The tiki form lets you lay a ghostly tiki figure which acts as a turret, shooting darts at nearby enemies for about 30 seconds before it vanishes. The ghoul form was probably the weirdest for me, as I didn’t see the connection between name and ability. Basically, it lets you suck in gas and water, allowing Fred to perform acts such as flying (helium) or putting out fires (water). My favorite form (and their favorite form) had to be the scarecrow. Basically, Fred turns into a scarecrow far more reminiscent of Batman than farmers, with the ability to shoot ghastly crows at an enemy. Pretty badass.

Throughout the game, different puzzles will require the use of different heads. The only thing I disliked about this is that often times, the game will let you know flat-out which head to use to solve a problem; where’s the fun in that?

Outside of that, the only other problem I faced was the inability to move the camera. In a few situations, I couldn’t figure out where the hell I was supposed to go until I was told to jump up or drop down behind me, which I couldn’t see at all.

Dead Head Fred is a nice combination of action, puzzle solving, and badass looking characters and monsters. For a PSP game, the loads are extremely short (like 5 seconds short), and the controls were designed with the PSP specifically in mind.

Oh, Fred’s also voiced by John C. McGinley. You may know him as Dr. Cox on Scrubs. Just another Dead Head Fred factoid to let you ponder.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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