Welcome to GearHead. This is, as far as I know, the world's first roguelike mecha role playing game. I hope you enjoy playing it.

You may find the game a bit confusing at first. If you've played other roguelike games (Moria, Angband, ADOM) or other mecha games (MechFight, Titans of Steel, Power Dolls) before, you'll be less confused. If you're familiar with both types of game then you may even feel right at home. The file doc/introduction.txt has some information and hints for new players.

If you can't find the information you need, check the doc/ directory. If you're still lost you can check the homepage:


First, you need a copy of the source code. If you are reading this you probably already have it. Next, you need to install omake, Python3.4 or above, FreePascal and the SDL 1.2 libraries. Open a terminal in the folder with the source code and type:


For the ASCII version, just type:

omake ui=cui

Ignore the notes and warnings. If everything you need has already been installed, that should be it.

Windows Notes:

  • You need to download the 32 bit binaries for SDL 1.2, SDL_TTF for SDL 1.2, and SDL_IMAGE for SDL 1.2. Put the .dll files in the same folder as gharena.exe. You should download the 32 bit versions since it seems that FPC compiles to a 32 bit target on Windows by default, and these will run on a 64 bit system just fine. There's probably some way to get a 64 bit executable; if you figure it out, let me know.
  • To open a terminal in a Windows folder, press shift and right click in the folder window. The option to open a terminal should be there. Alternatively, install Git for Windows and open a Git Bash shell by right clicking without shift.

Unix/Linux Notes:

  • You need the packages omake, python3, libfontconfig1-dev, libsdl1.2, libsdl1.2-dev, libsdl-image1.2, libsdl-image1.2dev, libsdl-ttf2.0-0, and libsdl-ttf2.0-0dev.



This is the big area with the cyan border.


This is the small area in the upper right corner of the screen. Here you will find the vital stats for your character, or whatever you happen to be looking at.

Below the name in the information window are some useful indicators. Starting at the left is the position indicator; the white + shows what direction you are facing, while the number in the center indicates your elevation. If the number is blue, it indicates your depth underwater.

Nest to the position indicator should be a damage indicator. For characters, this will just show your health points. For mecha, the damage indicator shows a schematic of all the mecha's parts indicating which bits have taken the most punishment.


Beneath the information window is the menu window. This is where the control menus will appear.


Beneath the menu window is the clock. This will show the current game time. GearHead uses a clock-based game engine. Any action your character can perform takes a certain amount of time. Once a command is entered the clock advances until the action is completed and control is returned to the player.

If you've played either MechForce or Titans of Steel you should be familiar with this control type already. If you've played any of the Final Fantasy games with the combat pause option on you should be able to figure it out pretty quickly.


The message window is meant to provide the narration for GearHead, though at the moment it's mostly sleeping on the job and spouting cryptic acronyms. I will work on making this window more useful...


There are an awful lot of different movement and attack options in this game. Characters are controlled through a hopefully-familiar roguelike interface, while mecha are controlled using a menu interface similar to the one used in the old Amiga MechFight game (and more recently in Titans of Steel).


This is the top layer of the menus.

A mecha can travel at two speeds- CRUISE SPEED and FULL SPEED. While traveling at FULL SPEED, the mecha moves faster than normal, but it recieves a significant penalty to its attack rolls.

WALKING is, in general, a slow way to move around. However, it does have several advantages. Turns can be made very quickly in this move mode. Also, walking mecha are better able to deal with rough terrain.

ROLLING mecha use wheels or treads to move about. This move mode is faster than WALKING, but usually slower than SKIMMING. Mechas using this mode are more strongly affected by terrain. They have a harder time passing difficult terrain, but receive a greater speed bonus when traveling on roads.

SKIMMING mecha hover several meters off the ground. They may pass over low obstacles without slowing down, and may fly across the surface of bodies of water.


From here you should see a list of all the weapons your mecha is equipped with. You can select a weapon, then select a target to fire at.

When a weapon is fired, it cannot be used again for a short period of time. Most weapons will recharge in 30 clicks, though some will be faster or slower.


If this option is set to "ON", the player will be able to select which part of the enemy mecha he wishes to hit. It is more difficult to make a called shot than it is to make a regular shot.


Sometimes there will not be any weapons available to fire with. Select this option to wait until your next weapon recharges.


This will take you to the game options menu. You can select either menu-based or roguelike control. Note that when changing control type, it may be necessary to enter one last action in the previously selected control mode before the change will take effect.


There allow you to set the rapid fire settings for ballistic weapons, energy beam weapons, and missile launchers. The value selected for MISSILE BV indicates what fraction of the total missile payload will be fired in each salvo. So, if a missile launcher contains 20 missiles and the BV is set to 1/4, five missiles will be launched when it is fired.


GearHead: Arena is distributed under the terms of the LGPL. See license.txt for more details.