Chopper Command

Atari 2600

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 5

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 5

Every classic game needs an equally good knock-off. In the case of the Eugene Jarvis' "Defender," Activision and Bob Whitehead stepped up "Chopper Command." Though nowhere near the Midway classic, this 2600 exclusive offers up some brief thrills, but a few significant issues drop it to just about average.

A rather long convoy of supply trucks are making their way to seemingly nowhere along the bottom of the screen as their only hope flies above them; a player controlled helicopter with a nifty laser strapped to the front. Your deadly enemy is also patrolling the skies, sending out firepower to destroy as many of the ground-based vehicles as the can. Taking out the entire armada on a given stages brings into another level with even faster and more aggressive enemies.

Really the only problem here is the way in which the screen scrolls. Yes, it is supposed to simulate the inertia of attempting to stop on a dime, but when the screen slams you directly into the line of fire, it's just not fair. "Defender" did this perfectly, "Chopper Command" does not. The radar is also less than adequate in telling players what's really ahead.

But, "Chopper Command" is one of those games some people master. After selecting the fourth game variation, I was slaughtered without even taking an enemy with me. I now realize I'm terrible. Skilled players can pull off some really impressive maneuvers, swerving through the enemy formation only to turn around and send them to the ground while still moving backwards, earning some major respect points in the process. This of course takes massive amount of practice and whether or not you have the patience for it will directly effect how much you get out of it.

Graphics are crude but fair, making the yellow or green (players one and two respectively) player controlled chopper the largest target on the field. It's just another way the game stacks the deck. The sunset backdrop is a nice touch, but you can't actually fly up to it. You're stuck in the bland, orange playfield. Sound effects are even worse, with only the annoying laser sound effect and meager explosions breaking the silence.

For what it is, "Chopper Command" is enjoyable in short bursts. Getting into a zone and wiping out entire fleets of enemy aircraft is fun, but only if you can pull it off. It will only take one time for someone to slam into an enemy jet helplessly before they reach for the cart and yank it out. Stick with "Defender."


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:09 AM