Review by Tony Bueno



Graphics: 7

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 10

Overall: 9

Here you’re a single-gunned helicopter vs. ground, sea, and air targets, with helpless hostages to save, and no outside help.  My kind of odds!

Beauty is simplicity for Choplifter.  One joystick, two buttons – one to turn, one to fire.  Engage hostile targets, pick up the prisoners of war, then take them back to your base.  Level 1 – desert, 2 – high seas, 3 – forest and caverns, 4 – city rooftops, 5 - ? (write and let me know if you’ve gotten this far!).

Writing synopses of plot, objectives, and action really doesn’t do this title justice.  What we have here is an incredibly (almost impossibly) challenging scenario that will reward players skillful enough to excel. 

As in many other classic shooters, you are never out of danger in Choplifter.  Merciless (albeit mindless) enemies surround the player at all times.   Lava, enemy fire, and enemy aircraft make sure there is never a dull moment.  You must rescue at least 20 hostages to advance to the next level, but the slow, cumbersome, not-too-maneuverable chopper holds only 8 passengers at once, so at least 3 trips are necessary.    Once you have picked up your passengers, back to the American base to drop them off, then do it all over again until you’ve got enough to safety.   If the ‘copter is destroyed while carrying any passengers, you have to go even further into hostile territory to meet your quota.  More than 12 killed and it’s back to the drawing board as you must restart the whole level.  You also must watch your fire when there are men on the ground, lest you inadvertently cause their demise.  There are many other subtleties, such as tanks which appear if you are stationary on the ground, the chopper turning half way around to bomb the tanks, P.O.W. camps and submarines to blast open, the variety of enemy aircraft, the fuel gauge, and physical obstructions like sea masts on sea vessels, stalagmites, and building architecture as obstacles.  Sounds tough, plays even tougher.

As far as side-scrolling shooters go, I much prefer this one over Defender, Super Cobra, Scramble, Vanguard, or Zaxxon.  Don’t get me wrong, all of those are spectacular games.  But Choplifter is superior.  The simple, almost minimalist graphics are nonetheless unmistakable.  A strident yet slightly ominous soundtrack complements the action beautifully.  Action often gets so intense and requires such skill and dexterity that I often find myself entering a sort of “zone” when I play.  Robotron is like that, too, but there are some major differences.  Robotron’s zone is more of an intense, highly aggressive, move-your-eyes-1000-directions-at-once, blood pressure sky high, DIE!, DIE!, DIE! zone, while Choplifter has more of a sort of anxiety-filled, tension mounting, hold-your-breath-while-dodging-enemy-fire-right-before-landing, GET AWAY FROM ME kind of zone.  I guess it all comes down to personal preference. 

One of my all-time favorites, Choplifter is perhaps the toughest game you’ll ever love.  Recommended for those who agree with the notion that the path is ultimately more satisfying than the goal.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 03:17 PM