Thursday, October 1, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Choplifter

Retro Game of the Day! Choplifter

Choplifter developed by Dan Gorlin, then published by Broderbund (and re-published by a whole bunch of other people, down the road), originally in 1982.

A curious genesis for the history of this game, and a rare instance where a title saw life originally as a piece of computer software which was then ported "up" to the arcade, and then over to consoles - most of the time, it was the other way around.

The game puts you in control of a resue helicopter (yes, it is Helicopter Action Week here on Retro Game of the Day!) tasked with saving groups of prisoners. You fly out of your home base located in the "Safe Zone" and over to the neighboring enemy territory, where lots of unfriendlies attempt to blast you to smithereens. You must blow up the Prison Bases to free the captives, and then land on the ground so they can file into your chopper. Bring them back to Home Base and they can unload - get shot down with a payload and they all perish.

A simple enough game concept, with a brilliant execution. The game controls were unique, you had one button to fire/missile (depending on your position), forward and reverse flying controls, and the other button would shift your orientation (face forward, face backwards, face middle - your firing/bombing direction was dependant on your copter's orientation).

The game is well-known and well-regarded, and it's appeared on more consoles and in more iterations that Prince of Persia (well, maybe!) My favorite version was the one that showed up on the Sega Master System, which featured some fancy parallax scrolling (it was fun to fly back and forth just to see the ground move!) and overall a very nice polish.

Choplifter is a game which has aged quite well, even in it's simplest incarnations it's always been a unique and interesting game. Unfortunately, the barrier to entry is a little high (the unusual control scheme would probably frustrating to many modern players) but the maps and goals are well-assembled and still enjoyable to play.

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