Choplifter HD: This old-school revival is heli good

January 16, 2012

Retro revivals are great. I love to death that the classics are being introduced to current gaming audiences by means of a fresh coat of paint and fleshing out the original game without betraying the original premise. Bionic Commando ReArmed, Lode Runner and Rush ‘N Attack: Ex Patriot are enough for me to confidently say that this movement has been a successful one. Now, Choplifter HD brings the number of quick and easy-to-defend classics made new that everybody should play to four.

The basic concept of Choplifter HD is the same as that from the Apple ][, NES or whatever other classic system you played the game on (it was available on just about every platform, including arcades). You take on the role of a helicopter pilot, and it’s your job to seek out and rescue soldiers, reporters and civilians. Some people are injured, and they need to take priority if you want to save everybody. It’s not all taxi service though; there are ground troops, tanks, and SAM sites working against you. Luckily, your helicopter is equipped with both a machine gun and a complement of missiles. The machine gun works great on ground troops, while the missiles, a limited resource, are better used against beefier, more dangerous foes like tanks.

In the original, you only ever piloted one helicopter. In the remastered version your star ranking (1-5) on a mission is tallied, and when you reach enough stars you’ll start unlocking new helicopters. Some are faster, others can hold more passengers, and it’s a nice little change from the original. It also makes you feel ridiculously powerful to go and clean up stars from the first mission with a helicopter from later in the game.

There’s not a lot else to really talk about. Choplifter HD is a fresh coat of paint on a classic game. There’s no epic story to debate, the mechanics are simple and all laid out for the player within the first 10 minutes of play, and the challenge comes from using those simple, tight mechanics to do some complicated things by the end of the game. It’s a classic through and through, and if you like precision arcade gameplay then you shouldn’t miss it.

Pros: True to the original, enjoyable to unlock new helicopters and use them on early levels
Cons: Little gameplay vaiety

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.