There have been a number of great helicopter titles released for different PCs and consoles, including the aptly named online title ‘Helicopter Game’. But the Atari Lynx has not been fortunate enough to have a 2D scrolling helicopter game until this free downloadable ROM appeared out of the fog. It’s called ‘Chopper X’, it’s a lot of fun, and it carries on the tradition of skill-based copter games very nicely.
The goal is simple. Navigate your chopper around various obstacles and speedily make your way to the exit. It might be the scenery that gets in your way, or it might be an object (like a hot air balloon). Regardless, you can’t shoot at it; you just gotta get around it the best you can, whether it means slowing down, speeding up, or hovering up or down the screen. But be careful; you only have a certain amount of fuel, and that timer is ticking down fast! Take too long and you’ll crash down to earth - obviously, not an ideal situation!
The graphics in ‘Chopper X’ are pretty simple; but then, that’s the way of titles like ‘Helicopter Game’ as well. It’s about simplicity. The added benefit is that there’s not a lot of clutter and heavy graphics to slow the game down. It is true that more detail would have been nice. At least on the scenery (the sprites aren’t too bad). Still, everything is clear and visible, and your helicopter does look pretty cool when it spins its way across the scenery. Animation is smooth and never choppy; a big bonus. There is an occasional screen flicker at the top of the screen, which can distract sometimes, but it’s not too common. Basically, it’s a good effort overall.
The sound is mostly restricted to the choppa-choppa-choppa of your helicopter, and the occasional “boom” when it explodes; of course, the latter will occur when you smash your copter into something! You only have a handful of lives, so that is something you don’t want happening too often. As with some of the other free downloadable ROMS, a soundtrack and more effects would have benefited this title greatly. Actually, a ‘Xenophobe’-esque drum pattern would have been all it took to elevate the gaming experience of ‘Chopper X’ to the next level.
It’s the controls where the game really shines. I was surprised and delighted at how good they are. The game responds to your controls superbly. You can speed up, speed down, tap the button (for a slight elevation) or be a bit more forthright with the controls to really manoeuvre your copter around the screen. Collision detection is strong; I didn’t experience a single case of “hey, that’s not fair!” at all. It’s a purely skill-based experience, and you’ll find with practice that you will get into the groove of how the copter handles in no time. It’s really well balanced and very enjoyable.
But that doesn’t mean the game is not a challenge. Thankfully, there is a gradual difficulty curve that ensures you are always tackling more and more difficult stages. I reached the fourth stage which has some totally unexpected obstacles flying toward you (won’t spoil what they are). Before that, it was navigating scenery, mountainsides and cliffs. I imagine I’ll keep practicing to see if I can complete this game, and I was blown away by the fact that it is actually quite tough to master.
Without trying to repeat myself here, I would have loved more details and distinctiveness on the scenery. But it’s fun to see the little changes that occur through the levels. To really excel, I would have LOVED a series of selectable missions, and maybe some pickups and bonuses to try and collect each time. If these sorts of things were within this game, it’d have to be a regular play on my lynx for sure. Maybe at some time the game maker will add to this game; if that happens, I’ll be pretty happy!
Overall, this is a fun little ROM that is a great time-waster at the bus stop or in the library. It’s a skill-fest with a clear objective and great controls. Sure, it would have benefited with some more graphical and sound-based additions, but as it stands, this is another little title that would fit nicely on the Lynx SD as an occasional challenge for your speed reactions. With enough content added to it, this could be a stellar title. But regardless, there is enough here to keep interest and to see how far you can get your chopper. Lift off and let fly!Score Card
This review was submitted by Jon Mc from JMac Productions