Choplifter

Name:
Choplifter
Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-5253
Programmer:
GCC (General Computer Corp.)
Year: 1984
Released?
Yes
Notes:
Original game by Dan Gorlin

 

Back in the early days of computing it was hard to find someone who hadn't at least heard of Choplifter.  This fun and deceptively simple game had quickly become one of the staples of the Apple II library upon its release in 1982.  Through its easy to learn yet hard to master style of play, Choplifter had won over the hearts of both gamers and non-gamers alike.  Choplifter was so popular in fact that it was voted Computer Game of the Year in 1982 (a huge honor).  Therefore its not surprising that every major video game company wanted a version for their own system, and Atari was no exception.

 

You are the pilot of one of the most advanced rescue helicopters in existence.  Your mission is to rescue 64 UN diplomats who are being held hostage by the enemy (you know, THE enemy).  Armed only with a machine gun and several bombs, you must make your way through enemy territory and free the frightened hostages from their prisons.  Of course the enemy is just going to let you waltz right in and rescue the hostages unhindered, they've got other plans for you.

 

As soon as your helicopter crosses the boarder you'll be under constant attack from one of three enemy types.

Tanks Unlike the other enemies, tanks can't actually harm your helicopter (unless you're on the ground).  However they can blow the snot out of the hostages!  Make sure you take out all tanks with your bombs before attempting to land and rescue hostages.
Jets Jets are the most obnoxious enemy in the entire games.  Jet's quickly fly in off the screen and launch a pair of missile at your helicopter.  If you're going too fast there's no way to avoid the missiles, so make sure you slow down when you see them flying in the distance.  Jets can also hit your helicopter when it's on the ground, but they're not very good shots when you're standing still.
Mines Looking somewhat like a UFO, these floating mines appear upon your third trip into enemy territory.  Mines are slow, but since they're heat seeking they'll never give up the chase once they've spotted you.  Make sure you take them out before trying to rescue hostages.  Also take note that mines can hit you on your side of the boarder!

 

 

 

Enemies aside, rescuing the hostages isn't an easy task.  Unlike other games, the hostages aren't simply milling around waiting for you to come pick them up.  In Choplifter the hostages are still being held prisoner, so it's up to you to break them out.  Using a carefully aimed shot form your guns, you must blow open the prison while not blowing open the hostages.  Once freed the hostages will start huddling around the building waving for you to pick them up.  To pick up the hostages you must land on the ground (despite the box art showing you saving them while still in the air), but you must be care not to land on them or you'll crush the poor innocent people (this happens more often than you'd think).

 

Since you only have limited space on your chopped (16 seats to be exact), you'll have to make numerous trips back and forth to rescue all the hostages.  However when the hostages see your chopper flying away they'll instinctively run towards it, thus scattering the people around the playfield (you didn't think they were going to form nice single-file lines did you?)  During this time tanks will be patrolling the area near the prison trying to shoot as many hostages as they can.  Be quick about rescuing all the hostages once you've freed them or you'll quickly find yourself with a lot more free room in your chopper than you should have.

 

Although the game ends once all the living hostages have been rescued, the real goal of Choplifter is to rescue all 64 hostages.  This may sound easy, but given the propensity for tanks to blow up hostages while you're busy elsewhere makes this a daunting task (my personal record is only 58).  Getting all 64 takes time, skill, and alot of luck.

 

Although Choplifter was planned for all of Atari's systems, the 2600 version mysteriously never materialized.  Rumors abound that a 2600 prototype is out there somewhere, but so far no one has been able offer any proof.  Interestingly the Atari 400/800 has two completely different versions of Choplifter, one made by Broaderbund (an exact clone of the 5200 version) and a later version made by Atari in which the graphics were updated a bit for their new XE line.  However since the 5200 version supports a two-button joystick it's the preferred Choplifter of choice amongst most players.  Choplifter was one of the last 5200 games to be released by Atari before the crash hit, and is therefore one of the harder to find titles in the 5200 library.

 

Version Cart Text Description
1/4/84 Choplifter 1-4-84 Missing Demo
?/??/84 Choplifter Final Version

 

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