I’m always mixed when it comes to retro remakes, especially if it was a game I really used to enjoy.
Choplifter was one of those games I never thought caught on like it should. While it had a popular run on the old Apple II computers, I really got into the 1985 version from Sega and it’s counterpart on the fledgling Sega Master System. Sadly, these versions never really came during a time or place that allowed a large audience to see them, forever making a solid game a bit of a footnote to the 8-bit gaming era.
Choplifter HD was released Tuesday for around $15 on the XBox 360, PlayStation Network and PC. While a big fan of the original, I’m mixed on this modern-day remake.
We’ll start here. The good part of Choplifter HD is that they didn’t try to re-invent the wheel. After a few silly tutorial sessions the game really does feel like Choplifter should feel like in your hands, and the basic point of the game should come naturally to anyone who knows the deal here.
There is a good mix of different choppers and a great amount of detail within each level. There seems to be one hell of a war going on here and you are flying through the thick of it while on your missions to rescue hostages and airlift folks to safety. The chopper pilots are a little chatty with decent humor.
The controls leave a little to be desired. I really didn’t expect to have to use every button on my controller for a Chopliftergame and as a fan of the orginals my hands simply did not adjust to the extra steps to turn directions and fly around quickly.
You can’t lay down a steady barrage of fire, either, something else I loved to do in the 1985 arcade version. Your machine guns overheats and leaves you without any offensive weapon if you try. While I understand this is realistic, I didn’t grab this game for realism. I would have preferred a fast-paced shoot-em-up weapon like on the Choplifter helicopter from my youth.
The hostages and enemy soldiers are simply too small. I understand the word “HD” is in the title but this shouldn’t mean I need a 60″ plasma to see the people. I squished way too many of the people I’m supposed to be rescuing simply because I couldn’t see them on a fairly large HD set.
The Bottom Line
Choplifter HD feels enough like the original to give old school fans a thrill but still tries to add too many new bells and whistles to a concept that really doesn’t need them. I would have preferred more of an old-school side-scrolling shooter without so many objectives and controls like the one that used to suck the quarters out of my pocket at the skating rink in the late 1980s.
A fun game that is a casual play at best and should maybe be priced slightly lower. As much as the name Choplifter still makes my ears perk up, I simply can’t see myself spending near as much time on this as I would have liked.
Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.