Friday, February 13, 2015

Nerdicus SNES Review #59: Choplifter III

Title : Choplifter III

Publisher : Ocean

Developer : Beam Software / Broderbund

Genre : Shoot 'em Up

Players : 1

Release Date : 1994

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $15 - $20

I have never set foot in a helicopter before. I probably never will. They scare the crap out of me. Hell, I'm deathly afraid of airplanes for the most part and I have to really will myself to set foot on one. Every time I see the choppers flying above NYC, be it tour choppers, police choppers, or news choppers, I just feel like they're going to spiral out of control and plummet to the ground.

Yeah, I have an issue with "flying" - you guys don't want to know the story about how I saw two planes collide into each other when I was eight years old. YEAH, maybe that's why I have a fear of flying? Care to know the story? Ask me, and maybe i'll tell you. 

But that's besides the point, this game we got here is all about flying choppers. Now, I'm all for a good chopper game. I was hooked on Desert Strike when I was younger, but this time it's more like a combination of a side-scrolling shooter / platformer mixed in with some Galaga and R-Type. It's bizarre, but HIGHLY entertaining. Not to mention when you actually have to come up with strategies as to how to beat each level? What's that? Strategy? In a shooter!? You got that right.

Let's go rescue some survivors...ha...just like the box says.

The point of the game is simple. Direct your chopper across a pretty damn large landscape of sidescrolling levels and rescue as many hostages you can all while avoiding enemy fire. Now, there's a twist to this. You can't just pick up as many hostages as you can, after all, you're only in a rescue chopper. The main point of the game is figuring out who to rescue first, and how and when you should return to the base. There's a set number of hostages you need to rescue per level, and of course there are more hostages on the level but don't try to rescue all of em. Some will turn into causalities of war, hence why you need to figure out which ones you can rescue in a timely fashion.

Each level is broken up into different environments, all of which you should come to expect from your basic "war game". You've got your jungle, your desert, the sea and of course a metropolis. How the chopper is supposed to get through all those buildings and rescue hostages is beyond me, but hey, this is a video game. Better than Call of Duty anyway.

A large portion of your missions is not only about rescuing hostages, but also killing as many enemies as possible because it's probably the best part of this shoot 'em up. There's a huge variety of enemies that you'll encounter, from infantry, to opposing air units, to even enemy bases of operations that you can decimate.

Oh, and not to mention the epic mini bosses.

While the enemy forces outnumber you, it shouldn't be a cause for alarm because this chopper must be some sort of military grade secret weapon because you are practically unbeatable. In fact, I found myself more often dying from colliding with environmental hazards than from enemy fire. You'll constantly find yourself getting weapons upgrades from missiles to bombs, that'll mow down enemies as if they were fodder. Still, it's quite enjoyable to watch those explosions spew across the screen.

As levels go by however, enemy AI seems to become a bit more "intelligent" and they actually anticipate you more than normal. Not to mention the sheer amount of enemies you face seems to double with each passing stage, making rescuing hostages all the more difficult.

The detail that went into the backgrounds and the enemy vehicles makes me wish they paid a bit more attention to your actual chopper. Honestly, it's like the most poorly designed avatar in the game, and it's the one you're actually controlling. Makes no sense to me, but whatever. Still, I do love the variation between each stage.

As for sound, the music sounds like every other ocean game I played for the SNES (which is still kind of funny to me), and the repetitive sound of the helicopter rotor engine annoys the hell out of me for awhile. Why is it necessary to have a garbage audio sound byte of a rotor blast in your ear throughout the level? They did the same thing in Desert Strike. I think I'm just reaching for complaints here, but still, irritating.

Choplifter 3 is a hell of a lot of fun, and quite surprising for the shoot 'em up genre. You can't just go in blindly, blasting everything to hell and expect to win. The fact that you have to come up with the best plan of attack to rescue the hostages and defeat each stage allows this game to have a pretty unique concept. However, at only 4 levels, the game is incredibly short and leaves you wanting a bit more. Despite that, a breath of fresh air.

Final Score (out of 5)


Until Next Time, Keep On Gaming



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