The recently release Choplifter HD is something of a bizarre product. Sitting alongside Team17’s Alien Breed, inXile Entertainment’s latest is a videogame based on a long forgotten franchise, now brought up to date with a modern lick of point and a revamped perspective. It’s a videogame from a bygone era, but one that feels perfectly at home on a modern distribution system.
Choplifter HD acts as the spiritual successor to the 1981 Apple II release of Choplifter, originally created by Dan Gorlin. True to the original, Choplifter HD is a side scrolling Helicopter videogame in which the main objective is to rescue people. At designated points across the level groups of soldiers awaiting extraction, invasion survivors or hostages will need a picking up and returning to base at the beginning of the level: the player moves back and forth, landing to collect their targets and again at the base to deliver them. It’s a simple premise, but one which quickly becomes more complicated as additional rules are layered on top.
The player does of course face enemy resistance along the way. These respawning enemies start simple enough, equipped with basic machine guns, but steadily increase in intelligence and firepower, before changing pace altogether in the final quarter of the videogame. The player has to manage their armour in addition to watching their fuel gauge. Often, the player will have to clear out enemy units surrounding a fuel depot before being able to refuel, and on later levels the increased level of altercation can provide some tense moments as that fuel meter begins flashing red.
Despite the fact that each level will rarely take more than five minutes to complete, Choplifter HD still provides a generous amount of content. Featuring a tutorial of four levels and three increasingly difficult campaigns, there’s more than a few evenings worth of entertainment included. Each campaign is designed for a specific helicopter, though once complete can be played with any helicopter unlocked, and additional difficulties settings also become available upon completion. This, coupled with hidden objectives and a number of cameos from gaming legend, are reason enough to suggest that Choplifter HD isn’t exactly short on reasons to replay levels after that initial completion.
Choplifter HD is a wholly enjoyable videogame experience, repackaging a classic arcade style experience in a modern product. It’s easy to get in to, deep enough to engross and challenging enough to provide a reason to return: in short, the kind of videogame that modern digital distribution channels were made for. Whether you remember the original Choplifter or not, Choplifter HD is a welcome addition to the early 2012 line up.