Sunday, September 29, 2019

Chopper X


Chopper X is a vertically-scrolling shoot 'em up released in 1989 by Paradox that places us in the seat of an Assault Helicopter which is armed with Viper Air To Ground missiles to battle against hoards of bad guys. The blurb says this pushes the ST with its stunning graphics - What absolute twaddle. Don't believe it for a second!

Anyhow, I should first admit that I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the whole vertical shooter genre. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the games that I have enjoyed over the decades: Flying Shark, SWIV, Wings Of Death, Xenon, Xenon II and Lethal Xcess. Most are searchable here and yes, I'm a freak with six fingers...

 
From the start, I knew this was going to be a corker. Yup, right up there with the best of 'em. Ahem!

Upon starting, the first thing that hits you is how crude it looks. Then you pick up the joystick and realise that the controls are equally as bad because they feel clunky without any swift action manoeuvring your chopper about the screen. Hmm, that just sounds wrong... Anyhow, it simply doesn't feel right to me.

Shooting down enemies should always be fun but I'm not so sure Chopper X has the most accurate collision detection system. Perhaps it's the scrolling which throws me? But there are times when killing them (and them killing me) seemed somewhat unnaturally fake. Our main weapon doesn't feel good enough, it's like I wanted more from it... Thankfully, there are powerful Cluster Bombs that help out during those sticky situations.

 
The ship does nothing other than help mask the enemy fire!! At last (right pic) we reach the end of a level.

Each stage is quite short and static in design which is fine because many shooters follow a similar design. However, that means I could soon learn when something was about to appear and these guys are pretty dumb too: they will blindly shoot in a direction which is approximate to your location on the screen. So, if you're quite high up, then their bullets are fired diagonally upwards rather than directly towards your current location. Weird...

It's probably a lot easier to keep your chopper quite low on the screen to avoid the enemy's pathetic attack patterns from above. However, and annoyingly, death not only results in a loss of life but also forces you back to replay the entire level from the beginning rather than the place were you croaked it. Quite infuriating.

 
As you can see, the enemy cannot directly fire at your location but only in the general direction.

Graphically, this is pretty poor by ST standards with bland sprites, dreary backdrops and horrendously jerky scrolling. It's perhaps one of the worst I've seen and I include those developed with Shoot'Em-Up Construction Kit! lol

Audio... Well, this is the game's one saving grace with an incredibly funky tune that I really enjoy. However, it doesn't last very long before looping back to the start and, because this plays constantly, it isn't long before it grates on your nerves!! Sound effects are pretty lame, especially when you die or kill something. Interestingly, midi is supported which is something I'd love to experience one day - I'm after a cheap Roland MT32. Anybody??

 
The 2nd level adds a splash of brown but still looks dreadful. However, I'd lost the will to live by the 3rd...

Well, it looks like my fantastic run of Super Pack games has come to an end with Chopper X? Yes, I've never been a big fan of vertically-scrolling shoot 'em ups but this is pretty bad, to say the least. It's way too easy, dull as dishwater, and, well, it's just no fun. There are better shoot 'em ups on the ST so stay clear of this choppy chopper!!

Perhaps you're insane and wish to play this? The floppies can be sourced using Old Games Finder and you can lose precious hard drive space by installing this version by 8BitChip. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I should revisit this one. I have quite it quite a bit, but that was about 30 years ago. Great review! Love the frustration ;-) Cheers, Marty (STG .AL.)

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