Sunday, September 29, 2019

Chopper X

I love SWIV...

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 that for a single 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 lol. (do you get that? Sigh...)

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

Never go off looks, right?

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 off? 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.

Stick with it!

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 where 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!

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. Lame? Yes, very lame.

Midi is supported and is something I would love to experience - I'm after a Roland MT32. Can ya help??

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

The CryptO'pinion?

Well, it looks like my fantastic run of Super Pack games has finally come to an end with Chopper X. Yes, I've never been the biggest fan of vertically-scrolling shoot 'em ups but the ST has some corkers in its library - like Xenon 2 or Flying Shark. However, this game is average, to say the least. It's far too easy, dull as dishwater, and I got little enjoyment.

Oddly, this game has its fans and I've no idea why? Are you a fan? Tell me why in the comments below. For me, there are better shoot 'em ups on the ST so stay clear of this choppy chopper. Play SWIV instead I say!!

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. 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.)

    1. haha thanks mate. As you can tell I wasn't too impressed with this ;)

  2. Glad I stumbled across this... I remember trying the midi out on the title tune which was pretty groovy and fairly unique for games as I recall (one of first - and last! - things I did on midi [on a Yamaha DX11 I think], but sounded good nonetheless).

    I quite enjoyed the game to be honest and liked the bold - albeit more primitive - graphics... also it is very reminiscent (copy?) of the arcade game Tiger Heli which I enjoyed, so that probably helped with my fondness too!

    1. Thanks Dan. I'm after something myself to play midi tunes on my own Atari ST. Roland MT32 I've been told is good... but when they pop up on eBay they're usually too expensive for my humble playback needs! One day... :)