Choplifter (SMS)

Choplifter Box Art


System: SMS

Release Date: September 1986

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Genre: Action

September 1986 is a special time because it is the launch of the Sega Master System! To start off, we’re going to take a look at a game that has already existed for several years being developed originally for the Apple II. Choplifter is an action shooter that puts players in control of a HAWK Z helicopter.

Shooting a tank in the foreground.

You have a goal on each stage of saving at least 40 out of 64 hostages that are trapped in four prisons. It won’t be easy, though, as there are anti-aircraft guns, jets, tanks, and more looking to shoot you down as you try to save these innocent people.

Shot down by a stupid jet…

There isn’t a lot to the controls. The 1 button shoots and the 2 button turns the way the helicopter is facing. As you move forward, the nose of the helicopter points down, allowing you to shoot things diagonally in front of you. If you hold up on moving forward for a moment, the chopper levels off, allowing you to shoot straight in front of you. Useful for blowing up those annoying jets.

Saving some hostages. Sorry about your friends…

You have to shoot the prisons open to free the hostages, but must be careful not to land on top of them. I may have killed several of them by accident before realizing that’s what was happening. While you are rescuing the hostages, tanks will appear in an attempt to kill them. You have to give the helicopter a half turn to aim at the foreground to destroy the tanks.

Blowing up the ship’s brig and releasing people.

After you save at least 40 hostages, you move on to the next level, with three more lives. After the desert of the first level, you have to save hostages on ships. I can’t say I was interested enough to play to level three, however, so that’s where I leave you.

Graphics: 2.0

There’s nothing wrong with the graphics. They are good enough for me.

Sound: 2.0

I liked the song that played on a loop and the sound effects didn’t annoy me.

Gameplay: 1.5

Controlling the helicopter was often an exercise in frustration.

Difficulty: 2.5

It’s not an easy game with all the bullets on screen trying to kill you.

Fun Factor: 1.0

It’s also not a fun game. I didn’t come in expecting much, but I was let down.

Overall Grade: 1.8

Choplifter earns a C-. It’s not a good showing from this launch title. Hopefully some of its contemporaries can do better.

Choplifter Video Review on YouTube