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Released: 1986

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Master System

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Submitted by: Mat Corne

The Master System version of Choplifter almost certainly has the unique distinction of being the only game that is a console conversion of an Arcade game that itself is a port of a home computer game! Having been refined through all those iterations, I reckon that this is the definitive version of Dan Gorlin’s classic that began life on the Apple II.

The aim of the game is relatively simple – fly your helicopter across a horizontally scrolling landscape, rescue the hostages and return them to your home base. Of course it isn’t that easy, as an army of planes try to thwart your efforts from the air while tanks (and in later levels boats) hinder you progress on the land. The latter are particularly troublesome as they attack your chopper when it has landed to collect the hostages, when you can’t defend yourself.

As I said, I think this is the best version of the game, and there are several reasons for this. Firstly the difficult level is just about right – it’s tough, but nowhere near as tough as the Arcade version, which is totally brutal! Secondly the graphics are excellent with lots of colour, variety and smooth scrolling. They are actually very close to the Arcade version and amongst the best on the Master System, which is remarkable considering this was one of the earliest releases. Finally and most importantly, the control of the helicopter is spot on, another remarkable fact considering how sloppy the systems controller is!

Choplifter combines a simple concept with an acceptable difficulty curve and excellent presentation, making it a must-have for owners of Sega’s 8-bit console. If that wasn’t reason enough to pick it up, it can be found for just a few quid so it’s cheap too!