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Chopper Command

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Released: 1982

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Atari 2600

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Bob Whitehead

Submitted by: Mat Corne

There’s no doubt that some of the appeal of retro gaming is the nostalgic feeling of rediscovering games you grew up playing as a child. But is it possible to find new love with old games that you didn’t play the first time around? In the form of Activision’s Chopper Command, which I only played for the first time a few weeks ago, the answer is a resounding YES!

Activision were masters of taking tried-and-tested concepts on the Atari 2600 and giving them their own unique slant and this is evident in Chopper Command, which plays like a hybrid of Defender and Missile Command in a modern-day setting. You must fly your helicopter across a 2-directional horizontally scrolling play-field, protecting a convoy of trucks from enemy planes and choppers that are trying to destroy both the trucks and you. Your Chopper handles much like a real one (and the ship from Defender for that matter) in that once you get up to speed it takes a short amount of time to slow down again, and just like in Missile Command, upon eliminating all enemies you get bonus points for any remaining trucks.

The concept is simple but the game is very challenging and has a definite ‘one more go’ appeal as you try to beat your last score. I kept on playing until I got over 10,000 points, a score that would have earned me one to the much-desired Activision patches if I’d achieved it 25 years ago. Better late than never!