Choplifter is a game that has been remade and ported to many systems throughout the years since the inception of it in 1982 for the Apple II computer. The creator of it all was Dan Gorlin and each time it was ported his name was on the menu. A sequel to the original was finally produced in 1991 when Choplifter II was released for the Game Boy. Developed by JVC Musical Industries, and published by Beam Software the second entry in the Choplifter series saw major changes in the gameplay. Would they be positive or negative?
RESCUE AND SURVIVE! That’s what your commanding officer is screaming at your through the headset or that’s at least what I imagined judging from the subtitle of Choplifter II. Since I don’t have the original case to the Game Boy version I’ll write what is on a promotional poster for Choplifter II to give you an idea of the so-called “plot”.
“Take off on dangerous rescue missions in a world on the brink of all-out global war. Hostages must be saved from a sly and sinister enemy in order to avert total chaos. Only your skill can save them now.
You command the AH 90 Commanche attack helicopter, the ultimate fighting machine. Countless weapons are at your disposal. Heli heroics and superior technology must be used wisely against the omnipresent enemy, whose goal is your destruction at any cost. 15 rescue missions must be completed in 5 different, hostile terrains. For 1 or 2 players. Choplifter II, real excitement from a powerful new force in video games.
So there you have it. You need to stop total chaos from crippling the world from an all-out war. Whoever these hostages are, they’re important.
When you beat the game you get a little end screen of the pilot giving you a thumbs up.
As someone who spent many hours as a young child playing the Sega Master System version of Choplifter, I expected more of the same just from a toned-down aspect. I was wrong and taken back by Choplifter II. The goal is the same, rescue hostages and take them back to your base but the gameplay is fairly different. Gone however is the side-scrolling aspect of flying your choplifter solely to the left of the screen. Gone also is the need to shoot buildings to free the hostages as they run out and eagerly await your rescue. Instead, hostages are trapped on platforms that you’ll need to reach that are guarded by enemy forces and natural elements. Natural elements? That’s right, you’ll have to fend off pesky birds and bats while flying under or over rain clouds. Aside from angry nature, you’ll need to avoid the typical mounted guns that shoot in different directions, jet planes that fire missiles, and other helicopters that zoom around. There are a few tanks on the ground, falling spikes from caves, and electric bursts that you’ll need to maneuver through too. Already, Choplifter II has more enemies and unique areas than the original.
Choplifter II ditches the side-scrolling left screen and leaves the player to figure out the level for themselves. You can fly to the left or right of the screen now to seek out hostages and you’ll even go underground on numerous occasions. I didn’t know how I felt about this at first but the more that I played it the more I realized that it was for the best and added a fresh element to the series. At first, I liked the music, and I still like the main menu music but it quickly grew repetitive as there might be only three or four songs in the game and they loop. The menu was a bit silly with the title spinning like blades of a helicopter but another change from its predecessor was the password system. In Choplifter II, there are five sectors each with three levels for a total of 15 missions. These sectors are in different environments like a desert, jungle, ocean, city, and caves. Before each level, you’ll see a brief image of soldiers shooting at your choplifter.
Choplifter was fairly easy, Choplifter II, not so much. The control of the choplifter was tough to get a handle on and it was slow. There were times that I was killed because I couldn’t turn around as I wanted or I accidentally spun the choplifter around and hit something. Some areas, specifically when you are underground in the caves have very little room for error. You do have a damage meter which is a change from the one-hit-kill in the original. You’ll need it too as the caves gave me the most headaches as it was a challenge to fit into the tight caverns with enemies firing rockets all around you.
There are other weapons besides your usual gun. You can drop heavy bombs, missiles, and equip a flamethrower to plow down large trees that are in your way. These were all unique to the game and a step up from the previous version. I felt like I was cheating on the original because I wanted to dislike Choplifter II but I actually think it’s a better game despite some minor complaints. I enjoyed dropping a rope to the hostages and watching them climb up into the helicopter. Choplifter II offered a lot for the Game Boy and I was surprised that it had many improvements over the original.
I didn’t know that Choplifter received an official sequel and as soon as I found out I quickly downloaded the game. It was tough and I struggled at times but the password system really helped once you beat a tough level. I’ll never have the nostalgic memories for Choplifter II as I do for the original but that goes to show you that Choplifter II is a quality game for it to beat the of the original despite my love for it.
Choplifter II implemented tons of new ideas that upgraded the gameplay but maintained the same familiar feel for Choplifter lovers.
Choplifter II scores a 7.0 out of 10.
Do you remember when Choplifter II first came out? Did you beat the game? Which sector was your favorite? How did it compare to the original if you had played it? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of Choplifter II you can purchase a used copy of it for the Game Boy for $15 on eBay.