Saturday 21 May 2011

Chopper Drop (ZX Spectrum)

When I saw the post about Paul Jenkinon's latest release on the Oldschool Gaming news site my initial assumption was that it would be a Choplifer clone for the ZX, one of my favourite games and a title that missed out on an official conversion back in the 1980's. However, Chopper Lift isn't quite the game I was hoping it would be; instead of rescuing hostages from a war-torn battlescape and blasting enemy tanks, its a rather more pedestrian collect 'em up in which you simply have to transport a number of crates on to the back of a lorry before the timer runs out, simultaneously avoiding collisions with World of Spectrum blimps and angry birds (no, not that type).

Created using Johnathan Cauldwell's Arcade Game Designer (a high-level game making tool for the Spectrum) it shouldn't come as a surprise that Chopper Lift is a very basic, single screen affair - but compared to other games made using the program it actually fares quite well.  Sure, it isn't as graphically impressive or playable as Trooper: Point 5, but with a little more polish and attention it could have been.

The tongue-in cheek instructions describe you as playing the role of a hard-working copter pilot, and your end goal is to prove yourself worthy of a promotion by loading crates as quickly as possible over a total of 24 challenging levels.  Fail to load the crates on time, and it's back down the job centre for you.

Chopper Drop is such a simple game that there really isn't a huge amount to write about; you start each level with the clock ticking and contact with any structures or airborne critters drain the timer quicker than you can quaff a post-work pint, making it actually quite difficult to beat.  The way that the copter slowly descends is a nice touch of realism and the graphics throughout are clear and well defined, but the lack of joystick support and dreadful title screen soundtrack are off-putting.

In conclusion, you can either rate Chopper Drop as a pretty decent AGD release or a below-average single screen arcade game.  For me, I'm afraid it's the latter.

Download the game here (from the World of Spectrum site).
Run it using Spectaculator (shareware) or Klive (freeware).
2 out of 5

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