Thursday, March 31, 2022

Chopper Command

Name:Chopper Command
Developer:Robert A. Whitehead
Time:30 minutes

The last Atari 2600 game of 1982. Its not that we're near the end of the year or anything, we're not even halfway through, its that there aren't any exclusives left. This owes to a couple of factors, my own biases, if possible I'm going to chose a different platform, most of the games on the system are either not shooters or the kind of shooters I reject outright (remember, I don't care for moving left and right) and the 2600 doesn't get a deluge of crap until next year.

Anyway, this title is Activision's founder and future Accolade founder's only shooter title. He did sports games for the period he actually worked on games. Its not hard to see that as a bad thing. This is Defender in a modern setting. You don't get a bomb and instead of protecting humans, you're protecting a truck convoy. Its less smooth controlling, but its easier to play. Its hard to talk about a game that every thing I could say about it is a comparison to Defender.
There are four groups of convoys and enemies each wave. Each contains three vehicles. Enemies vary between planes and other helicopters, but this doesn't seem to have much practical difference. Enemies, at least as far as I got, just circled back and forth over the convoy, dropping a bomb whenever they thought they had a shot. Frequently, they missed. Its all about dodging them. Everything else is constantly moving from left to right, so with each flyby the enemy aircraft get closer and closer to you, and they move quickly when they head left. Once you take out a wave you use the radar below to find the next group.
The gun is a bit interesting, because you hold down the fire button and while it sounds like a machine gun, the length of the shots are much bigger than you usually see. Practically like a laser gun. It'd be very effective, if it weren't for the weird way the game controlled for me. I couldn't go in any diagonal directions. Perhaps this was just a quirk of emulation, but it ruined what was a very smoothly scrolling game.
But ultimately, this reduced complexity and reduced control quality makes the game very bland and without any of the intensity that Defender. This is why I tend to outright reject any clones of classic arcade titles, because what's the point now, when I can play the original machine on my computer? In 1982 it might be an acceptable use of time, but today even I feel like I'm wasting my time.

Nice, if generic machine gun. 1/10

A generic host of enemies who barely acknowledge the player. 1/10

I guess they're entities, but they don't feel like much. 1/10


Player Agency:
It works. 2/10



They try, but there's just not anything you can do here with the 2600's color palette. 1/10


Whenever you fire the machine gun, it has a habit of drowning out anything else. Otherwise typical Atari. 0/10

That's 6. Disappointing, but better than Plumbous.

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