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Controls[edit]

One button controller[edit]

  • Joystick: Use the joystick to direct the helicopter over the landscape. As you continue to fly to the left or right, the scenery will scroll in either direction until you reach the extents of the battle ground. Press up to rise into the air, and press down to drop to the ground quickly. Your helicopter will slowly lose altitude if you do not press up while flying.
  • Tap button: Tap the button to fire a missile or bomb. Tap the button rapidly to fire repeatedly. Whether you fire a missile or a bomb depends on your orientation. You will fire a missile if your helicopter is oriented to the left or to the right (parallel to the ground). You will fire a bomb if your helicopter is oriented towards the "camera" (perpendicular to the ground).
  • Hold button: Hold the button down to rotate the orientation of the helicopter. The helicopter can be rotated 90 or 180 degrees. The longer you hold the button down, the further the helicopter with rotate. Rotate the helicopter to aim your weapons at the most prevalent danger.

Two button controller[edit]

  • Control Pad: Use the control pad to direct the helicopter over the landscape. As you continue to fly to the left or right, the scenery will scroll in either direction until you reach the extents of the battle ground. Press up to rise into the air, and press down to drop to the ground quickly. Your helicopter will slowly lose altitude if you do not press up while flying.
  • Fire button: Press the fire button to fire a missile or bomb. Tap the fire button rapidly to fire repeatedly. Whether you fire a missile or a bomb depends on your orientation. You will fire a missile if your helicopter is oriented to the left or to the right (parallel to the ground). You will fire a bomb if your helicopter is oriented towards the "camera" (perpendicular to the ground).
  • Rotate button: Press the rotate button to rotate the orientation of the helicopter. The helicopter can be rotated 90 or 180 degrees. The longer you hold the rotate button down, the further the helicopter with rotate. Rotate the helicopter to aim your weapons at the most prevalent danger.

Elements[edit]

Helicopter[edit]

You control a large white helicopter equipped with an endless supply of fuel and ammunition. Your chopper responds to the slightest joystick movement and can fire off volleys of cannonfire as quickly as you can press the fire button. The object of your mission is to pick up the hostages who are being held captive in the enemy's barracks and bring them safely back to your home base/post office. While blowing away tanks, jets, and mines can gain you personal satisfaction, it doesn't earn you any points in most versions of Choplifter. Thus, your emphasis in this game should on salvation, rather than destruction.

You begin each game with one chopper in the air and two in reserve. You lose a helicopter life if you are destroyed by an enemy jet, tank, or mine. In addition, you will lose a life if you crash into the landscape; thus you should land your aircraft and fly over mountain ranges with extreme caution. The game ends when either all three of your choppers have been destroyed or when all of the hostages have been rescued or killed. You cannot earn bonus lives or extended play in most versions of Choplifter.

Hostages[edit]

There are a total of 64 hostages to be rescued in each game. They are held captive in the four barracks located at the extreme left-hand side of the horizontally scrolling playfield. Each barrack houses 16 hostages; your helicopter is able to transport a maximum of 16 hostages on each trip. At the beginning of the game, one of the barracks will be on fire and the hostages will be running about in panic. (The other barracks will remain intact until either you or the enemy blows them open with a direct hit.) As your helicopter nears, the freed hostages will scamper toward the chopper. When you go in for a landing, be careful not to crush the humans under your aircraft. Waste no time while rescuing the hostages—they can easily be picked off by the enemy's firepower.

Home Base/Post Office[edit]

Locates to the far right of the playfield is your main base, the post office. This is where you must deposit all rescued hostages for points. To drop off a hostage, you must land on the helipad to the left of the post office.

Tanks[edit]

The tanks you'll encounter in Choplifter have limited firepower. They can sense your location and will follow you to some extent, but cannot fire at you as long as you remain airborne. You are vulnerable to the tanks only when you land in the battlezone—the area between the barracks and the post office. You can, however, fire at the tanks when you are in the air by orienting your aircraft towards the "camera". Tanks can blow open hostages' barracks and can even blast the escaping captives themselves if you're not there to defend them. Tanks cannot cross the dividing line near your base and follow you into the post office area.

Jets[edit]

The enemy's second line of defense. They will appear after you have returned at least one hostage back to the base. Each jet is armed with two missiles that it can fire either at your chopper or at the hostages on the ground. Early in the game, it is not likely that a jet will fire at you while you are on the ground. However, in later rounds of play, when the action gets heated, jet missiles will be out to get you no matter where you are. Like tanks, jets cannot cross the dividing line and follow you into your home territory.

Air Mines[edit]

After you have made your second run back to the base, the dreaded drone air mines appear. Mines tend to hover at mid-screen waiting for you to crash into them. Once you are on the same screen area as an air mine, it will begin to chase after your helicopter. When the majority of the hostages have been rescued, these mines will become extremely aggressive. They may even drop bombs on the hostages remaining on the ground. Mines are the only enemy that can cross the dividing line at the right end of the playfield near your base and attack you on your home turf.