Chopper Attack

a game by Seta

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Action

God, with a name like that it's just asking for it, isn't it?

An endless stream of double entendres will come vomiting from the keyboards of games reviewers across the nation, cackling away like Kenneth Williams never died. Well not here. I'm going to come right out with it and point out that in British slang 'chopper' is slang for 'nob', hence this game could be called Wild Nobs. That way, I can get all the cheap laughs out of the way at once instead of spreading innuendo over four pages like a skid mark over y-fronts.

Game veterans, by which I mean anyone who remembers joypads that didn't look like some sort of cheap alien weapon from Star Trek, will probably be familiar with the old Desert Strike series. These entertaining oldies put you, as a rock-hard helicopter pilot, up against a Saddam Hussein lookalike over an isometric 3-D landscape. Mission objectives were simple - find things and blow them up. Wild Choppers is sort of a proper 3-D version of this, with extra tweaks like a wide choice of aircraft and being able to choose different weapons depending what kind of mission you're about to fly.

Because this is the Japanese version of the game, it's impossible to tell you anything about what these missions are or why you have to fly them. I don't even know who the enemy are meant to be! Luckily, you don't need a copy of the United Nations charter to work out that everybody apart from the little hostage blokes who come spilling out of trucks and bunkers when you nuke them are bad guys, and can be TWEPped with impunity.

Pork Lips Now

By ignoring the guy waffling away in Japanese at the mission briefings and going straight to the map screen, you can usually get a fairly good idea of what you're meant to be shooting at. Each mission takes place in a square region of land, the terrain varying from fairly boring deserts and grasslands to towering volcanoes and twisting canyons. On most levels your helicopter automatically changes altitude with the terrain, keeping itself a short way above the ground, but stages like the canyon trap you between the rocky walls, so good control is essential if you want to stop your rotor blades from making like a Flymo against solid rock. This is a bit crap - it might make for a more challenging game, but what kind of useless piddly-ass helicopter can't go up a bit and fly over the top?

When you start playing, the first thing you notice is that you can't control your copter. Wild Choppers is the first N64 game I can remember where the control system hasn't been designed to be idiot proof - it's bloody hard work! The analogue stick rotates your helicopter and tilts the nose up and down (the game options let you choose whether or not you want 'aircraft' controls, where pushing the stick up moves the nose down), and the d-pad slides it left and right and controls its speed. The first few flights you take, you'll end up spinning about like a chimp that's just spent an hour in a tumble dryer. Even after some practice it's very easy to lose track of what you're doing in the heat of battle, but things do get better.

Having two pads to control the helicopter gives players the chance to circle and strafe targets in a way that wouldn't be possible with just the analogue stick, because you have to get your gunship's nose pointing down at just the right angle to hit things. Even though it takes a while to get used to, it's a very flexible method that works out just right for the kind of game it is. Simplifying the controls, or giving players some kind of auto-aiming system, would have removed a lot of the challenge.

I Love The Smell...

Before a mission, you get to kit out your chopper with a variety of weapons. As well as the standard gun, your weapons pylons (some helicopters can carry more than others) can be loaded for bear with air-to-air homing missiles, target-busting rockets, cluster bombs and a secret weapon that I haven't managed to release yet. I don't spend every waking hour playing videogames, you know! There's drink and girls and stuff to fit in too. Anyway, these weapons are essential to your missions; while the main gun can be used to total anything you see, it can be a time-consuming business, especially if you're trying to dodge enemy fire at the same time. Just locking on and unleashing a homing missile is a lot more straightforward!

The basic cannon can be upgraded during a mission by collecting power-ups. These are found by destroying buildings, and the little crates that are revealed then hurl themselves skywards to be collected. Gun power-ups are cumulative, so you can wind up with four barrels spewing leaden death at the enemy, and other useful items that bounce out of the ruins include shield recharges, extra fuel and money. That's right - you're obviously supposed to either be some sort of mercenary group or a privatised air force, and you have to pay for every missile you fire out of your own pocket! Completing a mission earns your pay for the week, and bonus bucks can be blagged by rescuing hostages and things like that. All in a day's work.

Mind you, it'd probably take a day to fly from one side of the battlefield to the other in the choppers on offer here. The thing that really stands out about Wild Choppers is how slow it is! This isn't because the game itself is struggling to maintain a reasonable pace, since there's no more going on at once than in any other N64 title. It's not especially jerky either, so it's not an attempt to keep the frame rate up. It looks like a deliberate decision by the programmers-the question is, why? Rather than whizzing around like the high-tech death machines they are, the helicopters just sort of amble about like people out for a stroll. The missiles are even worse; it makes you wonder how they manage to stay in the air, they move so slowly. It's like playing underwater! Maybe they should have changed the scenario and called it Wild Subs instead, although that would bring up unwanted sandwich connotations.

...Of Napalm In The Morning

Despite this, Wild Choppers isn't at all bad to play. The missions have enough surprises to keep you interested, like having to defend a 737 as it weaves through narrow valleys on the third mission, or the mad little Rambo blokes who'll jump onto your copter given half a chance and hang onto the tail until you scrape them off against something. Even though they're fairly simply drawn, the enemy hardware is quite cool-looking as well, starting off with normal helicopters and trucks and moving onto big green hovercraft, giant stealth bombers and a grinning tank like the one that toasted James Bond's mate in Dr No.

In general, the game's graphics are probably best described as 'okay-ish'-there's quite a bit of fogging on some levels, and things like the sides of mountains look more like they're made from carpet offcuts than rock. To make up for this there are some reasonably screen-shaking explosions, accompanied by fairly muffled sound effects and Rumble Pak jiggerings if you've got it plugged in. I'm not sure about the music - the first level is all wailing guitars which get annoying very quickly, but one of the later levels goes all spaghetti western, as if it's trying to imitate the theme music to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly! I couldn't find an option to turn the music off, so I had to put up with it.

Wild Choppers overall is all right but not brilliant. It reminds me a lot of a PlayStation game I can't remember the name of Black Dawn - Ed , which was also all right but not brilliant. Although things get quite manic when you start ducking from side to side, trying to avoid streams of enemy fire as you struggle to get a few shots in yourself, it doesn't have the grip-yer-gonads factor that games like this really need. It's probably because of the snails on Mogadon speed - air combat should be fast paced, but Wild Choppers never seems to get much above walking pace. It's a pity, because after the complete pile of old bollocks better known as Aero Fighters Assault, the N64 really could do with a decent air combat game.

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Chopper Attack Downloads

Nintendo 64 Chopper Attack download

Take to the skies with Seta's attack helicopter simulator!

Wild Choppers Is the second of the N6Vs helicopter games (the first being GT's Blade and Barrel) and It Is a shoot-'em-up which features many strategy elements, very much like EA's Soviet Strike on the PlayStation. Equipped with a state-of-the-art helicopter you are sent on search and destroy missions Into enemy territory; and these consist of taking out radars, enemy bases, rescuing hostages and even wiping out vast numbers of unprotected enemy soldiers.

The control method Is a bit unusual, with you using both the analogue stick and the direction pad to control flight and your target sight simultaneously. This is similar to Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and it does take some getting used to. As you can see from the small number of screenshots we managed to steal from the Seta building, the graphics are highly detailed and the developers seem to have captured that military feel extremely well. Apart from the logo looking at bit like the one for Charlie's Angels, we think Wild Choppers looks very your promising Indeed.

Prospects: Not destined for Mario64 status, but bount to be a firm favourite with a core group of gamers.

reggie posted a review

Helicopter shoot-'em-up. Dumb but fun.

reggie posted a review

When Wild Choppers (the Japanese incarnation of what is now Chopper Attack) was reviewed back in issue nine, the biggest problem with it was the control system. It made use of both the analogue stick and the D-pad, thus requiring you to hold the pad very strange fashion.

With the conversion of the game, it turns out that the controls have been altered - hurrah! Does this mean the software company took notice of reviewer comments? It'd be nice to think so! The new control system is very reminiscent of Turok, using the ะก buttons to move and the analogue stick to orient the chopper.

The look and feel of Chopper Attack is very much like the PlayStation Strike series (Desert Strike, Jungle Strike, and so on) in that a solitary, heavily armed helicopter must take on an army of air-and ground-based enemies. The game structure is mission based, getting progressively harder as you progress. Mission objectives might be anything from simply destroying a selected number of targets (radar bases, POW compounds) to flying air cover for a civilian aircraft which has strayed into the warzone.

Choose Your Weapons!

To accomplish your missions you're able to choose from a wide range of weapons. These are mounted on one of eight different helicopters, each of which has different speed, armour and weapon capacity.

One niggle with the game which you notice fairly early on is that it's not possible to swap aircraft between missions. The chopper choice that you make at the start is the one you're stuck with. This is a shame, because the various strengths and weaknesses of each helicopter means that each of them is suited to specific types of mission and had you been able to change mid-game it would have added a new element of strategy to the whole thing.

Weapons for each helicopter must be bought, and at the end of each mission you receive cash based on your performance. In addition, you can find cash bonuses during the game, along with fuel, weapon enhancements and extra shields.

Enemy Al in the game seems to have been fairly well implemented. The hostile aircraft you encounter (including what looks suspiciously like a Klingon Bird of Prey from Star Trek) are fairly adept at air combat as a rule and will respond intelligently to your actions.

Fire a homing missile at them, for instance, and they will start jinking and dodging and even attempt to crash the missile into a nearby mountain.

Both the air and the ground vehicles are nicely designed and work well, and particular mention should be made of the ground troops, who although small, run and shoot very realistically. The best of these is the little Rambo bloke who leaps onto the rear of your aircraft if you get too close and hammers away with his fists!

Good Fun, But...

Where Chopper Attack falls down is the speed. To paraphrase the Rembrandts, everything just seems to be running in second gear. Even the fastest of the choppers you can choose from seems to fly fairly slowly, and as for the slower ones, you might as well get out and walk!

It's a shame, because apart from this the game is fairly playable, and the variety of weapons, choppers and enemy forces does make the whole thing pretty interesting.

What you get is basically a good game which is held back by the problem with the speed, the lack of any multiplayer mode and the fact that you're stuck with one chopper for the whole game. It's definitely worth a look, but fans of games like Nuclear Strike on the PSX might be a little disappointed.

reggie posted a review

An attempt to create a Desert -style game for the N64, let down by awkward controls and plodding gameplay.

reggie posted a review

A simple yet engrossing helicopter shoot-'em-up. very much in the Desert Strike tradition, and with good replay value.

On the 'press start' screen, press Top-C seven times to access the hidden level select option.

reggie posted a review
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