Chopper Command, originally released by Activision for the Atari 2600 way back in 1982, can be best described as a Defender clone set in a desert environment. This arcade shooter features two way horizontal scrolling where you controls a military grade helicopter with the objective to protect a convoy of trucks by destroying all enemy fighter jets and helicopters.
Surprising everyone, Steven Day announced in late July 2019 that he had team up with Antonio Savona (L’Abbaye Des Morts, Planet Golf 64, P0 Snake) to adapt the game over to the Commodore 64 with the intention to deliver a conversion that is faithful to the original title.
Chopper Command for the Commodore 64 features a technically impressive game engine that produces silky smooth scrolling and highly responsive controls. Shooting down enemies is quite an enjoyable experience as you always feel like you have full control of your chopper.
The game will not have you playing for hours on end as the only deviation from one wave level to another is the aggressiveness of enemy craft’s movement and shooting. There is no ‘end’ level, you simply keep on playing until you max out the score counter. This is an old school arcade game that is best played in short bursts from time to time.
The game graphics have been refined to suit the C64, including the subtle parallax scrolling in the horizon background, and looks all the better for it. Throw in the built in radar map at the bottom of the screen, a breath taking splash screen and suitably dramatic music soundtrack and what you end up with is a well produced game within the confines of the restrictions imposed by the development around being faithful to the original Atari version.
There is nothing ground breaking here but there is no denying that Chopper Command for the C64 is a very good conversion of a limited game. While I am pleased to hear that the team are look at adapting other Atari 2600 Activision titles across with the recent announcement that Keystone Kapers is next, I can’t help but wish there was something more to these titles to get me returning to them. As it is Chopper Command is probably a short term experience that you will not return to in the future.
Technically impressive adaptation of an old school arcade shooter that is fun in short bursts.
Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum games. Contributes to RetroGamerNation YouTube channel, RVG and Vintage is the New Old blog sites, Reset 64 Magazine, The 8-Bit Annual and various other publications.