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PSP  header logo

Chopper I

For: PSP


Product: Chopper I | Developer: SNK Playmore USA | Publisher: SNK Playmore USA | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Arcade, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Chopper I PSP, thumbnail 1
As a critic, you need to have a large vocabulary. If you're interested in becoming a games writer then Chopper I might just be for you - I managed to invent approximately 33 all-new swear words during my time with it.

This Minis re-release (currently for PSP only) of SNK's helicopter shmup is an unabashed coin-muncher from the arcades of the '80s.

While it's a solid enough shooter in the style of 1942, its relentless and often unfair difficulty level will quickly anger all but the most dedicated and patient of players.

Standard airfare

It's your typical vertical shooter from the period: fly up the screen, destroy enemy vehicles, avoid bullets, grab power-ups, and take on a giant boss at the end of each stage. Rudimentary cut-scenes between levels explain the minimal plot, while occasional speech clips spur you onwards.

It's a bit more visually appealing than many of the titles from the time, being quite bright and detailed in both vehicle and landscape design. But while the frame-rate stays steady for the most part, the actual number of frames of animation is comparatively low and gives the game a Java-esque quality.

Handling your 'copter is understandably basic, with directional controls to steer you around and buttons for 'fire' and 'special attack'. 

The special attack is intended to get you out of particularly uncomfortable scrapes, but due to the game's difficulty you'll often use it in normal circumstances just to level the playing field. That doesn't make you feel powerful - it just makes you feel momentarily less weak.


The game is difficult because many enemy types will hound you constantly until you destroy them, so you need to take them out as quickly as possible by memorising the layout of each area.

And it's difficult because a single bullet (or collision, or missile, or boulder, or flame-thrower round) is enough to end your run. Since you're a large target and you move slowly, you'll need to plot out how to beat each stage and follow a very specific path to achieve victory.

The only advantages you have are that your rate of fire is fast and you can upgrade your weapons.

Chopper I pressures you into taking a highly defensive, memory-based approach to avoid suffering setback after setback, checkpoint restart after checkpoint restart. There are some cool boss designs to see, but alone they're not worth the torture of actually getting to them.

If you're the type of person who says that games have grown too easy - or if you want to invent several new swear words - then take Chopper I out for a flight. It'll quickly remind you that arcade design in the '80s was, for the most part, entirely focused on vacuuming the money from children's pockets.
Chopper I
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 11 September 2012
If it weren't so unfairly difficult, Chopper I would be a good-looking but average-playing shmup. If you're really craving a super-tough shooter, this might barely fill that gap
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