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Chopper Mike Review
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Chopper Mike, a time-trial-based helicopter arcade game from VAMflax, is now available from the app store. Featuring simple graphics, speed-run mechanics, and tight controls, Chopper Mike offers a challenging experience in a frustrating environment.

Chopper Mike Pros:

  • Simple, colorful graphics and smooth flight animations
  • Arcade soundtrack adds nice touch
  • Intuitive touch controls
  • Nice variety of puzzles and challenging elements to manage
  • GameCenter leaderboards and achievements to earn

Chopper Mike Cons:

  • Judging height can be challenging
  • Controls are a little troublesome when attempting to aim toward the gamer

Chopper Mike contains 48 levels spread equally across 3 difficulty levels. Your goal is to fly your helicopter from the launch pad to the open helipad at the level’s end, collecting all gems along the way. You are scored based on the length of time it takes to complete this task, with penalties levied for colliding with the ground or any other object. Completing the level, avoiding collisions, and besting the target time will each award you with a star, comprising the now-familiar 3-star level rating. A variety of aircraft are available, though most are locked at the start of the game. Your first chopper moves very slowly, giving you a welcome sense of control as you get used to the game. However, this craft does not move fast enough to beat target times in the second or third set of levels, so you’ll need to learn to handle the other helicopters pretty quickly. The second craft is a bit on the lumbering heavy side, while the third is svelte and fast. This one can be a bit unwieldy, and it took us a bit to get a handle on it. The first set of levels is pretty easy, with initial levels offering a simple straight shot from pad to pad. Before long, you need to deal with flipping tiles, slalom poles, moving obstacles, switch plates, and more. Managing the 3D environment can be a bit of a challenge, with only the small shadows below the craft and hovering gems to help you line things up.

Graphically, the game’s look falls somewhere in the early Pixar range. Bold colors dominate, and the use of a monochromatic backdrop makes it difficult to tell when you’ve strayed too far out of bounds. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a kid’s game, however, as the target times don’t allow for much wiggle room. The controls utilize a floating joypad on the screen’s left side to orient your helicopter, while holding and releasing your finger on the screen’s right side controls your altitude. They are easy to come to grips with, though judging your height can be a chore. Turning your craft toward the player was also a bit troublesome from time to time. The soundtrack is upbeat and arcade-y, which brings an airy feel to the game.

Replay value is pretty good, as you can usually improve upon your previous best times by using other helicopters or finding a more efficient pathway. GameCenter leaderboards aggregate your best times from all levels in a group, so any improvements can help you climb the boards. Snagging achievements and missed stars also gives you a reason to come back for more. A universal app for $1.99, Chopper Mike is a frustratingly fun 3.5-Dimple score.

Chopper Mike Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2013-03-25T00:51:52+00:00 rating 3.5 out of 5

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