Release Date: 1982
Players: 1 – 2
Genre: Shoot’em Up
Alternate Title: N/A
Model #: AZ-015
Programmer: Bob Whitehead
This is one of the finest shooters in the 2600 catalog.
Take control of a heavily armed chopper and protect your convoy from the entire enemy air force. Sure the odds may be stacked against you since it’s twelve against one, but you have one distinct advantage over your opponents. Lasers, and lots of them.
As you begin your escort mission you will be able to see what you are up against thanks to the rudimentary radar positioned at the bottom of the screen. This allows you to keep tabs on the trucks you are protecting as well as the enemy aircraft that are hovering overhead. Each convoy section has three enemies gunning for them, and it’s your job to vaporize those ships before they can take out your trucks. Early on this is a fairly easy task as everything moves at a slow deliberate pace. By the fourth level however the truck drivers have all been replaced with former NASCAR drivers, causing both them and the bombers above to scream across the desert.
There are two types of enemy aircraft, choppers and jets, although there isn’t much difference between them. Both move at roughly the same speed and fire the exact same type of physics defying vertical shot. The only thing setting them apart from one another is how big they are, with the choppers being wider and easier to hit while the jet is thinner and requiring a perfect shot to take out.
Despite being a futuristic laser firing chopper your armor leaves a lot to be desired since one small touch turns you into flaming wreckage. When you first begin the enemy bullets will be the biggest threat to your survival. Once fired the enemy bullet will hang in the air for a moment before splitting into two vertical shots, one meant to take out a truck below and the other taking out anything above it. After everything is sped up however the most likely cause of your destruction will be a kamikaze pilot smashing into you. Things will be moving so quickly that an enemy jet or chopper will appear out of nowhere and make it halfway across the screen before you have an opportunity to move out of the way. Unless you are a seasoned pilot or have incredible luck you shouldn’t expect to live too long.
Putting aside the harsh difficulty curve, Chopper Command is a fast paced action packed game that still holds up quite well today. It is certainly one of the gems in the 2600 catalog.