These Activision games I’ve written about recently originate in an era that was ripe with many forms of inspiration. As everyone was learning how to design video games at the same time, it wasn’t uncommon to take inspiration from other designer’s games and remake them wholeheartedly or riff off of their design. Bob Whitehead’s Chopper Command is one such game.
Released for the Atari 2600 in 1982, Chopper Command strongly resembles the arcade classic Defender. As the pilot of a military helicopter, it is the player’s responsibility to protect convoys of transport vehicles from enemy aircraft; the player is a defender in other words. As the player zooms and booms through stages, the camera follows their actions just as it does in Defender. When the player switches directions, the camera quickly follows suit and swivels to allow ample viewing to that particular side of the screen. These resemblances do not make Chopper Command less of a game though. I thought it played fantastically; it’s reportedly much better than the Atari 2600 port of Defender.
There are three related unlockables in Activision Anthology: a commercial (seriously lacking R. Lee Ermey), a patch, and a gameplay mode. They require 4,000, 8,000, and 6,000 points respectively and getting all three isn’t too hard.
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