Wednesday 30 November 2016

Copter 271 (Amstrad GX4000 review)

Developer: Christophe Delmaere, Ivan Gridon, Olivier Richez, Michel Winogradoff
Publisher: Loriciel
Released: 1991

Copter 271 is a vertically-scrolling shooter and the last commercially released game for the GX4000.

It supports 1-2 players (simultaneously) and your job is to stop an army of Martians from attacking Earth. Your helicopter's main weapon is a turret gun, but icons can be collected to upgrade to more powerful rockets and bombs. Similar to Sidewinder (1988, Amiga), the playfield can be expanded to show additional real estate by moving towards the extreme left or right. Unfortunately, the action is pretty much non-existent with repetitive level design and constant kamikaze-style enemies that move too fast for you to dodge with any consistency. Your vehicle is sluggish and unresponsive, and manoeuvring with any level of precision is a challenge. Annoyingly, it also has a tendency to drift along for a few seconds after you've stopped hitting the d-pad. The game box hilariously boasts: 'You will be dazzled by (the game's) speed...', despite the action crawling along and the fact that there's copious amounts of slowdown (an even bigger problem in two-player mode). The scrolling is jerky, the collision detection is spotty, and I also experienced a few glitches, the biggest of which saw my Up commands being ignored until I lost a life! The 11 missions take forever to beat (around 15 minutes each), yet the scenery pretty much looks the same throughout. I frequently found myself daydreaming while mindlessly shooting everything in sight and at no point did I ever feel engrossed. The ability to scroll the screen to the left or right has no bearing on the gameplay whatsoever and instead of being a cool feature it seemingly exists just because someone learnt how to code it into the GX4000! There's one jingle which is of acceptable quality but the noise of your helicopter's blades resembles tinnitus!
I've played some bad shooters in my time (notably 1943 - One Year After on the Commodore 64) but Copter 271 is probably the worst. It feels like a cheap shareware demo and while the two-player co-op mode is a good idea I find it astonishing that Loriciel chose to release the game in a barely playable state.
Random trivia: Loriciel also released Panza Kick Boxing (1991), Super Pinball Magic (1991) and Tennis Cup 2 (1990) on the Amstrad GX4000.

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