Choplifter is a very well done hostage rescue game
The graphics and animation were extremely detailed for 1982. The hostages would run and wave as your helicopter passed by them, the flag at your base fluttered in the breeze, and everything was well drawn and colorful.
The gameplay was even better than the graphics. You controlled a rescue helicopter. One joystick button fired your cannons and the other switched the facing of your helicopter. Unlike other helicopter games, you could actually fly backwards or sideways if needed. Rescuing hostages was no easy feat. It was very easy to accidentally crush the hostages as you landed, shoot them while trying to kill tanks, get hit by the roving tanks before you took off, or get killed by missiles from the planes in the sky at the higher levels. Even more frustrating was filling your helicopter up and accidentally crash-landing at your base, losing the helipcopter and all hostages inside. Scoring in the game was simply done: the game kept count of the number of hostages rescued and number of hostages killed. It was nearly impossible to successfully rescue all 64 hostages. Even once you got good at the game, 48 rescued was a great score. (My best ever was 56 and I played this game to death)
There is nothing not to like about this game.
The Bottom Line
In Choplifter, you have to pilot your helicopter across the border into hostile territory to rescue 16 hostages held in prison camps per level. Opposing you are enemy tanks, which shoot at the escaped hostages and your helicopter when it is on the ground, jet fighter patrols which shoot deadly missiles at you, and on the later levels, flying mines that home in on your position for the kill.