Choplifter! has to be one of the best variations on the Defender theme to date. The object of Choplifter! is to rescue American hostages from burning buildings, where they are being kept prisoner, and bring them across the border to a US post office. This task is complicated by enemy tanks on the ground and enemy planes and drones in the air.
The first thing that you notice about Choplifter! is its unorthodox method of firing and movement. For example, in order to be able to attack the tanks, you have to turn around into a special bombing position. On the other hand, the helicopter handles pretty much like an actual helicopter and you can crash if you land too hard.
But the really strange part about Choplifter! is its scoring system. The game doesn't keep track of how many enemy tanks or planes you destroy. All it records is the number of men you have safe inside the post office, how many men are in your helicopter at the moment and how many got killed. But once you think about it, it really makes sense: the object of this game is not to take on an entire country with one helicopter but to rescue the hostages.
This game is incredibly well-made. After the chopper is loaded with the maximum number of people it can carry (16), the men stop running towards the chopper and wave goodbye. All in all, this game is graphically very pleasing - you can even see stars on the flag above the post office and when the helicopter implodes and bursts into flames after being hit, it is absolutely stunning.
My only complaint is that you can't start over in the middle of a game. My version of the disk also had a lot of loading problems.
It appears that Broderbund's policy of making a "clone" of every game they make available to Atari and Apple has, in this case, paid off, unlike their somewhat less spectacular pinball game David's Midnight Magic. Choplifter! is a very good buy for your money, especially considering that Broderbund has one of the most conscientious guarantees, even offering to replace physically damaged disks for $5.
Starting with the second sortie, move forward normally, and as soon as you see a plane or a drone, pull back. This should raise the nose of your chopper and allow you to destroy the plane.