Mr. Heli no Daibouken

AKA: Battle Chopper

-Irem (1987)

The Story

The peace of the star is under attack from a force of vile helicopters. There are also reports of bugs, giant robots, and flying knights that have been assaulting the peace as well. The council has called upon the battle skills of Mr. Heli to restore order to the star. Mr. Heli's only hope is to blast away the landscape in search of precious crystals while the enemy terrorizes the caves of the world.

My Thoughts

Mr. Heli no Daibouken is a cute helicopter shooter by Irem. Known as Battle Chopper in the US arcade release, I prefer the name Mr. Heli. With a name like Battle Chopper youíre expecting a more straight-forward, serious shooter. While the game is super serious in the difficultly department, with the name Mr. Heli you are already expecting something cute, and that is exactly what you get in the visuals. Either way, like all Irem shooters, Mr. Heli is a good and difficult, yet it is a very different game.

Mr. Heli is a side-view multi-directional shooter. Mr. Heli flies through stages that scroll right, left, up, and down with enemies coming at him from every side. The scrolling of the stages changes from scrolling when Mr. Heli moves to auto-scrolling. It is also a large game. I thought the first stage was over when I destroyed the robot boss that appeared at the end of the cliffs, but it wasnít until after I destroyed the next boss and the game said ďStage TwoĒ that I realized that each stage is actually really big and is cut into two parts. The first part is different for each stage. Mr. Heli will fly among blue skies, floating platforms, a city, medieval castles, and a space base to reach to entrance of the underground second area. Mr. Heli fights a mini boss and the first part of the stage ends.

At the start of the second part, Mr. Heli is trapped in a pitch black room. By shooting up the room he can discover a door that opens into a long cave, eventually leading to the boss. Each of the two stage sections has a time limit as well. If Mr. Heli doesnít complete the stage within the allotted time, he loses a life.

In the stages are rocks that hold crystals which up Mr. Heliís cash. Also under the rocks are things for Mr. Heli to spend his money on, such as cannon, missile, and bomb upgrades, as well as an electro-shield or fuel to restore his health. Even though the game is hard, Irem was kind enough to give Mr. Heli a life bar so he doesnít succumb to one-hit deaths.

Mr. Heli fires off his main forward gun with one button which can be upgraded to a five-shot spread cannon. The other button shoots missiles to take care of rocks and enemies above. With the purchase of missile upgrades the missiles become multiple heat-seekers. However, the missiles will always target the rocks first, so you canít rely on them to take down enemies. If there are a few rocks out of the way in a corner of the screen and multiple enemies surrounding Mr. Heli, the missiles will go for the rocks. When Mr. Heli is on land, the missile button fires bombs that can destroy rocks to low to shoot. It would have been nice if Mr. Heli could fire the missiles and bombs simultaneously, but that would probably be a bit lax in Iremís difficult game standards.

Mr. Heliís actions are very responsive to the playerís directional movements, which is good considering how many enemies come at our hero at one time. If Mr. Heli is not moved, he slowly floats downward, much like what a real chopper may do. Unfortunately, since Mr. Heli has to take out enemies from every angle, there is no way to move backwards while firing forwards, like more traditional side-scrolling shooters. This would have made a few boss battles a little easier to handle.

The graphics were pretty good for the time and still hold up fairly well. They remain colorful and very detailed in parts. The music matches the cute visuals. Itís upbeat yet very catchy.

The game has an odd mixture of enemies. At first there are many evil helicopters and gun turret things. Then Mr. Heli encounters robots, drillers, cave bugs, and flying knight heads. To add to the oddity of merely having a medieval castle stage, the mid-boss of it looks like a bear head wearing a knight mask. The real bosses are some squiggly underground generator thing, a huge brain inside a robo-ball, a robotic cave turtle, a giant flying robot knight head, and a lava spider-bot. The final boss is something that looks like it came straight form an R-Type game. Was the Bydo Empire behind the robot knights and cute helicopters all along?

While there was never a sequel, Mr. Heli and his enemies later appeared in Shuyaku Sentai Irem Fighter. Mr. Heli also made an appearance in R-Type Final as a playable ship, so his legacy lived on at least a little bit.

Score: 7.5 

-Shawn       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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