By Eric Pankoke on Mon, 08/10/2009
You've probably played the game before, though the protagonist is usually a helicopter or spaceship and more often than not you're confined to some subterranean tunnel system. Copter Kids definitely breaks the mold from the perspective of atmosphere, but there's not much else to set it apart from the pack. A silly back story, cute visuals and decent music are not fully utilized on what's mostly "just another clone".
The basic premise behind Copter Kids is that you play a brother and sister that find a pair of helicopter beanies that actually fly! Unfortunately, they were designed by evil scientists and aliens from Pluto, they're the only ones in existence, and the bad guys want them back. Now the game starts, and you choose whether you want to play Cassie or Calvin.
Once you choose your character you have the simple task of dodging everything. Of course, simple is a relative term, and Copter Kids definitely provides a challenge. The game foregoes the more modern ability to freely roam your area, and instead you are limited to a fixed spot horizontally and the ability to move up and down. All you have to do is press the screen to move up and let go to move down. It seems like it should be a simple mechanic, but the timing feels a bit off to me. There appears to be a slight pause oft times when switching directions, and then the ascent or descent is quick. This quite often results in hitting an enemy simply because you were trying to dodge another one and held or left the screen for just a fraction of a second too long.
Along the way you'll have to dodge UFOs, planes and zeppelins, as well as the occasional appearance by a friendly but not too bright sea serpent that forgets that it's on your side. You also have to watch the landscape, as things like lighthouses and sheep aren't just there for show. To help you along your journey you can pick up a shield every once in a while, which lasts until 5 seconds after the first time you get hit. One hit without the shield and you die. Unfortunately the shield is often difficult to get to, so you have to decide whether it's worth the risk of the "death hit" just to try and get the shield.
I suppose I appreciate the challenge behind the one hit mechanism, but an easy mode with multiple hits would be nice. The other thing that might help would be more power ups to help you avoid the touch of doom. As it stands right now the game is fun - evidenced by the fact that I can't play it just once at any given setting - but it gets frustrating not getting very far before dying every game (I think my top score is something like a sickly 1500).
The land of Copter Kids is very bright and colorful. The graphics are detailed in a cartoony sort of way, and multiple background layers add a bit of depth to things, though the scale of many of the objects seems to be a bit off. The kids themselves look pretty decent, as do the villains. The main thing missing in all of this is animation. The propeller on the kids' beanies spins, but that's about it. While animation in the background isn't really necessary, there should at least be some movement in the bad guys.
The world of Copter Kids is noticeably devoid of sound effects. There's a sound when the kids collide with something, which is sadly the same no matter what they crash into, but other than that your surroundings are pretty quiet. The song that plays while you're flying is fun and fits the overall mood of the game, but doesn't ramp up beyond a base melody until about the time I die in most games. It would be nice if there were a couple of selections to choose from.
Copter Kids is a fun, though not revolutionary, take on the "copter in a tunnel" genre of games. It's nice that they did something different with the environment, and the game does look pretty good. It just would have been nice if they did more to stand out from the crowd. There’s no question that it has the “one more time” allure that the best of this genre musters, but I’m ready for a game of this type to say “don’t put me down”.
[Note: Images courtesy of App Shopper]