Game Review: C.H.O.P.S.

After all this time I still don’t get the Flappy Bird phenomenon. Not only was the game a mess, but most of the clones have been even worse. Thankfully every now and again one of the progeny not only rises above the pack but is actually quite playable, and such is the case with C.H.O.P.S. (Free with IAP) This game takes the simple “touch to fly, let go to fall” mechanism and adds some depth with power ups, level ups, and unlockables. It even sports one of the best examples I’ve ever seen on how to implement IAP in a game. This gets my ultimate stamp of approval in the “Thanks For Not Being Flappy Bird” category.In 

In C.H.O.P.S., you are part of an elite squad whose task is to destroy those that would destroy the world. Who exactly these foes are is unknown and really irrelevant, because they have no qualms about killing you; so if you want to survive, you have to fight back. To do so you’ll get the chance to pilot one of five different helicopters, each of which can be equipped with one of several different devastating weapons as well as your choice of orbitoids, which are little ships that hover around your craft and provide additional firepower. You start with a basic chopper, a fairly benign weapon, and no orbitoid. Luckily, as you fly your missions you’ll collect coins which can be used to upgrade your equipment. You’ll also occasionally collect a gem or two. These gems can be used to purchase new equipment and also to continue a game when you die. Of course, gems are a lot harder to come by, but I’ll get to that later.

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Destroying enemies also earns you XP, and when you get enough XP you level up, which earns you extra money and boosts your score multiplier. On certain levels it will also make new weapons and orbitoids available for purchasing. Of course with gems falling out of the sky so rarely, it almost seems inevitable at some point that you’ll need to spend make some in-app purchases to get the biggest and best equipment. However, the game has a daily reward system, and once you pass five days you’ll earn five gems for each day you play (or, for that matter, each day you simply launch the game and claim your prize). I did end up buying the small gem pack just to show my support to the developer, but the truth is, if you show a little patience you could play the game forever without shelling out any cash. And the nice part is that unlike so many of these games that limit you by energy or lives or something like that, the only down side to waiting here is that it takes longer to get the equipment you want.

As mentioned in the beginning, control is a simple matter of touching the screen to fly up and letting go to descend. Unlike so many of the Flappy Bird clones out there, the control in this game actually feels pretty fluid. In other words, the challenge comes from the game itself, not from lousy controls. There’s no Game Center integration at this point which means no achievements, and while you can connect to Facebook I’ve never seen mention of a leaderboard, but so far the desire to unlock and upgrade new equipment has been enough to keep me going.

Aesthetically, C.H.O.P.S. is like a Nintendo game remastered in HD.  The visuals have a great pixel art look without looking pixel-y, and there are several different backgrounds to fly against. I get the feeling the ships came from some “here’s a set of sci-fi ships” sprite pack, but even if that’s the case, they look pretty good, and there are plenty of nifty little effects to liven everything up. The sound effects are pretty standard for this type of game, but the music is pretty decent. Sadly there are only two tracks: one for menu related screens and the other for when you’re actually playing.

Gamers looking for a satisfying scrolling shooter experience probably won’t get their wishes fulfilled with this game. If you actually happen to be a fan of the whole Flappy Bird phenomenon, however, or like me have wondered what people see in that type of game, C.H.O.P.S. provides a rather rewarding alternative. Just don’t go into it expecting too much and you should be pleasantly surprised.

iPhone Life Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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<p>Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to <a href=""></a> and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.</p>