Chopper Diver Review

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Title: Chopper Diver
Developer: Tondosoft
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 16 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download 

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

The handheld market has been home to small pick-up-and-play games for quite some time.  The convenience of being able to whip out a handheld on the bus or at work is likely a big reason why smaller indie games have traveled to the PlayStation Vita.  It could be a matter of whether you’d like to boot and have to stop in the middle of a game of Final Fantasy X without saving when you only have 6 minutes to play, or boot a small indie game for a quick session and not worry about leaving the system in standby?

Apart from indies games is PlayStation Mobile.  This library of games is like Indies, but on a much smaller scale.  While indies have small teams, PSM games can be handled by a single person trying to get their name out there.  Unfortunately, PlayStation Mobile has removed Android support and is an almost-hidden section of the Vita’s PlayStation Store that cannot be accessed anywhere else.  Many gamers don’t even know it exists because of this.

Those that do know of it can look into and take advantage of all the bite-sized games that it has to offer.  Just this week, we were asked to look at one such title.  From the small developer, Tondosoft, comes a game perfect for those bite-sized gameplay sessions.  Having released less than a week ago, here is our official review of the 2D game, Chopper Diver!

Story

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As with many games of this caliber and type, there is no story mode attached to Chopper Diver.  The game doesn’t do anything to show you the world’s setting or why you do what you do.  You’re just thrown into the game and go at it.  You could try to assume some sort of story out of what you do, but this type of game isn’t for deep and emotional plot.  It’s just for jumping into the game and playing through each stage it throws at you.

Gameplay

Chopper Diver is a platforming game.  There is no other type of genre that fits it as best as just saying it’s a small platformer.  Throughout the game, you will be playing through 2D stages, jumping around on platforms to be able to navigate and complete each stage.  There is a little bit of combat involved as well, but platforming is what you’ll be doing for the majority of your time with the game.

The game has two different ways to play the game.  While they’re not technically separate Game Modes, they do progress slightly different, depending on what you choose.  First of all, there is Arcade Mode, where you can play through each stage of the game until you lose all of your lives.  Apart from that, you can replay any level you have already played and beaten in Arcade Mode.

As you play through each stage, you are a small character with a helmet over his head.  Your task is to roam around each area and defeat each enemy as well as collecting the three chopper items from each stage.  Getting around the stages and getting these items is a matter of finding the switching to make jumping platforms as well as careful timing to dodge incoming attacks as well as getting across each platform.

Progressing through the game relies heavily on collecting the three chopper items.  When you collect all three for a stage, you get a Gold Star for that stage.  Unlocking future stages relies heavily on getting stars on most, if not all previous stages.  However, you will beat the level when all enemies are defeated, so you have to strategize to be able to gather all of those enemies before taking out that last enemy.  If you don’t have enough stars when you finish your current stage, the game will reset and you’ll be taken back to the Main Menu.

This is where a lot of the difficulty of the game comes into play.  If you are on, say, Stage 10 and you don’t have the requirements to get Stage 11, you’ll be taken back to the Main Menu.  Progression doesn’t happen when you play through a single stage by itself, so you have to go through Stages 1-10 all over again once you get a star for a stage to go forward.  With how tricky some stages can be, this can lead to a lot of frustration and annoyances.

The other part of the difficulty comes from the fact that the game doesn’t have a Tutorial.  From the start of the game, you’re thrown into the game without any explanation of what you’re supposed to be doing or how you do it.  You have to figure out everything on your own, from the controls to how each level works and that you need the chopper items to unlock more stages.

In total, there are about 19 stages to play through.  Each stage has a timer for 90 seconds on it, so you won’t spend an immense amount of time with the game.  Even if you’re careful and use almost all of that time in each stage, the entire game can be cleared in about 20-30 minutes, once you get the system in your memory.  It’s definitely not a long game, and isn’t meant to be.  It’s fun for little bite-sized gameplay sessions.

Controls

Controlling this game is probably the simplest part of it.  First of all, you won’t need the touch screen for anything.  Unlike many other PlayStation Mobile titles, this game relies solely on the Vita’s physical buttons for movement.  As you may imagine, this makes the game very compatible with the PlayStation TV to enjoy on your big HDTV.

The button controls are very easy to learn as well, since you don’t use very many buttons as you play through the game.  Moving your character is done with the D-Pad or the Left Analog Stick.  The only other buttons you’ll be using much of are two of the face buttons.  The X button handles jumping around and the Square button handles shooting off pellets to attack and defeat enemies.    Finally, the Start button can pause the game.

Apart from the five buttons listed above, you won’t need to use anything else to control the game.  It’s very simple, though you have to experiment to figure out how it works.  The game does not make any effort in explaining the controls to you.

Presentation

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Presentation is the most important part of this review.  First of all is the visual presentation.  Visually, the 2D design of this game looks simple and smooth enough.  You don’t see any jagged edges in any of the character models as you play through the game.  For what it is, the visual design works well.

The issues you need to know about come from how the game plays.  While the load times aren’t anything to worry about, some of the glitches in the game are.  As I played through the game, there were many times where I would jump and land in the middle of a platform and the game would make me get frozen and stuck there.  I couldn’t move or jump unless I was halfway on a ledge and could move to jump down off of it.

The other glitch I noticed is that there are spike pits on the grounds that are supposed to automatically kill you and make you re-spawn.  Half the time when I jumped down and hit these, my character froze in place.  The game didn’t kill them and I couldn’t move or jump to get the re-spawn to happen.  I had to wait for the timer to run to 0 and give me a Game Over.  These glitches happened very often and were a hindrance on going through Arcade Mode.

Summary

Chopper Diver is: Decent
Chopper Diver is a small PS Mobile game that ties in simple controls with simple gameplay that works well for quick game sessions.  On the downside, the game doesn’t show you how it works and there are some annoying glitches to be worked out that freeze your character in place.  If you can look past these, Chopper Diver proves to be an entertaining little game. 

6/10

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