Every once in a while a game is released that doesn't screw around when it comes to difficulty. Well, here's Rally Copters; a brutally punishing 2D physics-based helicopter game. Before giving it a download, make sure you're up for one serious challenge.
Learning the basics of Rally Copters is easy since you basically move the helicopter around with the left stick and use the right one to change direction and dive. However, mastering the ability to work your way around obstacles unscathed is a feat that only gaming ninjas will perfect. Your craft's blades are very sensitive (as they should be), so banging them hard against a wall will be enough to send you crashing to the ground. Thankfully, there are checkpoints that come in handy when you're faced with tricky situations. Controlling the copter requires finesse because pushing the stick all the way left or right results in it descending diagonally. It sure looks easy when you watch someone else play, but be prepared for a surprise once you pick up the controller. It may be tough in all of its intricacies, but you'll feel satisfied once you get in the groove and start slowly working your way through the 27-level campaign.
Rally Copters looks and sounds like an original PlayStation game. The neon stages and copters mix with the rock and roll soundtrack to create an overwhelmingly '90s feel. At first, this actually impressed me since I miss that era in gaming and not many developers take us back to that more innocent time. That being said, things started to get rather stale as I progressed. The visuals were becoming tiresome and the music started sounding more obnoxious than refreshing. It might be the sheer difficulty ramping up to a frustrating degree that made it take an ugly turn, but there's no denying that more presentational variety would have helped keep it exciting.
Rally Copters' campaign begins simply enough. The early levels are completely doable but they start getting tricky halfway through. At this point, you'll happily be determined to push through even though you'll probably find yourself retrying every now and then. Lastly, the final third of the game will eventually get your blood boiling with rage. The most difficult portions will have you navigating narrow passageways as the walls cave in behind you thus forcing you to fly as quickly as possible. This would have been difficult enough on its own, but they just had to take it to the next level by strategically placing blocks in the middle of your flight path. This not only makes these sections nearly impossible, it also forces you to retry to the point where you memorize everything and that just isn't fun. In other words, to get the most out of Rally Copters you'll have to know when to quit. I stupidly made it through to the final level and I don't feel good about it because the amount of time and temper that I wasted to reach that point was definitely not worth it.
Besides the presentation, another aspect that gets stale after a while is the gameplay. The only thing you do is fly from checkpoint to checkpoint. There are a few stages where you collect flags, but that alone fails to provide enough variety. I would have liked to see levels that had you rescue civilians, put out fires, carry objects to their destination, or anything other than just flying and avoiding obstacles. On the other hand, one awesome feature is the medal system which rewards you according to how well you did against other players in the level. A gold medal can be easier to acquire today than it will be tomorrow since someone can come and complete the level in an unthinkably little amount of time. An additional cool feature is that you can challenge a friend to local multiplayer races. I wasn't expecting this mode to be as enjoyable as it is. Basically, you can race a pal in a selection of nine courses and this makes for a great wind-down session after dealing with the insanely difficult later levels in the single player campaign.
Rally Copters is not only a difficult game to play; it's also a tough one to recommend. If you're in the market to masochistically put your skills to the test then this will surely do the trick. However, everyone else will enjoy about the first two thirds of the campaign and some fun multiplayer races at the most, but not much else.
- + Simple physics-based 2D helicopter gameplay puts your skills to the test
- + Awesome adaptable grading system
- + Enjoyable local multiplayer races
- - Gets way too difficult to be fun even for genre veterans and expert gamers
- - Not enough gameplay variety
- - Generic presentation becomes stale