Mr Heli logo

FIREBIRD £24.99 * Joystick only

'The Muddy' may not sound like your average baddie but then Mr Heli does not sound like your average hero. Still, anything can happen in coin-op land.

You take control of the aforementioned Mr Heli in this multi-directional scrolling shoot-em-up converted from the Irem coin-op. There are end-of-level guardians to destroy and extra weapons to buy (collect the crystal structures, which act as currency in the game, along the way by shooting the earth blocks in Super Mario Brothers fashion).

Of course, 'The Muddy' (a fine bit of Japlish!) has a whole host of minions who are determined to stop you getting to him, so take them out with your front and top-firing machine gun. Take too many hits from the baddies and the energy bar displayed at the top of the screen takes a dive until you lose one of your five lives and any extra weapons you have bought along the way.

Irem may be famous for R-Type, but unfortunately Mr Heli is just not in the same league. It is a shame, then, that the conversion does nothing to increase its appeal, being jerky and slow.

There are similar elements to Blood Money here, but the gameplay is not as polished, it is just not as playable and you will be bored sooner rather than later.

Mr Heli logo

Firebird, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

After New Zealand Story's kiwi and Rainbow Islands bubbly Bob and Bub, the latest coin-op character bidding for maximum cuteness is Mr Heli, a helicopter which can walk.

This Irem cross between the latest military firepower and a Mr Men character is a member of the Cosmic Heli Patrol, whose latest mission is to thwart the plans of mad scientist Mr Muddy. For reasons which are obscure Mr Muddy is leading his hi-tech creations on a violent stomp across an innocent little planet.

Mr Heli's brave attempt to stop the senseless destruction involves more than a little blasting. Firstly there is the endless horde of walking, flying and even stationary enemies to be blown apart. And secondly there is all those lovely blue crystals worth loadsa dosh hidden behind parts of the scenery. Blow away the scenery with horizontally firing cannon and either bombs (dropped when you are on the ground) or vertically firing guns (active whenever you are not) to find the crystals.

Occasionally a shop is revealed as well: pop in there with the right amount of cash and you get the add-on weapon advertised on the front.

Cynics might wonder if the rescue mission is not causing more damage than Mr Muddy, but as all good children know, selfless bravery brings its own reward (i.e. blue crystals and lots of guns!).

Robin Hogg The coin-op has held its own extremely well over the last couple of years with a good dose of arcade shoot-'em-up action mixed with Nemesis-style weapon improvement. The coin-op may well be remembered because of this but the Amiga conversion is best forgotten. Dodgy scrolling, imprecise collision detection and frustratingly small enemies fighting your far too large helicopter are some complaints that come to light. On the 64 things go well from the start with a catchy title tune, a correctly sized Mr Heli, great sprites all round and a wonderful level of gameplay direct from the coin-op. it may be tough but with only 3 levels it must not be too easy should it?
Stuart Wynne Mr Heli's home computer debut provides a textbook example of 'it is not the power of the computer, but the way it is used'. While the C64 game impresses with glitzy, nicely detailed sprites, good backgrounds and superb end-of-level monsters the Amiga disappoints with garish graphics too big to be easily manoeuvred. Basic gameplay is tough on both machines, no sooner than you shoot one baddie two more enter. Collecting crystals at the same time needs concentration, and if you die you usually go back a long way, losing add-on weapons and all your cash as well. Nevertheless, while the Amiga game is much too frustrating (and pricey), the C64 game provides a lot of fun - check it out.