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In Choplifter! you must pilot a lone helicopter behind enemy lines in a daring attempt to rescue sixty-four hostages. Your mission is over once you have lost three helicopters or all the hostages have been rescued or killed.
The game starts with your helicopter parked at the remote outpost where you must return with the hostages. Your helicopter can only hold 16 passengers at a times so several trips will be required.
After you lift off, the sideways scrolling screen follows you on your journey into enemy territory. Soon you find yourself over one of the compounds holding the prisoners. You blast it open with gunfire then land to pick up hostages.
Suddenly an enemy tank appears, firing its gun at the hostages and your helicopter. You quickly take off and drop a bomb on the tank. You carefully set down near the compound making sure not to accidentally squish any of the hostages.
After the helicopter is full, you head back to the outpost. You land and the hostages run from the helicopter to their safety. You lift off again and head back into enemy territory where more hostages are waiting for you to liberate them. But the enemy tanks will be waiting too, along with the deadly jet fighters and the homing air mines. ~ Joseph Scoleri III, All Game Guide