Long-in-the-tooth gamers who can still remember the early 1980s will likely have fond memories of Choplifter. Partially inspired by the disastrous 1980 attempt to rescue US hostages from Iran known as Desert One, the Broderbund-developed game had players rescuing hostages from a fictional evil empire and fighting off air attacks in a helicopter.
First released in 1982 for the Apple II, the 2D airborne action game was eventually ported to the Commodore 64, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, MSX, NES, and Sega Master System. Sequels and remakes would eventually make their way to the SNES, Game Gear, Game Boy, PlayStation 2, and arcades.
Now it appears that Choplifter may be once again taking to the virtual skies. Yesterday, developer InXile Entertainment filed a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office for the title "Choplifter." The filing locked down use of the title for "downloadable electronic games via the Internet and wireless devices," raising the possibility of a digitally distributed version of the game for consoles, handhelds, or possibly the iPhone.
If a Choplifter remake is in the works, it will be the second time InXile has resurrected an Apple II-era classic. Started in 2002 by Brian Fargo following his exit from the once-mighty publisher Interplay, the California-based shop was most famous for its comical 2004 remake of the dead-serious 1985 role-playing game The Bard's Tale. The company is currently developing the retro-action game Hei$t, due out this fall, for British publisher Codemasters.