Apr 2011 09

by Keith Daniels

Last week in my post about Wall Street Kid, I mentioned that Sturgeon’s Law might be especially true for video games. Coined by the sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon in 1951, Sturgeon’s Law posits that “90% of everything is crap.” Those being the odds and this being only my second Random Game of the Week, I was relieved to find that I enjoyed this week’s game: Mr. Heli no Daisuke, or Mr. Heli’s Great Adventure for the NEC PC Engine, also known as the Turbografx-16 in North America.

The PC Engine was a home console, which was the result of a collaboration between developers NEC and Hudson Soft. Although marketed as a 16-bit system, it was essentially an 8-bit system, and while it was more powerful than the NES, it was less capable than the Sega Genesis or later Super NES. It never caught on strongly in North America, but was successful in Japan, where it actually outsold the Genesis.

Mr Heli was developed by the venerable Irem Corp., most famous for the R-Type series and Moon Patrol. The PC Engine version was one of many ports of the original arcade game, and decently done.

Mr. Heli is a horizontal shooter with some vertical elements in which you pilot the titular helicopter through side-scrolling stages in which waves of enemies come at you from all directions.

There’s no story that I could discern. You’re merely unceremoniously dumped from the cargo hold of a transport…

and straight into combat.

Mr. Heli innovates slightly from other shooters of its time in that you upgrade your abilities by purchasing them with money obtained by blowing up rocks in the floors and ceilings of every level. Some rocks contain diamonds or power-ups. You’re also faced with a time limit on every level that prevents you from wasting too much scrabbling for cash.

It’s a challenging game. You’re required to make plentiful use of your ship’s three directional shots: ground bombs, forward cannon, and upward scatter shot in order to keep up with the enemies that swarm you. Hell, some of them shoot bullets that also shoot bullets.

I saw this screen a lot.

Fortunately, the various bosses, while a bit generic, were mostly on the easy, gimmicky side.

If you’d like to see a full playthrough of Mr. Heli, YouTube user DigiHatesMakingGames has you covered.

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