Super Huey

Reviewed by Steve Pedler


Issue 28

Jul/Aug 87

Next Article >>

<< Prev Article



Cosmi/US Gold

Super Huey, a helicopter flight simulator, initially appeared for the Commodore 64, several months before it was available for an Atari, and I had been looking out for it for some time when it simultaneously appeared for both the 8-bit and 16-bit machines. This review is of the ST version.

There is a very nice title sequence to begin with and then you find yourself in the cockpit of the machine a Bell Helicopter UH-1XA. The cockpit interior is extremely detailed, with an impressive variety of gauges and digital readouts. The graphics of the ST seem to lend themselves to producing high-tech displays like this, as can be seen in other games such as Starglider and Deep Space. The lower part of the console contains various engine and in-flight displays, while overhead there are navigational and weapons status instrumentation.

The first thing you have to do is power up the onboard computer, and having done this you may select one of the four available missions. These are Flying School, Explore, Rescue, and Combat. I naturally chose Combat first, and was quickly blown out of the sky. Back to flying school.

Flying school is exactly what the name implies. The mission takes you through take-off, flight and landing with commands displayed on the screen of the onboard computer situated in the middle of the lower console. This is a nice gentle introduction to the complexities of helicopter flight, and the manual also contains some quite detailed notes on the theory of rotary winged flight so that you can understand what you are doing when you fly the aircraft. Control of the helicopter in flight is entirely by means of the mouse, with the keyboard used for actions such as selecting the mission and loading/firing the weapons. The use of the mouse is generally quite satisfactory, but I found it very tricky to turn the helicopter and couldn't help thinking that this might have been better done with a joystick. One other point is that while the cockpit is very detailed the view out of the window is a real let-down, with very little to actually look at. This is just as well initially, as you have to concentrate hard on flying the thing rather than looking out of the window, but it does not do justice to the ST's graphics.

Having had enough of flying school, I went back into Combat. Here you take on an (unnamed) enemy desert airbase complete with hostile and very numerous helicopter forces. You don't have to do anything to find these choppers, they'll find you, and when they do the aim is quite simple knock them all down before they do the same to you! When you are shot down it is made apparent by a line of very realistic bullet holes in the cockpit window which can give you quite a shock the first time it happens. Fortunately, unlike the real thing, you can have another go. The weapons available to you include 20 rockets and a machine gun with 2,000 rounds. Since there are 32 enemy helicopters, you can't afford to waste any ammunition.

If you get tired of being continually shot down, you can try one of the other missions. Both of these are basically navigational exercises. In Rescue, you are given the task of rescuing stranded personnel, but you are only given a general position for the party. This means that you will have to fly to the general area and search it until you detect the transmission from their rescue homing device. Once this is picked up, you follow the appropriate heading until you spot the flares sent up by the party, then land, collect them and return to base.

Finally, Explore requires you to map the terrain around your base. When the map is complete, the instructions invite you to send it to Cosmi and they will send you the correct map in return.

I think anyone who likes flight simulators would quite enjoy Super Huey. Being a helicopter simulator, it is a little different from other such programs and it does have that extra spice of getting shot at. I can't help, however, having slight reservations, particularly with regard to the sparsity of graphic detail outside the cockpit. It occurred to me that this would be an excellent game on an 8-bit Atari, but just isn't quite of the standard we are coming to expect on the ST.