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Here's a demo for Megacopter, a Desert Strike parody with a splash of Mars Attacks

Everything was mega in the 1990s

An attack helicopter flies through the desert amid many explosions in Megacopter.
Image credit: Pizza Bear Games

In EA's Desert Strike - released way back in the dim salvages of 1992 - you are a helicopter pilot scooting around a Sylvester Stallone reinvention of Iraq, shooting down tanks and fighters with guns and missiles while rescuing VIPs and fretting constantly about your wafer-thin armour and espresso-sized fuel reserves. It was a no-frills piece of Gulf War fanfic, complete with George Bush ending cameo, and a well-made shooter that used to drive me nuts on Sega Mega Drive.

Megacopter: Blades Of The Goddess is Desert Strike, but heavily Blood-Dragonified and with a big dollop of Airwolf to boot. Here, the enemy troops are naughty Reptoid aliens, the writing is scattershot-satirical (upgrades are bought with pizza tokens) and your helicopter houses the soul of a blood-drinking "AZ-TECH" goddess. Is it a nuanced parody of the Strike series? It doesn't feel like it. Did I enjoy the demo? Yes. Does it have a crawling tentacle boss called Queen Oildusa? Also yes, and will you please stop asking questions so I can write the rest of this article.

I'd do a plot summary for Megacopter: Blades Of The Goddess, but it feels like this would be missing the point - like introducing a party clown to the kids by making them read his LinkedIn profile. So let's jump straight into the act of slithering through the skies of those gaudy comicbook maps, switching between air-to-air and air-to-ground cannons while avoiding a bevy of unguided or homing projectiles that are ineffectual enough individually, but murderous in dozens. Here's a trailer.

Watch on YouTube

There's a touch of latter-day open worlding in the form of radar stations you can hack with your cybernetic crane to clear away fog of war. There are explodables to detonate, often positioned so that you can spark off a line of blast clouds right through a base. And there are special moves bestowed by the aforesaid blood-drinking goddess, like briefly transforming your helicopter into a sizzling green shuriken.

It's a great on-the-go game, based on 30 minutes with the demo over the weekend. The colour palette scrubs up a treat on a Steam Deck, and your carnivorous chopper has a nice sense of inertia when dancing through that ever-thickening canopy of bullets. I was frustrated, then engrossed by how Megacopter handles switching between shooting at aerial targets and those on the ground: this forces your brain to reckon with the fact that the distinction doesn't "really" exist because the world isn't "true" polygonal 3D, a quirk of many 90s isometric games I sort of miss.

Megacopter: Blades Of The Goddess is out 21st June - you can find it and the demo on Steam. Developers Pizza Bear Games consist of Gabe Miller and Nicholas Hunter, with Robin Ogden of OGRE Sound supplying some rad period music. If you like this kind of thing, you might also get a kick out of the antique Renegade Ops or the much more recent Go Mecha Ball.

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