Rally Copters is one of the latest games to push the time trial phenomenon and attempts to put its own special spin on it. Sadly, it doesn’t meet that goal.
The way Rally Copters works is that you start a level with a helicopter, and you must go through the various checkpoints in order to complete it. Not anything new, but it’s fun. The game has three phases, with a total of 27 levels. Each phase has an unlockable helicopter, each having better and better stats.
The gameplay starts off as very easy, almost as if were a tutorial. The problem with that is that is continues until the last three levels of Phase 3. There are various obstacles you must maneuver to beat the level but they are usually irrelevant; you can get through them with ease and minimal retries. This would be all fine and dandy, but the game is meant to challenge you. When your game doesn’t do that until the very end, then it’s a problem. And it’s pretty sad that this happens, because those last three levels were painstakingly difficult – I died over 60 times on the last level – but I enjoyed them and and felt very rewarded when I beat them. The game needs more of this, but it’s just not there.
The game also controls very well, exactly how you would imagine a helicopter would operate. You have to find the exact balance between the helicopter’s speed and accuracy in order to complete the levels as quickly as possible. Rally Copters also has an appealing aesthetic that reminds you of Tron. It’s retro, blocked graphics are very pretty and the color palette is equally as gorgeous with neon blues and oranges that just pop off the Vita’s screen. The one thing that troubled me was the reset system. When your helicopter blows up, you press triangle to restart at the last checkpoint. However, there have been countless times when I pressed square, which restarts the whole level. It’s an easy mistake to make and could have been solved with the usual “Are you sure?”
Also, the combination of a low difficulty and small number of levels means that you complete the game very quickly. The only reason you have to continue playing after completion is to complete other levels with the helicopter you unlock later, getting the fastest time just isn’t motivating afterward.
However, the level’s completion time tracker is a very interesting concept that feels natural in Rally Copters. The way it works is that you go through the levels and it tracks the number of restarts it took you and the time to complete the level. It then gives you a rating – in the form of platinum, gold, silver or bronze – for your overall time. It sounds like the usual stuff you’d find in games, but there’s a caveat: instead of having each milestone’s time be set by the developer, it is set by the respective times in the game’s community. It feels rewarding to get a gold, all I could ever achieve, and know you overcame other players and did better than them instead of it being arbitrarily set during development. The times also reset every few days to make it based upon the existing player pool.
All in all, I enjoyed my time with Rally Copters, despite its rather short campaign and low difficulty. There are some big hopes that I would love to see added to the game, primarily some DLC with new helicopters, maybe giving us some customization as far as color scheme, and more of those grueling hard levels. The game doesn’t have a specific target audience, and I think it could appeal to various types of gamers. You won’t find yourself with much to do after completion, but pick it up if you have some spare money and want something to do for a short period.