Top TEN Helicopter Video Game Bosses (Attack Helicopter Week Special)
Welcome back to Attack Helicopter Week here at The Splintering. Today were reaching back into the retro gaming vault to discuss the Top Ten best helicopter boss battles. Without further ado, let’s get started!
10. Rambo (NES)
Rambo for the Nintendo Entertainment System isn’t a great game. The titular hero seems to spend far more time killing bees and tigers than he does killing communists. At least the final boss mimics the movie well enough by pitting everyone’s favorite PTSD-ridden ex-Green Beret against a Soviet Mil Mi-24 gunship. Unlike the second film, however, Rambo goes toe-to-toe with it on foot rather than getting in a lucky shot as part of a daring escape. The large enemy sprite and the consistency with the movie actually makes for a decent final boss fight despite not being a great game, overall.
9. Time Soldiers (Arcade, SEGA Master System)
Time Soldiers is a bit of a forgotten action game when it comes to retro gaming conversations, and that’s too bad. With overhead action similar to Ikari Warriors and Commando, Time Soldiers is unique in that the game transports the player across a number of historical settings such as ancient Greece and prehistory. One of those areas is World War II, which features a large, low-flying helicopter boss. The funny thing? Helicopters were not used in World War II for attack purposes, and were instead only used for very limited personnel movement and reconnaissance. Stupid video games making me stupider!
8. Super C (NES)
The first boss fight in Konami’s Contra sequel Super C descends armed with four large cannons, each of which needs to be individually destroyed before the glowing weak point is revealed. Once the helicopter nears the ground, it opens its back hatch and a short wave of enemies hop out to attack our hero Bill Rizer (and Lance Bean, if playing two-player co-op). Despite being a large, intimidating visual, this fight is honestly not that tough by Contra standards, especially if you go into the fight equipped with the right weapon (i.e. the spread gun).
7. Rambo III (SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive)
Rambo gets two appearances on the list! An early SEGA Genesis release, Rambo III is a solid, though not remarkable run-and-gunner. However, the most impressive visual standout is probably the boss fights, where Rambo uses his explosive arrows to take down Soviet helicopters, tanks, or combinations of the two. These fights can be quite tricky, but they’re not as hard as they seem if you’re patient and prioritize survival over getting your shots in. The large sprites looked great for 1989, and the unique gameplay helped to break up the action of the overhead action stages. You can read our full review of Rambo III for the SEGA Genesis here!
6. Operation Wolf (Arcade)
Operation Wolf sure was a top-notch light gun arcade game for its time and a Putt-Putt Golf mainstay for several years. The cabinet looked great, and the weapon mounted to the control panel was friggin’ awesome. As far as boss fights go, there aren’t really any until the last moment of the game as you are escorting a group of P.O.W.s to safety. That’s when you are shown the message “WARNING!! THE FINAL HELICOPTER!” and this big bad shows up to spoil your escape plans. It was an intense moment, and one that future Operation Wolf games would attempt to recreate, such as the helicopter boss battle in Operation Wolf 3.
5. The Adventures of Batman and Robin (Super NES)
Two for the price of one! Not only is the Penguin boss in Konami’s The Adventures of Batman and Robin able to hover using his helicopter-like umbrella, but he calls in a really-real attack helicopter as backup! Batman and Robin featured an art and animation style similar to the cartoon on which it was based, and the result was a splendid action game with a really slick look. The Penguin’s helicopter in the background rotated using the Super Nintendo’s special “Mode 7” effects, making for a boss fight that was really a technological marvel! Or is it a technological DC?
4. Metal Slug – Final Boss (Arcade)
The first Metal Slug created a longstanding series for SNK. In fact, one could argue that Metal Slug is their most successful series outside of fighting games. The final boss of Metal Slug was an intense battle trying to bring down the big baddie aboard this attack helicopter. In keeping with Metal Slug fashion, it took a ridiculous amount of hits to bring this puppy down, which usually meant dropping a girthy stack of quarters into the machine unless you were at the top of your game. Great game, great boss, great series.
3. Shinobi (Arcade/SEGA Master System)
Black Turtle first made an appearance in the Shinobi arcade game, and he (?) became a bit of a series mainstay, with appearances in later games such as the PS2 Shinobi reboot and even in the crossover game Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. Black Turtle doesn’t do much as an “attack” helicopter though, as the primary threat comes from the ninjas who jump from the side loading door. Though it only takes damage in the yellowish nose area, the fight isn’t nearly as hard as some of the later bosses in Shinobi, but it was still a fun fight with an innovative boss at the time.
2. Metal Gear Solid (Sony PlayStation)
One of the more memorable scenes from Metal Gear Solid pits our hero against a Hind model helicopter piloted by Solid Snake’s (*spoilers!). After seemingly escaping the chopper by rappelling down the side of the complex, Snake later has to finish off his foe by watching your radar, taking cover, dodging machine gun fire, and outsmarting your enemy with carefully-timed stinger missile fire. Like many aspects of Metal Gear Solid, the battle is a bit overlong for some tastes, but it sure was cool back in 1998.
1. Mega Man V (NES)
When considering the ultimate attack helicopter boss, you can’t help but land on our boy Gyro Man as number one. As one of Dr. Wily’s “Evil Robot Masters”, Gyro Man is perhaps the only sentient helicopter boss in all of gaming. The *blank* Man schtick was getting a little tired by the time that Mega Man V rolled around, but Gyro Man was one of the better designs from the later 8-bit installments. Hovering around, throwing green heat-seeking “sonic-boom”-esque projectiles at the Blue Bomber… yeah Gyro Man is pretty cool (better than Charge Man, anyway). If you’d like to read our exclusive interview with Mega Man V‘s Gyro Man, go here (*Spoilers! He’s kind of a cunt)!
I’m sure that I missed a memorable helicopter boss fight or two, so feel free to let me know how much of a dummy-dum I am in the comments! But most of all, thanks for reading! If you want to check out more of The Splintering’s Attack Helicopter Week content, go here!