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Undeniably Fun Object- Saucelifter! Reviewed

Saucelifter! for the iPhone/Ipod Touch. Developer: Paul Pridham Publisher: MadGarden

Humanity’s love affair with the flying saucer has been a
strange one. During the late 1940s, sci-fi began to explode and filled the
imaginations of many. Baby-boomers grew up surrounded by the idea of space
aliens, both sinister and heroic. My parents are baby-boomers and I, too, have shared
this fascination. I wasn’t just interested in the concept of space aliens, I
wanted a flying saucer of my own with or without the aliens. Having an
understanding of very basic aerodynamics at a young age, I took a shine to
anything that seemed to turn aerodynamics into a plaything. Recently, $30
bought such a plaything for myself. Now $1.99 USD can buy your own flying
saucer adventure with Saucelifter!
for the iPhone/Touch.

You may have guessed from the title that Saucelifter!
is a remake of Choplifter
with a twist worthy of a B movie. Now you control a flying saucer! The original
Choplifter had you piloting a
helicopter in an attempt to rescue hostages from behind enemy lines. Saucelifter! has you rescuing your
crewmates after a peaceful visit to Earth goes wrong. Earth’s military is
holding them captive but your flying saucer’s rayguns will do your negotiating.

Logically, the game uses accelerometer controls to give you smooth tilt-control
over your craft and they work quite well. The controls recalibrate whenever the
game is paused which is a great feature. An arrow (which can be turned off)
floats around the saucer, indicating your craft’s current heading regardless of
momentum. You can fire rays straight down, left, and right (even all at once!)
using the iPhone/Touch’s multitouch screen and to aim you’ll need to tilt the
saucer and thus be moving (much like a helicopter). Differing from a
helicopter, the saucer is much more sturdy and can often safely bounce and
glance off of the ground. The game’s tutorial is a bit sparse but it teaches
you what you need to know. You must blast open bunkers, land carefully near the
escaping crewmates, pick them up, and fly them back to the teleporter, all the
while fighting off Earth’s military. The more crewmates you rescue, the more
defenses and offenses Earth will put on the field of battle.

After you lose three saucers, or rescue as many hostages as possible, the game
will end and your score will be tallied. There’s only one stage but it’s very
tough and has some very basic randomization to keep things fresh and
challenging. I’ve only beaten the stage once on normal mode, in all my
attempts, and my score had a lot of room for improvement. There’s also several
other difficulty levels. I was quite satisfied with the amount of game I was
getting for the price, yet I enjoyed it enough to want more. Luckily the
developer will be putting out an update (I love that iPhone/Touch developers do
this so much!) with “extra visual/sound effects, new enemies, and various
other improvements!” and im particularly pleased to see “new enemies”. 
I’m not sure if online highscores are coming and the game currently lacks such
a feature. It’s something every such highscore-chasing game can benefit from.

This is another game that uses solid vector-based graphics (similar to Eliss)
to create a simple but beautiful retro look. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for this
style, but it’s one of the best visual styles that a game can have without
trying to go all-out on pixel art or 3D rendering. Still, the graphics engine
is no slouch and sports some cool rotation and particle effects at a nice
framerate. The sound effects are perfectly complimentary to the action,
featuring delightfully sci-fi movie-esque noises in fittingly lo-fi retro
style. Try landing with the saucer’s struts out while going too fast to the
left or right and the struts will spark while making a satisfying screeching
noise. There’s no music, but the sound-work makes up for this and the game
allows you to play your own music during.

Saucelifter! doesn’t do all that much
differently from Choplifter but it
does it well with a great style. I would definitely recommend this to fans of Choplifter and anyone interested in a
rescue mission action game that uses the accelerometer very well.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Any game where you get to be the alien is OK with me. I will check it out.

  2. Looks good. I remember playing Choplifter on the Apple II as a kid. It was addictive as all hell.

  3. Did you guy do everything in the game? That’s cool- say what you want about Iphone apps, but that’s true indie design.

  4. Tech-gaming is paying you too much, if you’re buying toys like that. Do you and DE fight them?

  5. How many different enemies are there?

  6. Ok, I just grabbed it and the ground turrets are a BITCH. Can you taker them out without using the side beam?!?

    Are there actually two different weapons, one for tanks and one for bunker, turrets?

  7. Just be glad you can’t zap the people (ala Defender, Stargate) etc.

  8. I wish you could go kamikaze when your ship gets shot down. Devs are you listening?

  9. I got to a jet fighter. Airborne targets get tough.

  10. Yep, because if you touch the corner you can shoot in two directions.

  11. I just bought it, just say Choplifter, and I’m there!

  12. I’ll probably wait for the update to see how this turned out.

  13. Even on easy, it’s pretty difficult. What’s everyone’s high score?

  14. Meant to say “one guy” , not “You guy” LOL

  15. What the red negative number indicate?

  16. No EA here… we are indeed just one guy. 🙂 Hope you like it!

  17. That number shows how many of your little dudes have been killed. 🙁

  18. Good review. Need an itunes card. Anyone know where I get them them for less than face value besides Ebay?

  19. You might want to put a little person icon there. Just a suggestion.

  20. Madgarden,

    How long did the game take to create? Have you made nay other games?

  21. Thanks for the info. Just what I need is more apps on my already crowded phone.

  22. I did the bulk of it in about a couple of months, back in 2006. Then I worked on it off and on over the summer, and released a demo that winter. The iPhone version has at least the same amount of work put in on top. Most of my other stuff is not released, but I worked on a Sword of Fargoal remake back in 2003 with a buddy.

  23. Nice app, one of my favorite games, now.

  24. TideGear (Adam Milecki)

    Haha, I thought the same thing. I think that’s one of the things that happened in Armor Alley, if I recall correctly. Armor Alley was a DOS/Mac game that was like a hybrid of Choplifter and a strategy game! It’s still a lot of fun…

  25. Update is live grab 1.1!