A little over a year ago Paul Pridham of Madgarden, who teamed up with Jeff McCord to bring us the iPhone / iPad roguelike Sword of Fargoal [App Store], released an iPhone version of his own take on Dan Gorlin's 1982 Brøderbund classic Choplifter. The developer's v1.3 free update to the game has just gone live in the App Store [link], turning the title into a Universal application that takes full advantage of the iPad's large display, among other enhancements.

In Saucelifter, gameplay involves flying your tilt-controlled saucer to various Earth prison barracks, blasting open the doors, picking up your captive crewmates, and dropping them off at the transporter where they're beamed safely back to your alien world.  This is made challenging by evil Earth forces, including tanks, laser turrets, fighter jets, and flying attack drones.

There are a lot of nice touches to the title. The stylized, vector-based 2D graphics lend the game impressive visuals, with a day-into-night changing skyline that adds nice variation to the scene. A letter-box effect alters the aspect of the play area to provide early warning of incoming enemies. It's very well done.

The full list of the enhancements that v1.3 brings, as listed by the developer:

  • New saucer!
  • New reptoid super weapon!
  • Saucelifter is now a universal application
  • iOS4 multitasking support
  • Support for both landscape orientations
  • Fixed sound that was too quiet
  • Gameplay tweaks

It's a nice list of enhancements, but the developer has already submitted the v1.3.1 free update to the App Store that brings iPhone 4 Retina Display support as well as control refinements. I'm presently playing v1.3.1 on my iPhone 4 and it looks beautiful.

See our video of the initial release version of the iPhone original.

Choplifter was the first game I fell in love with on my first Apple computer, an Apple //c, back in 1984. Saucelifter is a superb enhancement on the formula and pays faithful homage to the Dan Gorlin masterpiece. Since its release, I've counted Saucelifter among my five absolute favorite iPhone games and, after enjoying the Universal build of the game for several weeks now on my iPad, I don't expect that to change anytime soon. Whether or not you've ever played Choplifter, Saucelifter is one not to be missed.

  • VeganTnT

    One of my favorite games. It hasn't left my iphone in over a year!

    If anyone is wondering about the new saucer I posted an image earlier on twitter
    http://twitter.com/IphoneTnT/status/17675352509

    The first is the Reptoid Saucer from the 1.2 update and the second is the new Heavy Saucer from 1.3

    I tried to take a picture of the new weapons but damn they kill me fast :(

  • VeganTnT

    One of my favorite games. It hasn't left my iphone in over a year!

    If anyone is wondering about the new saucer I posted an image earlier on twitter
    http://twitter.com/IphoneTnT/status/17675352509

    The first is the Reptoid Saucer from the 1.2 update and the second is the new Heavy Saucer from 1.3

    I tried to take a picture of the new weapons but damn they kill me fast :(

  • Fluffhead

    would probably pick this up if it weren't 1.99 and if it wasn't tilt control only

    • Josh

      Your loss. This game is absolutely worth $1.99 unlike many other games in the app store. I would even say this game is worth $2.99.

    • TKO

      Um, yeah .. Complaining about price on a game *this* good? I mean, seriously, on what planet is $2.00 not great value for money? And there's a lite version, so it's not as if you can't check it out.

      I'm really not sure how it could be made to work well with anything other than tilt controls. Maybe the author will take sympathy on you and implement some touch controls. Or maybe not, since it sounds like he'd never get your money anyway. :P

      This was a stunning title from the day it came out, and it still holds up. Anyone who remotely liked Choplifter (a total classic) should pick up Saucelifter. Unless, of course, you're a complete tight-wad. :D

    • araczynski

      the tilt control is annoying to me as well.

      just because steve and a bunch of developers say/think so, doesn't make it fact for everyone.

    • TKO

      I actually agree with you araczynski that a non-tilt control method would be good to have too. The snarkiness of my reply was more specific to fluffhead in a "why would the author bother since you're too cheap to spend two dollars anyway" kinda way. :)

      Maybe a left-side-of-the-screen for touch control, and right-side-for-fire, which can be flipped if you want right-handed control, would be the way to do it. Much like the equally-cool and retro C64 app.

      • http://www.saucelifter.com Madgarden

        Yep, that is exactly how I will do the touch controls when I add them. Hey if people want touch controls as an option, I'm game. :)

  • Fluffhead

    would probably pick this up if it weren't 1.99 and if it wasn't tilt control only

    • Josh

      Your loss. This game is absolutely worth $1.99 unlike many other games in the app store. I would even say this game is worth $2.99.

    • TKO

      Um, yeah .. Complaining about price on a game *this* good? I mean, seriously, on what planet is $2.00 not great value for money? And there's a lite version, so it's not as if you can't check it out.

      I'm really not sure how it could be made to work well with anything other than tilt controls. Maybe the author will take sympathy on you and implement some touch controls. Or maybe not, since it sounds like he'd never get your money anyway. :P

      This was a stunning title from the day it came out, and it still holds up. Anyone who remotely liked Choplifter (a total classic) should pick up Saucelifter. Unless, of course, you're a complete tight-wad. :D

    • araczynski

      the tilt control is annoying to me as well.

      just because steve and a bunch of developers say/think so, doesn't make it fact for everyone.

    • TKO

      I actually agree with you araczynski that a non-tilt control method would be good to have too. The snarkiness of my reply was more specific to fluffhead in a "why would the author bother since you're too cheap to spend two dollars anyway" kinda way. :)

      Maybe a left-side-of-the-screen for touch control, and right-side-for-fire, which can be flipped if you want right-handed control, would be the way to do it. Much like the equally-cool and retro C64 app.

      • http://www.saucelifter.com Madgarden

        Yep, that is exactly how I will do the touch controls when I add them. Hey if people want touch controls as an option, I'm game. :)

  • PONGbyATARI

    Just picked this one up great game with every penny of $2.00 controls are tight and adjustable very fun. Only I wish is add calibration for the tilt controls. Love it buy it you will keep this one in the favorites folder!!

  • http://touchArcade PONGbyATARI

    Just picked this one up great game with every penny of $2.00 controls are tight and adjustable very fun. Only I wish is add calibration for the tilt controls. Love it buy it you will keep this one in the favorites folder!!

  • Madgarden

    PONGbyATARI, just pause the game, get to a comfortable position, and resume to calibrate automatically. :)

  • Madgarden

    PONGbyATARI, just pause the game, get to a comfortable position, and resume to calibrate automatically. :)

  • http://www.ChronoSoft.com CommanderData

    Updated my well-worn copy of Saucelifter last night right after VeganTnt tweeted success... Great work Madgarden, looking forward to the Retina Display enhancement! Try to enjoy the holiday weekend (or at least great weather) even though you're north of the border ;)

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      Hey, he had Canada Day last Tuesday. He's good.

      • http://www.saucelifter.com Madgarden

        And then I had it again the following Thursday! ;)

  • http://www.ChronoSoft.com CommanderData

    Updated my well-worn copy of Saucelifter last night right after VeganTnt tweeted success... Great work Madgarden, looking forward to the Retina Display enhancement! Try to enjoy the holiday weekend (or at least great weather) even though you're north of the border ;)

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      Hey, he had Canada Day last Tuesday. He's good.

      • http://www.saucelifter.com Madgarden

        And then I had it again the following Thursday! ;)

  • Lord Gek

    I'm sucking horribly at it (thank God the saucer has such great shocks and can handle my frequent crash landings), but loving every minute!

    A great homage to that Apple 2 classic while at the same time throwing in many of its own modern twists.

  • Lord Gek

    I'm sucking horribly at it (thank God the saucer has such great shocks and can handle my frequent crash landings), but loving every minute!

    A great homage to that Apple 2 classic while at the same time throwing in many of its own modern twists.

  • rt

    So, Blake, what are the other games in your top 5 absolute all-time favorite iPhone games list?

  • rt

    So, Blake, what are the other games in your top 5 absolute all-time favorite iPhone games list?

  • TheFamousEccles

    How had I never heard of this before?

    • Lord Gek

      Because this game is clearly based on classified UFO technology THEY don't want you to know about.

  • TheFamousEccles

    How had I never heard of this before?

    • Lord Gek

      Because this game is clearly based on classified UFO technology THEY don't want you to know about.

  • Josh

    I hope Gyroscope controls are added. They will make the tilting even more stable.

  • Josh

    I hope Gyroscope controls are added. They will make the tilting even more stable.

  • http://appsnail.com/ipad/ appsnail

    looks interesting, will have to check it out!

  • http://appsnail.com/ipad/ appsnail

    looks interesting, will have to check it out!

  • Chinito77

    I know I've played a saucer game like this many years ago. This reminds me of an old PC game similar to choplifter and defender.

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      Paul released this as a Windows game before it came to the iPhone.

      • http://www.saucelifter.com Madgarden

        Yeah, you can check out the original (and free) Windows demo release here, assuming it's OK to link stuff: http://www.allegro.cc/depot/saucelifter . It's way inferior to the iPhone version, but you get the idea. ;)

  • Chinito77

    I know I've played a saucer game like this many years ago. This reminds me of an old PC game similar to choplifter and defender.

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      Paul released this as a Windows game before it came to the iPhone.

      • http://www.saucelifter.com Madgarden

        Yeah, you can check out the original (and free) Windows demo release here, assuming it's OK to link stuff: http://www.allegro.cc/depot/saucelifter . It's way inferior to the iPhone version, but you get the idea. ;)

  • http://www.nooskewl.com trentg

    I've loved this game since the PC version.

  • http://www.nooskewl.com trentg

    I've loved this game since the PC version.