Behind-the-Scenes of Chopper 2
Majic Jungle Software’s official beginning was in 2008, but the story of Chopper starts well before that. New Zealander David Frampton, the man who would go on to found Majic Jungle, applied his talents in a number of different ways after leaving university. He worked as a graphic designer for a weather forecast service. He helped make displays for the Te Papa Museum in Wellington. And as a hobby project, he had made a Mac game that paid homage to an old favorite of his from his childhood.
Chopper was released for Mac computers in 2003. It was a helicopter action game heavily inspired by Dan Gorlin’s wildly popular 1982 Apple II game, Choplifter. Sporting 3D visuals courtesy of the platform’s OpenGL capabilities, Chopper didn’t add a whole lot to the traditional formula, but it played well and resonated nicely with fans of the classic series. That was more or less that, until 2008. That was the year that Frampton decided to get serious with game development and officially founded Majic Jungle Software. He saw a great opportunity in mobile game development, particularly with how open it was to small developers like himself.
The App Store launch was on the horizon, and he wanted to be there with his first iPhone game. With the touch screen controls and accelerometer, the iPhone seemed well-suited to a port of Chopper, Frampton thought. He improved the visuals, added motion controls, and added some new missions. When the App Store launched on July 10th, 2008, Chopper was there. Majic Jungle Software reaped the rewards from that position, as Chopper quickly became one of the most popular titles on the store. Naturally, there would be a sequel.
With the follow-up, Frampton really wanted to go all-out. The first game hadn’t ventured far outside of the basic established Choplifter formula, but Chopper 2 would push things out a bit more. It would have lots of different environments, more mission objectives, more control options, and an improved engine with better visuals and physics. All of this ended up in a development period of 16 months, during which time multiple new pieces of hardware and system software were introduced. Whenever that happened, Frampton had to make sure the game worked properly with the newest devices, extending the development time.
At long last, Chopper 2 launched on the App Store in July of 2010. Frampton’s hard work paid off, as fans who hadn’t stopped playing the first game since it launched jumped over to the new game and the considerably-expanded iOS gaming market brought in plenty of new customers. The reviews for the game were quite strong and in spite of a far more crowded App Store, Chopper 2 was another huge hit. Satisfied with his efforts, Frampton decided to move on to new types of games and genres.
Several years later, Majic Jungle Software had to make the hard choice to sunset many of its older iOS games in light of compatibility issues and other problems. The two Chopper games were unfortunately among them. The games were removed from the App Store in the summer of 2016, and it seemed quite unlikely they would ever return. You can’t keep a good chopper pilot down, though. In 2019, Chopper 2 was updated and restored as part of the GameClub library, bringing this high-octane classic to a whole new generation of players.