Coala logo

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

This game was previewed in the June issue of Amiga Computing and back then it was looking like becoming one of the definitive flight simulators. Obviously with a name like Coala, you'd expect myriad jokes about Koalas, Australians or eucalyptus. However, most of those were spawned back in June and they've all been exhausted, so I just can't think of any more.

As you've probably already gathered Coala, is spelt with a 'C' and you'd be right in thinking that it doesn't have anything to do with that furry thing down under. In Empire Interactive's words.... 'Coala. Cute name bud don't be deceived.'

If you can remember a game called "Thunderhawk", cross it with EA's "Desert Strike" and you can possible form an idea how Coala looks and plays.

What makes Coala stand out from the rest is the virtual realism that features so strongly. For instance, during a flight, what would you do if you heard a hellfire shooting off and it didn't belong to you. It'd be too late to toggle between external views to find out who it came from - as you'd be plummeting thousands of feet towards your death.

However, in Coala,if you should hear the whoosh of a missile being unloaded, possibly in your direction, holding down the right mouse button will enable you took out of the window to see where it's coming from. If you do happen to be unlucky enough for it to be hammering in your direction, the careful triggering of a Chaff or a Flare will soon confuse it and give you the time to get out of there. It's all to do with quick thinking and Coala makes it that little bit quicker.

To make things a little different. Instead of being part of some squadron or another disciplined air force, our helicopter doesn't actually have any markings, so it is completely unrecognisable by everyone else. This means you can take anyone's side and help them blow up the opposition. Not only will this be great fun by pretending to fly with the opposition and then blowing them out of the sky, but you will be able to repeat the missions and support the other side. The only downside for this is that once you do take a side, the opposition won't take too kindly to you hanging about and will try anything to get you out of the sky.

The flexible view controls are very useful, unlike in many other flight sims where they were only good for showing the game off. You actually need them for landing , viewing other planes, and escaping missiles.

All the function keys represent the views as usual, and the F1 key brings up your on-board computer, whereby you can view your mission objectives, targets, find out the damage to your helicopter, and see the aircraft that is entering your vicinity.

The flexible view controls are very useful, unlike in many other flight sims where they were only good for showing the game off

There are many detailed scenarios which you can battle though, each one posing a completely different objective, and it will take more than an ounce of strategic knowledge to complete. You can also configure the object, world, surface details, which between shaded horizons and the Amiga's special copper shading to suit how you would like to view it.

You are able to take part in battle during four different times of day - dawn, noon, sunset and night. Obviously, the night is going to be difficult because of the dark, although, your special Pilot Night Vision System (helicopter headlights) can be switched on.

To help you weapon-wise, there's a wise range of armament for selection. Obviously the sidewinders, hellfires, flares and chafts are the norm, followed by a series of other well-known missile types that are completely new to me.

The missions themselves are all designated by ex-NATO personnel and even the codes have a special ex-NATO defence system feel about them because you have to enter the special password for that particular officer - or should I say, staff member of Empire!

Not only do you get Coala for your £25, you also receive two products that should be quite familiar to anyone who's explored the Aminet series. The first is Navigator which is basically a virtual world creator - this is the actual engine which was used to produce Coala. Although you can't create your own worlds, you can however, load up some of the objects used in Coala, zoom in and out, rotate through 360 degrees, and generally manipulate them in any way you wish.

The next is called EFA, which is a simple program whereby you load up any of Coala's aircraft and just fly them around different types of scenery - Empire thought this would be an added bonus. If you get bored of flying a helicopter in the actual game, you can then move on and whizz around with EFA, flying high-powered jets, or even bi-planes. The speed of EFA is outstanding, providing high speed thrills - even though there's nothing to shoot.

Coala features complete artificial intelligence between the two competing sides,. For example, you can stay on the ground and miss out on all the fun and still win - because all the other pilots will battle it out in the skies above you. The only problem with this is that you won't receive any points because you are awarded for what you shoot down and consequently you won't proceed any further.

The graphics featured in Coala are truly superb, especially with the virtual reality which makes you feel as if you really are there. The intelligence of the other sides is set perfectly, so you can fly around stalking other aircraft rather than getting blown out of the sky every few minutes.

The sound effects of other helicopter's blades whizzing by are excellent and the copper shading on the horizons adds that little bit extra in terms of realism. The whole presentation aspect is superb - the graphics and sound are nothing of what we expect from the Amiga.

A steady hand

Now you may be wondering how the control system works because of the amount of external views and options. Well, you control the helicopter using the mouse. Pressing the left mouse button will release the weapon you have loaded, and pressing the right button will enable you to look out of the side of the helicopter - this all works out so your flying position doesn't change. Basically the best control method is to hold the mouse in one hand and keep your fingers hovering above the keys on the keyboard that you are most likely to use.

Overall, it's a very comfortable method, and by altering the mouse sensitivity it turns out to be the most effective. The joystick would have given Coala an arcade feel which wouldn't have done it justice, making it feel too arcadey and letting it down in terms of simulation.

The final word

Coala should be all boxed and ready to hit the shelves before Christmas, and when it does I can see it being a huge success. It's been a long time since we saw a flight simulator ot fhis quality on the Amiga, and I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Coala logo

Steve McGill makes himself comfortable in the virtual cockpit, ready for take-off in this sophisticated helicopter flight sim.

Imagine being given the freedom to fight for the forces of democracy against tyranny or the forces of tyranny against democracy. Imagine being given one of the most sophisticated battle helicopters known to military science to achieve this (ig)noble aim. Imagine longer, Coala is here..

Coala is a helicopter flight sim with a difference. Traditional flight sims rely on all manner of technical frippery and detail to maintain their authenticity and sense of realism. Coala ignores all that.

Instead, Coala relies on the credibility and realism of the battlefield. Taking place with the confines of a three dimensional, finite, wraparound world, each combat mission and scenario witnesses the forces of the East pitched against the forces of the West.

Dispensing with traditions, in Coala you are totally neutral and can choose which side to fight for. The choice is even open to fight against both sides. Although not recommended for obvious reasons, taking everyone on is the ultimate test of the player's combat ability.

As is to be expected of a pseudo flight sim, Coala takes place within a three dimensional world. The player starts the game at a Western base within the cockpit of a battle copter; there are four different types to be flown in all.

Controls are simple and easily picked up. All that needs to be done to take to the air is to give the engine enough collective to overcome gravity. The chopper will take off and the player can start moving about. The easiest method of controlling the chopper requires use of the mouse.

Mouse control quickly becomes intuitive and offers the unrestrictive freedom of analogue responsiveness. Even more emancipating is the 'virtual' cockpit. By pressing the right mouse button and holding it down, an unrestricted three dimensional view can be taken. That is, the chopper continues on its path and the view simulates the pilot looking around him.

This is particularly useful when lining up targets. Rather than having to keep the whole chopper in line, the pilot only really needs to get close to the target. From there, it's just a matter of moving the cross hairs of the currently selected weapon system to line up with the unfortunate victim's vehicle.

Tricky to use at first, it soon becomes a cake walk. At times, depending on the enemy you're taking out, it almost feels like an unfair advantage. But not quite. For there is no such thing as an unfair advantage in war. And that's what Coala is - total war.

There is no such thing as an unfair advantage in war. That's what Coala is - total war.

Each of the missions and scenarios has a life of its own. If the players chooses to take no part, the battle will still be decided by the computer participants fighting each other. Part of the strength and believability of Coala belongs to the internal dynamics of the battlefield and the artificial intelligence of the battlefield's protagonists.

If desired, this artificial intelligence can be observed by choosing to view any of the planes, choppers, tanks, trucks, etc. in action. It's just a simple manner of selecting the requisite view from the keyboard and cycling through all of the participants until you reach the one you want to follow. It's possible, therefore, to fly with an enemy plane that's just about to take you out with a heat-seeking missile.

The beauty of the views is the ability to look all around the chosen vehicle in a full 360 degree, three dimensional pan. This flexibility can also give the discerning player an insight into the tactics adopted by adversaries, so that more effective counter measures can be taken when going head-to-head.

Of course, there's a pay-off for all of this artificial intelligence and 3D power - that of processor speed. After all, what's on offer here is more than previously offered by traditional sims. Other than Dawn Patrol and Overlord, no other sim has provided a 'virtual' cockpit. That Coala's is the best and easiest to use is beyond doubt.

But there's a trade-off to be made between graphical detail, processor speed and frame rate. Power-challenged Amigas like the 500 and 600 need a 68020 with 2Mb minimum to run Coala. A1200 owners will find that some Fast memory is desirable to avoid a jerky effect.

Luckily, the programmers have included an option screen whereby features such as ground and object detail can be set high to low on a scale 1 to 10. Other processorhungry cosmetics, such as horizon detail and viewing distance, are also customisable - so a standard vanilla A1200 runs Coala satisfactorily, though not brilliantly.

If you have the requisite hardware (and even if you don't, you can still win it - check out our Coala compo on 36) the question needing to be asked is: "Is Coala worth buying?"

The answer has to be yes, but with some reservations. The game, despite some excellent features, looks old-fashioned - no texture maps and a limited palette. The terrain is flat - no mountains or hills to hide behind.

The mission structure is a series of self-contained one-offs, giving the feeling that there is no cohesive sense of progress and that there's no 'bigger' picture within the game. This gives the whole thing the feeling of a glorified, although thoroughly enjoyable, shoot-'em-up.

Despite that, I would still buy Coala. You can create your own fully customisable "What if?" missions. It makes intelligent use of the Amiga hardware and it enables you to pit your wits against the artificial intelligence routines of the programmers.

Not very good enough to be considered a classic, it hints at the sort of "Next Generation" games a properly powered Amiga is capable of and, as such, deserves to be bought in numbers. Hopefully, the commercial success that the game deserves will encourage the programmers to inject more cohesion and believability into the package for Coala 2.

There are four corners of the world that can be fought in.

Select where you want to fight.

Western Europe's a bit chilly.

Middle America is cultured.

Little cover in the Middle East.

No protection in Antarctica.

The combat scenarios in Coala take place whether the player engages the enemy or not. Tabs can be kept on the progress of all vehicles by cycling through the view button. This lets the player visualise the 'bigger picture'.

This is your chopper. Gives a wider field of vision than the cockpit.

Here a Western F15 takes out a Frogfoot with a sidewinder.

Transport trucks pass each other on the right-hand side. Bloody Europeans.

This Flogger is just about to flag Western A10 Warthog.

The number of planes taking off can be monitored.

If you're close to the action, you can save units under fire.

Shooting civilians on the battlefield is a hazard.

Normally this is the closest you'll feasibly get to an aircraft.

The option exists to zoom in on the viewed vehicle.

Knowing that reinforcements are on the way improves morale.

Coala logo

Koalas sind vegetarische Beuteltiere, die am liebsten entspannt in den Bäumen ihrer australischen Heimat herumhängen - dennoch geben sie ideale Titelhelden für diesen Action-Heli von Empire ab! Ei, wie das?

Nun, spannend war ja in diesem Zusammenhang vor allem die ursprüngliche Ankündigung des Herstellers, das game bloß für den A1200 bzw. A4000 zu produzieren. So konnte man sich immerhin Hoffnungen auf einen würdigen Erben solcher Genreklassiker wie "Thunderhawk" oder "Retaliator" machen: Der AGA-Chipsatz hätte hier vielleicht den Quantensprung in die Welt der 256 Farben und aufwendigen Texturen ermöglicht.

Jetzt sind wir um einen Traum ärmer und um zwei Coala-Versionen (in einer Packung) reicher, wobei sich die sichtbaren Unterschiede in engen Grenzen halten - in der ECS-Fassung sind die Zwischenbilder und der Horizont halt nicht ganz so bunt, doch das fällt nur im direkten Vergleicht auf.

Die ansonsten identische 3D-Vektorgrafik läßt sich zumindest individuell an die jeweils vorhandene Hardware anpassen. So ist die Detailzeichnung der Landschaften, Gebäude und Flugzeuge in zehn Stufen justierbar, außerdem kann man einen entsprechenden Schattenwurf zuschalten.

Des weiteren darf man festlegen, ob man den Horizont monochrom oder schattiert haben will und ab welcher Entfernung herannahende Objekte auf dem Screen erscheinen sollen. Wenn man spaßeshalber mal das bejahrte "Gunship 2000" danebenhält, enttäuscht die Polygonoptik aber selbst bei maximaler Detailfülle - allein schon deshalb, weil sie auf nicht eigens aufgerüsteten Amigas nur müde dahinruckelt.

Ein A1200 muß somit wenigstens über schnelles Fast-RAM oder besser noch einen beschleunigten Prozessor verfügen, wenn die stets von dicken schwarzen Balken eingerahmte Landschaft geschmeidig am Auge des Betrachters vorbeifließen soll: am A500/2000 ist ein Turbokärtchen mit mindestens einer 68020-CPU sogar Grundvoraussetzung, sonst tut sich wenig Erbauliches auf dem Bildschirm.

ein Gutteil der Rechenleistung geht dabei für das virtuelle Cockpit drauf, wo das Auge mit Unterstützung der Maus nahezu uneingeschränkt umherschweifen kann. Die freie Sicht in (fast) alle Richtungen funktioniert in der Praxis auch ganz gut und erweist sich vor allem bei der Zieler-fassung als hilfreich.

Der fehlende Ausblick nach hinten und unten wird wettgemacht durch die üblichen Außenansichten, den diverse Verfolgerkameras, Enemy- und Missile-View fliegen in diesem Genre ja immer mit. Das farblich variable Head-Up-Display hält dazu eine Vielzahl aktueller Flugdaten (Tempo, Höhe, Richtung etc.) parat; weitere Infos enthält ein per Tastendruck jederzeit erreichbarer Extrascreen, der den Piloten z.B. über den Schlachtverlauf oder die Restbewaffnung aufklärt.

Außerdem gibt's dort eine vernünftige Ausführung des im Cockpit nur zar angedeuteten Radarschirms.

Doch was nützt die schönste Instrumentierung, wenn das Gameplay nur zweit Wahl ist? Egl, ob komplett vorgefertigte, vom Rechner zufällig zusammengewürfelte, selbstgestrickte, offensive oder defensive Missionen, praktisch unterscheiden sie sich in erster Linie durch die Art und Anzahl der Flugzeuge, Panzer und sonstigen, meist planlos umherirrenden Vehikel.

Sie muß mal mit, mal ohne Unterstützung durch befreundete Truppen abschießen - anspruchsvollere Aufgaben (Begleitschutz, U-Boot-Jagden etc.) und die damit einhergehenden Karrierechancen fehlen vollkommen.

Es ist auch nahezu gleichgültig, ob man im Apache-Helikopter für den Westen Partei ergreift oder einen der Hind- bzw. Havoc-Helis aus dem Osten zum Rotieren bringt, denn nicht nur in puncto Flugverhalen sind sich hier alle ziemlich einig: Die drei Standard-Bewaffnungen mit Bord-MG und einem jeweils unterschiedlichen Sortiment an Luft/Boden und Luft/Luft-Raketen passen immer.

Zu allem Überfluß sind die Unterschiede zwischen den vier Kriegsschauplätzen Europa, Südamerika, Antarktis und Mittlerer Osten vorwiegend farblicher Natur, dasselbe gilt für den vor dem Start festlegbaren Tag- oder Nachbetrieb.

Berge, Täler, dichte Wälder oder enge Straßen-schluchten sucht man vergeblich, wodurch klassische Helikopter-Stärken wie die besondere Wendigkeit und Tief-flugtauglichkeit auch kaum zur Geltung kommen.

Obwohl nach den hochgespannten Erwartungen zunächst einmal die Enttäuschung überwiegt, ist das Spiel deswegen nicht wirklich schlecht. Wer auf Realismus notfalls verzichten kann, kommt nämlich schon auf seine Kosten, zumal man die auf webige Tasten und die Mause oder den Stick beschränkte Steuerung beinahe im Handumdrehen in den Griff bekommt.

Und die Luftduelle sind anspruchsvoll genug, um den Spieler eine ganze Weile bei der Stange zu halten. Zur Belohnung dürfen besonders erfolgreiche Piloten zudem den fiktiven Coala-Heli besteigen und dessen überragende Fähigkeiten z.B. für spektakuläre Rollen und Loopings nutzen.

Ein gewisser Unterhaltungswert läßt sich auch den beigelegten Extra-Tools (ein Objekt-Betrachter und ein lenkbares Flugdemo) nicht absprechen. Und schließlich haben sich Floppy-Handlung und Festplatten-Installation ein Lob verdient, denn beides klappt unauffällig, schnell und problemlos.

Wenn man Coala mangels Feinschliff also auch kaum als Überflieger bezeichnen kann, so bietet das Spiel doch ganz unterhaltsame Heli-Action - auf Dauer mag das Gameplay wenig aufregend sein, aber in der Not frißt auch das Titeltier mal was anderes als immer nur feinsten Eukalyptus... (rl)

Coala logo

Nothing to do with those furry little antipodean creatures you understand.

Picture the scene - it is the evening and you pay your four quid to go to the World's Best Cinema, and sit down with plenty of leg room, a massive carton of juice and a popcorn bucket big enough to hide in. The banner of überfascist James Ferman and his BBFC crones announces the movie, and the expectant spines is only broken by the polite cough of the usher's 22 calibre 'Hush Puppy' pistol as he executes anyone opening many pockets of sweeps or crops. The film starts, and the initial surge of music is so atmospheric that the hairs on your arms bristle up and shred your shirt.

It starts off on an extreme close-up of something heartbreakingly tiny yet beautiful - a tearstained Edelweiss maybe or perhaps Bob the Hamster. And then, with a dizzyingly fast crane shot accompanied by perhaps the finest orchestral swell of all time, the camera rises up and presents us, the viewers, with the most exciting intense and undeniably most expensive vista ever timed.

Perhaps it is an ancient battle that makes the incredible battle sequences from Braveheart look like a dinner time rush in the playground. Or maybe it is a sea of satin-clad mourners at the funeral of a great man: a sea of humanity that makes the crowd scenes from Ghandi look like a bus queue for the number 125 Nempnet Thrubwell. Whatever it is, you are in no doubt that it is the best start of any film ever, and that you will think about it on your deathbed in preference to the masses of blubbing grandchildren who are packed into the room to watch you wheeze your last one.

Then the camera starts to slowly pan, taking in more and more of the terrain until you are in no doubt that the action spreads in all directions and as far as the eye can see. It is awesome, and you stare dumbstruck, your popcorn forgotten, your juice spilling into your lap, your mouth agape as the camera completes first one, then two, then three revolutions. But by four, it is not as impressive and you are waiting for something to happen, for a snatch of dialogue or a hint of plot or characterisation. But nothing. Two hours later, you are still watching the same slowly panning shot, and then the film ends.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine how you would feel? Can you imagine the disappointment of seeing the best opening ever tainted by the complete lack of any follow up? Then steel yourself, hombre - Coala stirs up exactly the same set of emotions. It looks like it is going to be great, it is initially great and it SHOULD BE GREAT, dammit. But it is not.

You are gagging for a point to it all

As a game engine, Coala is faultless. Coala knows it is a game and does not bother painstakingly recreating all those follies of real helicopters that muck up your fun. If you whack up the collective and take your chopper up to 60 metres, then that is where it is going to stay unless you pull a really frantic manoeuvre. In Gunship 2000 (AP28, 85%), it is almost impossible to stay at one height which combined with the rolling terrain means you spend as long avoiding the ground as you do trying to kill things.

Coala excels at blowing things up. Although you can attack head one, your view of the ground is hidden by the airframe, so it is best to go into a turn around the target and look out of the side window. You can attack like this because of the Virtual Cockpit™, and because your guided weapons will lock on and your nose cannon is not fixed forwards. While virtual cockpits are a good idea in flight sims, they are usually poorly implemented and rely on you manually turning your virtual head using the keyboard while trying to try using a joystick or mouse.

The Rowan games Overlord and Dawn Patrol use an excellent automatic look which keeps the target centre screen, but Coala manages to strike a happy medium in that yes, it is manual, but because it uses the mouse and the second button, you can easily switch between flying and moving your view.

A standard A1200 runs the game perfectly well with all the shadows and extra detail on. Apparently it is super-smooth on an accelerated A1200 or any of the big box Amigas, but according to our reader surveys, hardly any of you lot own them, so we will waste no further words on the subject.

This is all mechanics though, the camera work and cinematography detailed in my rather overlong and tenuous film analogy intro. A good game needs a good engine to power it and heck yes, Coala is faultless, but it also needs a plot, and it is here that you can experience a sickening jolly moment.

Coala bils itself as a 3D battlefield helicopter action simulator, which is obscure enough to set alarm bells ringing. To be lenient, Coala has a fairly 'open-ended mission structure, although to be blunt, it has not got any structure at all.

It has not got any structure at all

Most flight sims give you missions and flight plans, and have the enemy following predictable routes to and from predictable objectives, so if you die, you can restart with the confidence that it will be much the same next time. In Coala though, all the vehicles have a level of AI which means that they do not just plough through set patterns, they react to nearby vehicles, so by just flying around, you affect the outcome of the battle.

Flight sims normally make the world revolve around your aircraft, but in this you are just another participant, and while I admire the attempt at making you that humble, I cannot say much for the implementation of the idea.

Suppose you can see a mass of tanks from both sides milling around a town. You whiz off towards the area in the hope of getting a few kills, but often by the time you reach the battle, one side's wiped the other one out. And then once the battle has been raging for ten minutes or so and you are on the winning side, all you get is a rather plain text screen detailing your kills and total casualties. There is no feeling that you have performed well, or pulled off a tricky assignment, and even though the missions sound different on the briefing screens, they quickly blur together.

Excels at blowing things up

Okay, so there are offensive and defensive missions, but what is the point of defending your base against tank attacks when you can still land and refuel even when the base is crawling with the enemy? And although you can choose a customise option and dictate that vehicles you want on the battlefield, you cannot place them in set areas or formations, so they are left to make up their own mind where they want to go.

You do not even have a map to see where the roads, town, rivers, and most importantly, targets are, which means that when the battle has been raging for ages, there are so few things to shoot at that you either get bored or escape out of the game.

And that is the problem. While Coala seems to have everything going for it as a game, it gets nowhere fast: being told to go out, pick a side and shoot things is fine for a few goes, but after that you are gagging for a point to it all, for a bridge to blow up or a convoy to intercept.

But instead of an attack on a heavily defended enemy base or a rush past fighter cover to blast a squadron of lumbering transport helicopters, you get more of the same - unplanned attacks and random flying around.

Which is, of course, a great shame. Like Virtual Karting last month, it seems that Coala has been put out a few months early and that it is not quite finished. The mechanics are all in place, but the game lacks depth and the presentation is minimal to say the least. Whack in a map and 30 decent preset missions to complement this freeplay structure and Empire would have had a 90 percent plus game on their hands. As it is, they have got a massively impressive glimpse of what could have been, or could very easily still be in Coala 2. Should they ever bother to do it.

The curtain closes on Coala far sooner than it should do, simply because you have seen everything it can offer far too quickly. And that is frustrating, because a game that is this sound technically deserves to be more fun. It also deserves a harder name. Why could it not have been called 'McDonnell Douglas Death Hawk EBN-20' thus obeying the laws of all previous flight sims?

Coala logo

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Empire 0181 343 7337

Koala: small, furry, endangered marsupial prone to falling out of trees. Coala: small insignificant helicopter sim - prone to falling out of favour.

Being the kind of busy journalist superstar I am (well, lazy git) I don't have the time to wade through the kind of complex manuals that come with most simulators. So in a way it's a relief to come across something like Coala which, with the list of keyboard controls in front of you, you can get into straight away. But that's really as much as you can say about this game's good points.

Simulators have died on their feet in recent years. I think this is a shame as I went through a phase in the late 80s of single-handedly fighting off the red menace in subs, planes, tanks and helicopters.

Coala is just another example of how bad things have become. There's a total lack of imagination and to make things worse, technically this game is appalling.

When I look back to sims such as F/A 18 Interceptor which came out right back when the A500 was first launched and compare it to this, running on an A100, I simply can't believe how bad this game is. It chugs along at an acceptable speed, but looks dire. The only time it comes close to looking good is on the external views and, as the game's impossible to play in those modes, that's pretty pointless.

Pear shaped
As for the playability, well, in relation to other chopper sims, this is the poor cousin who doesn't even get invited to family funerals. Thunderhawk (a Core Design heli-sim from Core Design from a few years back) was spectacularly playable, looked fantastic and absolutely haired along. On top of that it was easy to get into and, more importantly, ran on an A500.

Now I know the A1200 can't compete with a 486 PC when it comes to the 3D graphics required for simulations, but when I look back to what programmers were squeezing out of the A500 a few years back there's no way on Earth I can accept a game like Coala.

In fact, the only real improvement over old sims I could find was the inclusion of a virtual cockpit. This lets you twist your pilot's head around to almost neck-snapping point to see what's going on around your 'copter. This is something PC owners have had in their flight sims for years now and they'll tell you that it's a next-to-useless feature anyway. So including it was a bit of a waste effort.

Even the user-friendly control system can't compensate for the fact that trying to pilot a helicopter is a bit like trying to fly a large brick through a hurricane. I'm no aviation expect, but I've seen that bloke who covers the airshows on telly presenting programs where they've got military helicopters looping-the-loop.

In Coala you're bloody lucky if you can get the damn thing to execute a three-point lateral turn in under ten seconds. It's so unresponsive. The only real way to kill anything is by slowing right down, rotating slowly and hoping you can get your shot off before being blasted. It's pathetic.

True irony
It's ironic, really, that your real life Koala is a small, meek mammal prone to stuffing itself on eucalyptus leaves and passing out, because that's the kind of effect this game has when you play it.

My advice to any new Amiga-owner (and there should be a few out there new) is, if you want a simulation, raid some budget software libraries for a few of the games I've mentioned here. They're everything this isn't and a hell of a lot cheaper as well.