Chutes Away was part board game
and part mechanical home arcade game
. It was released by Gabriel
in 1977. It's kind of the plastic, wind-up grandpappy of Choplifter
The game basically involved manipulating a plane's control stick
, looking through a bomb sight
, and trying to drop a plastic parachutist right on the money
. One of eight parachutist
s were dropped from the plane's tail assembly by pulling a trigger on the stick. The "money" was one of ten holes on a round, rotating play surface.
Ostensibly the game was originally a bomber
game where you sighted Laotian villages and got points for dropping a plastic cluster bomb
on them. But the makers felt that during America's brief window of passivity (post-'nam and before Top Gun
) a game about bombing people -- no matter how stubborn they were in rejecting the American way and the American God -- just wasn't politically correct. So the game was changed to dropping parachutists into holes. The new fiction was the parachutists (not bombs) were rescuers trying to save lost yuppie campers (not lost nations toying with godless communism
). The problem was you had 8 parachutists and there were ten target "camp sight" holes. The new pacifistic
scenario ultimately required you
to condemn two lost yuppie campers to death.
The game was great fun at first but since the surface rotated (powered by a wind-up spring) at an even speed one quickly learned the fool-proof aiming trick: pull the trigger once the crosshair
s touched the hole's edge. Then it wasn't so fun anymore. You could set up a floor fan to create varying wind conditions but by the time that bright idea dawned on you, you were pretty much bored of the game and wowed by Pong
Many who never owned the game remember its commercial, where a hyper kid would shout "CHUTES AWAAAAAAAAAAAY!" every time he pulled the trigger. Many times you'll hear someone imitating the commercial when talking about a long fall:
"God, I woke up in my friend's dorm after a long night of drinking and forgot I was on the top bunk. I jumped out of bed and it was like chutes awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!"