Tiger-Heli[a] is a vertically scrolling shooter game developed by Toaplan and released for arcades in 1985. It was published in Japan by Taito and in North America by Romstar. Controlling the titular attack helicopter, the player must fight endless waves of military vehicles while avoiding collision with their projectiles and other obstacles. The Tiger-Heli has a powerful bomb at its disposal that can clear the screen of enemies when fired. It was the first shoot ’em up game from Toaplan, and their third video game overall.
Tiger-Heli was the creation of video game composers Masahiro Yuge and Tatsuya Uemura, who had previously worked on several titles for Japanese companies Orca and Crux before both of them declared bankruptcy. The development team drew inspiration from the arcade game Gyrodine. The team wanted to create a scrolling shooter that balanced between being entertaining and fun, and to have players keep wanting to play it after dying. The staff chose a helicopter as the player’s craft as they felt it would work for a game that had the screen continuously scrolling. The soundtrack, composed by Uemura, was made to convey a sense of bravery, which was hampered by technical limitations.
Tiger-Heli was well received by critics for its gameplay, graphics and weapons, and helped establish Toaplan as a leading producer of shooting games throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System by Micronics, a conversion that was commended for its accurate portrayal of the arcade original. The NES version sold over one million copies. A PlayStation version was released in 1996 by Banpresto as part of the compilation Toaplan Shooting Battle 1. It was followed by two sequels: Twin Cobra (1987), and Twin Cobra II (1995). The rights to Tiger-Heli are owned by Tatsujin, a Japanese developer formed by Yuge. In 2021, the game was released exclusively in Japan for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch as part of the Toaplan Arcade Garage compilation.