The lives of the survivors are in your hands. Do you have what it takes – the ability to line up your crosshairs successfully and the timing necessary to drop your paratroopers at precisely the right moment and save the day – the pressure to keep your cool when lives are resting on your piloting skills? Chutes Away gave you a chance to be a hero – actually ten chances if you want to get technical about it – and see if you had the intestinal fortitude to emerge victorious.
Chutes Away is a game that most any kid who ever experienced it will remember fondly. For one thing, it just looked so darn cool. In a world devoid of video games, this was about as hands-on an experience as you could find. A revolving disk (approximately the same size as a phonograph record) spun slowly underneath a plastic plane. Perpendicular to the board was a control panel that allowed you a flight stick to move the plane from left to right and a lever that would drop plastic paratroopers one at a time from the tail of the plane.
An eyepiece provided you with a view of the rugged terrain below, as well as the designated drop locations, in the form of little plastic buckets scattered about. Simply guide the plane into position, time your shot, and pull the lever. Easy, right? Not really, at least until you mastered the timing necessary. The ever-moving targets weren’t as easy to hit as you might imagine – as any veteran of the game can attest. You might even recall that the trick was that you had to let the bucket pass and then release, if you wanted any chance at success.
And once you mastered Chutes Away, you were ready to up the ante and meet the challenge of Night Rescue Chutes Away. Under the stealth of darkness, you had to rely on a small spotlight attached to the plane that offered a much smaller view of the target area.
Unfortunately, even this technological innovation wasn’t enough to keep Chutes Away on the store shelves. Both games, manufactured by Gabriel Toys in the late 70s enjoyed a run of a mere two years. Surprising when you consider how many fond memories people still have of this unique and quirky game. Once you experienced it, you were left with a playtime experience that would last a lifetime. Luckily, the accompanying frustration that inevitably came with playing Chutes Away faded over time and what remains are pleasant wisps of sentimental reflection.
If you spent some time trying to master Chutes Away in your youth, or even if it was the game you wanted for Christmas and never got, share your memories of this unique toy with all of us in our comments section.