Hover Force


Release 1986

Developed at Mattel Electronics as Hover Force 3-D [Mattel Electronics #7742]

Completed by Realtime  Associates for INTV Corporation

Design: Steve Ettinger, Joe [Ferreira] King, David Warhohl

Program: Steve Ettinger

Graphics/Package Illustration: Joe [Ferreira] King

Sound Effects: David Warhol

Instructions Posted Here






Terrorist helicopter forces have taken over the island city of New Seeburg. Luckily, civilians have been evacuated from the city, but the enemy is causing millions of dollars in damage. Fires are burning out of control throughout the island.

We're sending you in with a heavily armed combat helicopter. Your assignment:

• Use RADAR SCREEN to spot and track the enemy!

• Use LASER CANNONS to blast enemy copters out of the sky!

• Use WATER CANNONS to put out fires from mid-air!

• Cover hundreds of square miles ridding the city of terrorists and fires for highest RATING.

• Aim carefully! Your wild shots can damage the city and lower your rating!

• Use STRATEGY! There are over 20 different types of enemy copters, each with its own skill level and flight pattern! You need your BRAINS to catch up with them!

• Fly repeated missions, each more difficult than the one before.

One last warning: these guys will be gunning for YOU. And this isn't some game, this is combat. None of this "three lives" foolishness. Crash your copter and it's all over -- you're finished.

So watch your tail out there. Now, let's scramble!


Hover Force 3-D was developed under greater secrecy than any other Mattel game. Researcher Richard Steenblik working at the University of Georgia had developed pseudo-3-D glasses. Small prisms in the glasses bent different colors of light entering the eye at different angles, fooling the eye into thinking that, for example, blue objects on a flat surface were actually farther away than red objects on the same surface. The University approached several game manufacturers to see if they were interested in the technology. After a middle-of-the-night test session in which Keith Robinson (Solar Sailer) quickly threw together an Intellivision screen full of flying bugs of different colors, Mattel management decided to aggressively pursue an exclusive license for the glasses.

Game development was ordered to start immediately, before the license was secured. For fear that a competitor would find out and try to outbid Mattel, the project was kept top secret, even from the other programmers. It was code named "Peach" since the glasses originated in Georgia, the Peach State. Steve Ettinger and Joe Ferreira, who had worked well together on Magic Carousel, were given a locked, windowless office in which to work (the rest of the software staff worked in open cubicles); it was quickly dubbed "The Bat Cave."

Midway through the project, Mattel won the license and Peach emerged from the cave. The 3-D effect, while not eye-poppingly dramatic, was effective, especially given the visual cues Steve and Joe had designed. And Dave "Papa Intellivision" Chandler's group had developed an inexpensive method to manufacture the glasses, making it practical for the game and glasses to be sold together at the price of a normal cartridge. Marketing felt they could strongly promote the 3-D feature in ads and the press.

Hover Force 3-D debuted at the January 1984 Consumer Electronic Show to good response. While the 3-D effect got mixed reviews, everyone was talking about it. Management immediately started talking about putting two more 3-D games into development, including a flight simulator cartridge, but before anything could be started, Mattel Electronics closed.

For the INTV Corp. release of the game in 1986, Steve and producer Dave Warhol beefed up the "intelligence" of the enemy helicopters, adding more strategy

FUN FACT: The game has three difficulty levels, the middle of which, "RANGER" level, is named in honor of the Blue Sky Rangers.

FUN FACT: The island of New Seeburg derives its name from Steve Ettinger's initials: SEE.

FUN FACT: Joe King was commissioned to do the artwork for the INTV packaging; if the JAF-3000 helicopter (JAF for Joseph Arthur Ferreira; he has since changed his last name to King) looks vaguely familiar, it's because he based it on the submarine Nautilus from Disney's film version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Why? Joe explained, "I make every vehicle I draw look like the Nautilus."

FUN FACT: A recent magazine article reported that the University of Georgia is still trying to find a customer for their 3-D glasses.

EASTER EGG: To display credits, press 0 (zero) while the title screen is displayed.

EASTER EGG: Press 23 (two and three simultaneously) on the left hand controller, 26 on the right and press reset to see Steve's message to his wife and kids.