River Patrol

River Patrol
Company: Tigervision
Model #:
Year: 1984
Based on the obscure coin-op by Kersten 


If you've ever heard of River Patrol, then you're probably one of the lucky few.  Not only was River Patrol an obscure arcade game, but it's also one of the rarest games in the entire 2600 library.  In fact most collectors only know the name from various 2600 rarity lists and will go their whole lives never actually seeing one.  The reason behind River Patol's rarity is unclear, even though it was the fourth game planned by Tigervision (appearing in their first catalog) it was one of the last games to be released.  There are several theories behind the delay ranging from the programmer having difficulty programming the game to licensing problems with Kersten.



As the title suggests, the action in this game takes place on a river.  Your goal is to carefully make your way up the river and to the dam at the end.  Unfortunately your patrol boat is a leaky piece of junk and is constantly taking on water, so you only have a limited amount of time to make it to the dam.  As you make your way up the river you'll run into all kinds of obstacles such as alligators, whirlpools, drift wood (must be a big piece!), rocks, other boats, and even TNT (don't you always find TNT when you go boating?).  If you happen to hit an alligator or whirlpool your boat will start to take on water rapidly, but you can use the throttle button to escape.  Hitting a rock, piece of wood, boat, or TNT however will sink your boat instantly.  Although it's not really necessary, one of the unwritten goals of the game is to pick up drowning people you see as you make your way towards the dam.  Picking up people is not only nice, but is worth some bonus points.


The controls in River Patrol can take some getting used to.  The boat doesn't move the way you might think, instead of responding immediately to the joystick (like in River Raid), there's an inertia factor you must contend (like in Gravitar) with due to the fact that your actually going upstream against the current.  To move forward you must press the fire button to turn on your motor, once you've gained some speed you can begin to move left and right (but not backwards).  To move backwards you can simply turn the motor off and let the current carry you back, but the steering is difficult at best.  As you're dodging alligators and rocks, make sure to glance at the two bars at the bottom of the screen.  These bars are your status indicators; the green bar is your distance gauge which tells you how far you are from the dam, and the purple bar is your water gauge which tells you how much water you can take on before your boat sinks (which happens when this gauge goes to zero).


River Patrol is an interesting game, and a welcome change from the countless shooting and fast paced action games on the 2600.  Players will quickly find that River Patrol is a game of finesse and careful timing, with a healthy dose of hectic action thrown in.  Why it took Tigervision so long to get this game out is beyond me, but it was worth the wait.  River Patrol ranks among the best Tigervision games out there with a soundtrack that will make you question your sanity.


Version Cart Text Description
?????? E34E F R.Patrl Final Version


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