|Minorly enhanced port of
the 2600 game
Making a game that will live in Atari history forever isn't an easy
task. Most games simply don't appeal to everyone or have flaws that
turn gamers off. River Raid is one of the few games that not only had
universal appeal, but had some of the best (and most addicting) gameplay
ever seen. River Raid was so popular in fact that it was ported
to the Atari 400/800, Atari 5200, Intellivision, Colecovision, IBM Pc
Jr., Commodore 64, and just about every other popular system of the time
that used cartridges. River Raid set the standard for scrolling
shooters, too bad most other games couldn't live up to it.
River Raid's concept is easy enough; guide your jet through
a dangerous river valley while shooting down all the bad guys and bridges
you can. You'll also need to watch your fuel gauge, as your jet
doesn't have a large gas tank. To refuel, all you need to do is
fly over a fuel tank and you'll magically be refueled (Ok, so they took
some liberties). You need to be care that you don't accidentally
shoot the fuel tanks as your blasting away at your enemies or you'll quickly
find your jet crashing into the waters below (and you can't swim!).
There are a variety of enemies to keep your trigger finger
busy such as helicopters and enemy jets. The Atari 400/800 and 5200
versions went one step further and added tanks and hot air balloons to
get in your way (nothing like wiping out a balloonist to clog up your
engines). Progress in this game is measured by bridges, each time
you blow up a bridge it's like hitting a checkpoint. If you die you'll
start back at the last bridge you destroyed. As you progress further
and further into the game the river gets smaller and you must maneuver
through tight spaces barely wider than you jet! The enemies also
become more active as they move and shoot faster.
The controls in River Raid are dead on. You can speed
up and slow down in an instant by pulling back or pressing forward on
the joystick. The movement is very crisp and doesn't have that mushy
feeling (except on the 5200, but that's the joysticks fault). This
may not sound impressive, but control is very important in a game like
River Raid which requires constant speed changes and quick reflexes at
the higher levels. Bad controls can ruin a great game, but luckily
that's not a problem here.
Beyond the new enemies as previously mentioned balloons
and tanks, the 8-Bit version added only a few minor graphical enhancements.
The banks of the river were made a bit more jagged, some moutains
were added, and a band of color was added to further accent the shoreline.
The addition of Balloons don't add much to the gameplay (just another
slow moving obstacle), but the tanks really add a new twist due to their
unpredictable firing patterns. It's a shame that these enemies couldn't
be added to the 2600 version as well.
River Raid was a smash hit form the word Go, and helped
Activision standout amongst a sea of mediocre videogame companies. While
your friends may laugh at its crudeness now, River Raid helped start a
new genera in videogames; the overhead scrolling shooter. So the
next time you play a game like Radiant Silvergun, take a few moments to
think back to River Raid, the game that started it all.
||River Raid 7/21/83
to 8-Bit Software