River Raid

It’s time for the ultimate “Go with the Flow” game: River Raid. The scrolling text at the bottom says “River Raid by Carol Shaw.”

Review Date: January 24, 2021

Release Date: Christmas Season, 1982

Platform: Atari 800

Developer: Activision

Genre: Shooter

My current status: Three types of enemies in rapid succession.

Anecdotes: Ah, good old River Raid. I remember playing it when I was little. However, we didn’t have a 2600. The cousins had one, but not this game. So how did we play it? Simple. Another cousin had the game and we went over there. We have a lot of cousins. There are 23 of us, including a string of 8 straight boys, of which I was the first. River Raid was a good time killer while the adults were doing something boring. As a kid, I played this game on a 2600, but I will be playing it now and reviewing the 800 version.

Description: You play as a plane. The plane racks up points by shooting boats, helicopters, and other things. Why? I don’t know and I don’t care. The plane must shoot the bridges out to continue; the fallen bridges also serve as checkpoints and a way to measure progress. The plane must also pay attention to its fuel gauge. Running out means a life lost, but any fuel pickup fills the gauge entirely. There are four starting points to choose from, each with one or two player options, making a total of 8 games.

There’s a tank on the banks. To be frank, I drew a blank and got spanked by it. Thanks.

Positives: It’s an enjoyable game. It has a good flow to it. It’s clear what needs to be sunk. I also like that the fuel refills are NOT protected from being destroyed, so mashing the shot button is a bad idea when low on fuel. The game is generous with fuel early on, so if a refill gets shot, no big deal at first. The fuel system has the right balance to make the refills important, but not to the point of needing them constantly. The visuals are nice, too. The game alternates between shades of green to differentiate levels. Mountains were added in this version.

Why ARE there helicopters in the river, anyway? Just to make a big splash?

Negatives: For some reason, bullets will ALWAYS stay vertically aligned with the plane. That means that if you scoot over to avoid an enemy, the bullet will, too. I do wish there were some speed options on the ship. Being able to speed up horizontally would have been nice. Finally, if a life is lost after a bridge falls, but before crossing it, the plane is placed after the bridge. I think it should go back to the previous bridge.

Can you imagine streamers trying to do this? They would be up a creek!

Grade: B

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